Graeff, Leahy, Eyler, James R. (Retired, Specially Assigned),
case addresses when a preliminary hearing is required when
the State charges a defendant by information in the circuit
court. Specifically, can the State charge a defendant with
misdemeanor offenses in the circuit court in the absence of a
preliminary hearing? The Circuit Court for Baltimore City
answered that question in the negative and dismissed the
criminal charges against Kelsey Samples, appellee.
appeal,  the State presents the following question
for our review:
Did the circuit court improperly dismiss [appellee's]
criminal case based upon the prosecutor's having charged
misdemeanors by criminal information in a case where no
preliminary hearing was conducted?
For the reasons set forth below, we shall reverse the
judgment of the circuit court.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
March 19, 2015, appellee was charged by way of a statement of
charges in the District Court of Maryland with four
misdemeanors, three involving firearms and one involving
drugs. On April 10, 2015, a criminal information was filed in
the circuit court, charging appellee with: Count 1, wearing,
carrying, and transporting a handgun in a vehicle; Count 2,
possession of a regulated firearm by a minor; Count 3,
wearing, carrying, and transporting a handgun on her person;
and Count 4, possession of a controlled dangerous substance.
hearing in the circuit court on May 6, 2015, appellee moved
for dismissal of the charges. She argued that the State
improperly filed a criminal information on misdemeanor
charges without a preliminary hearing in violation of
Maryland Code (2008 Repl. Vol.) § 4-102(2) of the
Criminal Procedure Article ("CP") and Maryland Rule
State argued that a defendant is entitled to a preliminary
hearing only if he or she is charged with a felony not within
the jurisdiction of the District Court, and there is no right
to a preliminary hearing where a criminal information is
filed with respect to a crime that is a misdemeanor. It
asserted that, because appellee was charged only with
misdemeanors, she was not entitled to a preliminary hearing.
court granted the motion and dismissed the case without
prejudice. The State's timely appeal followed.
sole question raised by the State on appeal is whether, in
dismissing the information filed against appellee, the
circuit court misapplied CP § 4-102(2), which governs
charges by criminal information. The resolution of that
question involves the interpretation of a statute.
this Court explained:
It is well-settled in Maryland that "the goal of
statutory interpretation is to 'ascertain and implement,
to the extent possible, the legislative intent.'"
Rodriguez v. State, 218 Md.App. 573, 634 (2014)
(quoting Forster v. Public Defender, 426 Md. 565,
579 (2012)). In doing so, we look first to the statute's
plain language, "giving the words their natural and
ordinary meaning." Id. "If the language is
clear and unambiguous on its face, our inquiry ends."
Forster, 426 Md. at 580. Accord Montgomery
County v. FOP, 427 Md. 561, 572 (2012) ("'If
the words of the statute, construed according to their common
and everyday meaning, are clear and unambiguous and express a