Stet is a disposition for criminal matters in Maryland District and Circuit Courts. A stet is only entered when the State or prosecutor makes a formal request from the court/judge to mark the criminal charges as ‘stet.’ The judge must accept the stet and order the stet to be entered for the matter. The defendant must accept the stet and waive his or her right to a speedy trial if the stet is reopened during the 3 years after the stet is entered.
What is a ‘Stet’
A ‘stet’ is an indefinite postponement of criminal charges. A stet must be initiated by the State’s Attorney or prosecutor and approved by the judge or court. Once a stet is entered, the defendant must accept the stet.
Facts About Stet in Maryland
A Stet is not automatically entered
A stet is not automatically entered by the court. The prosecutor must make a formal, either written or oral request to the court or judge to enter the stet. A judge may refuse to enter the stet for the criminal case or charges.
A stet must be accepted by the defendant
Once a motion or preliminary motion is made by the State to mark the matter stet, the defendant must accept the stet. A defendant has the right to refuse to accept the stet. A stet may come with conditions and the defendant may prefer to refuse those conditions.
The defendant must waive their right to a speedy trial if accepting a stet
If the State offers a stet, the defendant must accept the stet. If the defendant accepts the stet, then the defendant retains all rights they would have if the case is reopened. However, the defendant must waive one right: the right to a speedy trial.
In Maryland and throughout the United States, defendants have the right to a speedy trial. For Circuit Court criminal charges, a defendant must be trial within 180 days (after a certain clock starts). Since a stet can extend to up to 3 years, the defendant could be tried past the 180 day requirement Thus, they must waive their right to make that argument or opposition if the stet is reopened and charges go to trial.
A stet can be reopened
A stet can be reopened. Once a stet is entered by the court, the defendant or state may reopen the stet within the 3 years after the stet is entered. The State or defendant may reopen the stet within the first year for any reason and in years 2 and 3 by showing ‘good cause’ to the court.
What is a stet docket in Maryland?
There is actually not a stet docket, this is a term that has been used by prosecutors and lawyers over the years and has stuck within the parlance of the court and the legal system. The stet docket implies that there is a separate docket where the case is heard. But in fact, once a stet is entered, the case is inactive and is not on a docket any longer.
Stet is eligible for expungement
A stet may be expunged in Maryland. Pursuant to Maryland Criminal Procedure 10-105(a)(5) a stet may be expunged if certain conditions are met. To expunge a stet, the defendant must wait 3 years from the date the stet was entered and the defendant cannot be a current defendant in a pending criminal matter.
The defendant’s lawyer may request a stet
A criminal defense lawyer may request a stet for their client’s matter, however, it is up to the State’s Attorney prosecuting the case to offer the stet. If a defendant is offered a stet, the lawyer must advise the defendant of the conditions of the stet and the defendant must accept the stet and waive the right to a speedy trial is the stet is reopened.
The State may stet other charges in a case
What has become common practice in many jurisdictions is once the defendant is found guilty of one or more charges or receives a probation before judgment (PBJ), the State will stet the balance of the charges. This is often done so the state may reopen those charges if the defendant elects to appeal the conviction.
This is not applicable in cases where the defendant receives a PBJ, but still done, since a PBJ does not allow a defendant to appeal the decision. However, the State’s thinking is if the defendant violates the probation, the PBJ is stricken and a guilty is entered, then the defendant appeals that decision, the State still has the option to reopen the stet and prosecute the defendant on the additional charges.
A stet is not a conviction
A stet is not a conviction, since no finding of fact was conducted and the defendant did not enter a plea to the charge or charges. Since a stet is not a conviction in Maryland, you can truthfully answer to employers or other inquiries that you have not been convicted if you receive a stet in your criminal case.
Why is a Stet offered and entered?
Stet is a useful tool for prosecutors in Maryland. If a prosecutor believes that a conviction would not bets serve the State, they will offer a stet. Some other reasons a stet is offered in a criminal case are:
- The State does not believe they can prove their case but still want to the defendant to abide by certain conditions.
- The witnesses are reluctant to testify but the State does not want to dismiss the case.
- Amicable resolution of a case that is borderline.
- The victim does not want to proceed but the State does want to drop the charge completely.
- The State wants to retain the right to reopen the case if the defendant appeals the decision.
What is a stet verdict?
A stet verdict does not exist. A stet is not a verdict since a judge or jury will not hear any evidence and this not render a verdict. A stet verdict cannot be possible as there is no verdict in a stet entry.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Lawyer About a Stet in Maryland
Mr. Rice is a former Assistant State’s Attorney, and has helped thousands of clients with their criminal charges in Maryland. Let his experience be your guide in the courtroom.
Stet Disposition in Maryland
A stet is a status of a criminal case in a Maryland Court. When a case is marked Stet, it means that the case is inactive and it will not be prosecuted as long as the defendant abides by the conditions of the Stet.
The stet is a initiated by the state’s attorney and the judge must approve the stet. When a case is marked stet, that means the file is placed on a shelf for three years. The first year the case can be reopened for any reason and the following two years it can only be reopened upon a showing of good cause to the Court. After three years, the case can be expunged.
A stet docket is actually not a docket but a term used by judges and state’s attorneys to describe marking a case “Stet.” There is no Stet Docket and a case is not placed on the Stet Docket. Stet Docket has just been used so many times that new prosecutors use the term and it has been repeated so many times that it keeps getting used.
Stet Docket Definition
When a case is marked stet or placed on the “stet docket,” that means the case become inactive and the State has chosen to not prosecute the case. The State’s file goes on a shelf in the State’s Attorney’s office as well as the Court file goes on a shelf in the Clerk of Court.
Conditional Stet vs. Unconditional Stet
Some cases are marked Stet with conditions, thus a “conditional Stet.” Examples of conditions may be; stay away from a location, don’t have contact with a person, complete community service, make payment to another person as restitution, or any other condition the State can imagine.
If the case is marked Stet and there are no conditions, then it is an “unconditional stet.” This means the State will not prosecute and you don’t have to complete any tasks during the time of a Stet.
Expungement of a Stet
A stet can be expunged in Maryland. But you have to wait three years from the date the Stet was entered by the Court. If a case was marked stet on January 15, 2013, then the case could be expunged on January 15, 2016. If the defendant is pending criminal charges at the time of expungement is filed, then the stet expungement will be denied.
Right You Waive When Accepting a Stet
If you accept a stet, and you have to accept it, the only right you waive is your right to a speedy trial. Since a Stet could be reopened and the State or you could choose to go to trial, then you cannot claim at a later date, if the case is reopened, that you were not tried in a timely enough fashion
Maryland Stet Laws and Rules
Maryland Stet laws are found in Title 4 of the causes under chapter 200, pretrial procedures.
Maryland Rule 4-248 states:
“(a) Disposition by stet. On motion of the State’s Attorney, the court may indefinitely postpone trial of a charge by marking the charge “stet” on the docket. The defendant need not be present when a charge is stetted but if neither the defendant nor the defendant’s attorney is present, the clerk shall send notice of the stet to the defendant, if the defendant’s whereabouts are known, and to the defendant’s attorney of record. Notice shall not be sent if either the defendant or the defendant’s attorney was present in court when the charge was stetted. If notice is required, the clerk may send one notice that lists all of the charges that were stetted. A charge may not be stetted over the objection of the defendant. A stetted charge may be rescheduled for trial at the request of either party within one year and thereafter only by order of court for good cause shown.
(b) Effect of stet. When a charge is stetted, the clerk shall take the action necessary to recall or revoke any outstanding warrant or detainer that could lead to the arrest or detention of the defendant because of the charge, unless the court orders that any warrant or detainer shall remain outstanding.”