Every year, thousands of people receive civil citations in Maryland. The police habitually hit otherwise law-abiding people with citations for speeding, red light running, and defective headlights. It’s not always obvious how to pay a civil citation in Maryland. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to ignore citations or assume they are not important. Citations are civil as opposed to criminal in nature but the fines can stack up and people who receive citations may end up facing arrest warrants. Although civil citations are usually associated with traffic matters, police can issue a civil citation for possession of small amounts of the drug marijuana in Maryland.
Our experienced Baltimore criminal defense lawyers will give advice on how to pay a civil citation in Maryland or any other legal problem you experience.
What is a Civil Citation in Maryland?
Most people who receive civil citations have committed an alleged traffic violation in Maryland. However, people can receive a citation for the possession of under 10 grams of marijuana.
Drivers receive electronic or handwritten citations in Maryland. When a police or highway patrol officer gives you with a traffic citation, you will receive two copies of the handwritten version, states the Maryland courts on its website. When a citation is issued electronically under a new system in Maryland, the officer will print out a copy from his or her car and hand it to you.
What is the Difference Between Payable and ‘Must Appear’ Citations?
Driving violations in Maryland are classified as either payable or ‘must appear” violations. As the name suggests, ‘must appear’ violations require the driver to appear personally in a court. Typically, ‘must appear’ violations are issued for more serious offenses like reckless driving or driving without insurance.
Speeding tickets are usually payable violations. If you were cited for speeding, not stopping at a stop sign or passing a school bus with its stop sign raised, you can pay a fine without making a personal appearance before a judge.
How to Deal with a Payable Civil Citation in Maryland
There are a number of ways to resolve a payable civil citation in Maryland. The courts’ website states you can do the following if you agree with the citation:
- Pay on the District Court of Maryland’s website.
- Send your payment by mail to the following postal address:
District Court Traffic Processing Center
P. 0. Box 6676
Annapolis, MD 21401
Pay your citation by telephone at (800) 492-2656
- Show up in person and pay at your closest District Court.
- Use the Maryland Uniform Traffic Citation Payment Kiosk at your nearest Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) office to pay the fine.
You may not pay your traffic citation by any of these means if:
- The traffic citation states you “Must Appear” in Court.
- The traffic citation is included as part of a Traffic Violating Installment Payment Plan.
- You received a trial date but did not appear in court. In this case, traffic violators may send payment with a written request to reschedule their trial date. They cannot do this online.
Maryland courts outline two other options for people who receive traffic violations:
- Request a waiver to plead “guilty with an explanation”. People who request a waiver hearing in a Maryland court can check the box on the citation that allows them to make this request. They must then sign and date the traffic ticket and send it to the traffic processing center listed above in this blog.
- If you believe you did not commit the traffic offense detailed in the citation you may not have to pay a civil citation in Maryland. Ensure you check the box on the ticket that says “Request a Trial.” Then sign and date the ticket and then sent if to the District Court Traffic Processing Center.
How to Pay a Civil Citation in Maryland for Possession of Marijuana
Possession of under 10 grams of marijuana in Maryland is a civil matter rather than a criminal offense. This means you will not be arrested, jailed or end up with a criminal record for the possession of a small quantity of pot. The authorities can still fine you and hit you with a civil citation.
If the police find you with under 10 grams of marijuana you will receive a fine up to $100 for a first marijuana possession violation. The fine rises to $250 for a second Maryland marijuana citation and $500 for a third violation.
Although the courts deal with low-level marijuana possession as a civil rather than a criminal matter, violators under the age of 21 must appear in court. The court can order them to take part in a drug abuse treatment program. Violators over the age of 21 are ordered to court after a third offense and may also have to take part in a rehab program.
Appearance in court is mandatory. You cannot pay a fine in one of the above scenarios. The failure of a violator to appear in court habitually leads to the issuing of a bench warrant. In other words, a civil citation in Maryland for possession of marijuana becomes a criminal matter if you fail to show up in court.
If a police officer cites you for possession of under 10 grams of marijuana, you will receive a citation. The officer will check the “May Pay a Fine Box.” The Baltimore Uniform Civil Citation states the police officer can indicate a prepay amount of $50. Payment can be made at any District Court of Maryland location.
If you check the ‘May Elect to Stand Trial’ box you can appear in court. A date will be given to you in the mail.
Officers who encounter juveniles under 17 with less than 10 grams of marijuana must issue a Uniform Juvenile Civil Citation. The juvenile is given a date to appear at a court hearing.
Will a Civil Citation in Maryland for Marijuana Possession Stay on My Criminal Record?
Civil citations do not appear on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search. The public cannot find a citation for possession of marijuana or another civil citation.
However, a beefing up of the law in 2016 may allow details to appear online if fines are not paid. Details of this nature could prove detrimental to job applications or applications for educational courses.
Talk to a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney About Paying a Civil Citation
Civil citations are confusing. Although they are not criminal sanctions, you can end up paying big fines and being arrested if you fail to comply with court dates. Talk to an attorney today about how to pay a civil citation in Maryland or whether you should challenge it. It’s important to contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. We have defended thousands of clients across the state of Maryland. We work with both criminal and civil matters and their interface where civil citations are issued for matters traditionally dealt with in the criminal courts. We will advise you on whether an offense or a citation will remain on your record and how you may get it removed. Please call the Law Offices of Randolph Rice as soon as possible at (410) 834-3845 for a consultation with a lawyer.