Robert E. Sentman, Chief
The General Felony and Misdemeanor Unit comprises a large portion of all Circuit Court criminal cases. This includes any felony indictment that is not handled by a specific unit such as the Special Victims, Drug Crimes, or MCIN. The General Felony Unit typically includes but is not limited to prosecuting assaults, burglaries, crimes involving firearms, robberies, thefts (including “white collar” offenses), and attempted homicides. Felony indictments are usually scheduled over a four to six month period in the Circuit Court. Once the case is scheduled, there are typically two to three hearings before the case reaches trial. Criminal cases in the Circuit Court must be brought to trial within 180 days of the defendant’s arraignment, or initial appearance, under Maryland’s speedy trial requirements (Md. Rule 4-271).
The General Felony and Misdemeanor Unit also oversees the “jury trial prayer” docket in the Circuit Court. Any defendants charged with a crime in the District Court that carries a maximum penalty of more than ninety (90) days in jail has the right to request or “pray” a jury trial. When the jury trial is prayed, the case is automatically rescheduled for trial in Circuit Court. This docket currently is held every Monday in all four courtrooms in the Circuit Court. Any cases that are appealed to the Circuit Court from the District Court will also be scheduled on the Monday jury prayer docket.
If you are a victim or a witness in a jury prayer case in Circuit Court, you must check in with the Victim/Witness Coordinator at the Office of the State’s Attorney on the morning of the trial date. Do not simply report to the courtroom. If you do not check in, the assigned prosecutor may not know you are present and it could affect the outcome of the case. There are generally anywhere between six and eighteen cases scheduled in each courtroom on the jury prayer docket. We understand this process can seem time-consuming, and we appreciate your patience while the prosecutors either resolve the case through negotiation or prepare to take the case to trial.