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June 2014 Archives

Police Targeting Public Intoxication in Ocean City, Maryland

     It appears that the Ocean City Police Department is using the public intoxication statute this summer to target jay-walkers for prosecution with a criminal offense in Ocean City, Maryland. Ocean City has a serious problem with pedestrian injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicles hitting jay-walking pedestrians. Many of these pedestrian/vehicle collisions result from intoxicated pedestrians attempting to cross congested roads such as Coastal Highway between intersections. For years the Town of Ocean City has been attempting to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and deaths with a public information campaign, additional crosswalks, and other measures. Crossing a roadway between intersections where a crosswalk is provided is a violation of the Maryland Traffic Code. The preset fine for this offense is $50.

Huge Mandatory Fines in Maryland for Transporting Untaxed Cigarettes

     Beginning on October 1, 2013, there is a mandatory $150 fine for each carton of untaxed cigarettes transported in the State of Maryland.  For a subsequent violation, a person is subject to a mandatory fine of $300 per carton of untaxed cigarettes.  In addition to the mandatory fines, a person may be sentenced to imprisonment not exceeding two years.  Prior to October 1st the maximum fine was $50 per carton of cigarettes and the fine was discretionary.  Under the new law, the mandatory fine can be extremely high for those caught transporting multiple cartons of untaxed cigarettes in Maryland.  For example, a person transporting a modest 500 cartons of cigarettes would be required to pay a fine of $75,000.  Moreover, the cigarettes will be forfeited to the State.  In the previous example, this means a loss of cigarettes with a retail value of $32,379. The new mandatory fines in Maryland make the criminal defense of untaxed cigarette cases in Maryland especially challenging.  A criminal defense lawyer needs to thoroughly explore and aggressively use all available defenses in a Maryland untaxed cigarette case to try and avoid these hefty fines. 

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