Maryland Courts Overview
It helps to understand how the Maryland state court system works when you’re trying to find court records. The Maryland trial court system consists of Circuit Courts, District Courts, Orphans' Courts, and Tax Court.
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.
If you prefer, you can start your search by going to Maryland courts by county.
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 Tax CourtThe Maryland Tax Court is an executive branch agency that hears appeals of tax-related decisions of the Comptroller of Maryland, Property Tax Appeals Board, and local taxing authorities. Disputes heard include state income tax, sales and use tax, and real and personal property tax assessments. Decisions may be appealed to Circuit Court.
The Tax Court has statewide jurisdiction but operates out of the Maryland State Office Complex in Baltimore.
Maryland Business and Technology Case Management ProgramThe Business and Technology Case Management Program is a specialized program in each Circuit Court that hears complex cases involving business or technology issues. A party's attorney may request that a case be assigned to the program, or the court make make the assignment on its own. Judges assigned to the program have been trained in business and technology issues. Mediation is also available.
Maryland Court NotesMaryland has two types of quasi-judicial agencies that conduct formal hearings for legal issues that include appeals of administrative agency decisions and some disputes between private individuals.
The Office of Administrative Hearings conducts hearings involving citizen disagreement with a decision or action of a state administrative agency. It also provides mediation services. The Office's decisions may be appealed to Circuit Court.
An individual county or city may have a Commission on Landlord-Tenant Affairs that hears disputes between landlords and tenants. The Commission's opinions and orders may be appealed to Circuit Court.
Where to Find Court Cases in Maryland
The chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of Maryland court.
|Case Type||Court Type|
|Civil||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Orphans' Courts|
|General Civil - Unlimited|
|General Civil - Limited|
|Foreclosures and Liens|
|Real Estate Title and Boundary|
|Landlord / Tenant|
|Protection, No Contact, and Restraining Orders|
|Administrative Agency Appeals|
|Criminal||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Orphans' Courts|
|Felony Preliminary Hearings|
|Traffic and Infractions|
|Domestic Relations||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Orphans' Courts|
|Child Custody and Visitation|
|Domestic Violence Protection Order|
|Juvenile||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Orphans' Courts|
|Child Abuse and Neglect|
|Termination of Parental Rights|
|Children in Need of Supervision|
|Mental Health||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Orphans' Courts|
|Other Mental Health Cases|
|Probate||Circuit Courts||District Courts||Orphans' Courts|
|Wills & Estates|
|Guardianships and Conservatorships|