Maryland’s District Courts are the limited jurisdiction courts for the state and non-jury trial courts. The state has 34 District Courts. For administrative purposes, the District Courts are split into 12 judicial districts. These courts handle local crimes and disputes. A judge resolves all matters. District Courts were established on July 5, 1971, by the Maryland Constitution and they are entirely state-funded. Maryland has 115 District Court judges and a Chief Judge that oversees the entire operation in a supervisory role.
The types of cases resolved in Maryland’s District Courts are landlord-tenant disputes, motor vehicle violations, replevin actions, misdemeanors, some minor felonies, small claims cases of $5,000 or less, and offenses that carry a prison term of 3 years or less or a fine of $2,500 or less. District Courts have concurrent jurisdiction with Circuit Courts for small claims between $5,000 - $30,000 and certain felonies. Other types of District Court cases are tort cases, contract disputes, real property cases, civil protection, and restraining orders, preliminary felony hearings and misdemeanors. They have exclusive jurisdiction over local traffic violations and ordinance issues.
The Maryland Courts website has helpful information for anyone using District Courts including information on domestic abuse, mediation as an alternative to divorce, housing/tenant issues, small claims and information on paying fines, fees and traffic tickets on an installment plan. They also offer a variety of other resources including forms for filing, e-filing options to submit paperwork or pay online and a law library of legal sources for information.
For the last year tallied, Maryland’s District Courts saw 1,646,877 cases. The highest number of cases (650,348) were for landlord/tenant issues. The next highest number of cases (568,306) were for motor vehicle offenses, 291,491 were for civil actions, and 136,732 were for criminal cases.