Nol Pro & STETs on Appeal. LaFavre v. State

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Brief Brief: LaFaivre v. State, 338 Md. 151 (1994).

ISSUE:  Resurrection of charges nolle prosequi and STET on trial de novo.

QUOTE 1:  “This case involves some basics of criminal procedure. The petitioner was prosecuted in the District Court of Maryland on a multi-count charging document under which the petitioner was found guilty on one count, after the State had stetted another count and had entered nolle prosequis to still others. The issue is whether, on a de novo appeal, the State may prosecute in the circuit court as to all of the charges on that same charging document. We hold that because there was no new charging document in the circuit court, de novo trial of the nol prossed charges was improper. De novo trial of the stetted charge, however, was proper.”  (Id. at 152.)

QUOTE 2: “Appeals from convictions in the District Court are de novo proceedings. Basically a de novo appeal from a judgment of conviction in the District Court proceeds on the same charging document on which the judgment was entered in the District Court.” (Id. at 154,  citing  Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article Section 12-401 (f) and Maryland Rule 7-112.)

QUOTE 3: “The [Court of Special Appeals] found ‘plain intent from the statute and rules that a trial de novo in a criminal case on appeal to the circuit court from a final judgment of the District Court shall proceed only on the same charging document which was the basis of the original trial.’ We agree.” (Id. at 155 quoting Pinkett v. State, 30 Md. App. 458 at 469 (1976)).

QUOTE 4: “The State seeks to bring LaFaivre’s prosecution within an exception to the rule requiring a new charging document to reinstate nol prossed charges. The exception lies where a nolle prosequi is part of a plea bargain that is breached by the accused… Although there are indications in the record of the proceedings in the District Court that there was an agreement between the State and LaFaivre, the record directly reflects only the amendment to a less serious charge, the stet, the nolle prosequis, and proceeding on a not guilty agreed statement of facts. To attempt to infer from this record that LaFaivre agreed that there would be no appeal is simply to speculate.  Indeed, that speculation is contradicted by the District Court judge’s advice to LaFaivre concerning his right to appeal, as to which the State took no exception. Thus, the ordinary rule concerning the effect of a nolle prosequi applies here.” (Id. at 156-157.)

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