Judge calls off plea deal in high-profile Maryland DUI case

Imagine that you were pulled over, arrested and charged with a crime. Next, imagine the time and money that would be spent to legally defend your name and the relief you would feel if ultimately given the chance at a clean record. Now, think about how you would feel if you got close to that clean record but were then told that expungement was no longer an option.

Would you be upset? Would you challenge that point? The head of Maryland’s attorney general’s civil rights office is in that exact situation and has decided to fight a 2007 DUI from landing on his record. Last year, Carl Snowden agreed to a plea deal that was then approved by the court, but now the judge is calling the plea deal invalid.

Snowden was pulled over in 2007 when officers reportedly noticed his swerving car. He was charged with driving under the influence, a charge to which he pleaded not guilty. His plea was part of the agreement that he would serve three years of probation and pay a $250 fine without a court judgment. If he didn’t violate probation, he would then avoid having a conviction on his record.

That plea deal has been challenged, however. Laws changed in 2009 that make Snowden ineligible for the probation-before-judgment option. According to the law, any person in the state can be given such a deal only one time in the span of a decade. Snowden reportedly had been granted that opportunity in a 2003 drunk driving case.

The judge who granted the probation-before-judgment last year claims that he didn’t know about the change in the law but now understands that his decision was illegal. He is giving Snowden two options: either have the case retried with a different judge or let the judge convict him with what would likely be a more severe sentence.

Snowden is accepting neither of the above options and is appealing the decision. We will post an update as matters get settled.


The Baltimore Sun: “Snowden appeals tossing out of plea deal in drunk-driving case,” Nick Madigan, 26 Jan. 2011

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