Nolle Prosequi in Maryland – What it is and What it Means to Your Criminal Case

In Maryland, the State’s Attorney has the power to enter a “Nolle Prosequi” or “Nol Pros” in a criminal case. You may have heard of this term, or maybe heard that your case was “Nol Prossed.” These terms all mean the same thing–that the State has essentially dropped the charges in the case.

Definition of Nolle Prosequi
Nolle Prosequi is a Latin term that means “no longer prosecute.” In Maryland, when the State enters a nolle prosequi, it means that the State is electing not to pursue the case and is dropping the charges. At this point, the case becomes closed.

Is a Nolle Prosequi a Good Thing?
Absolutely! The case is now closed and the State is not prosecuting the charges against the defendant. This is not a conviction and the case is closed. The defendant can immediately file for an expungement, to get the court and police records permanently erased and removed from public view.

Why Did My Case Get Nolle Prossed?
The prosecutor may enter a nolle prosequi for a number of reasons. Some typical examples are that the State’s evidence against the defendant was weak, the State’s witnesses failed to show up for trial or cooperate, the prosecutor did not believe it was in the State’s interest to prosecute, or the State agreed to drop the charges in exchange for something the defendant did in exchange (paid restitution, completed community service, etc.).

My Case is Nolle Prosequi! Is It Gone Forever or Can It Come Back?
Theoretically the State can still elect to prosecute a defendant, or reopen a case, even after the case was entered as nolle prosequi, provided that the statute of limitations for that crime has not expired. However, this is a rare occurrence. In the vast majority of cases the State’s decision to enter a nolle prosequi is final and they will not bring the case back. You may notice in Court that an experienced defense attorney will make a “speedy trial objection” or an assertion of the defendant’s speedy trial rights when a case is entered as a nolle prosequi. The reason for doing this is that in the slim chance that the State does reopen the case in the future, the lawyer can argue that the defendant’s speedy trial rights were violated by the failure to prosecute the case in a timely manner.

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