Key Terms: C

  • Case-In-Chief - The portion of a trial in which the State, which possesses the burden of proof in the case, initially presents its evidence.
  • Circuit Court - The court where felonies are heard and where a defendant may receive a jury trial.
  • Citation - A charging document issued by a law enforcement officer in lieu of placing him under arrest, which immediately releases the defendant from custody and requires the defendant to appear in court for an arraignment on a specified date.
  • Citizen Complaints - A process in which an individual, as opposed to a sworn law enforcement officer, may file criminal charges against another person at the District Court commissioner’s office. The complainant must take an oath, under penalty of perjury, stating that all of the information that is being given to the commissioner is truthful and accurate, to the best of the complainant’s knowledge. Upon review of the citizen’s written complaint, the commissioner must determine if there is probable cause to issue a summons, or a warrant for the defendant’s arrest, on the sworn charge(s).
  • Commissioner - Commissioners are judicial officers who are given the authority to make determinations of probable cause regarding allegations of criminal violations, before a police officer or a citizen complainant can obtain criminal charges against a defendant.
  • Commitment Order - A commitment order is an order from the court setting forth the specific amount of time a defendant has been sentenced to incarceration and any additional terms and conditions of a defendant’s punishment for an offense for which the defendant has been convicted.
  • Complainant - A person who makes a complaint or files a formal charge in a court of law.
  • Complaint - The legal instrument filed by the State that initiates a criminal action. The complaint states the alleged crime of the defendant in legal language. In District Court (misdemeanor cases), the complaint serves as the formal accusatory instrument. In Circuit Court (felony cases), the complaint serves as a preliminary accusatory instrument until a Grand Jury indictment is obtained.
  • Contraband - Goods barred by law. Contraband generally includes specific weapons or drugs prohibited by law.
  • Controlled Dangerous Substances - Under Maryland law, drugs that have been regulated under the Controlled Substances Act and have been divided into 5 schedules.
  • Conviction - A disposition of a case in which the defendant is found guilty by trial or plea.
  • Court Reporter - One who takes a verbatim record of the court proceedings using a stenotype machine which records stenographic symbols on paper. They are also known as “stenographers.”
  • Courtroom Clerk - The courtroom clerk assists the judge in record-keeping and other clerical duties including docket entries.
  • Criminal Summons - A legal document for a defendant issued in lieu of an arrest warrant. The defendant is ordered to come to court to receive further information regarding the criminal cases pending against him or her.
  • Cross-Examination - The questioning of a witness presented by the opposing party at trial.