Under Maryland law, all criminal defendants are presumed innocent if and until they are convicted. A conviction can occur via a guilty plea or through a bench or jury trial. At a criminal trial, the prosecution must present evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant actually committed the crime for which he or she is charged. Of course, even if the defendant is found to be guilty at trial, that person may appeal the conviction. The outcome of a criminal case can have serious, life-altering consequences for the person charged. In such matters, it is vitally important that a defendant consult with a local criminal attorney who is fully familiar with the laws and procedures in the Maryland court system.
In a recent case, the defendant was convicted of driving with a suspended license. According to the decision, the defendant was originally charged with failure to display a license to an officer, driving on a suspended license, driving without a license, and driving on a revoked license. He asserted that, while his license expired in 1990, it was suspended prior to that time. Since the defendant waived his right to a jury trial, the court tried the case under an agreed statement of facts and convicted him of only driving on a suspended license. The driver was sentenced to two years of incarceration, with all but one month suspended. The sentence also requires the defendant to submit to one year of supervised probation. The driver appealed.
On appeal, defendant argued that he could not be convicted of driving on a suspended license because it had expired. The State countered by arguing that the expiration of a license does not negate its suspended status. Under Maryland law, a person may not drive a motor vehicle on state roads while his or her license is suspended. The defendant raised an issue of first impression in the state, whether the suspension of a valid driver’s license survives the expiration. The court reviewed the applicable law and determined that allowing the expiration to cancel the suspension in this case would undermine the Legislature’s intent. For example, the state code requires the motor vehicle department to suspend a license if the license holder does not make any necessary child support payments. The court’s interpretation supports the notion that one’s driving privileges will remain suspended until payment of child support.
The court bolstered its decision by pointing out that courts in sister states have held that a valid suspension survives the expiration of a driver’s license. Further, under Maryland law, when a driver’s license is suspended or revoked, the Department of Motor Vehicles will not grant a new license until the suspension is lifted. Here, the appellant merely argued that the expiration of the license negated the criminal conviction of driving on a suspended license. The court held that this was not enough, and that the expiration of the appellant’s driver’s license did not invalidate the suspension.
Criminal charges of any kind are a serious matter. If you are arrested or charged with a crime, you should consult with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney. Our firm will work diligently to develop a strong strategy to defend your case. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.
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