What Is a Stet in Criminal Law?

Maryland criminal defense attorney, Jeffrey Scholnick explains the meaning of a stet docket as it applies to criminal law.  

Stet is a legal concept that is commonly considered and widely used throughout criminal law. When a case is placed on the stet docket, it means that the case is inactive for a period of time and technically closed in the court system, but neither a guilty or not guilty verdict was declared. Cases are typically put on the stet docket so that a defendant can complete any agreed upon conditions such as community service, counseling courses, anger management classes or payment of restitution.

“Stet” is a Latin term that means “let it stand” as in “not moving” or “remaining inactive.”

When a defendant and his or her legal team agree to the terms of the stet, it is important to understand that the defendant is also giving up his or her right to a speedy trial. According to the United States Constitution and Maryland law, every person charged with a crime has the right to a speedy trial. Since the stet docket means the case is being deemed inactive, a trial may occur at a much later date or it may never occur at all, depending on the case’s specific circumstances.

However, just because a case is stet does not mean that a defendant is free from any further charges in the case. In the event that a defendant does not adhere to the agreement or fails to complete the set conditions, the State may reactivate the case, and that defendant could face the charges again. Any party to the case has the option of reopening the case within one year for any reason. In the second and third years, a stet can only be reopened by filing a motion and showing good cause.

If a defendant successfully fulfills all of the ordered conditions, there may be an agreement in which the State will drop the charges, but this outcome is not always guaranteed. If a case is still on the stet docket after three years, a defendant can seek expungement. If the charge was for an action that has been decriminalized, then it can be expunged immediately.

From the moment you get charged with a crime, it is critical to consult with legal representation, as he or she will provide you with the greatest chance of achieving your desired outcomes. Having your case placed on the stet docket could greatly affect your criminal record and freedom, so you should not navigate the complex legal process alone.

For more information about stets and expungement of a stet, or your personal legal circumstances, contact Jeffrey Scholnick at the Law Office of Jeffrey Scholnick today.

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