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State v. Samples

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

September 1, 2016

STATE OF MARYLAND
v.
KELSEY SAMPLES

          Graeff, Leahy, Eyler, James R. (Retired, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          GRAEFF, J.

         This 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.

         On appeal, [1] 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.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On 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.

         At a 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 4-201(c)(2)(A).

         The 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.

         The court granted the motion and dismissed the case without prejudice. The State's timely appeal followed.

         DISCUSSION

         I.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The 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.

         Recently, 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 plain ...

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