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What is a Stet?

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Stephen Shepard

Stephen Shepard is the Principal Attorney and Counselor at Law at The Law Office of Stephen P. Shepard, LLC in Towson, MD.

A stet is a special type of disposition or resolution of a criminal or serious traffic case pursuant to Md. Rule 4-248 in which the State’s Attorney asks the court to mark a case as inactive or place it on what is sometimes referred to as the “stet docket” for three years, usually with one or more condition(s) attached to it being marked as inactive.

Under Md. Rule 4-248, only the State’s Attorney may ask the court to mark a case as a stet. If the court grants the request, then the case becomes inactive for a period of three years. For the first year, either the Defendant or the State may ask the court to reopen the case for any reason whatsoever. Generally, if a case was marked as a stet with one or more condition(s), and the Defendant failed to abide by the condition(s), then the State would likely ask the court to reopen the case and set it in for a trial. After the first year, for the following two years, the case may only be reopened if a judge finds good cause (or a really good reason) to do so. After three years, the case cannot be reopened for any reason.

What is the Effect or Benefit of a Stet Disposition?

The primary and most important effect or benefit of a stet disposition is that it is not considered a conviction under Maryland law. Therefore, a case marked as a stet does not carry the same punishment and collateral consequences as a conviction likely would.

Another effect or benefit of a stet disposition is that, under most circumstances, a case marked as a stet may be expunged or removed from the Defendant’s criminal record after three years.

When a case is marked as a stet, the Defendant keeps all of his or her trial rights except for one: The right to a speedy trial. Therefore, the Defendant must accept the stet and waive or give up his or her right to a speedy trial in order to receive a stet disposition. This simply means that, if the case is reopened, the Defendant cannot come back to court and complain that he or she was not brought in for trial in a timely manner.

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