What happens to a case that is stet? What is the “Stet docket” in Maryland? What does the word “stet” even mean? These are questions defense attorneys hear often from clients in regards to their criminal or traffic cases. It’s a word and concept that is fairly unique to criminal and traffic cases. Sometimes a stet can be a good option for a client to pursue, so it is important to understand what that option means.
Generally a stet in Maryland means that case is going to be inactive for a period of time (maybe 6 months or a year), usually in order for the defendant to complete some agreed upon conditions (for example, community service hours, counseling courses, anger management classes, payment of restitution, etc.). After the defendant successfully finishes up the conditions, there may be an agreement that the case will be then entered as a Nolle Prosequi–in other words the State will drop the charges. Of course, all cases will vary and it depends on the exact agreement that is worked out. Some counties in Maryland may not offer stet diversion for certain offenses, so it is important to check with a local attorney to see what the practice is in that area. Here are five key facts about the Stet docket that should help answer any questions as to what it means in Maryland:
1. Stet docket means the case is “inactive”
A case placed on the Stet docket becomes inactive and technically closed in the court system.
2. A case that has been Stet is NOT a conviction!
This is important to understand and is the key benefit for a defendant to having a case go on the Stet docket. The case has been moved on the Stet and is “inactive” and it is not a conviction. The defendant does not enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to the charge(s) for a Stet case, is not convicted by a judge, and is not given a sentence.
3. Defendant must waive his or her right to a speedy trial
Every person accused of a crime has the right to a speedy trial under the U.S. Constitution and under Maryland law. The Stet docket means the case is being placed as inactive–if there is ever a trial, which there may never be, it could come a lot later in time–and so the defendant must agree to waive speedy trial rights.
4. Despite being inactive, the case can be reactivated
The State can bring the case back as active if the defendant fails to abide by the conditions agreed upon. Just because a case is stet does not mean the defendant is home free–if they fail to follow the agreement and complete the conditions, the State may bring the case back and the defendant could be facing these charges all over again. The Defendant can also bring the case back for any reason within one year.
5. A Stet case is eligible for expungement
If a case is Stet and three years have passed since it was placed as Stet, then the defendant is eligible to have the case expunged.
Any other questions? Call the Law Offices of Christopher L. Peretti at 301-875-3472 for a free consultation to discuss your Maryland case or particular situation.