Criminal Procedure Article
Title 6. Trial and Sentencing
Subtitle 2. Sentencing
Part I. State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy
§ 6-201. “Commission” defined.
§ 6-202. Statement of Intent.
§ 6-203. Established.
§ 6-204. Membership.
§ 6-205. Quorum; meetings; compensation; staff.
§ 6-206. Miscellaneous powers and duties.
§ 6-207. Duty of State and local units.
§ 6-208. Sentencing guidelines.
§ 6-209. Annual report.
§ 6-210. Collecting guidelines worksheets and monitoring of practice.
§ 6-211. Adoption of voluntary guidelines.
§ 6-212. Training, operations, and information.
§ 6-213. Use of correctional population simulation model.
§ 6-214. Entry location on guidelines worksheet for amount of victim economic loss (House Bill 918, 2004).
In this part, “Commission” means the State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy.
The General Assembly intends that:
(1) sentencing should be fair and proportional and that sentencing policies should reduce unwarranted disparity, including any racial disparity, in sentences for criminals who have committed similar crimes and have similar criminal histories;
(2) sentencing policies should help citizens to understand how long a criminal will be confined;
(3) sentencing policies should preserve meaningful judicial discretion and sufficient flexibility to allow individualized sentences;
(4) sentencing guidelines be voluntary;
(5) the priority for the capacity and use of correctional facilities should be the confinement of violent and career criminals; and
(6) sentencing judges in the State should be able to impose the most appropriate criminal penalties, including corrections options programs for appropriate criminals.
There is a State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy.
(a) The Commission consists of the following 19 members:
(1) a chairman, appointed by the Governor;
(2) (i) the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals; or
(ii) a judge or former judge of the Court of Appeals or the Court of Special Appeals designated by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals;
(3) one circuit court judge, appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals;
(4) one District Court judge, appointed by the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals;
(5) the Attorney General or the Attorney General’s designee;
(6) one State’s Attorney who is recommended by the President of the Maryland State’s Attorneys Association, appointed by the Governor;
(7) the Public Defender or the Public Defender’s designee;
(8) a criminal defense attorney who is recommended by the President of the Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association, appointed by the Governor;
(9) two members of the State Senate, including at least one member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, appointed by the President of the Senate;
(10) two members of the House of Delegates, including at least one member of the House Judiciary Committee, appointed by the Speaker of the House;
(11) the Secretary of the Department or the Secretary’s designee;
(12) one representative from a victims’ advocacy group, appointed by the Governor;
(13) one representative from law enforcement, appointed by the Governor;
(14) one member with a background in criminal justice or corrections policy who is a recognized expert in the field and who is appointed by the Governor;
(15) one representative of local correctional facilities, appointed by the Governor; and
(16) two representatives of the public, appointed by the Governor.
(b) (1) The term of an appointed member is 4 years.
(2) The terms of the appointed members are staggered as required by the terms provided for members of the Commission on October 1, 2001.
(3) At the end of a term, an appointed member continues to serve until a successor is appointed and qualifies.
(4) A member who is appointed after a term has begun serves only for the rest of the term and until a successor is appointed and qualifies.
(a) A majority of the authorized membership of the Commission is a quorum.
(b) (1) The Commission shall meet quarterly at the times and places that it determines.
(2) The Commission may hold additional meetings at the call of the chairman or any six members of the Commission after giving proper notice in the manner provided in the rules of the Commission.
(c) A member of the Commission:
(1) may not receive compensation for serving on the Commission; but
(2) is entitled to reimbursement for expenses under the Standard State Travel Regulations, as provided in the State budget.
(d) The chairman may select a staff in accordance with the State budget.
(a) In addition to any other powers set forth elsewhere, the Commission may:
(1) establish subcommittees or advisory committees composed of Commission members to accomplish the duties imposed under this section;
(2) require each State unit and local government unit to give information to the Commission on request; and
(3) apply for, accept, and use grants or financial or other aid from a public or private source to accomplish the duties established in this part.
(b) At least annually, the Commission shall hold a hearing for public comments about the issues that are being studied by the Commission.
(c) (1) The Commission may adopt rules governing the administration and proceedings of the Commission.
(2) A change to the sentencing guidelines requires adoption by a majority of the total number of members of the Commission.
Each State unit and local governmental unit shall cooperate with the Commission
(a) (1) The Commission shall adopt sentencing guidelines that the Commission may change.
(2) The sentencing guidelines shall include sentencing guidelines for ordinary sentences and sentencing guidelines for corrections options.
(b) The sentencing guidelines for ordinary sentences shall call for sentences within the limits set by law and shall set forth:
(1) the range of sentences for crimes of a given degree of seriousness;
(2) a range of increased severity for defendants previously convicted of or adjudicated delinquent for a previous crime; and
(3) a list of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.
(c) The sentencing guidelines for corrections options shall be designed to identify defendants qualified for corrections options programs.
(a) The Commission shall review annually sentencing policy and practice and, on or before January 31 of each year, report to the General Assembly in accordance with § 2-1257 of the State Government Article, on the activities of the preceding calendar year.
(b) (1) The report shall:
(i) include any changes to the sentencing guidelines made during the preceding year;
(ii) review judicial compliance with the sentencing guidelines, including compliance by crime and by judicial circuit;
(iii) subject to paragraph (2) of this subsection:
1. for sentences involving a crime of violence, include information disaggregated by circuit on:
A. the number and percentage of sentencing events in each disposition category, as indicated on the sentencing guidelines worksheet;
B. the number and percentage of sentencing events that resulted in a departure from the sentencing guidelines; and
C. for sentencing events that resulted in a departure from the sentencing guidelines, the departure reasons cited and the number and percentage of events in which each reason was cited; and
2. for sentencing events involving a crime of violence, report disaggregated by circuit and crime on:
A. the average total sentence;
B. the average nonsuspended sentence; and
C. for sentences in which a portion of the sentence was suspended, the average percentage of the total sentence suspended;
(iv) review reductions or increases in original sentences that have occurred because of reconsiderations of sentences imposed under § 14-101 of the Criminal Law Article; and
(v) categorize information on the number of reconsiderations of sentences by crimes as listed in § 14-101(a) of the Criminal Law Article and by judicial circuit.
(2) The Commission shall consider a sentence to a corrections options program to be within the sentencing guidelines if the sentence falls within a corrections options zone shown on the matrix.
(3) The Commission shall conspicuously post the information required to be included in the report under paragraph (1)(iii) of this subsection in a data dashboard on its public website.
The Commission shall:
(1) collect sentencing guidelines worksheets and automate the information with the help of the Administrative Office of the Courts; and
(2) monitor sentencing practice and adopt changes to the sentencing guideline matrices consistent with the intent of this part.
(a) Subject to subsection (b) of this section, the Commission shall adopt as regulations sentencing guidelines and any changes to those sentencing guidelines, subject to Title 10, Subtitle 1 of the State Government Article.
(b) Regulations adopted under subsection (a) of this section are voluntary sentencing guidelines that a court need not follow.
(c) A change to the sentencing guidelines takes effect on the day that the regulation takes effect as provided under Title 10, Subtitle 1 of the State Government Article.
The Commission shall:
(1) hold training and orientation programs for trial court judges, attorneys, probation officers, and other interested parties as required;
(2) consult with the General Assembly about carrying out, managing, maintaining, and operating the sentencing guidelines system; and
(3) prepare statements containing fiscal and statistical information on proposed legislation affecting sentencing and corrections practice.
(a) The Commission shall use a correctional population simulation model to help determine the State and local correctional resources that:
(1) are required under current laws, policies, and practices relating to sentencing, parole, and mandatory supervision; and
(2) would be required to carry out future Commission recommendations for legislation or changes to the sentencing guidelines.
(b) If the recommendations of the Commission for changes in legislation would result in State and local inmate populations exceeding the operating capacities of available facilities, the Commission shall present additional sentencing model alternatives consistent with these capacities.
(c) In second priority to the work of the Commission, the Commission shall make the model available on request from any member of the General Assembly or the Secretary.
The Commission shall include an entry location on a sentencing guidelines worksheet for a court, in reporting on crimes involving theft and related crimes under Title 7 of the Criminal Law Article or fraud and related crimes under Title 8 of the Criminal Law Article, to report the specific dollar amount, when available, of the economic loss to the victim.