[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council Council of Wicomico County 10-24-2000 by Bill No. 2000-9. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Alarms — See Ch. 105.
Forest conservation — See Ch. 126.
Dogs and other animals — See Ch. 133.
Garbage, rubbish and refuse — See Ch. 156.
Nuisances — See Ch. 174.
Plumbing — See Ch. 183.
Right to farm — See Ch. 186.
Streets and addressing system — See Ch. 197.
Taxicabs — See Ch. 205.
Zoning — See Ch. 225.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CIVIL ZONING VIOLATION
- A violation of Chapter 225 of this Code, which violation shall also be considered a civil infraction.
- Any violation of the County Code or of a regulation adopted pursuant to the County Code which has been designated a civil infraction and is punishable by a civil fine.
- Includes the following:
- A. A criminal offense, not amounting to a felony, arising from a violation of a law of the state, which violation is defined as a "misdemeanor"; or
- B. Unless otherwise specified, a violation of any law of this county. All violations shall be treated as "misdemeanors" unless specifically declared to be infractions.
- For the purposes of this chapter, an official is the individual in an agency or department authorized to issue citations.
- PARKING VIOLATION
- Any violation of any parking law, regulation or provision made by Wicomico County or any other agency authorized to designate limited parking or no parking, including violations of Article IV or V of Chapter 197 of this Code.
- An individual, partnership, joint venture, corporation, association, or organization.
Fines and penalties for civil infractions of the Wicomico County Code shall be as specified by the chapter or in a schedule of fines adopted by the County Council for the violation charged.
[Amended 10-17-2006 by Bill No. 2006-11]
All fines shall be payable to and collected by the Director of Finance of Wicomico County.
A citation for a civil infraction shall contain, at a minimum, the following information:
The name and address of the person charged;
The nature of the infraction;
The location and time that the infraction occurred or was observed;
The amount of the fine assessed;
The manner and location in which the fine may be paid;
The date by which the fine must be paid, which shall not be less than 10 calendar days after the date of the citation, or, if the citation is mailed, shall not be less than 13 days after the date the citation is mailed;
The right of the person charged to elect to stand trial and the location where an election to stand trial may be filed;
The effect of failure to pay the fine or demand a trial within the prescribed time;
The certification of the official issuing the citation attesting to the truth of the matters set forth in the citation or that the citation is based on an affidavit.
The official issuing the citation shall retain a copy of the citation.
The official issuing the citation shall deliver the citation to the person charged; or mail the citation by certified mail, postage prepaid, to the person charged. In addition, a copy of the citation may be posted in a conspicuous place on the property where the violation exists or has occurred.
The person charged shall:
By the payment date set forth in the citation, pay the fine; or
At least five days before the payment date set forth in the citation, elect to stand trial for the infraction by filing a written notice of intention to stand trial. The notice shall be given at the location specified in the citation.
If the person charged fails to pay timely the fine set forth on the citation:
A copy of the citation, accompanied by any timely election to stand trial, shall be forwarded for adjudication to the district court having venue; or
If the citation is for an infraction of any provision of Chapter 225 and the person charged has failed to file a timely election to stand trial:
A formal notice of the infraction shall be sent by First Class Mail, postage prepaid, to the last known address of the person charged;
The formal notice shall advise the person charged of the infraction and shall further advise that if the fine as set forth in the citation is not paid within 15 days of the date of the formal notice, the fine will be doubled; and
If the person charged fails to pay the fine within 35 days after the date of the formal notice, a copy of the citation shall be forwarded for adjudication to the district court having venue.
Compliance with this section shall be established by an affidavit of compliance accompanied by a copy of the formal notice.
Subject to the limitation that a person charged with an infraction of Chapter 225 shall not be subject to a fine in excess of $1,000, the person charged shall be liable for double the fine as set forth in the citation:
If the citation is for an infraction of any provision of Chapter 225, and the person charged fails within 15 days after the date of the formal notice to pay the fine as set forth in the citation; or
If the person charged elects to stand trial and fails to appear for trial; or
In any other case, if the person charged fails to pay the fine by the payment date as set forth in the citation and fails timely to elect to stand trial.
Upon receipt of a request for adjudication, the District Court shall schedule the case for trial and summon the person charged to appear.
The District Court shall ensure that the person charged has received a copy of the charge.
If the person charged fails to appear for trial, the District Court may enter judgment on affidavit based on the certification by the official issuing the citation.
The county shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the person charged committed the infraction; provided, however, that in any adjudication of an infraction of Chapter 225, the county shall have the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the person charged committed the infraction.
The person charged shall have the right to cross-examine witnesses, to testify or introduce evidence, and to be represented by an attorney of the person's selection and at the person's own expense.
The District Court shall apply the evidentiary standards as prescribed by law or rule for the trial of civil cases. The citation bearing the certification of the official issuing the citation shall be prima facie evidence that the facts stated therein are true.
The verdict of the District Court shall be guilty of the infraction or not guilty of the infraction, or the District Court may, before rendering judgment, place the person charged on probation.
If the District Court renders judgment that the person charged is guilty of the infraction:
The Court shall enter judgment in the amount of the fine, including any doubling of the fine, and court costs, against, and shall order payment by, the person charged; and
The Court may order the person charged to abate the infraction; or
If the county so requests, the Court may enter an order permitting the county to abate the infraction at the expense of the person charged.
If the county abates an infraction pursuant to an order of the District Court, the county shall present the person charged with a bill for the cost of abatement by:
If the person charged does not pay the bill within 30 days after presentment, upon a motion by the county, the District Court shall enter a judgment against the person charged for the cost of abatement.
Payment of a judgment entered by the District Court may be suspended or deferred under conditions set by the Court.
If a judgment entered by the District Court remains unpaid 30 days after the entry of judgment, or following any suspension or deferral, whichever is later:
Adjudication of a civil infraction of the Wicomico County Code, whether by the District Court or by payment of the fine, is not a criminal conviction for any purpose, nor does it impose any of the civil disabilities ordinarily imposed by a criminal conviction.
The office of the County Attorney is authorized to prosecute all civil infractions of the Wicomico County Code.
All fines, penalties or forfeitures collected by the District Court for civil infractions of the Wicomico County Code shall be remitted to the general fund of the county.
The county shall not conduct any formal hearing in connection with civil infractions of the Wicomico County Code. This provision shall not prevent the person charged from requesting, either personally or through an attorney, additional information concerning the violation.
The county may seek equitable, including injunctive, relief against any person or entity violating any provision of the Wicomico County Code relating to health, housing, fire, building, electric, licenses and permits, plumbing, animal control and zoning.
A petition for equitable, including injunctive, relief under this section may be filed in the District Court.
If any provision of this chapter or the application thereof to any person or entity or circumstances is held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of this chapter and the application of such provisions to persons or entities or circumstances other than those as to which it is held invalid shall not be affected thereby. The powers conferred by this chapter shall be in addition and supplemental to the powers conferred by any other law.