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Criminal procedure — District court jurisdiction — Maximum penalty

In 2016, the State brought charges in the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County against Alfred Fielding, Donald Peter Workeman, Robert Irving Metzger, Reginald Powell, Luis Manuel Alvarez, and Jason Allan Beavers (“Appellants”) in six unrelated cases. In each, the State charged Appellants with the “flagship” offense of driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and sought an enhanced penalty based on a prior conviction. Each Appellant filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction because the maximum penalty for the driving offense was one year in jail, placing the case within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the district court. The State opposed the motions, arguing that because it had filed a notice to seek an enhanced penalty, which increased the possible sentence from one year to three years, the circuit court had jurisdiction concurrent with the district court.

The circuit court heard and denied each of the Appellants’ motions. Each Appellant filed an “Application for Leave to Appeal” the denials. We granted Appellants’ motions to consolidate the appeals.

Read the opinion here: