Step 1: Report the crime to the police
If you believe that a crime has been committed against you
or a minor in your custody, your first step should be reporting
the crime to the local police department. Reporting the incident
makes it a matter of record, even if the police are unable
to investigate the crime.
Depending upon the nature of the incident, the police may conduct
an investigation. The investigation determines whether or not
charges are filed by the police with a District Court commissioner.
If the police file charges, the matter is now under the authority
of the court.
Step 2: File charges
with a District Court commissioner
If the police do not conduct an investigation or file charges,
you may file an Application for Statement of Charges on your
own with a District Court commissioner.
A District Court commissioner, a judicial officer, reviews
the Application for Statement of Charges to decide if sufficient
evidence exists to charge the defendant (the person accused)
with a crime (probable cause).
You must tell the commissioner, in writing, the details of
Step 3: How to complete
When completing an Application for Statement of Charges (Form
DC/CR1), you must tell the commissioner:
• Who • What
• When • Why
• Where • How
• A description of the accused
Since the application helps the commissioner determine if probable
cause exists for charges to be filed, you must provide accurate
and adequate information.
• Who: Under Complainant, list your name and contact information.
Under Defendant identify the person you are accusing of committing
• Description: Describe the defendant. Provide as much information
as possible so that the defendant may be easily identified.
• When: State the time, day, month and year of the offense.
• Where: State the exact street address, city, county, and state
where the offense happened. Also state whether the offense happened in a private
home or in some public place.
• What: State exactly what was done to you. For example, if property
was taken, describe it and its value. If property was damaged or destroyed, indicate
the original cost of the item or its replacement value. If you do not know the
exact value, estimate it as accurately as possible.
• Why: In explaining what happened to you, include any facts that
would show that the accused intended to commit a criminal act.
• How: State how the accused committed the offense. For example,
if you were assaulted, were you struck with a fist, a flat hand, kicked, or pushed,
or were you struck with an object, such as a club or pipe, etc.?
Step 4: Issuing a summons or an arrest warrant
After you have signed the application, the commissioner reviews
it to determine whether or not a crime has been committed and
if there is reason to believe that the person you have accused,
committed the crime.
If the commissioner determines that there is probable cause,
a charging document is issued. The commissioner will issue
either a summons for the defendant to appear in court at a
later date or a warrant for the arrest of the defendant.
If a summons is issued, a law enforcement officer authorized
to serve the summons will attempt to do so. “Serving” the
summons means delivering it to the defendant.
If a warrant is issued, the document will be given to the law
enforcement agency responsible for finding and arresting the
Step 5: Court
Your application for a charging document may lead to the arrest
and detention of the defendant. If, as a result of your application,
a charging document is issued by the commissioner, it will
not be possible for the commissioner to withdraw the document.
You cannot change your mind about filing the charge. The charge
may only be disposed of by trial or by action of the State’s
Attorney. You will be required to appear at the trial as a
witness. Failure to appear on the date set by the court could
result in your arrest for failure to obey a court order.
application for a charging document must be filed
under oath. A person who knowingly provides false
information in an application shall be subject
to a fine of not more than $500, or be imprisoned
not more than six months, or be both fined and
imprisoned, at the discretion of the court.
Information is intended to inform the public and not serve as legal advice. Any reproduction of this material must be authorized by the Office of the Chief Clerk of the District Court of Maryland.
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