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Chapter 7-A: Legal Rights and Resources


Related Topics: Child Abuse and Neglect | Domestic Violence | Library Branches | Voting


Jump To: Information About Your Rights | Legal Resources


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Information About Your Rights


Many young people come in contact with the criminal justice system. If you are under 18 you will usually be involved with the juvenile justice system, but may be tried in adult court if accused of serious crimes. If you are 18 or older, you will be treated as an adult and be processed through the District Court.


Rights and Duties


  1. Policemen are people. In general they will treat you decently if you are polite and not hostile. Like most people, they will sometimes become angry or rude if they are threatened or laughed at or abused. Use your common sense if you are stopped by a policeman; treat him the way you would like to be treated.
  2. If a policeman asks you what you saw or what you are doing in an area, you do not have to answer him if you do not want to. If you did nothing against the law, it might be better for you to help him. If you don't answer him, he may become suspicious of you. But he cannot make you answer. Whatever you tell a policeman could be held against you.
  3. If it sounds like the policeman thinks you did something against the law, ask him, "Am I under arrest?". If he says "yes," you do not have to say anything or answer his questions. What you say may be used against you. If he says "No, you are not under arrest," you may ask, "May I go?". If he says "NO" to that, or puts you in a police car, you ARE under arrest and do not have to answer any questions.
  4. Try to remember what the policeman looks like. If you can, remember his badge number and name, but do not hassle him. Also remember what he says and what you say. Try to remember who else is there and what they say and do. Later, this could help your lawyer to help you.
  5. DO NOT RUN AWAY! Policeman may use force to stop you from fleeing.
  6. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES assault or hassle a policeman, not even if you think you have been abused. Fighting with a policeman is a serious offense, and you may get hurt.
  7. You may be searched by a policeman if 1) he thinks you are carrying a deadly weapon; 2) he is arresting you; 3) he has a warrant to search you. Do not resist a search even if you question the officer's right to search you. He may use force to search you or he may place serious charges against you. Merely say "I do not give you permission to search me."
  8. A policeman has the right to ask you, as a motorist, to show your driver's license and car registration. You must show them to him if he stops your car. You must get out of the car if he asks you to, at once. Do not give him the idea that you are about to flee, run him down, or assault him. YOU may be very seriously injured or be charged with a serious crime. If he asks you to sign a traffic ticket, do so or you will be arrested. Signing a ticket is NOT an admission of guilt.
  9. Your car may be searched without a warrant when you have been stopped for an offense for which you may be taken into custody, or when the police have probable cause to believe that your car contains something illegal.
  10. An officer must have a search or arrest warrant in order to come into your home, and he should show it to you. If he has no warrant and you do not want him to look around, do not give him permission to come into the house. A policeman may enter a house without a warrant if he is in "hot pursuit." If a police officer forces his way in without a warrant, DO NOT RESIST HIM. Say, "I do not give you permission to search my home." Unless the police present a search warrant, your landlord has no right to let them search your quarters without your permission.
  11. If the police take any articles of property from your home, car, boat, etc., you should ask for a written receipt, if they don't offer one to you. The police are supposed to give you a receipt.
  12. The arresting policeman is supposed to tell you what you're being charged with. Ask for a lawyer. If you lack money, you are entitled to a free lawyer. You are entitled to one phone call; the police are obligated to make change for you. If you have no money they are still obligated to let you make one phone call, and you should insist on this. If you don't know a lawyer, call your parents or a friend and ask for help. If you are under 18, the police must be in touch with your parents or the Department of Juvenile Services.
  13. You have a right to have a lawyer present when you are put in a police lineup.
  14. You cannot be held in jail indefinitely. You must be released or taken before a judge or commissioner promptly. If the charge is serious, you will be told what it is, what the bail is, and whether there is enough evidence to hold you. You can be released without having to pay bail, unless there is a good reason to believe you may not appear in court. If the charge is not serious, you may be tried right away. Don't agree to be tried unless you have a lawyer.
  15. You should have a lawyer if you are tried for a crime. You are entitled to an appointed attorney if you cannot afford to pay for your own lawyer. In that case, the Public Defender's Office will provide you with a lawyer.
  16. You are entitled to a private conference with your lawyer. Talk to him or her and no one else.
  17. Your lawyer should be with you when you are being questioned.
  18. If you believe that a policeman has abused you, or has behaved improperly in some other way, talk to your lawyer or call the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for advice.
  19. Public high school students have been guaranteed some rights in school:

If you have questions about these, or other rights in high school, call the ACLU.


  • They may not be forced to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • They may not be discriminated against on the basis of race or sex.
  • Students may wear armbands and buttons with controversial messages so long as they do not materially disrupt school.
  • They may distribute leaflets or newspapers but, in Maryland, school authorities can establish rules regarding time and place of distribution and can require a student to submit copies of his materials for approval before they are distributed. If leaflets or newspapers are obscene, libelous, or threaten an immediate breach of the law, or a disruption of school activities, the may be banned. Students have a right to appeal any such ban.
  • Students may not be suspended for a long period of time or expelled from school without a fair hearing and a chance to appeal. The possession, use, distribution, or conspiracy to distribute alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs in any quality is prohibited on property owned by the Board of Education, on school buses, or at off-site, school sponsored activities. Any pupil who violates the provisions of this policy is subject to expulsion.
  • The schools must not support religious exercises or encourage prayer.
  • The schools may not show your school records to anyone except your parents and other school officials without your permission.


20. Private employers can hire or fire people for pretty much any reason they please, except that they cannot discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, or physical and mental handicaps. If you think you have been discriminated against, contact the Maryland Human Relations Commission. Private employers may request but not require you to take lie-detector tests. In Anne Arundel County they may not even request you to do so.

21. Restaurants, stores, shopping centers, etc., may refuse to serve anyone for any reason they choose (including long hair and dress), but they may not discriminate on the basis of race or sex. If you are turned away because of your race or sex contact the Human Relations Commission.

22. You have a right to talk to your friends, distribute leaflets, demonstrate, or picket on street corners, public sidewalks, or in public parks. Some parks may require you to obtain permits before engaging in such activities. (There is a curfew in some parks and in Baltimore City, however.) You do not have a right to block sidewalks, make excessive noise, interfere with traffic, or intimidate passersby. If you are told to leave a public sidewalk by a policeman, do not argue with him or disobey him; he may arrest you for disorderly conduct or some other charge. Call the ACLU for advice. Shopping centers are considered private property and may, if they wish, prevent you from leafleting or demonstrating on their premises.




American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland
3600 Clipper Mill Road
Suite 350
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
Provides information on matters related to civil liberties and legal rights

Baltimore County Bar Association - Lawyer Referral and Information Service
County Courts Building, Room 100
401 Bosley Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
Lawyer referral for people with legal problems and a limited income


Baltimore County Department of Aging - Legal Services for Senior Citizens Program
call Maryland Senior Legal Hotline, 410-951-7750 or 800-896-4213
Free legal assistance, consultation and / or representation to Baltimore County residents age 60 or over for specific types of civil cases. The program has no income or resource eligibility requirements.


Baltimore County Human Relations Commission
Drumcastle Government Center
6401 York Road, Suite 1013
Baltimore, Maryland 21212
410-887-5917; TDD: 410-339-7520
Investigates complaints of discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, education, public accommodations, and finance on the bases of race, color, creed, age, religion, sex (including sexual harassment and pregnancy), physical and mental disability, national origin, and marital status.


Baltimore County Child Support Enforcement Agency
170 West Ridgley Road. Suite 200
Lutherville, Maryland 21093-5123
This office will file for a Child Support Order and provide location and enforcement services for residents of Baltimore County and others who qualify on a legal jurisdictional basis. Services provided include legal establishment of the support obligation, enforcement of existing Court orders including civil and criminal contempt citations and license suspensions, and the collection and disbursement of child support payments. Applications may be requested by mail, phone, or in person. An application fee is required.


Baltimore County Police Department - Juvenile Offenders In Need of Supervision (JOINS) Program
Designed to prevent juvenile delinquency by diverting threshold offenders ( first-time non-violent offenders, or those youth deemed to be at the beginning of a pattern of delinquency ), from the juvenile justice system. Supports youth and their families by assessing needs and making referrals, when indicated, to community agencies. All JOINS youth are assessed by Case Managers assigned by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services ( D J S ), or professional counselors from the Police Department’s Counseling Team. All victims receive restitution when it is appropriate to the case.


Baltimore County State's Attorney
County Courts Building
401 Bosley Avenue, Room 511
Towson, Maryland 21204
Information: 410-887-6600
TTY: 711 or Maryland Relay


  • Family Violence Unit:
    Handles the initial case preparation of all domestic violence cases and the trial of criminal cases in the circuit court involving domestic violence.


  • Victim Witness Program
    410-887-6569 for a District Court case
    410-887-6650 for a Circuit Court case
    Answers legal questions of victims and witnesses which relate to cases including daily docket information, directions to court locations, and ways to contact the State's Attorney office. Provides explanation of and orientation to the Criminal Justice process to victims and witnesses and a referral to resources and services for social service needs.


Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc.
2530 North Charles Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
Tenant-Landlord Hotline: 410-243-6007 Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.
Fair Housing: 410-243-4400
Counselors provide information to callers, both landlords and tenants, but not legal advice or lawyer referrals. Provides basic information about their rights and responsibilities under Maryland Tenant – Landlord Law and refers callers to other state and local resources such as rent court, small claims court, the local housing code enforcement office, and other legal resources where appropriate.  They have free information packets for tenants and landlords which answer commonly asked questions, such as, security deposits, evictions, rent court, maintenance, and proper notice available online.


Catholic Charities of Baltimore - Esperanza Center - Immigration Legal Services
430 South Broadway
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Provides low cost counseling and legal representation for low-income persons with immigration-related problems such as deportation, naturalization, green cards, visas, and more.


Circuit Court for Baltimore County
County Courts Building
401 Bosley Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
This trial court has full common law and equity powers in all civil, juvenile and criminal cases. This court is responsible for hearing all major felony cases (including death penalty cases) as well as all criminal misdemeanor cases in which there is a request for a jury trial. All civil claims are heard in this court exclusively involving disputes over $20,000 in addition to all matters pertaining to divorce, custody, child support and / or visitation.


Circuit Court of Baltimore County - Law Library
County Courts Building, Second Floor
401 Bosley Avenue
Towson, Maryland  21204
The library is open to the public, particularly citizens representing themselves in legal matters who reside in Baltimore County. Offers legal information and information services. Access to the laws and cases of all 50 states and the Federal government. The print collection places strong emphasis on Maryland law.  Special collections include county codes, Court of Appeals briefs on microfiche, over 50 law reviews, and extensive tax and labor collections. Limited service is available for students doing research in connection with course work as it is the obligation of their educational institutions to provide such training.


Circuit Court of Baltimore County - Pro Se (Self-Help Family Law) Office
County Courts Building, Room 101, 1st Floor
401 Bosley Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
Pro Se attorneys, experienced family law attorneys, assist parties in filling-out family law forms in Family Division cases.  The attorneys provide assistance on a first-come, first-serve basis to those parties who are representing themselves. There are no charges for the assistance, however, there are charges to file and serve your petition. Hours of operation available on their website.


Disability Rights Maryland - Legal Services
1500 Union Avenue, Suite 2000
Baltimore, Maryland 21211
410-727-6352 ext.0; Toll-Free: 1-800-233-7201 (Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 12 noon); TTY: 410-235-5387
Provides free legal services to Marylanders with disabilities on matters that are related to their disabilities and fall within the Center's advocacy service plan [DOC]. Uses volunteers to represent children in special education cases and in school disciplinary proceedings. Due to limited resources, not all cases can be accepted for representation. Interpreter services available for the hearing impaired.


District Courts of Maryland in Baltimore County
The jurisdiction of the courts, located in Catonsville, Essex and Towson, includes all landlord-tenant cases, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors and certain felonies. In civil cases the District Court has exclusive jurisdiction in claims for amounts up to $5,000, and concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts in claims for amounts above $5,000 but less than $30,000. The jurisdiction of the court in criminal cases is concurrent with the Circuit Court for offenses in which the penalty may be confinement for three years or more or a fine of $2,500 or more; or offenses which are felonies. The District Court does not conduct jury trials.


Homeless Persons Representation Project
201 North Charles Street, Suite 1104
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
410-685-6589 or 1-800-773-4340
Provides legal advice and / or direct representation in a variety of civil matters for homeless individuals and families in shelters  as well as persons at risk of homelessness. Also operates a referral program for case representation.


House of Ruth Domestic Violence Legal Clinic
2201 Argonne Drive
Baltimore, Maryland 21218
410-554-8463; Statewide 24-hour Legal Line: 1-888-880-7884
Provides counseling and direct representation to battered spouses in civil protection order proceedings and divorce and child custody cases. Legal Clinic helps victims of domestic violence obtain protective orders, peace orders, divorce decrees, custody of children and child support for free.


Jewish Community Services - Jewish Legal Services Clinic
Walk-in clinic: 5750 Park Heights Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21215
By appointment only: Jewish Community Services in Owings Mills,
3506 Gwynnbrook Avenues
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117
410-843-7505 for information. Upcoming clinic dates found on website
Volunteer community lawyers offer free legal information, advice, and referral services for Jewish individuals with limited income at an evening monthly walk-in clinic. The clinic is not designed to solve complicated problems. It provides general legal information and advice and / or directs clients to the appropriate resources to handle their particular problems. May refer clients to attorneys for further representation. Russian translators available.


Legal Aid Bureau, Inc. - Baltimore County
29 West Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 305
Towson, Maryland 21204
Offers a full range of free civil legal services to financially qualified low-income residents of Baltimore County. Fees are based on a sliding scale.


Maryland Attorney General - Consumer Protection Division
Main telephone number: 410-576-6300 or 1-888-743-0023 toll-free in Maryland; TDD: 410-576-6372
Consumer Complaint Hotline: 410-528-8662; Consumer questions: (opens in new window)
Medical Billing Complaints: 410-528-1840
Health Plan decision appeals: 1-877-261-8807 toll-free
Provides a mediation and arbitration service to consumers to help resolve complaints against businesses and health insurance carriers; registers health clubs and new home builders; and produces a wide array of consumer education materials. Forms and information on Advance Directives / Living Wills and Health Care Proxies.


Maryland Commission on Civil Rights
6 Saint Paul Street, Suite 900
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
410-767-8600; 1-800-637-6247; TTY: 410-333-1737
Enforces the state's anti-discrimination laws which prohibit discrimination based on age, ancestry, color, familial status, marital status, physical disability, national origin, race, religion or sex.


Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center, Inc. - Baltimore Office
218 East Lexington Street, Suite 401
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Provides criminal justice and victims' rights information; peer support services; therapeutic individual, family and group counseling; and legal information, referrals, and representation. Offers a court companion during trial, assistance with financial remedies, including restitution and criminal injuries compensation.


Maryland Department of Juvenile Services - Baltimore County (Region 2: Central Region)
Youthful offenders need to understand the consequences of their actions, and to that end the Department offers residential services ranging from foster care to institutional care. The department provides individualized care and treatment to youth who have violated the law, or who are a danger to themselves or others. Prevention programs are designed to stop delinquent behavior before it starts. Services to at risk youth include individual and family counseling, advocacy, and drug abuse education. Region 2 offices include Baltimore,Carroll, Harford and Howard Counties. The offices that are located in Baltimore County include:


  • Central Region Office
    9700 Old Harford Road
    Baltimore, Maryland 21234

  • Arbutus Office
    900 Walker Avenue
    Baltimore, Maryland 21228


  • Eastern Baltimore County Office
    431 Eastern Avenue, Suite 100
    Essex, MD 21221


  • Garrison Office
    10999 Red Run Boulevard, Suite 115
    Owings Mills, Maryland 21117


  • Hunt Valley Office
    10946 Golden West Drive, Suite 130
    Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031


Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Link to contact information by service.
Find location and cost information for public fingerprinting services, obtain individual background checks, and Firearms Safety Training requirements and a schedule of approved classes. Access the Maryland Sex Offender Registry; learn how to remove police, court and criminal history records from public inspection. Offers victims of crime guidance and support while navigating the criminal justice system. Covers victims rights and open parole hearings.


  • Division of Parole and Probation - Community Supervision
    6776 Reisterstown Road,
    Baltimore, Maryland 21215
    410-585-3500; You may also call the DPP office in the county where you live and ask them to look up who supervises or monitors the offender:
    In addition to supervising parolees, probationers and those on mandatory release from the correctional facilities, community supervision staff also conducts pre-sentence investigations and supervises Marylanders who've been court-ordered into the Drinking Driver Monitor Program. A Community Supervision Enforcement Program monitors offenders on home detention and operates the Warrant Apprehension Unit to bring in offenders who have violated the terms of their supervision.


  • Office of Victim Services
    6776 Reisterstown Road, Suite 212
    Baltimore, Maryland 21215
    410-585-3517 or 410-585-3300
    Victim services are present in the Division of Correction, the Division of Parole and Probation, Parole Commission and the Pre-trial Division. Their Criminal Injuries Compensation Board also provides compensation for victims of crime. Helps victims complete victim impact statements; provides case status information; provide restitution assistance; register victims for notification; and makes referrals for counseling and other advocacy organizations. Call to determine the agent or monitor assigned to a case.


Maryland Office of the Public Defender - Baltimore County, District 8
200 Washington Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
Legal defense for anyone charged with a criminal offense who cannot afford to hire a lawyer.


Maryland State Law Library
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
410-260-1430 or toll free in Maryland 1-888-216-8156
Legal problem? The Maryland State Law Library provides legal information to the Maryland public. Information specialists can assist with suggestions for basic and advanced legal research, for assisting in the location and use of sources and finding aids, and in recommending alternative sources for legal help outside of the library. They can be contacted directly through e-mail, phone, their web form or via Maryland AskUsNow.


Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service
1 North Charles Street, Suite 222
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Call 410-547-6537, or 1-800-510-0050 (outside of Baltimore) Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 1 pm
Connects low-income Marylanders in need of civil legal assistance with a volunteer attorney who has appropriate skills and expertise. Provides free (and in some cases low cost) legal representation. Cases handled include family law, foreclosure, guardianship, name change, deed change, landlord / tenant, bankruptcy, tax disputes, consumer issues, and wills.  Accepts clients throughout Maryland.


National Rehabilitation Information Center
1-800-346-2742; TTY: 1-301-459-5984
Contact information specialists through their web form or live chat Monday - Friday, 8:30 am - 5:30 pm EST at (opens in new window)
Can assist people with disabilities and their families in finding information and referral to agencies and organizations with services and support for people with disabilities. The information specialists have gathered a collection of links, print, and phone resources for a wide array of topics.


Peoples Law Library of Maryland
Excellent source of legal information and self-help information for Maryland residents. Includes Legal Services Directory (opens in new window) for state. It is maintained by the Maryland State Law Library,


Protection Order Advocacy and Representation Project ( P O A R P )- Baltimore County
County Courts Building
401 Bosley Avenue, First Floor
Towson, Maryland 21204
Call: 410-887-3162 Mondays-Fridays, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
The staff lawyers in this office provide free legal advice to any victim of domestic violence.  They will discuss legal options, provide assistance in applying for an Ex Parte Order or Protection Order, help create a safety plan for victims and their children and legally represent parties in Ex Parte and / or Protection Order proceedings. POARP attorneys work with clients who have been abused by an intimate partner (current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, current or former spouse, parent of a child in common).


Register of Wills, Baltimore County
County Courts Building, Room 500
401 Bosley Avenue
Towson, Maryland 21204
410-887-6680 or 6681
Appoints personal representatives to administer decedents’ estates and for overseeing the proper and timely administration of these proceedings. Assists and advises the public in the preparation of all required probate forms; serves as the Clerk to the Orphans’ Court; tracks estates and refers delinquent matters to the Court; determines and collects inheritance taxes and probate fees / court costs; audits accounts of personal representatives and guardians; and, verifies compliance with court orders. Does not prepare wills.


Temporary Protective Order/Interim Peace or Protective Order
Civil Clerk, Clerk of the Court Office
Circuit Court for Baltimore County
401 Bosley Avenue, Second Floor
Towson, Maryland 21204
410-887-2614 or 410-887-2601
Victims of domestic violence may seek protection from their abusers by filing a Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence at any Circuit or District Court in the State of Maryland. If the Court finds that you are eligible for protection and that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Abuser/Respondent caused serious bodily harm or placed you in fear of imminent serious bodily harm, a Temporary Protective Order will be issued and a Final Protective Order hearing will be scheduled. After business hours, weekends and holidays, you may still obtain temporary protection by filing a Petition for Protection with the District Court Commissioner. A Commissioner may issue an Interim Peace or Protective Order to last until the courthouse reopens. An Interim Protective Order goes into effect once a law enforcement officer serves the Respondent. Assistance with the completion of a Petition for Protection from Domestic Violence is available from Protection Order Advocacy and Representation Project (POARP)- Baltimore County


Women's Law Center of Maryland
305 West Chesapeake Avenue, Suite 201
Towson, Maryland 21204


  • Employment Law Hotline: operates on Tuesdays from 9:30 am to 1 pm and first Thursdays from 5 pm to 7:30 pm at 1-877-422-9500.
    A telephone service which will provide you with legal information about your rights in the workplace including: discrimination in hiring, firing, promotions or other working conditions; discrimination based on pregnancy; sexual harassment; family or medical leave issues; unpaid wages, and more.


  • Family Law Hotline: operates at 1-800-845-8550 Monday through Friday 9:30 am - 4:30 pm (Statewide)
    A free service to people with basic family law questions such as "What are the grounds for divorce?" or "If I leave with the kids, can I still get child support?" or changing one's name. The volunteer attorneys screen the clients for income eligibility.


  • Legal Forms ( Family Law Self-Help Forms ) Helpline: operates at 1-800-818-9888 Tuesday and Friday 9 am - 12:30 pm and Thursday 9 am - 4 pm. A Spanish-speaking attorney is available by calling 1-877-293-2507. Leave a message and an attorney will return your call. (Spanish only) (Statewide)
    The Legal Forms Helpline is a free telephone service for people who are able to file their family law cases without an attorney, because their cases are uncomplicated and uncontested.


Revised: February 13, 2018