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Must the clerk accept a proper filing?

According to statute, generally yes:


§ 2-201. In general
(a) Enumeration. -- The clerk of a court shall:
(1) Have custody of the books, records, and papers of his office;

(2) Make proper legible entries of all proceedings of the court and keep them in well-bound books or other permanent form;

(3) When requested in writing to do so, record any paper filed with his office and required by law to be recorded in the appropriate place, whether or not the title to land is involved;

(4) Unless prohibited by law or order of court, provide copies of records or papers in his custody to a person requesting a copy, under the seal of the court if required;

(5) Issue all writs which may legally be issued from the court;

(6) Deliver a full statement of the costs of a suit to a party requesting a copy;

(7) Receive all books, documents, public letters, and packages sent to him pursuant to law, and carefully dispose of them as the law requires;

(8) Administer an oath;

(9) Replace worn books and records with new ones;

(10) In conjunction with the Motor Vehicle Administrator, establish uniform procedures for reporting both traffic cases and criminal cases involving a motor vehicle in the circuit court to the Motor Vehicle Administration; and

(11) Perform any other duty required by law or rule.

(b) No duty to record until costs paid. -- Unless otherwise provided by law, a clerk is not required to record any paper filed with him or to provide any person with a copy of a paper until the applicable charge has been paid.
MD Code Cts. & Jud. Proc. 2-201 In general (Maryland Code (2019 Edition))

Act of filing papers with court is as ministerial and inflexibly mandatory as any of clerk's responsibilities. Maccray versus Maryland 456  F2d 1 (Fourth Circuit 1972)

There are some restrictions, the item must be in proper form, generally there must be a certificate of service, if these need to be paid, etc. but in general the court must accept documents for filing.
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What does "shall" mean?

In Maryland there is some debate as to the term shall. Sometimes I like to equate shall with must. Excerpts from this opinion seem to support that position:

Lovero v. Joelma Da Silva., 200 Md.App. 433, 28 A.3d 43 (Md. App., 2011

It is important to note that in each iteration of the rule the clerk is directed not to “file” any paper or pleading requiring service that does not contain the appropriate proof of service. See Rule 1–323 (“The clerk shall not accept for filing....”); Rule 306 a.2. (“The clerk shall not accept or file ....”); and Rule 1(a)(2) (a paper “shall not be received and filed by the clerk ...”). The use of the word “shall” in a rule means that the conduct proscribed is mandatory. See Rule 1–201(a); 5 Owens v. Prince George's Cnty. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 182 Md.App. 31, 43–44, 957 A.2d 191 (adopting the view that the use of the word “shall” with respect to commands found in the Maryland Rules is mandatory), cert. denied, 406 Md. 746, 962 A.2d 372 (2008); Tranen v. Aziz, 59 Md.App. 528, 534, 476 A.2d 1170 (1984) (explaining that the term “shall” in a rule “is presumed mandatory ..., denoting an imperative obligation inconsistent with the exercise of discretion” (citation and quotations omitted)), aff'd, 304 Md. 605, 500 A.2d 636 (1985). Therefore, it is clear that in adopting Rule 1–323, and its predecessors, the Court of Appeals intended that a

        [28 A.3d 50]

pleading or paper requiring service that did not contain the appropriate proof of service was not to become a part of any court [200 Md.App. 446] proceeding by being “filed” in the court file of such proceeding.
Lovero v. Joelma Da Silva., 200 Md.App. 433, 28 A.3d 43 (Md. App., 2011)


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Diversion of Prosecution in Prince Georges County District Court

Prince Georges County has a diversion system in place for certain categories of crime. There are a variety of factors which affect a defendant's ability to enter into a diversion program. There are many upsides to entering into a diversion program such as certainty of outcome and eventual dismissal of charges with the possibility of expungement. There are some downsides, actual innocence or inability of the state to prove its case could result in an acquittal with no further effort or expense from the defendant. You should consult with an attorney prior to making these important choices. Below is some information obtained from the District Court in Prince Georges County.

COURT ORDERED COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAM
You were just advised by the Courts to perform Community Service. Listed below are the office locations and steps you need to take, to successfully satisfy your court ordered requirements:
Upper Marlboro
2927 Brown Station Road Upper Marlboro, MD 20774 Residential House with Blue and White Siding
Monday - Friday
Enrollment Hours
08:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
 301-952-3940/5357 Office

Hyattsville
District 1 County Police Station
5000 Rhode Island Avenue, Suite 104
Hyattsville, MD 20784
Center of the Courtyard


The enrollment process should take less than thirty minutes to complete. The program will take in
consideration your means of transportation, work/school schedule and logistics of your residence. You are
required to pay a $40.00 Administrative Fee in the form of a Money Order or Certified Check. No cash,
personal checks or credit cards will be accepted.
If you are not a resident of Prince Georges County or Washington DC, you may request in person a transfer
through this Community Service Office to your jurisdiction. We will coordinate all paperwork regarding
transferring your case. You are required to pay a $40.00 Administrative Fee in the form of a Money Order or
Certified Check.
For enrollment, you should have the following items:
Copy of your Court Order
Picture ID
Administrative User Fee
4. You must enroll with this program to receive court credit for all hours of Community Service you perform.
This program will assign you to a specific work site to complete your community service hours.
5. You may start your community service hours immediately after the enrollment or thereafter. This will be
discussed and agreed upon during your enrollment process.
 The courts have assigned you a time frame to complete your hours. To figure out your completion date, count today as day one and every day thereafter, including holidays and weekends. This program will submit to the court on that date, your satisfactory or unsatisfactory compliance notice.

Spanish-speaking interpreters are available

13400 Dilie Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772 (301) 952-4800 • 711 Maryland Relay Service • www.princegeorgescountymd.gov
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What does it mean if my case is put on the stet docket

Maryland has a rule allowing a case to resolve other than a trial, dismissal or guilty plea.  With the defendant's consent the case can be put on the stet docket. The following is from an information sheet found in the District Court for Prince Georges County and it summarizes the situation neatly:

 If the state moves to place your case on the stet docket, and you agree to the stet, and the judge agrees to the stet, then your case is placed on an inactive status for three years. Essentially, the state puts the file on a shelf and stops time on the case.
The stet is not a conviction or an acquittal. It is a compromise between dropping the case and prosecuting you. Because it is not a conviction, you do not have to tell employers about it if they ask whether you have ever been convicted of any crime.
For tlie first year, either you dr the state may request that the case be reactivated. The case would be removed from the shelf and brought back into court for trial. Time is restarted, and you are back in the same position as you are now, i.e., about to stand trial. . .
For the last two years, the case may only be brought back into court upon written petition to a judge, who must agree there is good cause to reactivate the case.
To receive the stet, you must waive your right to speedy trial. In other words, if the case is reactivated in the next three years, you may not say you did not get your trial.quickly enough.
You keep all your other trial rights. . ' • *;~
Tlie state may put some conditions on the stet, such as paying money to someone or some organization, staying -away from someone or some place, getting counselling, clearing up your driver's license, or anything else appropriate to your case. The state may also set a time, limit in which you must meet the condition(s) or eise have the case reactivated. It is your choice whether or not to agree to the condition(s), but you cannot have the stet disposition for your case unless you do agree and do meet the condition(s).
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Child Support Statute

Child support and the general assembly. Under Maryland law an individual is entitled to child support under the following conditions: an individual who has attained the age of 18 years and he was enrolled in secondary school has the right to receive support and maintenance from both of the individual's parents until the first to occur of the following events:

The individual dies

The individual marries

The individual is emancipated

The individual graduates from or is no longer enrolled in secondary school or

The individual attains the age of 19 years.

You would think that the general assembly would put this particular provision in the Family Law Article under child support. Instead, it is in the Maryland code, Gen. Provisions 1-401. Even experienced family practitioners are hard-pressed to find this particular section.

The Maryland Gen. Provisions Article, in case you are interested contains the following titles:

Rules of interpretation
official oath
open meetings act
Public information act
Maryland public ethics law
United States
emblems, designations, commemorative days and months
and false claims.

Quite the potpourri of laws.
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Further Expansion of Maryland Expungement Law

Maryland expungement law has become applicable to ever more situations. One of the newer situations is where the person is found guilty of the crime. I found information on the Maryland People's Law Library which is very helpful; below is a list of crimes which might be expunged even if you were found guilty. You will note that some of these crimes are felonies. You owe it to yourself to clean up your record if you can. If you can't do it on your own I can help you for a fairly nominal rate.

Guilty Verdict

If you were found guilty of one of these charges you may request an expungement no less than three (3) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later:
  • urination or defecation in a public place,
  • panhandling or soliciting money,
  • drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public place,
  • obstructing the free passage of another in a public place or a public conveyance,
  • sleeping on or in park structures, such as benches or doorways,
  • loitering,
  • vagrancy,
  • riding a transit vehicle without paying the applicable fare or exhibiting proof of payment, or
  • certain other transportation charges (Md. Code, Transportation § 7-705).

If you were found guilty of one of these charges you may request an expungement no less than ten (10) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later:
  • disorderly intoxication,
  • possessing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS),
  • use or possession of drug paraphernalia,
  • unauthorized manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing of a CDS,
  • breaking and entering a motor vehicle,
  • general theft (Md. Code, Criminal Law § 7-104),
  • littering and illegal dumping, or
  • disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.

If you were found guilty of one of these charges you may request an expungement no less than fifteen (15) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later:
  • assault in the second degree,
  • violation of an interim peace order,
  • failure to comply with a protective order,
  • felony theft,
  • possession with intent to distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance, or
  • burglary in the first, second or third degree.
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Expungement Tool I Found

In Maryland, when you are charged with a crime or a traffic offense your name along with your address and date of birth usually appear on a public database, "Maryland Judiciary case search".  Virtually anyone at any time from anywhere on the planet can access this database, putting your name and find the above information including not just criminal and traffic convictions, but simply the fact that you are charged.  Employers, relatives, friends, people who who do not wish you well, can all access this information.

There are occasions where you can have your personal information expunged.  In general, in order to have the matter expunged the charge must be entered nolle prosequi, the defendant was acquitted, received probation before judgment or received a stet.  Sometimes the expungement can be requested immediately with a waiver and sometimes several years must pass.

I have no relation with this service provider, I don't receive anything from them, I do recommend it as an efficient tool to help you file for your expungement requests.

https://www.mdexpungement.com/


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It does not take a great deal of evidence to be charged with driving while impaired

I have been practicing law since 1986.

When I first began practicing law it was much harder to prove alcohol-related driving cases and the sanctions were lower. For example, the alcohol driving crimes back then were driving while intoxicated which required a .15 BAC and driving under the influence of alcohol which required a .13 BAC.

There was no administrative per say sanctions for a high breath test.

Currently we no longer have driving while intoxicated. Driving under the influence per se requires a breath test of .08 BAC and driving while impaired requires a test of .07 BAC. A test of .06 BAC will often result in a charge against the defendant.

Even if there is no breath test the case law indicates that not much impairment is required to be convicted.  The following is from a Maryland appellate case, Meanor v. State, 774 A. 2d 394 - Md: Court of Appeals 2001

"Prior to 1995, § 21-902(a) prohibited a person from driving or attempting to drive a vehicle while intoxicated, and § 21-902(b) prohibited a person from driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Neither term—intoxicated or under the influence—was legislatively defined, and neither had been judicially defined by us for purposes of § 21-902. In Clay v. State, 211 Md. 577, 584, 128 A.2d 634, 638 (1957), we defined "under the influence of alcohol," for purposes of the manslaughter by automobile statute, as "drinking to the extent of probably affecting one's judgment and discretion or probably affecting one's nervous system to the extent that there is a failure of normal coordination, although not amounting to intoxication." (Emphasis added). In Alston v. Forsythe, 226 Md. 121, 132, 172 A.2d 474, 479 (1961), we applied that definition in a civil action for negligence arising out of an automobile accident.
The pattern jury instruction drafted by the Maryland State Bar Association Standing Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions (MPJI-Cr 4:10), which is often used by the trial courts and was used in this case, not only makes clear that the distinction between the two states is one of degree but provides what seems to us a better definition of "under the influence" and a workable and reasonable distinction between that and intoxication. It states:
"The distinction between driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol is one of degree. A person is under the influence of alcohol when the alcohol that [he][she] has consumed has impaired normal coordination, although not amounting to intoxication. Another way of saying this is that the person's abilities have been reduced or weakened by the consumption of alcohol.
Intoxication means more than being under the influence of alcohol. A person is intoxicated when the alcohol that [he][she] has consumed has substantially impaired normal coordination."

Obviously it's not a good idea to drink and drive for many reasons. But if you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation you need experienced counsel to defend you. Call me if you need some help.
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Why it's often worthwhile defending your speeding ticket

Speeding charges or one of the most common charges seen in traffic court. In Maryland speeding convictions put points on your driving record. Points on your driving record lead to increased insurance premiums and even cancellation of insurance coverage.

In Maryland speeds from 1 mile over to 9 miles over equals one point
10 miles to 29 miles over the limit two points
30 miles over the limit five points
anything over 85 mph five points (for example the speed limit is 65 mph and you are clock doing 86 mph that would be five points)

When you receive a speeding ticket you could simply pay the ticket and the points would be automatically assessed against your driving record. That may be convenient but it could lead to long time insurance increases, insurance cancellation and if you accumulate eight points or more license suspension, 12 points or more license revocation.

When you receive a speeding ticket even if the ticket is only $160 (a not unusual rate for a two point speeding ticket) you might consider spending the several hundred dollars it might cost to retain me.

Case in point. I was in traffic court recently. Most people were unrepresented. Several were lucky, the police officer did not show and the tickets were dismissed. That's a pretty good reason for asking for a trial. The defendant has the presumption of innocence and the burden is on the state to have the evidence to prove the defendant guilty. If the officer does not show many times the court will dismiss the ticket.

Before my trial I watched others plead guilty on their speeding tickets. They had the same officer as my client. The judge often would reduce the points on the ticket somewhat and would reduce the fines but there were still convictions.

Under the law of Maryland there really should not be a trial penalty. In other words, the judge should not hold it against you if you exercise your constitutional right to have a trial.

Speeding trials in Maryland are often trial by surprise (I really don't know what the officer will say specifically or what evidence the officer necessarily has, there is no official discovery process for nonserious traffic cases). Nonetheless I have done this for many years and generally know what the officer needs. In my case the officer testified that he was certified to use laser equipment to establish speed and had his certificate as to his qualifications. He also testified that the equipment he had was properly checked out and certified but he did not have the certifications with him. I objected arguing that the best evidence rule required the presence of the certificates. The judge correctly, in my opinion, ruled that the officer did need these certificates and found my client not guilty.

It cost my client several hundred dollars more than the original ticket but it saved my client from increased insurance premiums and possible insurance cancellation.

If you receive a speeding ticket feel free to call me, I might be able to help.

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Federal Housing Assistance/Section 8 Housing and Criminal Convictions

I practice criminal defense. Besides the direct possible consequences of a criminal conviction such as incarceration, probation with home inspections, drug tests, counseling, etc. can come collateral consequences such as termination of housing privileges.

Federal Housing Assistance, Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8 Housing) provides housing assistance to qualified persons. The programs are administered in Maryland through County agencies. Persons in the program must adhere to guidelines or risk termination of benefits and ultimate eviction.

One of the program guidelines addresses criminal convictions. If you are convicted of certain crimes, some as ordinary as assault, can have the person and those residing with the person terminated from the home.

The Court of Appeals for Maryland addressed this matter in Karen McDonald Versus Harford County Housing Agency.

When you are contemplating your options in a criminal case you should consider whether a conviction can have you removed from your home.
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