When you go to court, I am sure you have heard judges, and lawyers mention the stet docket
or you may have heard that term from a friend. A Stet means that case is going to be inactive for a period of time (maybe 6 months or a year), usually in order for the defendant to complete some agreed upon conditions like community service hours, counseling courses, anger management classes, payment of restitution, etc. After the defendant successfully complies with all the conditions, there may be an agreement that the case will be then entered as a Nolle Prosequi–in other words the State will drop the charges. Of course, all cases will vary and it depends on the exact agreement that is worked out. Some counties in Maryland may not offer stet diversion for certain offenses, so it is important to check with a local attorney to see what the practice is in that area. So you might ask, if stet is a postponement then when is the next court date. In most cases where a stet is entered there is no future court date. The stet functions as an indefinite postponement. The defendant does not need to sign a summons for a future date before leaving court.
Now a stet can be reopened by either side during the first year. But during year 2 and 3, a stet may be opened by filing a motion and show good cause. Absent a showing of good cause, the stet cannot be reopened after the first year. A typical scenario when a stet is reopened is when a defendant is rearrested on a new charge. Prior to agreeing to a stet, a judge or the lawyer will often inquire as to whether the defendant understands what a stet is and that he/she is giving up his/her right to a speedy trial.
It’s important to understand that a stet is not a conviction. It’s an indefinite postponement of a criminal case for up to 3 years. A stet can be expunged after three years if (1) the case is not reopened and (2) the defendant is not convicted of a crime during that time period. If you have a stet that you’d like to have expunged then you can contact our law office. We can help you to get your record expunged. Whether or not you can get a stet in Maryland depends on many factors, including but not limited to the facts of your case, your record, the readiness of the state’s attorney to put on the case against you, the ability of your lawyer to negotiate for a stet, the court’s willingness to allow the stet, and many others. I see stets used most often in relatively minor cases where the state is not prepared to go to trial but does not want to simply dismiss the case. Call our office for a free phone evaluation to see if your case qualifies for a stet.