For urgent criminal matters, 24/7 free consultations are available by calling 240-561-1172.
We have a reputation for the reliable and effective representation of clients involved in criminal matters.
Below is a sample of criminal cases our firm handles.
If you’re facing criminal charges, call us to schedule a confidential, no-obligation consultation for your case.
Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. has a record of defending clients facing DUI/DWI charges. We know the consequences a DUI/DWI conviction can have on you and your family. Therefore, we thoroughly assess every DUI/DWI charge to determine whether the state’s evidence could support a conviction.
We’ll then show you the necessary steps to avoid a conviction where possible and mitigate any adverse consequences.
Driving On a Suspended License
Our firm regularly represents clients with a Driving On a Suspended License charge. Many people don’t realize that driving on a Revoked or Suspended License carries a potential 60-day or one-year jail sentence and fine. In addition, having a traffic/criminal conviction on your record can severely limit employment possibilities.
Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz can help you resolve a Driving on a Suspended License charge. In many cases, we can negotiate with the State’s Attorney to avoid a conviction, and you may not have to plead guilty to any offense.
An Overview of Driving on a Suspended License in Maryland
Everyone knows that a driver’s license is required to drive on the public roads throughout the United States. Driving without a valid license is a crime in the state of Maryland.
An individual may not drive or attempt to drive a vehicle in this state unless the individual has a driver’s license. An individual is also prohibited from driving when their driver’s license has been suspended or revoked.
How does a suspension occur?
There are a variety of ways which a person can end up with a suspended license in the State of Maryland. A license will be suspended by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) if an individual accumulates 8 points on their driving record, and that license will be revoked if the individual accumulates 12 points on their driving record. Points are assessed when a person is convicted of a moving violation. A conviction can occur either when the person goes to court and pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial. A conviction can also occur when a person elects to pay a ticket rather than going to court.
The number of points associated with a moving violation depends on the severity of the violation. While there are forty-two categories of violations for purposes of assessing points, some of the most common are these: a moving violation, not otherwise listed and not contributing to an accident – 1 point; speeding by 10 mph or more – 2 points; failing to stop for a school bus – 3 points; running a red light – 2 points; a moving violation contributing to an accident – 3 points; speeding in excess of 30 miles per hour – 5 points; driving without a license – 5 points; speeding in excess of 20 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone – 5 points; driving while impaired– 8 points; failing to stop after an accident – 8 points; failing to stop after an accident involving bodily injury or death – 12 points; driving under the influence – 12 points. Moving violations which are not listed here also can result in points being assessed.
A minor, with a provisional license, will have their license suspended if they accumulate 5 or more points in a 12-month period. The MVA will suspend the license for six months for a first offense, and for one year for every offense thereafter.
Maryland can suspend your driver’s license for failing to pay child support. An individual who is 60 days or more in arrears is subject to have their driver’s license suspended. In such cases, the MVA may and will likely issue a work-restricted license or work-restricted privilege to drive.
A driver’s license will also be suspended when a warrant is issued for an individual. When this happens, the MVA will notify the driver and provide the driver with an opportunity to contest the suspension. Any contest, however, is limited to whether the MVA has mistaken the identity of the individual named in the outstanding warrant, or the individual whose license or privilege to drive has been suspended.
The MVA may suspend, for a period of sixty (60) days, a person’s license for a conviction of driving while impaired by alcohol or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Maryland will suspend your driver’s license for refusing to submit to, or failing a test for intoxication. The suspension, along with a temporary license, is issued at the time of the arrest. Under Maryland’s implied consent law, a person who drives on the road in Maryland is deemed to have consented to take a test, if the person is detained on suspicion of driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, or while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person could not drive a vehicle safely.
An individual cannot be compelled to take a chemical test; however, the refusal to do so will result in your license being suspended. If an individual’s Blood Alcohol Content(BAC) is over .08, the individual is subject to a suspension of 45 days for a first offense; and 90 days for a second or subsequent offense. If the BAC is over 0.15, the individual is subject to a suspension of 90 days for a first offense and 180 days for a second or subsequent offense.
If the driver refuses to submit to a test, the MVA will suspend your license for 120days. For a second or subsequent offense, the MVA will suspend the license for one year.
For anon-resident, Maryland cannot suspend your driver’s license; however it can suspend your privilege to drive in Maryland. Depending on the laws of the state where the license is issued, the driver may face additional suspension or other consequences pertaining to their driver’s license.
Persons who hold commercial driver’s licenses are subject to additional restrictions when failing or refusing to submit to a test for intoxication.
How does a revocation occur?
The MVA has the authority to revoke the license of a person who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol per se (.08 BAC), or driving under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance.
The MVA can also revoke your license if you are convicted of driving while impaired and you have, within the previous three years, received two or more convictions for driving under the influence, driving under the influence per se, driving while impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol, or driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance.
The MVA must revoke the license of an individual convicted for homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, impaired by alcohol, or impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or a controlled dangerous substance.
What happens after my license is suspended?
When the MVA suspends your license, you are legally prohibited from driving in the State of Maryland. The MVA must send you a notice, by certified mail, stating the duration of the suspension or revocation, and advising you that you have the right, within ten (10) days oft he day the notice is sent, to request a hearing on the matter. If you do not request a hearing within ten days, the suspension or revocation takes effect at the end of the ten (10) day period.
What happens if my license is revoked?
If your license is revoked, you will have to reapply for a license. While you may reapply as soon as you surrender your license to the MVA, your license cannot be reinstated until six months after you surrender your license. If you do not have a Maryland driver’s license, you can be reinstated six months after the effective date of the revocation. If your license was previously revoked, there is a one-year waiting period before you may have your license reinstated. Additional waiting periods apply for multiple revocations.
For how long will my license be suspended?
The duration of your suspension depends on your driving record and the reason why it was suspended in the first place. Except as otherwise noted herein, a suspension will usually be for a period between two (2) and thirty (30) days. If your license is being suspended for a second or subsequent time, the minimum time period is fifteen (15) days and the maximum period is ninety (90)days, except as otherwise noted in this article.
If your license is suspended based on child support arrears, there is no specific time period for the suspension. Instead the license may be reinstated either when the MVA receives a court-order that the license be restored, or the arrearage has been paid in full; or the individual has demonstrated good faith by paying the ordered amount for 6 consecutive months.
A person who, within five years, receives two convictions for driving under the influence or driving while impaired may be suspended for up to a year. If the driver is under the age of twenty-one, however, the person may be suspended for a year after a first conviction and may be suspended for two years after a second or subsequent conviction.
What can I do if I need to drive?
Depending on the circumstances under which your license was suspended, there may be some options available to you. If your license was suspended due to an accumulation of points resulting from a drug or alcohol related driving offense, you may be able to obtain a restricted license from the MVA by participating in the Ignition Interlock Program.
You may be able to obtain a modified driver’s license during the time period which your suspension applies. A modified license typically allows you to drive only for purposes of work, school, or for an alcohol-treatment program.
A person who is facing the suspension or revocation of their license has the right to request a hearing. In some cases, where there are multiple factors contributing to a suspension, the person may be able to consolidate the issues for one hearing.
Ignition Interlock Program and License Modification
If you are convicted of certain alcohol-related driving offenses, you may be permitted to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program. The interlock program works by having the driver get a device installed in the vehicle that requires the driver to provide a breath sample periodically while driving. The vehicle will not operate if the driver is above the permissible threshold. The interlock program is available to those people are not otherwise eligible to receive a modified or restricted license. This generally applies when the individual has tested at an alcohol level in excess of 0.15 BAC or has refused to take the test. An individual eligible for interlock, but who fails to have the device installed, will have their license suspended.
If the individual’s blood alcohol level is between .08 and .15, and the individual has not had an alcohol related suspension, or conviction, within the previous five years, the individual may receive a modified or restricted license during the suspension period. In order to obtain a restricted license, the individual needs to show that he must drive to get to work, school, to obtain healthcare, or to get to an alcohol treatment or education program. The licensee must also show that he or she has no alternative means of transportation to or from the licensee’s place of employment, healthcare provider, or school.
In addition to a suspension following conviction of certain alcohol related offenses, drivers face a potential suspension of their license if they refuse to submit to a chemical test for intoxication at the time of a stop, or if their BAC is above the legal limit when stopped.
In some cases, a person may elect to participate in the interlock program rather than have their license suspended, without a hearing. In order to be eligible, the person must meet the following requirements: (1) the person’s driver’s license is not currently suspended, revoked, cancelled or refused; (2) the violation did not arise out of circumstances that involved the death of; or serious injury to, another person; (3) the person surrenders a valid Maryland driver’s license or signs a statement certifying that the driver’s license is no longer in their possession; and (4) the person elects, in writing, within the time requirements for requesting a hearing, to meet the ignition interlock system requirements, for one year.
If an individual obtain a modified license based on participation in the ignition interlock program, but fails to successfully complete the program, the MVA will suspend the license for the full period applicable to the underlying violation. The individual is entitled to an administrative hearing prior to the suspension and will receive a notice to that effect, by mail. If a hearing is requested, the suspension will not take effect until after the hearing takes place.
The Importance of Acting Quickly
If you are facing a potential suspension of your driver’s license, it is important that you act quickly. Depending on the circumstances, you may be at a disadvantage if you delay action. If you are facing a possible suspension for an alcohol-related offense, you will want to submit a hearing request within ten (10) days from the date of your arrest.
If you are facing a potential suspension for refusal to submit to a chemical test for intoxication, or for a test resulting in an alcohol concentration of .08 or more, you are entitled to a hearing. The hearing takes place before an administrative law judge, usually at an MVA facility. Although the hearing takes place at the MVA building, the judge who hears your case is independent of the MVA. Administrative law judges hear all types of cases involving government agencies throughout the state of Maryland.
When an individual is arrested for an alcohol-related traffic offense, the officer will generally confiscate the individual’s license and issue a temporary license valid for forty-five (45) days.. The paperwork provided to the driver, by the officer will contain a hearing request form. If the hearing request form is completed and returned, within ten (10) days of the arrest, the MVA will schedule a hearing within the forty-five (45) day window. If a hearing request is made, after ten days, but within 30 days, the person may continue to drive during the forty-five (45)days for which the temporary license is valid, but is not permitted to drive after the forty-five (45) days has elapsed.
The Issues at an MVA Hearing following an Alcohol-Related Offense
Depending on the reasons that an individual is facing a potential suspension of his or her license, various issues may be relevant to the case. Probably the most common reason that we see for persons facing a potential suspension is for refusing to submit to a chemical test, or for a test result indicating a BAC of .08 or above. When an individual is facing a suspension for an alcohol-related traffic offense, there are seven (7) issues that are relevant to the judge’s decision:
- Whether the police officer who stops or detains a person has reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol, while impaired by alcohol, while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, that the person could not drive a vehicle safely, while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance, in violation of an alcohol restriction, or in violation of restrictions placed on operators of commercial vehicles.
- Whether there was evidence of the use by the person of alcohol, any drug, any combination of drugs, a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol, or a controlled dangerous substance.
- Whether the police officer requested a test after the person was fully advised as required by law, of the administrative sanctions that shall be imposed.
- Whether the person refused to take the test.
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more at the time of testing.
- Whether the person drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle while having an alcohol concentration of .15 or more at the time of testing.
- If a hearing involves disqualification of a commercial instructional permit or a commercial driver’s license, whether the person was operating a commercial motor vehicle or held a commercial instructional permit or a commercial driver’s license.
The determination of any facts by the Administration is independent of the determination of the same or similar facts in the adjudication of any criminal charges arising out of the same occurrence. The disposition of criminal charges will not affect any suspension imposed by the MVA.
If the MVA imposes a suspension or disqualification following a hearing, the person whose license or privilege to drive has been suspended or disqualified, may appeal the final order of suspension to the Circuit Court for which the person resides. If the person is a non-resident, the person can appeal to the Circuit Court for the county in which the underlying offense occurred.
A suspension may be stayed, pending an appeal, upon application to the Director of the Division of Administrative Adjudication.
Other Basis for Suspension or Revocation of a License
While the majority of suspensions and revocations are addressed above, there are some additional grounds on which a license can be suspended or revoked. These include:
- ·That a licensee has been convicted of moving violations so often as to indicate an intent to disregard the traffic laws and the safety of other persons on the highway
- That a licensee is unfit, or habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle;
- That a licensee has permitted an unlawful or fraudulent use of a license, identification card, or a facsimile of a license or identification card;
- That a licensee has used a license, identification card, or facsimile of a license or identification card in an unlawful or fraudulent manner;
- That a licensee has committed an offense in another state that, if committed in Maryland, would be grounds for suspension or revocation;
- That a licensee has knowingly made a false certification of required security in any application for a certificate of title or for the registration of a vehicle.
- That a licensee fails to attend a driver improvement program or an alcohol education program after being directed to do so by the MVA.
- That a licensee violated the terms of a provisional license
- That the licensee violated certain weapons restrictions or made threats.
Driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor in the State of Maryland. Depending on the nature of the suspension, and your prior record, it carries a penalty ranging between $500 and 2 months in jail and $1,000 and 2 years in jail.
In a driving while suspended case, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant knew or should have known that his license was suspended. When a license is suspended, the state is required to send notice to the licensee by certified mail. If the state cannot prove that notice was mailed to the defendant, then the state will not be able to secure a conviction.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin &Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are facing a potential license suspension, or charges of driving on a suspended license. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation, in-office-consultation for any driving related criminal charges or to review your rights in connection with a potential license suspension.
An assault charge is a serious matter that can affect your rights, your employment, and even your freedom.
If you or a family member has been accused of assault, an experienced criminal defense attorney must handle your case appropriately. Any assault case can involve serious jail time or felony charges.
Criminal Assault in Maryland
The crime of assault is one of the most common criminal charges that we see at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. Assaults come in two degrees, First Degree Assault, which is a felony, and Second Degree Assault, which is a misdemeanor. We see many more second degree assault charges than first degree assault charges.
Second Degree Assault
There are three different types of assaults, or fact scenarios under which the state may charge a defendant with the crime of second degree assault, under Maryland law. While there is only one crime, the state has several different ways by which it can attempt to secure a conviction.
Intent to Frighten – An Intent to Frighten type assault requires that the state prove three elements, and sometimes a fourth, depending on the evidence.
- The state must prove that the defendant committed an act with the intent to place the victim in fear of immediate physical harm or offensive physical contact;
- The state must prove that the defendant had the ability at that time, to bring about the offensive physical contact or physical harm; and
- The state must prove that the victim reasonably feared immediate offensive physical contact or physical harm.
- [Depending on the case] Only when the evidence suggests the possibility of self-defense, then the state must also prove that the defendant’s actions were not legally justified.
Attempted Battery – An attempted Battery assault requires the state to prove three elements:
- That the Defendant actually tried to cause immediate offensive physical contact or physical harm to the victim.
- That the defendant intended to bring about offensive physical contract or physical harm; and
- That the defendant’s actions were not consented to by the victim and were not legally justified.
Battery – A Battery assault requires the state to prove three elements:
- That the defendant caused offensive physical contact with or physical harm to the victim;
- That the contact was the result of an intentional or reckless act of the defendant and was not accidental; and
- That the contact was not consented to by the victim and not legally justified.
First Degree Assault
In order to prove the crime of First Degree Assault, the State must prove all of the elements of second degree assault, and must also prove that either the defendant used a firearm to commit assault; or that the defendant intended to cause serious physical injury in the commission of the assault.
The criminal penalty for a second degree assault charge is imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine, not exceeding $2,500, or both.
The penalty for a first degree assault charge is imprisonment not exceeding twenty-five years.
There are several affirmative defenses that may be available to a defendant who is charged with assault. An affirmative defense is a justification for the conduct. It says to the court that “Even though I did what I’ve been charged with, I should not be found guilty of a crime because I was justified in doing it.” The law provides several legal justifications for committing an assault. Where an affirmative defense is raised, the state has the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defense does not apply. This means that the state must prove that at least one of the factors, identified below, for whatever defense is raised is absent.
Self-defense is a complete defense to the crime of assault. The judge or jury must find the defendant not guilty if four factors are present:
- The defendant was not the aggressor
- The defendant actually believed that he or she was in imminent danger of bodily harm
- The defendant’s belief was reasonable; and
- The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend him or herself in light of the threatened or actual harm.
Defense of Others
Similar to Self-defense, a person may raise the defense that he was acting to protect one or more other persons. The defendant is not guilty if four factors are present:
- 1.The defendant actually believed that the person he or she was defending was in immediate and imminent danger of bodily harm;
- 2.The defendant’s belief was reasonable;
- 3.The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary in light of the threatened or actual force; and
- 4.The defendant’s purpose in using force was to aid the person he was defending.
Defense of Habitation
A person may use deadly force to defend their home under some circumstances. In order to have a valid defense, all five of the factors listed here must be present.
- Someone entered or attempted to enter the defendant’s home;
- The defendant believed that the intruder intended to commit a crime that would involve an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.
- That the defendant reasonably believed that the intruder intended to commit such a crime.
- The defendant believed that the force that he or she used against the victim was necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm; and
- The defendant reasonably believed that such force was necessary.
Defense of Property
A person may use reasonable, non-deadly force to defend their property. Three factors must be present for this defense to apply.
- The defendant actually believed that a person was unlawfully interfering, or was just about to unlawfully interfere with his property;
- That the defendant’s belief was reasonable; and
- The defendant used no more force than was reasonable necessary to defend against the victim’s interference with the property.
In some cases, the state charges more than one person with an assault arising out of the same incident. These cases, among others, present the possibility of securing an acquittal by means of raising a testimony privilege. There are two types of privileges that are commonly asserted in assault cases. It’s important to note that a privilege belongs to the witness/victim, not to the defendant. The defendant cannot force a person to exercise their privilege, but can benefit if they choose to do so.
Spousal Privilege: The spouse of a person on trial for a crime may not be compelled to testify as an adverse witness in an assault case. This privilege may only be used one time. Therefore, if the defendant is facing a second or subsequent trial for assault and the spouse previously invoked the privilege, the court can compel them to testify in the later case.
Fifth Amendment Privilege: A person may not be compelled to testify in violation of his privilege against self-incrimination. This is typically seen where two or more people are arrested for assault and each is subpoenaed to testify in the other’s cases. The danger being that once one person testifies, whatever statements they make can be used in the trial against them. Any person who is called to testify in a criminal case, who, by reason of their own conduct faces the possibility of criminal charges, whether or not those charges are pending, should serious consider exercising their Fifth Amendment Privilege and not testify.
There are some cases where the state will be able to meet its burden of proof with respect to the elements of assault. There are other cases where there is a strong likelihood that the state will do so. In these cases, it is often in the best interest of the defendant to enter into a negotiated plea with the state, rather than taking the case to trial. If the defendant does not want to take the case to trial, there are two general alternatives that are commonly available to defendants. Which options is available in any particular case depend on many factors, including the facts of the case, the prosecuting attorney and the defendant’s prior criminal record.
- The case may be placed on the “stet” docket
If the state’s attorney agrees, a defendant’s case may be put on the stet or inactive docket. Placing a case on the stet docket acts as an indefinite postponement of the case. Placing the case on the stet docket means that the defendant does not have a conviction. A case that has been placed on the stet docket will be eligible for expungement. Usually a defendant must wait three years to obtain an expungement. Sometimes a case is placed on the stet docket with conditions. A defendant may have to make a donation, attend counseling, pay restitution, or take some other action in order for the case to remain on the stet docket. In assault cases, a common condition of having a case put on the stet docket is that the defendant attend and successfully complete an anger management program. In some cases, the state will require, as part of the agreement that the defendant have no contact with the victim.
- The defendant may be offered a plea agreement
In many cases, the defendant is not offered a stet and the case is not a good one to take to trial. The evidence of assault may be significant and not favorable to the defendant. This may be the case where the defendant has previously had a case put on the stet docket, or where the injuries sustained by the victim are severe.
In a first degree assault case, if the state is going to offer a deal, they will generally offer a plea to second degree assault. In a second degree assault case, the plea offer will usually be to second degree assault or reckless endangerment. Generally when a defendant takes a plea deal, there is some benefit to the defendant in doing so. In many cases, the defendant agrees to plead to a crime that is less severe than what he may be convicted of if the case goes to trial. In some cases, the state may only offer a plea to the more serious crime that has been charged. Nevertheless, it may, in some circumstances be to the defendant’s benefit to accept a plea.
When a defendant accepts a plea, the state’s attorney will read facts to the judge that the state would have offered as evidence at trial. In some cases, the state will agree to withhold certain facts. This is one reason why a plea may be advisable in some cases, even without a reduction in charges. For instance, if the state agrees to state “the defendant punched the victim numerous times” rather than “the defendant punched the victim seventeen times in the face breaking the victim’s nose and knocking out three teeth”, it will greatly benefit the defendant in the case. While this example may see a little extreme, there are many times when the defendant has done something that he does not want to have on the record as part of the plea.
If you are facing an assault charge, you may want to consider enrolling in an anger-management class prior to going to court. This can help in both your negotiation with the state and when your case goes before the judge.
The attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe have handled many assault cases. We are familiar with the prosecutors and judges. If you come in for a consultation, we’re happy to discuss your case, the evidence, the defenses, and the possible and likely outcomes with you. We may also be able to recommend steps you can take prior to trial to help get the best outcome.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are facing criminal charges. There is no consultation fee for criminal matters. Call today to schedule a free consultation
Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Hearings
Our attorneys are very familiar with the MVA hearing procedures and Maryland transportation law. As a result, we can help you avoid losing your license in most cases. We have successfully represented many clients in MVA hearings.
What to Expect at a Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Hearing
What to Expect at a Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) Hearing
Your driver’s license is a critical tool for daily survival. Most of us need our license to get to work, to the grocery store, to pick up our kids and pretty much everything else that we do. When the state threatens to suspend or revoke your driver’s license, it is understandable that your level of stress may increase considerably. The attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe have years of experience successfully representing clients in MVA hearings.
Grounds on which the MVA May Suspend Your Driver’s License
Maryland MVA has the right to suspend your driver’s license if you are a Maryland resident. If you are a resident of another state, Maryland cannot suspend your license, but may suspend your privilege to drive in Maryland. If you are a non-Maryland resident, your home state may take reciprocal action following the suspension of your driving privilege in Maryland. You should contact an attorney in your home-state to see how Maryland MVA’s action will affect your out-of-state license.
Suspension based on Points. The Maryland MVA assess points against your driver’s license anytime you are convicted of a moving violation. If you are charged with a moving violation and pay the fine or are convicted by the court, points will be assessed against your driver’s license. No points are assessed if your case is nolle-processed, placed on the stet-docket, you are found not-guilty, or if you receive a probation-before-judgment. Moving violations carry various numbers of points depending on the severity of the offense. The more severe the violation, the greater the number of points it carries. Here is a list of some of the most common violations and how many points they carry:
- Speeding 10+ mph over the speed limit 2 points
- Failure to stop for a school bus flashing red 3 points
- Failure to stop for a red light 2 points
- Moving violation contributing to an accident 3 points
- Speeding 30+ mph over the speed limit 5 points
- Driving while not licensed 5 points
- Failing to report an accident 5 points
- Speeding in excess of posted limit of 65 mph 5 points
- by 20 mph or more
- Aggressive driving 5 points
- Reckless driving 6 points
- Driving while impaired 8 points
- Failure to stop after an accident with damage 8 points
- Failure to stop after accident resulting in injury 12 points
- Driving under the influence 12 points
- Any felony involving use of a vehicle 12 points
In many circumstances, a driver may be charged with multiple offenses that carry points. When this happens, the individual is only charged with the points associated with the charge that has the highest point assessment and is not assessed points on the remainder of the multiple charges.
Points against a Maryland license stay in effect for two years from the date of the violation. If an individual acquires five (5) or more points, the MVA will send a warning letter. If an individual acquires 8 or more points, the MVA will suspend the individual’s driver’s license. If the individual acquires 12 or more points, the MVA will revoke the license.
If the suspension or revocation would adversely affect the employment or opportunity for employment of a licensee, a hearing officer, after a hearing, may decline to order the suspension or revocation, or may modify the suspension or revocation.
Suspension based on Intentional Disregard of Traffic Laws. The MVA may suspend, revoke or refuse your driver’s license if you have been convicted of moving violations so often as to indicate an intent to disregard the traffic laws and the safety of other persons on the highways.
Suspension based on Physical or Mental Condition. The MVA can suspend, revoke or refuse an individual’s driver’s license or privilege if that person is unable to drive safely because of his physical or mental condition. The license may be suspended, refused, or revoked if it finds the individual is an unfit, unsafe, or habitually reckless or negligent driver of a motor vehicle.
Suspension based on Fraudulent Use of License. Your Maryland driver’s license may be suspended if you have permitted an unlawful or fraudulent use of a license, identification card, or a facsimile of a license or identification card. It may be suspended if you use the license, identification card or facsimile thereof in an unlawful or fraudulent manner
Suspension based on Failure to Pay Required Security. Maryland law requires that a motor vehicle owner keep the vehicle insured so long as it is registered. If the insurance lapses, the MVA will automatically suspend the vehicle’s registration no later than 60 days after the receive notice of the lapse. Your insurance company has a legal duty to notify the MVA when the insurance lapses or is otherwise terminated. When the MVA is notified of the lapse, they will contact the owner. The owner must, within 48 hours surrender the vehicle’s registration to the MVA. If the owner fails to do so, the MVA may suspend the owner’s driver’s license until such time as the registration is surrendered to the MVA.
Suspension based on Failure to Appear at a Hearing. If a party fails to appear at the hearing, their license will be suspended. If the hearing is mandatory, the party will be subjected to whatever sanction is contained in the hearing notice. If the hearing is discretionary, the party’s license will be suspended until they appear for a hearing, and any additional sanctions that are contained in the notice may be applied.
Suspension based on Failure to Obey a Citation. Your Maryland driver’s license can be suspended for failure to either pay a traffic ticket or contest it in court. If you don’t pay your ticket, the court will notify the MVA and they may suspend your license after 10-days’ notice.
Suspension based on Failure to Pay Child Support. An individual who is 60 or more days behind on court-ordered child support will have their license suspended by the MVA once the court notifies the MVA of the arrearage. The MVA may issue a work-restricted privilege to drive. Before the MVA may suspend the license, the MVA is required to send a written notice to the licensee and advice the licensee of their right to contest the accuracy of the information. Any contest is limited to whether the MVA has mistaken the identity of the obligor or the individual whose license or privilege to drive has been suspended. The MVA is required to reinstate the obligor’s license to drive if the court orders it to do so, if the child support arrearage has been paid in full, or if the individual has demonstrated good faith by making the court ordered payments for at least six consecutive months.
Suspension for Out of State Violations. The MVA may suspend your license if you commit an offense in another state that, under the other state’s laws would be grounds for suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Suspension for False Certification of Security. The MVA may suspend your driver’s license if you falsely certify the required security in applying for a certificate of title or for the registration of a motor vehicle.
Suspension for Failure to Attend Driver Improvement. If you are required to attend a driver improvement program by the MVA, or by a court, the MVA may suspend your license if you rail to attend the program.
Suspension of Provisional License. A provision license may be suspended following a second conviction or probation before judgment for any combination of moving violations. Further violations will lead to longer suspensions and eventual revocation.
Special Rules applying to Minors. The MVA must suspend the driver’s license of a minor who has been convicted of a DUI or a DWI. The MVA must suspend the driver’s license of a minor who has been found delinquent for certain offenses, including driving an off-road vehicle on the highway, fleeing the scene of an accident and fleeing or eluding the police. If the minor is not licensed, the suspension will begin on the date of the disposition, or if the child is younger than 16, on the date of the child’s 16th birthday.
Other Types of Suspensions. The MVA has the authority suspend a driver’s license of a person who manufacturers or possesses a destructive device, who makes a bomb threat, or who manufacturers, transports, possesses or places a device that is designed to imitate a bomb or similar device with the intent to terrorize, frighten or harass. The MVA has the authority to suspend the license of a person who is convicted of a moving violation that contributed to an accident resulting in the death of another person. The MVA will suspend your license if there is an outstanding warrant for your arrest.
Modification of Suspension
The MVA may modify the suspension of an individual’s driver’s license if the suspension is based on underage consumption of alcohol or furnishing alcohol to a minor, or driving an off-road vehicle on the highway if the license is required for the purpose of attending an alcohol education, prevention or treatment program or if the individual is required to drive a motor vehicle in the course of employment. To allow for the modification, the MVA must find that the child has no reasonable alternative means of transportation. The MVA may also modify a suspension to prevent the adverse impact on a child’s education.
Reinstatement after Revocation
If your license has been revoked, you can may apply to have the license reinstated. For a first-time revocation, the licensee may file an application for reinstatement at any time after the day the revoked license has been surrendered to, and received by, the MVA. If you do not have a license, you can apply any time after the effective date of the revocation.
There is a six-month waiting period after the MVA receives your application for reinstatement before the license may be reinstated. The waiting period extends to one year following a second revocation, eighteen months, following a third revocation, and two years following a fourth or subsequent revocation.
By law, the MVA may only reinstated a license or privilege to drive, if after an investigation of the individual’s habits and driving ability, the MVA is satisfied it will be safe to reinstate the license or privilege of an individual who has been involved in any combination of three or more separate alcohol-related or drug-related driving incidents; involved in a vehicular accident resulting in the death of another person; or convicted of a violation for failing to stop after a vehicular accident resulting in bodily injury or death. An individual may be required to submit to whatever examinations that the MVA considers appropriate as a condition of reinstatement.
Notice and Hearing
If the MVA refuses to issue a license, or decides to suspend or revoke your license, the MVA is required to notify you and provide you with the opportunity for a hearing on the matter. What rights are available to you at the hearing depend on the specific basis giving rise to the suspension.
The MVA may only suspend or revoke a license prior to a haring if it determines that there is a substantial and immediate danger and harm to the licensee or others if the license is continued pending a hearing.
Except in cases arising out of a licensee’s refusal to submit to a test for chemical intoxication where a licensee is facing a possible suspension or revocation, the MVA must notify the licensee of the hearing and charges and give the licensee the opportunity to be heard in person.
The licensee may request a hearing within 15 days from the date of the notice. The hearing must be held within 30 days following the request. The MVA must render a decision within 30 days after the hearing.
A hearing notice must state the date, time, place, and nature of the hearing. It must give the specific legal authority and jurisdiction of the MVA to hear the matter. It must state facts in sufficient detail to allow the respondent to prepare his case. It must state the nature of the proposed action that the MVA will consider. It must notify the respondent of their right to call witness and offer documents. It must, in some circumstances, advise the party of the right to obtain a subpoena. It must notify the party that the party can request a copy of the hearing procedures, that the party has the right to be represented by an attorney, and what action may be taken if the licensee fails to appear.
An MVA hearing is different than a court proceeding. The MVA hearing is held before an administrative law judge, usually at an MVA facility. The hearing is not bound by the formal rules of evidence and procedure that would govern a regular court case. Generally, the State will submit its case on paper instead of calling live witnesses to testify. Each party may call witnesses, offer exhibits, cross-examine witnesses, present argument, including summation.
After the hearing, the MVA may refuse, suspend, or revoke the license or privilege of an application or licensee; or it may rescind, continue, or modify any prior action; or it may take any other action which is permitted by the Maryland vehicle law.
If the MVA rules against any party to the proceeding, it must issue a written decision and provide a copy to the party or their attorney. A party may appeal a decision if it disagrees with the outcome.
The laws governing the suspension and revocation of your Maryland driver’s license can be complicated to navigate if you are unfamiliar with the process. The attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe can guide you through the process and will represent you when you appear before the MVA. You don’t have to worry because the process is unfamiliar to you. Give us a call to schedule your free consultation concerning any MVA hearing today.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are involved in an MVA matter. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice. Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
Our office deals with all types of major and minor traffic violations. We can help clients successfully resolve speeding tickets, driving without insurance cases, and many other traffic violations or citations.
Maryland Traffic Tickets - When to Hire an Attorney, and When to do it Yourself
There are many possible violations for which a police officer may write a traffic ticket in the State of Maryland. In fact, many times when we initially meet with a client, they will have three, four, five, or more tickets arising out of a single incident. The more serious offenses will often come with more tickets. Some tickets can be handled without an attorney, but sometimes representing yourself is really not a good idea. Although hiring an attorney can be expensive, the cost of representing yourself, if you don’t know what you are doing, can be many times higher. The attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. offer a free consultation on traffic related offenses.
As a general rule, you may want to represent yourself in court if you are facing a minor traffic violation that carries no points, or that carries two points or less. In making this decision, you should also take into consideration your existing driving record. The MVA can require you to attend a driver improvement program after you receive five points. Your license can be suspended if you get eight points and revoked after twelve points. If you are facing multiple violations, the MVA will only assess the points for the conviction carrying the highest number of points.
If you are facing a traffic violation that carries more than two points; if you already have points on your record; or if you are facing any violation that carries a potential jail sentence, you should definitely hire an attorney to represent you. You should also discuss and consider hiring an attorney to represent you if you are charged with a moving violation arising out of a motor-vehicle accident. You might also wish to hire an attorney if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or if you drive for employment purposes on a regular basis. Points and moving violations can lead to the loss of your driving privileges, increased insurance rates and possibly the loss of a security clearance.
Points will be assessed against your license if you elect to pay a fine rather than appearing in court on a violation, or if you are convicted in court. No points will be assessed against your license if you are found not guilty in court, if the case is placed on the stet (inactive) docket, or if you receive a probation before judgment, sometimes referred to as a “pbj”.
If you are representing yourself in court, you will usually have to decide whether to enter a plea. For Maryland moving violations, you must request a court trial or a waiver hearing prior to the hearing. You do this by filing out the portion of the ticket with the hearing request and mailing it in to the address shown on the ticket. We almost always advise our clients to request a court trial. You can always enter a plea when you get to court if you request a trial. If you request a waiving hearing, you have to enter a plea. The advantage is that if you request a trial, and the officer fails to appear on your court date, you may be able to have the charges dismissed entirely. If you request a waiving hearing, but change your mind, the court can allow you to get a trial, but in most circumstances you’ll have to come back to court on a different date.
If you are representing yourself, you’ll have to make a decision whether to enter a plea or have a trial. Most motor vehicle offenses are what we refer to as “strict liability” offenses. This means that the reason that you committed the offense is not relevant to your guilt or innocence, but that may be relevant for purposes of mitigation at the disposition of the case.
In Maryland, different counties handle traffic violations in different ways. In Charles County and Calvert County, for instance, a prosecutor or state’s attorney is generally not present for non-jailable violations. In St. Mary’s County, a prosecutor or someone from the state’s attorney’s office will handle non-jailable violations. In some counties, you may simply have to make a decision to plead guilty or not guilty to each violation with which you have been charged. There is no bargaining or offer from the state. In other counties, the prosecutor may present different options to resolve the case. These options might include a plea to one or more, but less than all of the violations, an agreement that puts the case on the stet docket or dismiss the case in exchange for community service, a donation to a charity, or some combination thereof.
A judge has the right to remove points from your record by entering a probation before judgment at the time of your plea. If the judge offers you a probation before judgment, you will have to waive your right to appeal. By offering you the probation before judgment, the judge takes away any finding of guilt, thus there is no judgment from which to appeal. A judge cannot enter a probation before judgment over you objection. Most judges will condition the granting of a probation before judgment on the performance of community service. How much community service will depend on the severity of the traffic violation. It is typical that a judge will award eight hours of community service for each point that a violation would have carried if the court had found you guilty.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you have received a traffic ticket. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice. Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation.
Our firm has years of experience defending clients from theft and robbery charges. Whether it is shoplifting, theft, or robbery, our attorneys know how to litigate to obtain the best possible result successfully.
Thefts Crimes and Defenses
In the State of Maryland, theft crimes are defined by statute. Maryland law defines five (5) categories of theft offenses. The categories are (1) unauthorized control over property; (2) unauthorized control over property by deception; (3) possession of stolen property; (4) control over property that is lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake, and (5) theft of services available only for compensation.
Theft is a specific intent crime. There are two essential ways in which the state may prove the crime of theft. The state must prove that the defendant either intentionally deprived the owner of their property, or that the defendant willingly or knowingly used, concealed, or abandoned the property in a way that actually deprives, or will likely deprive, the owner of the property.
Maryland’s theft statutes contain both a general theft provision, as well as several provisions that deal with specific types of theft offenses. These offenses include:
- Unauthorized control over property
- Possession of Stolen Property
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Newspaper Theft
- Bad Checks
- Obtaining services available only for compensation, by deception or with knowledge that the services have been provided without consent
- Control over property that has been lost, or delivered by mistake
Robbery is the taking and carrying away of property from someone, by force or threat of force, with the intent to deprive the victim of the property. Property can be anything of value. Obtaining services by force or threat of force can also serve as a basis for a robbery charge.
Armed Robbery is robbery that occurs when the defendant has a dangerous weapon. For armed robbery, the state must prove the elements of robbery, and that the defendant committed the robbery by using a dangerous weapon. A dangerous weapon is an object that is capable of causing death or serious bodily harm.
Carjacking occurs when an individual obtains unauthorized possession or control over a motor vehicle, where the vehicle is in the possession of another individual and the perpetrator uses force or threat of force to put the person in fear and obtain control of the vehicle.
Burglary is a crime that comes in various degrees. Essentially, it is a breaking and an entry. The slightest break and entry are generally sufficient to prove burglary. Burglary is defined in Maryland in terms of degrees.
Types of Burglary
First Degree Burglary
First degree burglary is the breaking and entering into another’s dwelling with the intent to commit theft or a crime of violence. Breaking means the creation or enlargement of an opening. This can be as simple as opening a window or door and entry simply requires any part of the defendant’s body to be inside the house. A dwelling is structure where someone regularly sleeps.
Second Degree Burglary
Second degree burglary is the breaking and entering into another’s building with the intent to commit theft, a crime of violence, or arson in the second degree.
Third Degree Burglary
Third degree burglary is the breaking and entering into another’s dwelling, with the intent to commit any crime.
Fourth Degree Burglary
Fourth degree burglary is the breaking and entering into another’s dwelling or building. Fourth degree burglary does not have any specific intent that must be proven by the state. Fourth degree burglary also can be proven by showing that the defendant was in or on the property, including a building, yard or garden, with the intent to commit theft. No breaking or entry is required to prove Fourth Degree Burglary. The state can also prove a fourth degree burglary by proving that the defendant possesses burglar’s tools in his possession with the intent to commit breaking and entry.
Shoplifting is generally prosecuted as theft in the State of Maryland. What happens when the shoplifter is caught before leaving the store, however? The Maryland theft statute defines to include the mere concealment of property, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property. Thus, a person has committed a theft, under the Maryland theft statute, regardless of whether that person actually makes it out of the store.
Possession of Stolen Property
It is a crime in Maryland to possess stolen property, even if the defendant did not participate in the theft. In order to convict a defendant of theft by possession of stolen property, the state must prove that the defendant had actual knowledge that the property was stolen. Knowledge of the fact that the property is stolen can be inferred from circumstances surrounding the defendant’s possession of the property.
In Maryland, a person has a duty to take reasonable measure to restore property to its rightful owner before claiming it as their own. Exclusive possession of recently stolen property, without a reasonable explanation, may be evidence of theft. A judge or jury who finds a defendant in possession of property shortly after its stolen, and without proper explanation, may, but is not required to, find the defendant guilty of theft.
Possession means knowingly having the property on one’s person or knowingly having the property within one’s control or at one’s disposal. All of the surrounding circumstances are to be considered in making this determination, including what property was stolen, how the defendant may have come into possession of the property, and the amount of time which has elapsed between the theft and the defendant’s possession.
What are the Penalties for Theft?
In Maryland, theft is classified both as a misdemeanor and as a felony. The classification of any specific crime depends primarily on the value of the money or property that has been taken. Theft offenses are punishable by jail and fines. In addition, upon conviction, no matter what the left of theft charged, the court will almost certainly order that the defendant return the items that were stolen, or make restitution to the owner as a condition of probation.
Penalties for Different Thefts
Crimes generally, and theft crimes specifically, fall into two broad categories – misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are generally less severe form of crime than a felony. Maryland divides its theft crimes into misdemeanor theft and felony theft. A misdemeanor theft is a theft of property valued at less than $1,500.
A person who commits a theft where the property or services stolen are valued at $100 or less will be charged with a misdemeanor, commonly known as petty theft. Petty theft, carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both.
A person who commits a theft of property valued over $100, but less than $1,500 is also subject to be charged with a misdemeanor, however the penalty is more severe. This crime carries a penalty of 6 months in jail, and/or a $500 fine for a first offense and one year in jail and/or a $500 fine for a second or subsequent offense.
A person who has been convicted of four or more thefts of less than $1,500 and is charged with a new theft, is subject to an increased potential sentence of no more than five years and no more than $5,000, or both.
In addition to these penalties, the defendant will have to pay restitution as determined by the court.
Felony Theft is theft over $1500. Like Misdemeanor Theft, there are varying levels of felony theft with different punishments.
A person who commits a theft of property between $1,500 and $25,000 can be charged with a felony and is subject to a penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
A person who commits a theft of property between $25,000 and $100,000 can be charged with a felony and is subject to a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
A person who commits a theft of property over $100,000 in value can be charged with a felony and is subject to a penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000.
In addition to these penalties, the defendant will have to pay restitution as determined by the court.
Motor Vehicle Theft
Theft of an automobile is a felony carrying a potential prison sentence of 5 years and a fine of $5,000, or both. Additionally, the defendant could be charged with unauthorized removal of property, a misdemeanor carrying a minimum sentence of six months and maximum sentence of four years. In addition to a fine, the court will also order restitution as part of sentencing.
The state has the option of alternatively charging the defendant under the general theft statute described above.
In addition to theft, the defendant may be charged with the crime of rogue and vagabond. Rogue and vagabond is breaking and entering into a motor vehicle. The statute prohibits two types of conduct:
- A person may not possess burglar’s tools with intent to use or allow the use of burglar’s tools in connection with a crime involving the breaking and entering of a motor vehicle
- A person may not be in or on the motor vehicle of another with the intent to commit theft of the motor vehicle or property inside the motor vehicle.
The crime of rogue and vagabond is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum jail sentence of three years.
Embezzlement is a special type of theft involving a fiduciary relationship. Where a fiduciary converts property held for another to their own use, it constitutes a misdemeanor, carrying a minimum sentence of one year and a maximum sentence of five years.
Obtaining Goods or Services by Bad Check
The basic penalties for writing a bad check are the same as those for felony theft.
A person who writes a bad check between $1,000 and $10,000 can be charged with a felony and is subject to a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
A person who writes a bad check between $10,000 and $100,000 can be charged with a felony and is subject to a penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
A person who writes a bad check over $100,000 in value can be charged with a felony and is subject to a penalty of 25 years imprisonment and a fine up to $25,000.
Where a person writes multiple bad checks within a 30-day period and the cumulative value is $1,000 or more, the penalty is up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Writing a bad check for less than $1,000 constitutes a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of 18-months in prison and a fine of $500.
Writing a bad check for less than $100 constitutes a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of 90-days and a fine of up to $500. It is not a defense to the crime of writing a bad check less than $100 that the value of the goods or services exceeds $100.
Civil Liability for Shoplifting
In addition to the criminal penalties for theft described above, a person who is convicted of shoplifting also faces civil liability to the merchant from which goods are stolen. This civil liability includes restoration of the merchandise, or restitution to the merchant for the value of the merchandise, payment for the damages sustained by the merchant, including costs that they have expended in the apprehension and prosecution of the defendant, as well as a civil penalty of twice the value of the merchandise, but not less than $50 nor more than $1000.
Defenses to Theft Crimes
Under Maryland law, it is a defense to the crime of theft that the defendant was acting under a good faith claim of right to the property involved. A defendant who honestly believes that they have the right to obtain or exert control over the property cannot be convicted of theft. Of course, whether the defendant in fact holds an honest belief is a question to be decided by the judge or jury in the case and the defendant’s testimony is not necessarily dispositive of that issue.
It is also a defense to theft that the property belonged to the person’s spouse, unless the spouses were not living together as husband and wife at the time of the theft, and they were living in separate residences.
In the case of a theft of trade secrets, it is also a defense that the trade secret was rightfully known by the defendant, or that the trade secret was available from a source other than the owner.
It is not a defense to the crime of theft that the defendant has an interest in the property that was the subject of the theft if another also has an interest in or right to possess the property that the defendant is not entitled to infringe.
Where two or more persons own property jointly, and neither has a right that is superior to the other joint or common owners, they each have an equal right to possession. Moreover, a person who holds a security interest in property does not have a right to possession that is greater than the person in lawful possession, even if the security holder has legal title to the goods. This means for instance, that if you lease a car, the lessor cannot come and take it from you, unless you have breached the terms of your lease.
Having the Right Attorney
Having the right attorney to defend you against a theft or related charge can mean the difference between being convicted and walking free. Each case is unique and the information provided herein is designed to be an overview of these crimes and not a substitute for legal advice. Only an experienced and qualified attorney who has had the opportunity to speak with you and assess the facts and evidence in your case can be in a position to give you good legal advice.
A theft conviction can have devastating consequences. In addition to being stuck with a criminal record, a defendant may also be subject to problems down the road in applying for a job or a security clearance or in obtaining credit. The person may also be subject to the loss of or inability to obtain a professional license. A theft conviction can also be used to impeach a person testifying as a witness in court. These consequences may occur regardless of the value of what was stolen.
Even if you are charged in a case where you actually committed theft, retaining the right attorney can present a tremendous advantage to you. Even if an acquittal is not warranted by the facts of your case, we may be able to help you avoid being convicted by negotiating to have the case placed on the stet docket, or by seeking and obtaining a probation before judgment in your case. A probation before judgment is part of a negotiated plea agreement where the defendant admits to having committed the crime, but the court does not enter a conviction. Cases ending in a stet agreement or a probation before judgment (PBJ) are generally able to be expunged, although there may be a waiting period before the defendant is eligible for an expungement.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. can assist you if you are facing a theft charge or other criminal charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation, in-office-consultation for any theft charge.
If you are facing a charge of trespassing of any kind, our firm can help. Our attorneys have experience with a wide variety of trespassing cases. Speaking to one of our attorneys will help you learn more about your rights, your possible defenses, and the law that applies to trespassing charges, and we would be glad to represent you in court.
Possession of Marijuana
Being charged with the possession of marijuana can be a serious matter. Marijuana possession is a criminal offense under Maryland law that carries potential jail time. When up against the possession of marijuana charge, you want to be sure you have the right attorney to help you protect your rights. The Law Offices of Baldwin, Briscoe & Steinmetz, P.C. has defended clients in marijuana cases across Southern Maryland. We know what to expect in court and can help you prepare the best defense.
Drug Possession or Distribution
Possession of drugs and narcotics in the State of Maryland is a serious offense that can carry harsh sentences. The severity of sentencing differs among the drugs and charges, but it will benefit you to retain a lawyer in any drug charge. Our firm has defended clients across Southern Maryland, and we know how to lay an effective defense in court.
Drug Possession & Distribution
It is illegal to possess controlled dangerous substances in Maryland. A controlled dangerous substance is any one of a number of different chemical compounds that have been identified by the state as illegal to possess. In addition, a controlled dangerous substance includes chemicals that are immediate precursors to those that are identified by the state.
It is also illegal to possess controlled paraphernalia. Controlled paraphernalia are items that are used to contain, distribute or use controlled dangerous substances (CDS). These can include hypodermic syringes, needles or other objects adapted to administer CDS; a gelatin capsule, glassine envelope, or other container suitable for packing individual quantities of CDS. It also includes lactose, quinine, mannite, mannitol, dextrose, sucrose, procaine hydrocholoride, or any other substance used as a dilutant or adulterant.
Quite often, the ability to successfully defend a drug possession charge will turn on the meaning of the word possess. For purposes of criminal law enforcement, “to possess” means to exercise actual or constructive dominion or control over a thing by one or more persons.
Maryland law classifies CDS according to different schedules based on the danger that they present as well as their medical utility. Schedule I drugs such as heroin are extremely dangerous and are not approved for medical use. Schedule II drugs can be extremely dangerous if used improperly but have some medical uses as well. Schedule II drugs include powerful medicines such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone and oxymorphone. As you move down the chart of schedules, the substances generally become less toxic. Of course, no controlled substance should ever be taken without a prescription.
It is a crime to possess a CDS without a valid prescription. It is also a crime to obtain or attempt to obtain, or to attempt to procure the administration of a CDS where not medically authorized. This includes obtaining CDS by fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, counterfeiting or altering a written prescription, concealing a material fact, using a false name or address, impersonating a manufacturer, prescriber or authorized distributor, making or presenting a false or counterfeit prescription.
Unlawful possession of CDS is a misdemeanor in Maryland. It carries a maximum penalty of four (4) years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. Marijuana is still a CDS in the state, however, the criminality is dependent upon the amount that is possessed. Possession of over 10 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum of one (1) year in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Possession of smaller amounts of marijuana is a civil offense which carries a fine but no jail time. A person who is under the age of twenty-one who is found to be in possession of marijuana must also obtain a substance abuse assessment and may be ordered to obtain treatment by the court.
It is illegal to distribute or dispense a CDS. It is also unlawful to possess a CDS in sufficient quantity reasonably to indicate under all circumstances an intent to distribute or dispense a CDS. The general penalty for possession of CDS with intent to distribute is $15,000 and five years in jail. It is a felony. Certain drugs, such as narcotics carry steeper penalties, including longer jail terms and higher fines.
Probably the most common way to mount a successful defense on a drug charge is to have the drug evidence thrown out prior to trial. Drug cases can be effectively won or lost before the first witness is sworn or before the attorneys make their opening statements. In defending drug cases, the attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe will look for opportunities to suppress damaging evidence, either physical evidence or statements that are made by the defendant at the time of the arrest. Whenever there are appropriate grounds, we’ll file a motion to suppress the evidence with the court. In a recent case we had a client who was stopped with a large amount of marijuana in his vehicle and did not have a driver’s license. He was facing five years in jail and a $15,000 fine, not to mention a felony on his permanent record. Because of our well-argued motion to suppress, the state reduced the charges to sending/reading a text message while driving and dismissed all of the criminal charges. Our client paid a $70 fine and the case was closed.
When looking at drug cases, they almost always involve a search. Police might search a defendant’s home, car, or person and find incriminating evidence. The police can only use this evidence at trial if they conduct the search properly. If they conduct the search improperly, the court, if the defendant requests, will suppress the evidence obtained and the prosecutor cannot use it at trial. Knowing when and how to ask the court to suppress evidence is critical to successfully defending drug cases.
Generally, an officer can conduct a search under the following circumstances:
- After obtaining a search warrant signed by a judge
- With the consent of the person who owns the property being searched
- Where there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found in the area to be searched combined with exigent circumstances that make obtaining a search warrant impossible or impractical
- A limited search of an area within the reach, lunge, or grasp of an arrestee
In some cases, such as the one identified above, the officer may have the right to conduct a limited search, but the officer extends the search beyond the permissible scope. In those cases, the state will be able to introduce any evidence that is found during the valid portion of the search, while evidence obtained outside of the valid search will be excluded.
Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, individuals have a right to be secure in their homes and in the vehicles. This includes the right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. When the government violates that right, the remedy is that any evidence obtained in violation of the right is excluded from use at trial. In order to obtain the remedy, however, it must be argued by the defendant or his attorney.
If you are facing charges for possession of a controlled-dangerous substance or possession with intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance, it is important to contact an experienced criminal attorney early in your case so that the attorney can investigate and file a motion to suppress evidence. The attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe have years of experience litigating drug possession and distribution charges. There is no fee for a consultation on a pending criminal charge.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are facing drug charges or any other criminal mater. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice. Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation. All consultations are strictly confidential.
Violation of Probation/Parole
Violation of probation/parole is taken seriously by the courts. Whatever the reason the court has for charging you with violating your probation or parole, we can help you obtain a fair result and mitigate any potential punishment.
We all make mistakes, but when that mistake results in a criminal record, it can destroy your future. In Maryland, there is a procedure by which some criminal records may be removed from public view. This is called Expungement. We can advise whether you are eligible to have charges expunged and, if you are not, whether there are steps you could take to become eligible for an Expungement.
Maryland’s Expungement Process
One fairly common question that we get as criminal defense attorneys is whether and how a person can expunge records pertaining to criminal charges that are in the Maryland Court system. It is relatively easy to find out what involvement a person has had with the Maryland Criminal Justice system as long as their records have not been expunged. An unexpunged criminal record presents an obstacle to obtaining new employment, getting a security clearance as well as numerous other matters.
Fortunately, getting a criminal record expunged is a relatively painless and inexpensive process, provided that you are eligible. For purposes of expungement a criminal record means the court record pertaining to any criminal offense, other than a juvenile offense, including any traffic offense in which a jail sentence may be imposed. A criminal record includes any record of the violation, including a docket entry, pleading, index, charging document, memorandum, transcription of the proceedings, electronic recording, order and judgment.
Expungement means that the criminal record is removed from public inspection either by being destroyed or being removed to a secured area that is not publicly accessible.
Who is Eligible for Expungements?
- Persons arrested but where no charge is filed. A person who has been arrested, detained, or confined, but has not been charged is eligible for expungement. An expungement based solely on an arrest without charges must be filed within eight years of the arrest.
- Defendants whose charges are nolle processed before service. If the state dismisses the charges before serving the defendant, the defendant may have the record expunged.
- Defendants who are acquitted
- Defendants whose charges are otherwise dismissed
- A person who receives a probation before judgment, except where otherwise prohibited. Certain offenses may not be expunged even with a probation before judgment. DUIs and DWIs fall into this category
- A nolle prosequi is entered
- The court grants a “stet” or indefinite postponement
- The case is compromised under §3-207 of the Criminal Law Article
- The charge was transferred to juvenile court
- Defendants found guilty of certain nuisance crimes such as public urination, panhandling, drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public place, obstructing the free passage of another in a public place, sleeping on or in park structures, loitering, vagrancy, riding a transit vehicle without paying the fare
- The defendant was found not criminal responsible for trespass, disturbing the peace or telephone misuse
- The defendant was convicted of an offense which is no longer a crime
The Expungement Petition
An expungement is obtained by filing a petition for expungement with the court where the case being expunged was filed. If the case was transferred to another court, however, the petition will be filed in the court to which the case was transferred.
Generally, a petition for expungement based on an acquittal, nolle prosequi, or dismissal may not be filed until three years of the disposition, however, if the petitioner files a general release and waiver of all tort claims arising from the charge, the petition may be filed earlier.
A petition based on a probation before judgment or stet with the requirement of drug or alcohol abuse treatment may not be filed earlier than the later of: (1) the date that the defendant is discharged from probation or the requirements of the drug or alcohol treatment are completed; or (2) three years after the probation was granted or the date the stet with requirement for drug or alcohol abuse treatment was entered on the docket
A petition based on a governor’s pardon must be filed within ten (10) years of the pardon.
A petition based on a stet or compromise under 3-207 of the Criminal Law Article may not be filed within three years of the stet or compromise.
A petition based on conviction of a nuisance crime may be filed three years after the conviction or satisfactory completion of the sentence, whichever is later.
A petitioner based on a finding of not criminal responsible may be filed three years after the finding of not criminal responsible.
The court has discretion to grant a petition for expungement at any time upon a showing of good cause.
If the state’s attorney files an objection to a petition for expungement the court will hold a hearing. A person is not entitled to an expungement based on a probation before judgment if, within three years after the probation before judgment was entered, the person was convicted of another crime, other than a minor traffic violation.
Expungements are not handled piecemeal. This means that in order to be eligible for an expungement, each charge within the case being expunged must be eligible for an expungement. If, for example, the defendant has a conviction on one offense, but is acquitted of an another offense in the same case, the defendant cannot obtain an expungement of the offense of which he was acquitted.
Hiring an Attorney
At Baldwin & Briscoe, we help clients obtain expungements on a regular basis. We can meet with you and determine if you are eligible for an expungement. If you are not eligible for an expungement, we’ll be happy to advise you whether there are steps that can be taken to make you eligible at some point in the future. We can also guide you through the process, file the appropriate petition and represent you in court, if your petition for expungement requires a hearing. It is generally not expensive to hire an attorney to handle a simple expungement.
If you decide to proceed without an attorney, expungement forms are available through the District Court website or at the clerk’s office of any district court in Maryland.
The information contained on this page is provided as general information and does not constitute legal advice. The experienced attorneys at Baldwin & Briscoe, P.C. can assist you if you are facing criminal charges of any kind or seeking an expungement. We’d be happy to sit down with you and review your situation and provide appropriate advice. Call today for your free, no-obligation consultation. All consultations are strictly confidential.
The crimes listed here are only some of the types of cases we handle. If you don’t see a criminal matter you have been charged with mentioned in this list, we would welcome you to give our office a call and speak to someone in person. It may be that we can still offer you help.
Your rights matter.
Get trusted and responsive legal expertise on your side.