Police Prosecution Powers Have Begun for Attorney General’s Office

Prosecutorial powers for the Independent Investigations Division in the Office of the Attorney General are now in effect across Maryland.

Yesterday marked the beginning of the Independent Investigation Division’s (IID) new power to prosecute a police officer in a case involving the death of an individual. SB 290 passed the General Assembly earlier this year and went into effect this week. As of now, incidents occurring on or after October 1, 2023 will fall under the prosecutorial purview of the IID.

Any incident before October 1, 2023, the IID does not decide whether to prosecute an involved officer and does not bring criminal charges. For those cases the IID does an investigation and sends a report containing detailed findings and analysis to the State’s Attorney of the county with jurisdiction over the incident. In those cases, the local State’s Attorney retains sole prosecutorial authority.

For the current calendar year, 11 new cases have been issued to the IID for investigation in 2023. Those incidents and the additional 27 from 2021-2022 will remain with the local State’s Attorney for prosecution if charges are brought. The IID site includes a list of all past and pending investigations. MACo did not take a position on this bill during the 2023 legislative session. Generally, whether charges are brought by the State’s Attorney or the Attorney General, the pure possession of prosecutorial authority would not necessarily represent an increase in charges or costs to county governments.