Baltimore Criminal Law Attorneys
The Rules Have Changed
There is an urban legend that claims that a person who has been arrested for a crime will be allowed to postpone making a plea at their arraignment if they have not yet hired a lawyer. The experienced criminal law attorneys at T. Wray McCurdy, P.A. in Baltimore want you to know that this is not how it works in Maryland.
If you have never been charged of a criminal offense, you may be unfamiliar with the process. Here’s what happens: At your first court appearance after your arrest, a judge will read your charges aloud and ask you to plead guilty or not guilty. Some people believe that they can get out of this by not having an attorney—urban legend has it that this will allow you to request a postponement because that’s how it used to be.
However, this is no longer the case—the rules have changed.
In all likelihood, a Public Defender will be assigned to your case if you were arrested and taken before the District Court Commissioner. What does this mean for you if you think the old rules apply? You will show up to court thinking you can request a postponement only to discover you do have an attorney after all—and one that you did not get to choose.
While Public Defenders are competent and experienced attorneys, they know nothing about you if you haven’t spoken to them. In addition, they are juggling dozens of case files and will have very little time to meet with you on the trial date. Also, now that you do have an attorney, most Judges will not grant you a postponement—even though you may not have been weren’t aware they were assigned to you before walking into the courtroom.
To avoid this scenario, you need to contact an experienced attorney long before your first trial date. This way they can prepare your defense in advance, which is centered around how to present you in the best light to the court. If you have retained a private attorney, they will get a postponement of the first trial date if necessary to prepare your case, but you can’t get one on your own in court any longer in most circumstances.