In Maryland, the court proceedings generally start with a Statement of Charges. The Statement of Charges in Maryland is a written statement that accuses someone of breaking the law. These charges are brought by a police officer (or citizen) to a District Court Commissioner. The Commissioner then reviews the statement for probable cause.
Everyday citizens can swear out an affidavit, as mentioned above, to get you arrested. We see this most often in domestic situations where the officer “didn’t see enough” or, frankly, may not believe the witness. Do not assume that just because a civilian “swore the charges out” that you are in the clear. The Statement of Charges, if signed by the Commissioner, carry the same weight.
The Commissioner needs only find probable cause, not beyond a reasonable doubt. Once the state attempts to take you to trial, they have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a much higher standard.
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