Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City

Accused: A person or entity accused of committing a crime.

Acquitted: The term used when a defendant is found to be not guilty by a Judge or jury.

Affidavit: A sworn written statement made under oath or on affirmation before an authorized magistrate or officer.

Appeal: The process by which a defendant requests that his or her conviction is reviewed by a higher court.

Arraignment: The court appearance at which the defendant is brought before a Judge to be informed of the charges and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Subsequent court dates are set at the arraignment.

Arrest: The process of taking a person accused of a crime into custody (jail) by a law enforcement officer.

Bond / Bail: The amount of money that a Judge determines is sufficient to release an accused and assure his/her attendance at later hearings. The accused must post a portion of the bond or is liable for losing the total amount if he or she fails to appear for court.

Central Booking Intake Facility: Known by the acronym CBIF, the Central Booking Intake Facility is a centralized location for booking and processing all arrestees in Baltimore City.

Charging: This is the initial legal step where the prosecutor files court paper (by Criminal Complaint or Indictment) accusing a person of committing specific crime(s).

Circuit Court: In Baltimore City, the Circuit Court handles all felony criminal prosecutions and a limited number of misdemeanor cases that either originate at the Circuit Court level or where a defendant in District Court has prayed an instant jury trial.

Commissioner: A judicial officer who determines the validity of charges, pretrial status of offender, and, when appropriate, determines and sets bail.

Defendant: A person or entity charged with committing a crime.

Defense Attorney: An attorney employed by the defendant or the Public Defender's Office whose job is to represent the defendant's interest in criminal proceedings.

Deposition: An interview of a witness set by court order, taken under oath and recorded by a court reporter.

Discovery: The process by which the prosecutor and defense attorney learn of the evidence that the other party will present at trial.

Disposition: The final result of a criminal case. This may be by a finding of guilty, not guilty, dismissal or a plea of no contest

District Court: In Baltimore City, District Courts handle ordinance violations, criminal citations, and misdemeanor criminal and traffic cases.

Felony: A criminal charge which is punishable by imprisonment of more than one year in the State Department of Corrections.

Grand Jury: A group of city citizens that hears evidence presented by the prosecutor and determines if probable cause exists.

Guilty: Plea that a defendant enters in court admitting that he or she committed the crime; a verdict returned by a jury or Judge finding that the prosecution has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime(s).

Indictment: A written accusation of one or more persons of a crime or misdemeanor.

Initial Appearance: A court hearing with 24 hours of a person’s arrest at which time a Judge determines if the person may be released on personal recognizance or by bond and setting a time for a preliminary hearing in felony cases or arraignment in misdemeanor cases.

Investigation: The process of collecting evidence by law enforcement officers or the prosecutor to determine if a crime has been committed.

Judge: The attorney who presides over court proceedings.

Jury: The group of citizens sworn to hear testimony and evidence at a trial and decide if the defendant is guilty or not guilty of committing the crime(s).

Misdemeanor: A criminal charge that is punishable by a fine or incarceration for a maximum of six months.

Mistrial: A trial ends when a rule of criminal procedure has been violated or if the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision.

Motions: Written or oral requests by the prosecutor or defense attorney for the Judge to take specific actions.

NCR: Acronym that stands for not criminally responsible.

No Contest Plea: A plea that a defendant enters in court in which he or she does not contest the facts presented by the State, but does not admit guilt.

Not Guilty Plea: A statement that a defendant enters at arraignment denying committing the crime(s).

Plea Agreement (plea bargain): An agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to avoid a trial.

Preliminary Hearing: A court hearing in which probable cause is determined.

Personal Recognizance: A Judge may allow a person accused of a crime to be released from custody without posting bond, believing that the defendant will return for future court dates.

Probable Cause: The amount of proof needed to determine that a crime occurred and the defendant committed the crime in order to proceed with prosecution in felony offenses.

Restitution: The amount of money that the Judge orders the defendant to pay the victim as a condition of the defendant’s sentence for the victim’s out-of-pocket losses directly related to the crime.

Sentence: The punishment that the presiding Judge imposes on a defendant found guilty.

Subpoena: A written order requiring a person to appear in court at a specific date to give testimony.

Summons: A legal order requiring an individual to appear in court.

Suspended Sentence: Convicted defendants sometimes receive sentences that include suspended time. For example, if John Doe is sentenced to 30 years in prison with all but 15 suspended, the sentencing Judge has effectively decided that he should serve no more than 15 years in prison. However, if John Doe violates the terms of probation following his release from prison, the presiding Judge can impose the previously suspended time on the defendant.

Trial: A court proceeding where testimony is presented to a Judge or a jury to determine if the defendant is guilty of committing the crime(s).

Verdict: The final determination of a Judge or jury.

Warrant: A legal order to a law enforcement agency to arrest the person named in the order.

Witness: A person who has seen or knows something about the crime.