Thomas G. WitkopLaw Offices

Law Offices

Drunk Sleeping Driver Wins at Motor Vehicle Administration

After becoming intoxicated my client talked to the designated driver and told the designated driver that she was going to go into the car and wait for him to drive her home. She entered her legally parked car, started the car to keep warm and was listening to the radio. She fell asleep and the next thing that she noticed was the police officer knocking on her window. She failed field sobriety tests and her breath test was .12 blood-alcohol content. The officer charged her with drunk driving and took her Maryland license.

She hired me and we requested a hearing at the motor vehicle administration to avoid a license suspension. The above facts were revealed at the motor vehicle administration. My client further testified that she had told the officer that she was waiting for her designated driver and she had no intent of driving home. Even though she was in the car, behind the steering wheel, the engine was running, the radio was on, the headlights were on, and she was legally under the influence of alcohol, the motor vehicle administration judge sided with our position, which was supported by the case law, that she was merely using the vehicle as a shelter and therefore she was not driving the vehicle as defined under Maryland law. The judge credited her honesty with the police officer-she had admitted to drinking many specific drinks. Based on that honesty the judge believed my client at the hearing.

The judge took no action, my client was able to keep her license.
Comments

Cross Examination Reveals Lies at a Protective Order Hearing

Washington, DC Protective Order Hearing-Judge Keeps an Open Mind

My client was recently served with a notice of a protective order hearing in Washington, DC. The complaint was vague-in it it claimed he made threats of violence, was harassing the victim, was stalking her, caused her to lose her job. There was not a single specific fact alleged. He received a notice the day before the hearing. He told me he had never done anything wrong with this victim and had no idea what it was all about. He did not send her nasty e-mails or leave awful voice messages which could be used against him, he told me. He had no witnesses because he did not know what she was alleging. He gave me some background on the victim and with that we went the next day to the trial.

The case was called and the victim testified that my client had called her on the telephone approximately 17 times in approximately 10 days. She had taken pictures of her cell phone showing his number on the cell phone. I could tell the judge was getting annoyed at my client.

After that she claimed that while she was at church with her cousin and her baby her cousin went outside with the baby. My client was there and pointed a gun at the baby and threatened the cousin. At this point, the judge became alarmed and called on security. Things were not looking good for my client. The victim testified further that she spoke with my client's wife. His wife told the victim that she had better not pursue the felony gun assault charges because my client threatened to kill his wife if the victim pursued the matter. His wife and the victim were sisters.


The victim then called on her mother who testified that she went down to my client' s place of business. My client went outside with the mother and pulled a gun on the mother and pointed it at her and threatened her. The mother testified that a police car drove by and then my client ran away.

One of the greatest writers on evidence, John Henry Wigmore stated, “Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth." On cross examination I used the police report that the victim brought against her. The victim testified that she had identified my client to the police. She had given the police his name, she had spelled his unusual name. The police report was quite detailed. Nowhere on the police report did it include his name. Further, on hard questioning, it appeared ridiculous that she would drop the charges especially when he is making death threats against his own wife. It would've been much more logical for both of them to go to the police at that point and have him arrested immediately. The victim admitted on cross examination that she was convicted of felony possession with intent to distribute drugs. Several months earlier she admitted to being involved in a custody dispute and admitted that the defendant testified at the dispute. She testified that his testimony was not against her. In that dispute she lost legal custody of her child.

On cross examination the mother also lost all credibility. That the mother would not go to the police immediately after being threatened with the gun when the police had just rolled by was preposterous.

I put my client on the stand and he explained that he shared the cell phone with his wife who was the sister of the victim. He explained he never threatened anybody with a gun. At the time that the threat was made he was at work. He testified that at the custody dispute he told the judge that the victim had acted inappropriately as a parent to her children.

At the end of the case the judge found the mother to be completely incredible and gave no weight to what the victim had said. The felony conviction discredited her. Her testimony about the custody battle discredit her. He dismissed the order against my client.

I was pleased that the judge was able to keep an open mind after he had ordered and security. My client, decent man, was able to survive lies and false accusations due to the power of cross examination.
Comments

Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Hearings

Recently motor vehicle administration hearings before the Office of Administrative Hearings have advanced technologically. Instead of a paper file, the administrative law judge will present the evidence via computer screen. Besides saving trees, there is an upside because you can magnify the documents. Often the documents are hard to read at best and illegible at worst.

An additional upside is that they now appear to have printouts of their findings. The printouts are much easier to read but more importantly, they give you of the issues that are before the judge. Below is a sample computer printout. Please call me if I can give you advice on any motor vehicle administration hearings that are upcoming. Remember that usually there is a very short amount of time in which to request a hearing once you have notice of a problem. Call me to discuss this.

Licensee 04-12-2011
drivers license number DOT-APS-case number
FINDINGS OF FACT - APS
After considering the evidence and testimony presented in this case, I find by a preponderance of the evidence the following facts:
1) The police officer who stopped or detained the Licensee had reasonable grounds to believe that Licensee was driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of or impaired by alcohol, drugs, a controlled dangerous substance, or any combination of the aforementioned, or in violation of an alcohol restriction, or did drive, operate, or be in physical control of a commercial motor vehicle while having any alcohol concentration in their blood or breath based on the following:
2/8/11 23:16 pm; drove on the wrong side of the double yellow line; ran a stop sign.
2) There is evidence of the use of alcohol, drugs, controlled dangerous substance or any combination of the aforementioned based on the following:
strong odor; told officer had 4 beers; performed poorly on the standard field sobriety test indicaiting clues of
intoxication on the horizontal gaze nystagmus; walk and turn and one leg stand.
The officer fully advised the Licensee of the administrative sanctions that could be imposed: Yes 0 No d
The officer requested that the Licensee take a test as defined under Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 16-205.1 (a) (1) (iv):Yes E Nod
The Licensee drove or attempted to drive a motor vehicle and took the test as requested, indicating an alcohol concentration of :
Yes E Nod 0.09 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath at the time of testing: Yes d NoE grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood at the time of testing:
The Licensee refused to take the test: Yes d NoE
The Licensee was driving a commercial motor vehicle: Yes D NoE
OTHER FACTS [IF NEEDED]
WK: Construction as a Laborer; works at various job sites in VA, DC and MD; Takes two children to school; takes young child to doctor's appointments A/E: never been evaluated for alcohol education or treatment;
D The Licensee failed to appear after due notice to address on record.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
E Based on the foregoing, I conclude that the Licensee did violate Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 16-205.1 D Based on the foregoing, I conclude that the Licensee did not violate Md Code Ann., Transp. §
MODIFICATION OF DETERMINATION
I have weighed the adverse effect upon Licensee's need to drive for employment or alcoholic prevention purposes versus the State's need to maintain safety on the public highways.
Licensee has had a license suspended under Md. Code. Ann., Transp. §16-205.1 in the past 5 years: Yes D NoE
Licensee has been convicted under Md. Code. Ann., Transp. §21-902 in the past 5 years: Yes D NoE
Licensee needs a license for employment purposes: Yes E Nod
Licensee needs a license to attend alcohol prevention or treatment program: Yes D NoE
DECISION
Driving privilege is:
Suspended for: 45 DAYS
Revoked
Revocation Extended for:
CDL Disqualified for:
License Refusal Upheld
License Refusal Not Upheld
Cancelled
D Any suspension imposed shall run D concurrent with D consecutive to any existing suspension .
D Any suspension imposed shall be retroactive to:
D Above suspension is not modified
D The above suspension is modified. The licensee shall participate in the MVA's Ignition Interlock Program.
B Above suspension is modified to a restrictive license.
D No action
D Reprimand
D Other:


The Licensee's temporary license was retained by the ALJ at the hearing.
The Licensee's photo driver's license class - (issue date) was retained by the ALJ at the hearing.

Judge from the motor vehicle administration

APPEAL RIGHTS
Pursuant to the Transportation Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, §10-209: the Administrative Procedure Act, State Government Article, §10-201 et seq., and the B Rules of the Maryland Rules of Procedure, any aggrieved party to a hearing may appeal from a decision or order of the Administration as follows:
WHERE:
If the matter concerns the license of a party to drive and the party is a resident of this State, to the Circuit
Court for the county in which the party resides;
If the party is a non-resident motorist, to the Circuit Court for the county in which the party was convicted of
the violation to which the matter relates; and
If not otherwise provided in this section or elsewhere in the Maryland Law, to the Circuit Court for Anne
Arundel County.
WHEN:
An appeal must be filed within thirty (30) days from the date of the decision or order.
FFD-APS 2
2 O1O-O9-O1
Licensee 04-12-2011
drivers license number DOT-APS-case number
LICENSE RESTRICTION ORDER
Suspension of the license has been modified to a restrictive license for: 45 DAYS
Employment purposes
Alcoholic prevention or treatment program purposes
Educational purposes
Employment and educational purposes
Obtaining health care treatment pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 16-205.1 (n).
Alcohol
2O1O-OS-O1
Comments

Expungement of Criminal Matters in the State of Maryland

The Maryland Judiciary has recently put out a brochure which I present below with very minor alterations. Expungement is a powerful tool which I highly recommend in general with certain exceptions. Maryland has a method for "deleting" results in a criminal proceeding depending upon the outcome. There is a trade-off when you request an expungement. You should not just do it automatically.

I find of interest, that even if your case is expunged in the state of Maryland, the prosecution may bring charges against you in the case that has been expunged. Mora v. State, 720 A.2d 934, 123 Md.App. 699 (Md. App., 1998).

If you have particular questions you can contact me directly.

table of contents
What Is Expungement? 1
When Can I File For Expungement? 2
Case Information 3
Petitions For Expungement 3
What Do the Dispositions Mean and How Do They Affect Expungements? 4
When Are You Not Entitled To An Expungement? 5
Pardons 6
Cost Of Expungement 6
Juvenile Records 7
How Do I File For Expungement? 7
How Long Does It Take? 7
Certificates of Compliance 8
Expungement Order 9
Must I Disclose Expunged Charges? 9
Amended Petitions 10
CJIS Related Questions 10
Helpful Suggestions 11
Expungement Agency Contact Information 12

This guide is designed to give you pertinent information concerning the removal of criminal records from public access in Maryland and to help you understand the process of filing for expungement.
what is expungement?
Expungement is the removal of records from public inspection. In Maryland, records ma$ be expunged from 1) Motor Vehicle Administration files, 2) police files and 3) court and police files. Each process removes very specific files and must be done through the proper agency. You must apply for expungement of each arrest based on the date of arrest and according to the disposition. No process expunges the records from all agencies.
motor vehicle administration (MVA)
Many motor vehicle records are automatically expunged after 3 years; other records may be manually expunged, depending upon the offense for which you were convicted and the length of time since your last conviction. For additional information, contact the MVA.
police records: when No charges were filed
Effective 10/1/2007, if you were detained by a police agency, but were released without being charged, records will automatically be expunged within 60 days after release.
Prior to 10/1/2007, if you were detained by a police agency, but were released without being charged, records may exist in police files. To get these records expunged, contact the arresting agency and request an Investigative Release Form. Ask the agency«^ for specific information on how its process works. Expungement must be requested within 8 years of incident date.
court/police records may exist:
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, including a traffic violation for which a term of imprisonment may be imposed.
If you have been charged with a civil offense or infraction as a substitute for a criminal charge.
Court records are not automatically expunged. To remove these records, you may file a petition for expungement with the court if:
You were found not guilty.
· You were found guilty of certain nuisance crimes. The charge was dismissed.
· The charge resulted in probation before judgment (excluding charges of driving while under the influence or driving while impaired).
The State's Attorney did not prosecute (nolle prosequi) your charge.
· The Court indefinitely postponed your case (stet).
Your case was compromised (settled).
You were convicted of only one non-violent criminal act and you were granted a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor.
when can I file for expungement?
The waiting period required for filing a petition for expungement varies, depending on how your case was concluded and whether you file a General Waiver and Release (Form CC-DC/CR 78).
If your petition is based on an acquittal, a nolle prosequi, or a dismissal, you may file a petition three years after the disposition, or within three years if you file a General Waiver and Release of all legal claims and lawsuits arising from the charge.
If your petition is based on a probation before judgment, you may file:
·:· 3 or more years after probation was granted or discharged, whichever is later.(I find this piece of advice confusing but I believe that you can file for the expungement immediately, I would expect that the state's attorney's office would oppose the expungement because not enough time has passed and that would likely generate a hearing before the judge wherein you would need to show good cause why you should be allowed to have your expungement early).
If your petition is based on a guilty verdict for a specified nuisance crime, you may
file:
* 3 or more years after the conviction or satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later.
If your petition is based on a stet or a compromise, you may not file within 3 years of your cases's disposition.
You may also petition the court for expungement at any time on a showing of good cause.
general waiver and release
This form releases all persons and agencies from any claims regarding the arrest or detention. It must be filed in order to process an expungement, if it is less than 3 years from the time your case was concluded. Check with the clerk in the court where you file to see if the General Waiver form requires a witness.
case information
Who is the complainant?
The person who, under oath, signs a statement establishing reasonable grounds to believe that some named person has committed a crime. In criminal cases, the complainant is usually a police officer or a citizen.
How can I find the name of the complainant if I don't remember?
The Maryland Judicial Case Search website -- http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/ may be helpful for finding case information. Not all information and/or parties involved may be available online.
What is my tracking number?
The assigned 12-digit number that identifies the defendant and incident throughout criminal proceedings.
What is the disposition?
The verdict given by the Judge at the conclusion of the trial/sentencing.
petitions for expungement
Can I include all my case numbers on the petition?
A Petition for Expungement may include only the case numbers for one unit (see below for definition of "unit"), which may include both criminal and traffic charges. If the unit included both criminal and traffic charges list all the case/citation numbers that apply to that unit.
Can the clerk help me complete the forms?
No. The clerk may provide public information from the computer and/or case file, such as case number(s), date of service, service agency, and disposition of charges.
What do you mean by a "unit"?
According to Criminal Procedure §10-107, a unit consists of two or more charges, other than minor traffic violations, arising from the same incident, transaction, or set of facts.
Do I need an attorney?
Under Maryland law, you may represent yourself, pro se, in this matter.
Does my expungement paperwork have to be notarized?
No.
what Do the dispositions mean and How Do they affect expungements?
dismissed
A ruling by a judge that all or some of the charges in a case are terminated (thrown out), without further evidence or testimony.
not guilty (acquittal)
A judgment by a jury or judge that a defendant is not guilty of a crime as charged. Under Maryland Law, not guilty dispositions are not automatically expunged. You must file a Petition for Expungement of Records (Form CC-DC/CR 72) if you want this removed from public databases.
If a General Waiver is submitted with the petition, you may petition the court to expunge a case that includes either a not guilty or judgment of acquittal immediately after the disposition. If no General Waiver is submitted, the petition can be filed three years after entry of disposition.
probation before judgment (PBJ)
Guilty verdict was stricken and probation was assigned; not a conviction if probation was
successfully completed.
· Under Maryland Law, Criminal Procedure § 10-105(c)(2)(I)(II), a PBJ can only
be expunged after probation is discharged or 3 years after probation was granted,
whichever date is later.
If your probation was discharged in less than three years, you may file a motion for a good cause exception and see if the court will grant it.
stet
A conditional stay of all further proceedings in a case. On motion of the State's Attorney, the court may indefinitely postpone trial of a charge by marking the charge "stet" on the docket.
Under Maryland Law, Criminal Procedure §10-105 the waiting period to remove a
stet case is three years after the date of the judgment
If it has been less than three years, you may file a motion for a good cause exception and see if the court will grant it.
guilty
A verdict convicting the defendant of the crime charged.
· Under Maryland Law, Criminal Procedure §10-105, except for a limited number of
minor common nuisance crimes, guilty convictions are not eligible for expungement.
· According to Criminal Procedure §10-107, if a person is not entitled to expungement
on one charge or conviction in a unit, the person is not entitled to expungement of any
other charge or conviction in the unit.
nolle prosequi (Nol pros)
A formal motion by a State's Attorney, indicating that the charge(s) will not be prosecuted.
· Under Maryland Law, nolle prosequi dispositions are not automatically expunged.
You must file a Petition for Expungement of Records if you want this removed from
public databases.
· If the case was nolle prosequi and you were not served, you must still file for
expungement. However, if a judge advises in court that such a case be expunged, a
petition is not needed and there is no filing fee.
NOLO CON TENURE (nolo)
A plea in a criminal action having the same legal effect as a plea of guilty and on which the defendant may be sentenced.
when are You not entitled To an expungement?
You are not entitled to an expungement:
In any case where a guilty finding was entered (except for certain nuisance crimes under Criminal Procedure §10-105(a)(9)).
If you received a probation before judgment, a nolle prosequi, a stet, a pardon or conviction of a specified public nuisance crime, AND since then you have been convicted of another crime other than a minor traffic violation or are a defendant in a pending criminal proceeding.
In civil cases, unless you were charged with a civil offense as a substitute for a criminal charge.
In domestic violence, cases are a civil proceeding, which are not covered under the expungement statute.
27
· Of a disposition of probation before judgment or guilty for a violation of driving
under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) (Transportation Article
§21-902, Criminal Law Article §2-503, 2-504, 2-505, or 2-506, or former Article
§388Aor§388B).
· If one charge in the unit is not eligible for expungement, the other charges in the unit
are not eligible for expungement no matter what type of charges they are (criminal,
traffic, boating violation, light-rail violation, etc.).
· If you were charged with minor traffic offenses only. The Court does not have
authority to expunge minor traffic offenses. Only the MVA can expunge minor traffic
offenses.
pardons
A pardon is an act of clemency in which the Governor, by order, absolves the grantee from the guilt of the grantee's criminal acts and exempts the grantee from any penalties imposed by law for those criminal acts. If you want to clear your record of a guilty charge you must call the Parole Commissioner's Office to request a packet for a pardon. (Exception: A guilty verdict for certain public nuisance crimes under Criminal Procedure §10-105(a)(9) may be expungeable.) For more information regarding pardons contact the Parole Commission directly:
6776 Reisterstown Road
Baltimore, MD 21215
1-877-241-5428 (toll free) or 410-585-3200
http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/aboutdpscs/FAQmpc.shtmWpardon
cost of expungement
Ask the clerk about the fee or refer to the court's online fee/cost schedule. The filing fee is nonrefundable, even if denied. The fee is for each case (not for each charge related within a unit of the case.) If you cannot afford the fee, you may request that the court waive the filing fee. There is no charge to expunge a verdict of Not Guilty (Acquittal).
juvenile records
Juvenile records are sealed and should not appear in criminal records. However, you may file for expungement of the record if the original charge was transferred to the juvenile court. Contact the Juvenile Division of the circuit court for more information.
How Do I file for expungement?
1. Obtain a petition for Expungement of Police and Court Records (Form CC-DC/CR 72)
and the General Wavier and Release (Form CC-DC/CR 78), if necessary, at any District or
circuit court. (Forms available online at: www.mdcourts.gov)
2. You will need to know the case number, date that you were arrested, summoned, or
cited; the law enforcement agency that took the action; the offense with which you were
charged; and the date your case was disposed.
3. Complete the forms and file with the clerk. Include an extra copy for the State's
Attorney and each law enforcement agency named in the petition. You must file in the
court in which your case was concluded.
4. Pay the nonrefundable filing fees.
How long does it take?
The process should take approximately 90 days from the time you file your petition, unless there is an objection or appeal. If the State's Attorney and/or the law enforcement agencies object to your petition, the court shall hold a hearing and will notify you to attend.
If the State's Attorney and the law enforcement agencies do not object within 30 days of receiving the petition, the court shall pass an order requiring the expungement of all police and court records about the charges. The court will notify you that your petition has been granted or denied.
The Expungement process cannot be expedited or "fast tracked" through the system. All cases are handled in exactly the same manner. There are no exceptions.
After the court orders are sent to each required agency, each agency has 60 days from receipt to comply with the court order. You will receive a Certificate of Compliance in the mail to notify you that your expungement has been completed.
Until you receive your Certificate of Compliance from each agency listed on your petition, do not assume that your records have been expunged.
Can an expungement be denied?
Yes.
Who do I call if I have a question about an expungement?
Call the clerk's office where you filed the expungement. The clerks can provide information about the court process, but cannot give legal advice. The clerk may not be able to provide specific information as to where in the process your expungement stands.
What can I do after the petition is denied by the Judge at the hearing?
You may file an appeal within 30 days of the denial.
How will I be notified about the answer to the petition?
The Petitioner or Attorney, whoever filed the petition, may receive an answer from the State's Attorney in the mail 30 days from the receipt of the petition. In some jurisdictions, the State's Attorney may not answer at all. According to the Maryland Rules, a failure to file an answer constitutes agreement.
Why does the expungement process take so long?
Maryland expungement laws (Criminal Procedure §10-101 to 10-109) set specific time requirements for the various phases of an expungement. The entire process will take approximately 90 days from the date of filing.
certificates of compliance
What can I do if I do not receive a copy of all the certificates of compliance?
First, contact the agency or agencies directly that you have not received certificates from. Then, contact the Court to see if they have received certificates from those agencies. As a last resort, file a lawsuit against the state agency if they disseminate the information. The clerk can provide information about the court process, however you may want to seek the assistance of a lawyer before filing a lawsuit.
I just received a copy of the court order and certificate of compliance from the courts. Does this mean I am clear to apply for a job or adopt?
No, this is only your certification that the court has complied with the order and notified the parties on the form. Until you have received a compliance letter from each of the listed parties on the court order, do not assume that your record has been cleared of the petitioned charge.

EXPUNGEMENT ORDER
How long should I keep my copy of the Expungement Order?
Keep these documents FOREVER.
What does it mean when I receive an Order for Expungement of Police and Court Records and Certificate of Compliance?
It means that a particular agency has complied with the expungement order.
Will the public still be able to view records on case search after the record is expunged?
No.
If my record is expunged, can I come in again and get a copy for immigration if I lost all the paperwork?
You can petition the Court to have the case reopened. However, three years after the expungement has been granted, the file is shredded.
After the case is expunged, could immigration obtain copies of the expungement documentation and case folder?
Immigration cannot obtain this information from any agency that has filed a Certificate of Compliance once the case has been expunged.
Why does my record still show on other databases after it has been expunged from the Court's system?
Each entity (courts, arresting agency, parole and probation, Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), etc.) has its own stand alone database for which it is responsible. Since these databases are not connected, each entity will expunge their own database. Once CJIS expunges the record in Maryland's Central Repository, which is done within 60 days of the court order, the FBI will be notified to expunge their database.
must 1 disclose expunged charges?
According to Maryland law, Criminal Procedure §10-109:
Disclosure of expunged information about civil citations and criminal charges in an application,
interview, or other means may not be required of a person who applies for employment, etc.
A person need not refer to or give information concerning an expunged charge when answering a question concerning a criminal charge or civil citation that did not result in a conviction or that the Governor pardoned.
Refusal by a person to disclose information about criminal charges or civil citations that have been expunged may not be the sole reason for refusal to hire the person.

amended petitions
What are the procedures for filing an expungement in circuit court (or other agencies) after District Court has received/processed the paperwork?
Per Rule 4-506, the application, petition, or answer may be amended by the Petitioner in the manner prescribed by Rule 2-341.
Unless the court orders otherwise, a party filing an amended pleading must file a comparison copy of the amended pleading. Language that is stricken should by lined through or enclosed in brackets (ex: old language or [old language]). The new language should be underlined or in boldfaced type (ex: new language or new language). The clerk will resubmit the amended petition to the agency.
CJIS related questions
How long will it take before it will not show on a record check?
If the employer does the record check through the Criminal Justice Information Systems - Central Repository (CJIS-CR) system, it will not show on the record after CJIS has complied with the order and finished processing the expungement.
Once my case is expunged, will it still be on my background check?
No, once CJIS has complied with the order and finished processing the expungement it will not show on your record.
If I have received my Certificates of Compliance, why does the FBI still show that I have a record?
The Courts do not process expungements for the FBI's system. Once CJIS expunges the record in Maryland's Central Repository, which is done within 60 days of the court order, the FBI will be notified to expunge their database.
Why is my case still showing up in CJIS after four months?
CJIS handles expungements for the entire State of Maryland. The volume of expungement requests that CJIS processes is much greater than that of individual jurisdictions, and expungements are processed in the order received.
I recently had a background check done through my job and the charge that I had expunged still appears. What do I do?
If the record check was not processed through the State of Maryland, you must go back to your company and have them do a fingerprint supported check through CJIS to receive an accurate record check.

helpful suggestions
The following suggestions will help you succeed with an expungement:
· Make sure that you have completed the expungement petition completely and
accurately with your full name, including any alias that you used at the time of arrest,
date of birth, and current address.
· Have a background check done through CJIS-CR if you are not sure of dates of arrest
and occurrences. This will also allow you to see what is on your criminal history.
· After the expungement process is completed and all Certificates of Compliance
have been received, have a background check done. This is to double check that the
expungement was done as well as check for any other occurrences that may appear.
· Ensure that you have filed at the appropriate time and not too soon. Filing too soon will
cause the expungement to be denied. The fee is nonrefundable.
· Make sure you are filing in the appropriate court jurisdiction (District or circuit)
because filing in the wrong jurisdiction can delay your case from being expunged from
the State of Maryland in a timely manner. If your case was appealed to a higher court,
that is where you need to file.
· Make sure you keep copies of all the expungement documents and the expungement
order since they may be needed for future reference. Once the case has been expunged,
all documents pertaining to the case will be destroyed.11
EXPUNGEMENT AGENCY CONTACT INFORMATION
Circuit Court: located in every county. For more information see:
http: //mdcourts. gov/circuit/index .html
District Court: For more information see:
http://mdcourts.gov/district/index.html
Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA): For more information call
1-800-950-lMVAorsee: http ://www.mva. state.md.us
Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS) of the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services collects and maintains criminal records. For information, call
Toll free 1-888-795-0011 or see: http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/aboutdpscs
Individuals can check their own criminal history by visiting their local police barracks to request an individual review. You will be fingerprinted and your fingerprint identification will be sent to the:
CJIS Central Repository (CJIS-CR) P.O. Box 32708
Pikesville, MD 21282-2708
Once received, CJIS will then process the results and mail them back to you.

If you have further questions about the expungement law, please see Criminal Procedure Article §10-101 to 10-109 of the Annotated Code of Maryland. You may wish to consult an attorney to determine how the law applies to your situation.
For more information, visit the Judiciary website at: http://www.mdcourts.gov
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Security Cameras in Washington DC Save the Day

A client came in recently and reminded me of a powerful tool in personal injury cases in Washington DC. He was involved in a vehicle accident in Washington DC. The claim was that he had run a red light and struck a car turning left past the intersection. He was confident that he had the green light but it was only his testimony. An independent witness who knew neither the driver nor the bicyclist also testified that he ran the red light. The car driver naturally stated that he had run the red light. The police officer gave my client a ticket for running a red light.

Washington DC has many security cameras throughout the city. This particular intersection had such a security camera. The information is not kept indefinitely, in fact the recorded information is only for a few days and then recycled. My client did a freedom of information act through the early Metropolitan Police Department and was able to get the footage of the accident.

The camera was mounted at the intersection. The camera pans around and shows various parts of the intersection. The camera clearly showed the car making a left turn directly in front of my client and my client having less than a second to react. He collides violently with the car. The camera continues to pan showing the direction where my client came from. It shows many many cars continuing through the intersection clearly indicating that he had a green light. The camera continues to pan and shows the traffic light in the intersection showing that the light was green. It also shows how many seconds were left because it picks up the walk don't walk signal.

This evidence is overwhelming and short-lived. Contacting the Metropolitan Police Department and requesting freedom of information is quick and cheap. You should just Google Metropolitan Police Department freedom of information act and it will take you directly to their website and they are helpful.
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Driver Acquitted of Striking a Bicyclist

Recently I represented a very nice mature lady. She was leaving her doctor's office where she had had work done on her knee. While leaving the parking lot she came to a sidewalk which crossed over the driveway leaving the parking lot. A bicyclist came across the sidewalk and there was a collision. The bicyclist got up and either sat close by on the curb or picked up his bicycle and moved a distance away. My client remained at the scene for at least 3 min. in her car. She was in pain and could not get out. The bicyclist did not come over to her even though he was ambulatory. Thereafter she left and her intent was to go to a local grocery store and call the accident in. The telephone was not available at the grocery store and she went home. A witness took down her tag and the police found her at her house. She told her story to the police and they were willing to let the case go with her going to a driver improvement program and no charges being filed.

Apparently the bicyclist had a bit of a history. When I ran his name on the criminal database search available in Maryland, he came back with two pages of criminal charges. He was apparently incensed that this lady did not suffer criminal charges. He contacted the officer many times requesting that he issue a citation and the officer denied that request. He pulled rank and went to the officer's Sgt. who also denied the request. He went to the lieutenant who capitulated and the officer wrote citations against my client.

My client was charged with the following:

1. Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk
2. Failure to stop after an accident

These are somewhat serious charges. They carry jail time and of course points on your driving license.

The case was called for trial and everyone showed up. I told the prosecutor not to drop the charges because I was concerned that the bicyclist would go after this prosecutor going all the way up to John McCarthy, the state's attorney for Montgomery County. At trial the state proved that the victim was riding a bicycle in the crosswalk when he was struck. They also proved that my client remained at least 3 min. and probably more than 5 min. stopped at the scene after the accident.

At the close of the state's case I argued to the judge that a bicyclist is not a pedestrian and that is clearly defined in the Maryland code. A pedestrian is somebody who is "afoot" (is a bicyclist somebody who is "abike"?) The judge threw out that charge immediately. I further argued that the state proved in their case that my client did stop after the accident. Under the statute it requires the driver to stop. It does not say how long the driver needs to stop. Arguably, one second is enough. Clearly at least 3 min. is enough. Again the judge threw out the charge.

Not surprisingly, the bicyclist began haranguing the prosecutor and almost needed to be escorted out of the courthouse by the bailiffs.

All that being said, I do not condone driving away after an accident. My client should have been charged with hit and run and failing to provide proper identification and failing to provide assistance. That would've made the case tougher. For whatever reason, she was not charged with the correct crimes and she is acquitted as she should be. If you have an accident, you should remain at the scene, exchange information, give aid and assistance and just be a decent human being.
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Montgomery County public library has many online resources

This is an unusual blog and has nothing to do with legal content but I thought that someone out there might be interested in this powerful resource. The Montgomery County public library website has Consumer Reports as well as many other publications online. If you need to find Consumer Reports online all you need is your library card. I hope that the below directions are understandable. I received them from the librarian and they work for me.

Go to www.MontgomeryCountyMd.gov. At some point it will ask for your library card number, put that in.

Go to the most popular page
click on a-Z electronic resources
click on M
click on Masterfile Premier

Go to the Blue Bar and Click on Publications
in the second search box type in Consumer Reports
click on Consumer Reports
you can search within this publication or each individual year

When you find your general topic look to the left and open up the PDF. You will have the complete article.

Bonus points to the individual who finds the article that describes how to rate a law firm.
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Tree Sap Acquits My Client

Sometimes nobody gets it including yours truly. The prosecutor did not get the case, the judge did not get part of the case, I did not get the whole case. My client was charged with theft of a Kawasaki all-terrain vehicle in Charles County. The facts were that the victim had his all-terrain vehicle stolen from his house in February of 2008. In July of 2009 my client along with three other Hispanic males was inside of his van and was parked in a remote area in Charles County. Somebody saw that and called the police because it seemed suspicious. The police came and saw that there were four Hispanic males inside of the van and that there was an ATV in the van also. The officer thought this was suspicious. The officer ordered the men out of the van and ordered them to remove the all-terrain vehicle and began checking the vehicle identification number. Initially, it came back negative-it was not stolen. Not long after that communications contacted the officer and advised that the vehicle was indeed stolen.

My client was charged with theft of the all-terrain vehicle even though the theft had occurred 17 months earlier.

The prosecutor refused to drop the case. The defendants appeared three times in District Court and each time the case was continued for one reason or another. Finally we requested a jury trial. Still the prosecutor would not drop the case. I could not understand how they would prove this case? They provided the discovery information and there was nothing else in it. My client did not admit to stealing the all-terrain vehicle. There were no witnesses who could prove that he stole it from the house. My client had told the police officer that he and his friends had seen deer in the woods and followed the deer into the woods and came upon this vehicle. The vehicle appeared to be abandoned and in a ditch and so they took it. There was no license plate on the vehicle. There was no evidence that the vehicle had recently been driven. The ignition had not been popped.

At trial the owner of the vehicle testified that his vehicle was stolen from his home in February 2008. In July of 2009 he was contacted by the police and he went down to identify his vehicle. He took his keys along. When he saw the vehicle. On cross examination I want to establish that the vehicle was abandoned. The owner admitted that the vehicle was covered in tree sap. The owner admitted that the engine was cool to the touch which would suggest that the vehicle had not recently been started. It was determined that my client and his friends had no riding gear with them-no motorcycle helmets, boots, etc. All of this was consistent with what my client had told the officer that they had found it and it seemed abandoned.

The officer testified that the situation seemed suspicious. I could not figure out how this was suspicious. The license plate on the car was legitimate. My client's driver's license was legitimate. I think what seemed suspicious is that you had four Hispanic men in a van. Strangely, the judge found this to be sufficiently suspicious to allow the officer to further investigate. The judge was troubled with the officer's order to remove the van because the judge could not see how the officer had probable cause at that point.

They called two other witnesses and I do not believe they added anything to the case. One of them lived in the area and I was able to establish that there was a large woods where the ATV was found. The other one I did not even bother cross examining.

After this evidence the state rested.

I did not even have to put on a defense. The judge granted our motion for judgment of acquittal. The evidence was completely consistent with people finding an abandoned vehicle in the woods. He could not see how the state could prove that my client intended to steal the vehicle. There was no evidence that he stole the vehicle. My client was found not guilty of the charge.

After the trial the prosecutor still did not get it. She was arguing to me her theory of the case which had just been completely debunked. I finally did get it, the prosecution had no case and never could make a case.
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Just because the police officer says you're drunk does not necessarily mean that you are drunk

My client was just acquitted on all charges for drunk driving after a trial on the merits. The police officer stopped my client for speeding. He smelled a strong odor of alcohol, claimed that my client's speech was slurred, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, that he put his foot down five times on the one leg stand test and raised his arms too high and that he took too many steps on the walk and turn test and missed heel to toe. Also my client admitted drinking two shots of alcohol and one beer. The officer was of the opinion that my client was intoxicated.

On cross examination the officer admitted that other than speeding my client was driving the car in a normal manner. My client was able to produce his license from his wallet without any problems. My client communicated accurately with the officer. The officer wasn't positive as to the surface where the Field sobriety tests were done. The officer could not remember if there was anybody else in the car (my client had a very drunk woman in the car who smelled of alcohol). The officer could not remember if he himself lost his balance showing the Field sobriety tests.

We had a witness who stated that he was the DJ at the bar where my client was. He saw my client come in and thought my client was sober. My client was there one hour. When the bar closed my client felt the DJ unload all of his equipment including two 150 pound speakers which were on telescopic stands. My client wrapped up the electrical cables in a neat fashion. My client peeled tape off the floor. My client had no trouble doing these things and left right after that and within five minutes. By the officer. The DJ thought that my client was sober.

My client testified that he had had one shot and had ordered two beers but realized he was on antibiotics and only drink the shot and half of the beer. My client thought that he was sober.

The judge could not find beyond a reasonable doubt that my client was intoxicated or under the influence or even impaired and acquitted him of these charges.

The point is, just because the state claims something is so, does not mean that the trier of fact will believe that beyond a reasonable doubt.
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New Maryland Procedure: Drivers Must Notify the Court after a Moving Violation

As of January 1, 2011 drivers receiving a moving violation in Maryland have a different procedure. In the old days, the court would automatically send them any notice of a court date. This is no longer the case.

Drivers who receive a moving violation ticket must now affirmatively act within 30 days after receiving the ticket by either paying the ticket for requesting a trial date. If they do neither their license will be suspended. They must do one or the other to protect their driving privilege.
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