This week, our criminal lawyers respond to an out-of-stater who wants to know if Maryland still wants its pound of flesh for an 23-year-old marijuana charge.
The Question: How do I find out if there are any outstanding warrants or fines for an old marijuana charge?
I was traveling through Maryland and I was arrested after a random traffic stop (I was the passenger). This happened in Snow Hill. I was arrested and released via my own recognizance. I stayed in Maryland and attended my court date.
I was eighteen years old [and] completely broke. I had absolutely no legal advice. A public defender was never offered to me. I represented myself.
The judge I appeared before gave me one year probation with weekly narcotic anonymous classes. I informed him that I lived two thousand miles away and would need him to transfer my case to my home state. I informed him I would attend the weekly meetings.
He told me no, he said he would not do anything for me. He said if I don’t show up, I’ll be arrested.
I informed him that I lived in another state and that I did not own a car. I informed him that the moment I walk out, I’ll not be returning.
He told me to leave and come back for the classes.
I have had full security clearances and I’ve had federal background checks for my past employment and nothing has ever showed up. Yet, I think it’s definitely time to figure out how to resolve this issue, if there is one? I am unable to afford legal counseling during COVID. Is there any way I can find out on my own if I owe any fees or if I have an outstanding arrest warrant.
The Answer: Call the local county clerk’s office and Maryland’s online case search for possible warrants or fines.
Whether or not your drug charge case from that traffic stop is still in public record or otherwise being pursued by Maryland authorities depends a lot on your county.
The fact that you’ve not run into trouble on federal background checks is encouraging, as well as local background checks. However, this was a Maryland state crime, which means it may have fallen through the cracks of databases between states.
Don’t take the fact that you’ve not run into trouble yet as proof that the drug charge is gone!
To get started, do you remember the county in which the traffic stop occurred? That court would have jurisdiction over your case, and is the place to begin your search for possible warrants and fines.
You can call your local Clerk’s office to ask them to pull the file and see if there are any pending fines or warrants.
You can also look up your name in Maryland’s online case search. If your case pops up there, then you can click through to see exactly where your case is currently standing in the legal system.
“Minor” traffic cases automatically roll off the case search after 36 months. Without knowing the specific charge, we’re not sure if it would be considered minor or not — especially given the relaxing of Maryland drug law regarding marijuana possession in recent years.
However, your charge is so old, it may not have made it to the case search to begin with!
Each Maryland county’s records regarding criminal charges and cases have different starting dates in the case search.
In order from earliest to latest criminal case records available on the case search.
- 1979: Montgomery County
- 1982: Prince George’s County
- 1984: Baltimore County
- 1989: Anne Arundel County
- 1990: Carroll County
- 1993: Baltimore City
- 1998: Charles County
- Allegany County
- Garrett County
- Harford County
- Howard County
- Washington County
- Calvert County
- Caroline County
- Cecil County
- Dorchester County
- Frederick County
- Kent County
- Queen Anne’s County
- Saint Mary’s County
- Somerset County
- Talbot County
- Wicomico County
- Worchester County
Chances are, local law enforcement have more recent cases they’re actively chasing down than the 23-year-old case of an out-of-stater.
Still, there is always the possibility that your drug case is still active in some capacity.
- If you discover a fine, then consider consulting with a lawyer before paying it off.
- If you discover an active warrant, then we definitely encourage you to consult with a local attorney before doing anything. They may be able to get it quashed for you, given the time passed and the nature of the charge.
- If you discover the charge as closed but still publicly available, then ask a lawyer if you can possibly get the matter expunged — that is, essentially erased from public record.
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Our automatic disclaimer: We’re lawyers, but not necessarily your lawyer, and do not represent the individual who asked this question. We’re providing this information for general educational purposes based on the publicly available information provided by the anonymous Internet user. Any number of details may change how this individual’s attorney may pursue this legal situation, differently from how we suppose above. If you have a similar question, then you should consult with a lawyer about your specific situation to get a “real” response!