Upset About Your Case Result? Options After Your Maryland District Court Case is Over

So you had a case in District Court that didn’t turn out the way you had hoped. Maybe you were sentenced to serve jail time, didn’t receive a Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) as you had hoped, or simply were given supervised probation when you expected it to be unsupervised. No matter the reason for your dissatisfaction, there is a chance for a better result. The two most common ways to maintain a better result are either by appealing your case to the Circuit Court or by filing a motion for reconsideration of your sentence. But beware that you need to act IMMEDIATELY–there are deadlines for filing for these types of relief and the clock starts once your District Court case ends.

Appeal to Circuit Court
Every defendant has the right to appeal their District Court case at its conclusion to the Circuit Court. Defendants have thirty (30) days to file an appeal. Depending on the jurisdiction, your case will be set in again for trial within a few months of the appeal filing. Trials in the Circuit Court are held de novo, meaning “anew.” This means that the Circuit Court does not consider the result from District Court. Even if you lost at trial in District Court you are entitled to a brand new trial with a different judge (and in many cases, a jury) in the Circuit Court! In a sense you get “two bites at the apple,” as you have a second chance to get the result that you want. If you don’t want a trial in Circuit Court an appeal may still be beneficial–your attorney can always try to negotiate a better deal or plea agreement with the prosecutor, and the judge in Circuit Court might give you a better sentence. Defendants must beware though that a better sentence is no sure thing–the judge in Circuit Court could give you an even harsher sentence than the one you were originally unsatisfied with.

Motion for Reconsideration of Sentence
Another option would be to file a motion for reconsideration. Defendants have ninety (90) days from the end of their District Court case to file, and then can ask the judge to hold the request to revisit the sentence for up to five (5) years from the date of filing. A motion for reconsideration is basically a request to the judge to modify the sentence in a more favorable way to the defendant. There is no risk involved–the judge cannot revisit the sentence and make things worse for the defendant, only better. This is usually a popular option where the defendant is seeking a reduction in time on probation, converting a guilty finding to a PBJ, converting supervised probation to unsupervised, or another minor change in the sentence. During sentencing, I will usually ask a judge whether his or her honor might reconsider my client’s sentence at a later time–once the defendant finishes probation, pays restitution, completes an alcohol or drug class, finishes community service, etc.–and then promptly follow-up by filing that request to allow my client to revise their sentence at a later date.

Which should you choose–Appeal or Reconsideration?
It really depends on the type of relief you are looking for, the facts of the case, and the sentence that you received, among other factors. You should contact a criminal defense attorney who handles appeals. That attorney should be able to diagnose your situation and give you an idea of the possible outcomes if you choose to appeal or if you want a reconsideration. There are also cost considerations to take into account (an appeal is almost always going to be more costly). Remember that you have to act fast–the clock is ticking and you don’t want to miss your chance to improve your situation if you can. You can contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Peretti anytime to discuss your District Court post-sentence options at 301-875-3472.

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