You may be wondering whether a separate Maryland criminal case can have repercussions in your current criminal case. The older case can impact how you are sentenced in a current case. However, the penalties in the earlier case cannot be transferred willy-nilly from the older case to the current case. In a 2013 case a defendant appealed his conviction for violating the Maryland bad check law. He asked the appellate court to review whether it was appropriate for a judge to order a defendant to pay restitution arising from an unrelated case.
The defendant had committed various crimes in Maryland and Delaware. The first set involved violations of Maryland’s Home Improvement Law. He had contracted with come women to perform home improvement work and failed to complete that work. He was charged for these as criminal offenses. He pled guilty and was required to pay monetary restitution to the women. The second type of case had to do with his bad check.
The defendant didn’t pay restitution to the women. The court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the previously suspended sentences in each of the cases and to pay fines of $1000 in each case, which would be served at $10 per day of confinement. These were consecutive sentences. The defendant appealed.
Meanwhile the defendant also wrote a bad check of around $182 to a drilling company. He was charged with illegally obtaining property or services by bad check. His case was transferred to the circuit court where the other home improvement charges were. Meanwhile his wife made restitution to the drilling company.
All four cases came in front of the circuit court. The State claimed an agreement was reached in these cases. It stated that it would agree the $1000 fine to be paid by serving jail time at a rate of $10 per day was an illegal sentence. It further stated the defendant would agree to serve the suspended portion of the sentence of six or so months and would plead guilty to the bad check count. In return the State would recommend only 5 months of incarceration consecutive to the other three sentences.
The defendant agreed to waive a jury trial and pled guilty. The circuit court found him guilty. He agreed he hadn’t made the restitution payments, but testified that he needed to support his family. The circuit court impose a sentence and revoked the probations in the home improvement cases, ordering him to serve six months for each of two cases and 30 days for the third case. It ordered restitution to the women to be paid off in $300 monthly payments. Neither the defendant nor his lawyer objected to the restitution payments.
However, he asked to appeal the cases subsequently. After various procedural moves, the appellate court addressed the issue of whether it was appropriate for the trial judge to order him to pay restitution arising from an unrelated case as a condition of probation after he pled guilty to the bad check case and had a sentence suspended in favor of probation.
The appellate court explained there are limits on a court’s power to order restitution. This order had exceeded that authority. It also ruled the probation was an illegal sentence. The court explained whether to order restitution was a question of discretion with statutory limits. The only fact linking the cases in these cases was the defendant’s status as a defendant in all of them. The losses suffered by the women in the home improvement cases were not caused by the bad check violation. They were not part of the same transaction. The court reasoned a sentence is illegal where there is an illegality in the sentence itself or when no sentence should have been given. An order requiring restitution without a statutory basis to do so falls into the first category.
If you are arrested or charged with a crime, you should consult with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney. We will develop the best strategy we can to defend your case. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.
Criminal Email Harassment in Maryland, Maryland Criminal Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2014
Bill of Particulars in Maryland Criminal Defense, Maryland Criminal Lawyer Blog, January 25, 2014