The Maryland trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, District Courts, and Orphans Courts.
Circuit Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases. District Courts and Orphans Courts have limited jurisdiction. Circuit Courts generally handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts. District Courts handle certain types of civil and criminal cases, and Orphans Courts handle certain types of probate and guardianship cases.
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Maryland Circuit CourtsCircuit Courts have general jurisdiction to hear all civil and criminal cases but typically will only hear cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts.
Cases typically heard by Circuit Courts include general civil cases with more than $5000 in dispute, exclusive of interest, costs and fees. Circuit Courts also hear felony criminal cases, domestic violence protective orders and peace orders.
Circuit Courts also handle divorce, child custody, child support, child protection, termination of parental rights and most cases that request equitable relief.
Circuit Courts may have divisions for Juvenile Court and either a Family Division or a Family Services Program, depending on the size of the court.
Maryland District CourtsDistrict Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases.
Criminal cases typically heard by District Courts include some felonies, felony preliminary hearings, most misdemeanors, most violations of county or municipal ordinances, and motor vehicle and boating violations.
Civil cases typically heard by District Courts include general civil claims for up to $25,000, exclusive of interest, costs and fees. District Courts also handle landlord-tenant cases, actions for replevin, domestic violence protective orders, peace orders, and some juvenile cases.
Each District Court has a Small Claims division for most general civil cases involving $5,000 or less, excluding interest, costs and fees. District Courts shares some jurisdiction with Circuit Courts for certain cases, including civil cases where the amount in dispute is between $5,000 and $25,000, exclusive of interest, costs and fees.
District Courts do not have jurisdiction over certain types of cases, including cases that properly request a jury trial, requests for declaratory relief, most requests for equitable relief, most felony crimes, and most cases involving disputes over ownership of land.
Maryland Orphans CourtsOrphans Courts have limited jurisdiction over certain types of probate and guardianship cases.
Cases typically handled by Orphans Courts include most probate matters, some tax issues related to probate cases, some issues involving the ownership of land related to probate cases and some guardianships.
Orphans Courts share some jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over certain types of cases, including guardianships of a minor.
Maryland Court NotesMaryland has several quasi-judicial agencies that conduct formal hearings for legal issues that include appeals of administrative agency decisions and some disputes between private individuals.
These quasi-judicial agencies include the Office of Administrative Hearings, the Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs and the Maryland Tax Court.
These agencies have authority to review evidence, conduct hearings and issue various types of orders. Though these quasi-judicial agencies operate in a manner that is similar to trial courts, they are not considered part of the state trial court system.
Where to find court cases in MarylandThe chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in Maryland.