Suggestions to clients in navigating the Maryland Court System

What to do in the Maryland Court System on your actual criminal or traffic trial or hearing date:

Procedures differ slightly between Maryland counties.  Unless otherwise indicated, these are suggestions for Montgomery County.

When Appearing in District Court:

1. Know the date and time when court is scheduled.  Leave enough time to go through security screening and get to your courtroom promptly.  Dress appropriately: no jeans, shorts, and tank tops or overly casual attire.

2. Do not bring food or beverages, knives or any other item that may be used as a weapon.

3. You may bring a cell phone, laptop or tablet computer, but these items must be powered off while in the courtroom. In Montgomery County, your electronic device may be confiscated if you look at it or review texts or e-mails; go outside to do those things.

4. There are large LED displays in the lobby area just after you get through security.  Most trial courtrooms are on the fourth floor. Civil domestic violence cases are in 512, bond hearings in 513 and other kinds of preliminary proceedings in 511.  There is a “Criminal-Traffic” clerk’s office on the second floor if you need information or assistance.

Call us (301) 340-7600

Contact our Attorneys

Fill out the form below or call (301) 340-7600 to arrange a free consultation in Rockville, MD.

5. Ask your attorney for any special instructions about checking in when you are in the courtroom.  Montgomery County and most jurisdictions require you to check in with either a prosecutor or clerk, or both, but that is only for you to identify yourself. Your attorney should negotiate with the prosecutor or inform the clerk about the status of your case.

6. Proceedings in the courtroom are recorded on sensitive equipment before, during, and after the judge arrives. Do not have conversations when the judge is there, and don’t say anything else at other times that you would not want to have anyone record or listen to later.

7. In criminal and traffic cases that involve possible jail time, judges control the docket and take quicker and preliminary matters first, then guilty pleas, and then trials. You must be present in the courtroom, not the lobby, when your case is called, or make arrangements for someone to answer for you if you are using the restrooms.

8. After your case is concluded, sit in the front row of the court room to receive a printed “Defendant Trial Summary” and then review any fines and costs that must be paid immediately.  Deferred payments must be approved before you leave the courtroom. If you must pay on the same day, go to the second floor “Cashier’s office.” Any payment you wish to make by using a debit or charge card will require an additional fee, but the cashier will take cash or checks. All payments must be made before 4:30 p.m. on the date payment is due.

If you have been placed on supervised probation and ordered to report, there is a probation intake office at the District Court, Rockville location, 191 E. Jefferson Street, and you must report even if your trial was in Silver Spring.

In general, if you are not satisfied with the outcome of a District Court proceeding, you must file a written notice of appeal at the clerk’s office not later than 30 days of the final disposition in that court. You may be required to pay court costs, currently $80.00, before the appeal will be noted by the District Court clerk.  If the District Court judge ordered an appeal bond, that also must be paid, but fines and court costs may generally be deferred until the case is final in Circuit Court.

Any appeal permitted by law will go to the Circuit Court for Montgomery County where a “trial de novo” is granted.  If you have been acquitted of some charges in District Court, then you will not have to stand trial on those again.  If you entered a guilty plea in District Court to less than all the charges, the charges that were dropped in District Court may be reinstituted in Circuit Court.  That is, there will be a Circuit Court proceeding as though there was never a trial in District Court.

When Appearing in Circuit Court:

1. Know the date and time when court is scheduled.  Leave enough time to go through security screening and get to your court room promptly.  Dress appropriately: no jeans, shorts, and tank tops or overly casual attire.

2. Any containers and backpacks will be screened and no weapons of any kind are permitted.  Circuit Court security personnel will generally permit you to bring food and drink. There is also a cafeteria on the “T” level of the courthouse and executive office building complex.

3. There are two Circuit Court buildings, called the North Tower, or the older concrete facility, and the newer addition, called the South Tower. Most court notices will indicate tower location and courtroom number.  “6A” [through “D”] refers to a courtroom on the 6th floor of the North Tower; “4F” [that is, a letter greater than E] would be on the 4th floor in the South Tower.

All Family and Juvenile cases are generally heard in the South Tower, but criminal and traffic cases could be heard in either tower; look for the LED displays that are available in the lobby area and on each floor where there are courts.  In the lobby area, there is also an information desk and the Assignment Office, both of which may assist you.

4. The Montgomery County Circuit Court policy on cell phones, tablets and laptops is much more liberal than District Court.  Just be sure that the electronic device is set on mute. 

5. Ask your attorney for any special instructions about checking in when you are in the courtroom.  There is no automatic or general rule in Circuit Court courtrooms.

6. Proceedings in the courtroom are recorded on sensitive equipment before, during, and after the judge arrives. Do not have conversations when the judge is there, and don’t say anything else at other times that you would not want to have anyone record or listen to later.

7. In Circuit Case criminal and traffic cases there are relatively few cases scheduled each day and usually identified in a printed list that will be called by a clerk or the prosecutor in each courtroom.   You must be present in the courtroom, not the lobby, when your case is called, or make arrangements for someone to answer for you if you are using the restrooms.

8. After your case is concluded in the courtroom, make note of any new court dates or requirements imposed by the judge. If you have been placed on probation, a court order is generally prepared by the clerk and signed by you before you leave the courtroom.  If you have fines or costs to be paid, you will generally be directed to the “Finance Office” on the second floor atrium of the North Tower. 

If you have been placed on supervised probation and ordered to report, there is a probation intake office at the District Court Rockville location, 191 E. Jefferson Street.

In general, if you are not satisfied with the outcome of a Circuit Court proceeding, your right to appeal depends on whether you had a trial or entered a guilty plea.  And, if you have already been tried in District Court a further appeal may be limited or unavailable.  Appeals from guilty pleas require permission from the Court of Special Appeals.  Like District Court, any appeal that is permitted by law must be noted in writing and within 30 days.  An attorney’s advice and assistance are essential, because appeals from the Circuit Court are entirely in writing and based upon transcripts of the testimony in Circuit Court, not new testimony or a new trial. Your attorney will also have to prepare a written “Brief” containing legal authorities and arguments.

If you need an attorney in Rockville MD who will stop at nothing to ensure the most favorable outcome of your legal situation, look no further than Bours & Lucero, LLC. You need an attorney who will provide personalized service, actively involve you in your case, and ensure the best possible outcome.