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The Office of the State's Attorney

 

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The Office of the State's Attorney for Howard County is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all criminal cases within the geographical boundaries of Howard County. It is a constitutional office in that it was created by the Constitution of Maryland. Each political jurisdiction ( the 23 counties and Baltimore City) in Maryland has its own elected State's Attorney.

 

The State's Attorney is elected for a four year term in non-presidential election years. The State's Attorney represents the State (citizens) in all criminal cases, with very few exceptions, at the "trial" level - where the determination of guilt or innocence is made - in both the District and Circuit Courts. If the case is appealed, the Office of the Attorney General then represents the State.

 

In Maryland, the State's Attorney only handles criminal cases. Civil cases are handled by, on the county level, the Office of Law; and, on the state level, by the Office of the Attorney General.

While our system of justice is an "adversarial" one, the State's Attorney is also a "minister of justice" and, therefore, has certain obligations to the defendant (person charged with a crime) as well as to the state. For example, if we have evidence that may show the defendant is innocent or that someone else may have committed the crime, we are obligated to turn that evidence over to the defendant's attorney. If the defense attorney has evidence that tends to show the client is guilty, the defense attorney is NOT obliged to turn that evidence over to us.

Also, prosecutors are ethically bound to dismiss a case if they do not feel there is sufficient evidence to prove a person guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." We cannot, ethically, say, "we'll take our best shot and let the judge decide."

We feel we are very fortunate to have a fine staff of dedicated, skillful, highly ethical prosecutors in our office. We strive to serve the citizens of Howard County well. If you ever feel we have not done so, please feel free to contact us.