[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of Dorchester County 9-9-2003 by Bill No. 2003-13. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The County Council of Dorchester County may provide that violations of ordinances authorized to be adopted or enacted by Dorchester County shall be punishable as misdemeanors, but no penalty shall exceed a fine of $1,000 and imprisonment for six months. Imprisonment in default of fine and costs shall be regulated by the provisions of Article 38, § 4 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.
The County Council of Dorchester County may provide that a violation of any County ordinance is a County infraction unless the violation is declared to be a felony or a misdemeanor by state law.
For purposes of this chapter, a "County infraction" is a civil offense.
Those officials authorized by Dorchester County to act as enforcement officers may serve a citation on any person:
The citation shall be served on the defendant:
In accordance with Maryland Rule 3-121; or
For real property-related violations, if proof is made by affidavit that good faith efforts to serve the defendant under Maryland Rule 3-121(A) have not succeeded, by:
The citation shall contain the enforcement officer's certification attesting to the truth of the matter set forth in the citation or that the citation is based on an affidavit; and:
The name and address of the person charged;
The nature of the infraction;
The location and time that the infraction occurred;
The amount of the infraction fine assessed;
The manner, location, and time in which the fine may be paid to the County;
The person's right to elect to stand trial for the infraction; and
The effect of failing to pay the assessed fine or demand a trial within the prescribed time.
The enforcement officer shall retain a copy of the citation.
If a citation is served without a summons as provided in Subsection E, the person charged in the citation may elect to stand trial for the infraction by notifying the County in writing of the person's intent to stand trial.
The written notice shall be given at least five days prior to the date of payment as set forth in the citation.
Upon receipt of the written notice of the intent to stand trial, the County shall forward to the District Court having venue a copy of the citation and the written notice.
Upon receipt of the citation and the written notice, the District Court shall schedule the case for trial and notify the defendant of the trial date.
If a person charged in a citation fails to pay the fine by the date of payment set forth on the citation and fails to deliver to the County the written notice of intent to stand trial, the person is liable for the assessed fine.
The County may double the fine to an amount not to exceed $1,000 and request adjudication of the case though the District Court, including the filing of a demand for judgment on affidavit.
The District Court shall promptly schedule the case for trial and summons the defendant to appear.
The defendant's failure to respond to such summons shall result in the entry of judgment against the defendant in favor of the County in the amount then due if a proper demand for judgment on affidavit has been made.
An enforcement officer may also serve a summons with a citation that requires the person to appear in District Court on a specified date and time to be set by the Court.
The summons shall specify that the person is not required to appear in District Court if the fine is paid as provided in the citation.
If approved by the Chief Judge of the Maryland District Court, the citation form may contain the summons.
The enforcement officer shall coordinate the selection of court dates with the appropriate District Court officials.
If the defendant fails to pay the fine as provided in the citation and fails to appear in District Court as provided in the summons:
If any person is found by the District Court to have committed a County infraction:
The District Court shall order the person to pay the fine, including any doubling of the fine, not to exceed the limits under § 147-4A:
The fines imposed shall constitute a judgment in favor of the County; and
If the fine remains unpaid for 30 days following the date of its entry, the judgment shall be enforceable in the same manner and to the same extent as other civil judgments for money unless the court has suspended or deferred the payment of the fine as provided under Subsection F(2) of this section.
The District Court may suspend or defer the payment of any fine under conditions that the court sets;
The person shall be liable for the costs of the proceedings in the District Court; and
The court may order the person to abate the infraction or enter an order permitting the County to abate the infraction at the person's expense.
Abatement of infraction.
If the County abates an infraction in accordance with an order of the District Court, the County shall present the defendant with a bill for the cost of abatement by:
If the defendant does not pay the bill within 30 days after presentment, upon a motion of the County, the District Court shall enter a judgment against the defendant for the cost of the abatement.
All fines, penalties, or forfeitures collected by the District Court for a County infraction shall be remitted to the County.
If a defendant fails to pay any fine or cost imposed by the District Court without good cause, the District Court may punish the failure as contempt of court.
Adjudication of a "County infraction" as defined in § 147-2 of this chapter, is not a criminal conviction for any purpose, nor does it impose any of the civil disabilities ordinarily imposed by a criminal conviction.
In any proceeding for a County infraction:
It shall be the burden of the County to prove that the defendant has committed the infraction by clear and convincing evidence, and in any such proceeding, the District Court shall apply the evidentiary standards as prescribed by law or rule for the trial of civil causes;
The District Court shall ensure that the defendant has received a copy of the charges against the defendant and that the defendant understands those charges;
The defendant shall be entitled to cross-examine all witnesses who appear against the defendant, to produce evidence or witnesses in the defendant's own behalf, or to testify in the defendant's own behalf, if the defendant elects to do so;
The defendant shall be entitled to be represented by counsel of the defendant's own selection and at the defendant's own expense; and
The defendant may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty of the infraction as charged, and the verdict of the District Court shall be guilty of a County infraction or not guilty of a County infraction, or the District Court may, before rendering judgment, place the defendant on probation.
The State's Attorney of Dorchester County is authorized to prosecute a County infraction and is authorized to enter a nolle prosequi in such cases or to place such cases on the stet docket.
[Added 5-6-2008 by Bill No. 2008-8]
This section shall be known as the "Anti-Deficiency Act."
Definitions. For the purposes of this section, the following words are defined:
- A designated amount of public funds approved for a specific purpose during a fiscal year within the annual budget ordinance by the County Council of Dorchester County, Maryland.
- RESPONSIBLE OFFICIAL
- An appointed official, department head or division manager.
Prohibited acts. A responsible official Dorchester County, Maryland may not:
Make or authorize an expenditure or obligation exceeding an amount available in an appropriation for the expenditure or obligation, unless authorized by Council; or
Involve Dorchester County, Maryland, in a contract or obligation for the payment of money before an appropriation is made, unless authorized by Council.
Penalties and reporting requirements.
Administrative and penal sanctions. A responsible official who violates Subsection C is guilty of neglect of official duty and is subject to appropriate administrative discipline, including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office.