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(a) Definitions. In Sections 1-18, 1-19 and 1-20:
(1) Citation means a document charging a person with a violation of County law. A civil citation seeks the imposition of a civil penalty. A criminal citation seeks the imposition of a criminal sanction.
(2) County law means any provision of:
(A) a law enacted by the County Council;
(B) a public local law adopted by the General Assembly which applies in Montgomery County;
(C) a law, ordinance, or subdivision amendment enacted under Division II of the Land Use Article of the Maryland Code;
(D) a health regulation adopted by the County Council sitting as the County Board of Health; or
(E) a regulation adopted under authority of the County Code.
(3) Enforcement officer means a police officer or other agent of Montgomery County, the State of Maryland, or any agency created under State or County law, whose job includes the issuance of a citation. Enforcement officer also means a police officer or other agent of any municipality that the County Executive has authorized under Section 2-96(b) to enforce any specified County law in that municipality, whose job includes the issuance of a citation. Enforcement officer also means an agent of a special taxing district who is authorized to act as an agent of the County under an agreement adopted under Section 2-96(a).
(b) Civil and Criminal Citations.
(1) Issuance. An enforcement officer may issue a civil citation or a criminal citation to a person who the enforcement officer believes is committing or has committed a violation of County law. The form of the citation must be approved by the Chief Judge of the Maryland District Court, as required by State law.
(2) Summons to Appear. In addition to a citation, the enforcement officer may issue to the person receiving the citation a summons requiring the person to appear in court on a specified date. If the citation is a civil citation, the summons must specify that the person is not required to appear in court if the fine is paid as provided in the citation. The enforcement officer must coordinate the selection of court dates with appropriate court officials.
(3) Failure to furnish proof of identity. A person issued a citation under this section must furnish proof of identity and age, upon request, to the enforcement officer who issues the citation. Any violation of this paragraph is a class C violation.
(4) Responsibility of enforcement officer. Within 10 working days after issuing a citation, the enforcement officer must deliver the original citation and summons to the Revenue Division of the Department of Finance or another office designated by regulation adopted under method (3). The Revenue Division must process a civil citation and summons as provided in subsection (c), and must forward a criminal citation and summons to the District Court within 10 business days after receiving it. Failure to deliver the citation or summons to the Revenue Division or the District Court does not affect the validity of the citation or summons.
(5) Trial Schedule. After a summons is issued, the District Court must schedule the trial on the date stated in the summons or notify the defendant of an alternative date. If no summons is issued, the District Court must schedule the case for trial and summon the defendant to appear. A defendant's failure to respond to a summons without good cause is contempt of court.
(6) Prosecution by the County Attorney. The County Attorney may prosecute a violation under this Section and exercise the normal discretion of a prosecutor.
(7) Court costs. A person found by the District Court to have committed a violation of County law is liable for the costs of the proceeding in the District Court.
(8) Payment to County. Any fine, penalty or forfeiture collected by the District Court must be paid to the County.
(9) Appeals, motion for new trial, or revision of judgment. As provided by law, a defendant who has been found to have committed a violation of County law may:
(B) file a motion for a new trial; or
(C) file a motion to revise the judgment.
(c) Civil Violations.
(1) Amount of fine. An enforcement officer must designate a civil penalty on the citation in the amount set out in Section 1-19, unless a lower amount is set for a specific violation by a regulation adopted under method (1).
(2) Election to stand trial. A person who receives a civil citation may file with the County agency listed on the citation a notice of intention to stand trial. The notice must be filed within 15 days after receiving the citation or, if the 15th day falls on a County holiday, by the end of the next business day after the holiday. After receiving the notice of intention to stand trial, the agency must forward to the District Court the original citation, the summons, and the notice of intention to stand trial. After receiving these papers, the District Court must schedule the case for trial.
(A) If a person who receives a civil citation does not pay the penalty by the date set on the citation and does not file a timely notice of intention to stand trial, the penalty is increased to double the original penalty. A lesser increase may be established for specific offenses by regulation adopted under method (1).
(B) If the penalty is not paid and the defendant does not request a trial within the required time, the County may ask the District Court to set a trial date.
(4) Burden of Proof; rights of defendants. In any proceeding to impose a civil penalty:
(A) the County has the burden to prove that the defendant has committed the offense by a preponderance of the evidence;
(B) the defendant may cross-examine witnesses, produce evidence or witnesses, and testify if the defendant elects to do so; and
(C) the defendant may be represented by counsel that the defendant selects and pays.
(A) The defendant may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The court must find the defendant guilty or not guilty.
(B) If it finds the defendant guilty, the court must impose the penalty and late payment penalties prescribed by County law. The court may suspend or defer the payment of the penalties under conditions that the court sets.
(C) if a defendant willfully fails to pay a penalty or any costs imposed by the court, the court may punish the failure as contempt of court.
(D) The penalties and costs imposed by the court constitute a judgment in favor of Montgomery County. If any penalty or cost is unpaid for 30 days after judgment is entered, the County may enforce the judgment in the same manner as any other civil judgment for money, or collect the judgment in the same manner as it collects real property taxes.
(6) Civil Matter. Adjudication of a civil citation is not a criminal proceeding, and a finding of guilty does not impose any civil disability ordinarily imposed by a criminal conviction.
(7) Effect of payment of penalty. The payment of a civil penalty without a court finding under this Section is not an admission of guilt in any County licensing or permit proceeding, but does establish the "initial offense" charged in the citation for the purpose of calculating repeat offenses under Section 1-19. To be a repeat offense, an offense must be committed within one year after an initial offense.
(d) Criminal Violations. The trial of criminal citations is governed by State law and rules of court.
(e) Correcting violations of law.
(1) The court may order the defendant to:
(A) refrain from further violations; and
(B) correct any condition that is a continuing violation of County law.
(2) The court may order the County to correct, at the defendant's expense, any condition that violates County law.
(3) If the County corrects a condition that violates County law, the County must send the defendant a bill for the cost of correction by regular mail to the defendant's last known address, or by any other means that is reasonably calculated to bring the bill to the defendant's attention. If the defendant does not pay the bill within 30 days after it is presented, the County may file a verified statement of the costs of correcting violations with the court.
(4) The court must enter judgment against the defendant for the cost of correcting violations. The County may enforce a judgment so entered in the same manner as any other civil judgment for money, or collect the judgment in the same manner as it collects real property taxes.
(f) Notice of Violation.
(1) An enforcement officer may issue a notice of violation before issuing a citation.
(2) A notice of violation must:
(A) be in writing;
(B) describe in general terms a remedial action which, if taken, will achieve compliance with County law;
(C) specify a reasonable time to perform any required remedial action; and
(D) inform the recipient that noncompliance with the required remedial action is likely to result in the issuance of a civil or criminal citation under subsection (b)(1) which the enforcement agency can enforce in a court with jurisdiction.
(3) This subsection does not prevent an enforcement officer from:
(A) issuing a citation at any time, including after an enforcement officer has issued a notice of violation under which time remains for remedial action to be taken; or
(B) pursuing any remedy under Section 1-20.
However, an enforcement officer may issue a citation before time remains to complete any required remedial action under the notice of violation only if the violation presents a danger to public safety, health, or property.
(4) A person may not appeal to the Board of Appeals a decision by an enforcement officer to issue or decline to issue a notice of violation under this subsection.
(5) This subsection does not apply if another County law expressly allows an enforcement officer to issue a notice of violation or warning before a citation is issued. (1983 L.M.C., ch. 22, § 1; 1983 L.M.C., ch. 31, § 1; 1984 L.M.C., ch. 24, § 1A; 1984 L.M.C., ch. 27, § 3; FY 1991 L.M.C., ch. 10, § 2; 2000 L.M.C., ch. 11, § 1; 2011 L.M.C., ch. 17, § 1; 2013 L.M.C., ch. 4, § 1.)
Editor’s note—2011 L.M.C., ch. 17, §§ 2 and 3, state:
Sec. 2. Transition. This Act does not apply to any appeal to the Board of Appeals that was filed before this Act took effect.
Sec. 3. Regulations. Regulations 6-06AM and 7-06AM remain in effect, notwithstanding any amendment to the County Code in Section 1 of this Act, except for any provision of the National Fire Code that authorizes or refers to an appeal to the Board of Appeals.