Circuit Court for Prince George's County Case No.
Deborah S., Shaw Geter, Raker, Irma S. (Senior Judge,
Specially Assigned), JJ.
Baez, appellant, was convicted in the Circuit Court for
Prince George's County of possession of marijuana. He
appeals from the denial of his motion to suppress the
evidence and he presents one question for our review, which
we have rephrased:
Did the police have reasonable articulable suspicion to stop
appellant's vehicle solely for a window-tint violation?
shall answer that question in the affirmative and affirm the
judgment of conviction.
was indicted by the Grand Jury for Prince George's County
with five offenses: possession of marijuana with intent to
distribute, possession of marijuana, possession of
methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), and two counts of
possession of drug paraphernalia. On the day of trial,
counsel informed the court that the parties had reached an
agreement, and they would proceed on the charge of possession
of marijuana only, with a not guilty plea and an agreed-upon
statement of facts. Appellant would litigate his motion to
suppress the evidence based upon the lack of probable cause
or reasonable grounds for the officer to stop his vehicle,
and if the court denied the motion, defense counsel told the
court the following:
"If the motion is successful, then obviously the case is
over. If it is not successful, if Your Honor finds that a
stop was valid, then the parties have an agreed-upon plea as
well as a sentencing agreement that we would run by Your
trial court heard an agreed-upon statement of facts
supporting appellant's motion to suppress and denied the
motion, found appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and
sentenced appellant to a term of incarceration of one year,
all but one day suspended, credit for time served, and
eighteen months unsupervised probation.
parties presented the following agreed-upon statement of
facts for the court's decision on the motion to suppress,
stating as follows:
"[THE STATE]: So [appellant] was pulled over pursuant to
a traffic stop for a tint violation. There's no dispute
that it was violating the Maryland tint law; however, the
vehicle was registered in Virginia.
So [appellant] is arguing that the tint law violation does
not apply and, therefore, the basis-there's not
sufficient basis for the stop. The State would argue that the
vehicle was being driven in Maryland and needed to comply
with Maryland law.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: That's correct, Your Honor. We
stipulate that there was a stop in Prince George's
County, the basis of which was as stated in the charging
document, for a window tint exceeding Maryland state minimum.
And the parties also stipulate that the vehicle was
registered and tagged through the Commonwealth of Virginia.
And those are the agreed-upon facts."
this statement to the court, the parties argued their legal
theories to the court, and as indicated, the court denied the
motion to suppress. The court reasoned as follows:
"I looked at the case and I looked at the law again and
I think that when an officer suspects a violation, I think
that he is justified in conducting a stop. What he does
beyond that, he has a lot of discretion as to whether he
issues a citation or how he handles the stop, but I think
under the case of Turkes [v.] Maryland, it's
clear that a tint violation can provide ...