Frosh Amends, then pushes Bill Forward in Maryland

Here is an explanation of the Senate Committee’s amendment to House Bill 363.

H.B. 363 is based on the Model Penal Code, a suggested criminal code developed by the American Law Institute.  Senator Brian Frosh (D–Montgomery) has consistently maintained that he is concerned that the proposed version of House Bill 363 might unintentionlly subject relatively ordinary behavior to criminal penalties. WABA’s testimony before his committee showed that the states that have enacted some variation of the Model Penal Code have only upheld convictions for egregious conduct resulting in death, not ordinary negligence. (Our testimony before the House focussed on the inadequacies of the existing law in Maryland.)

Mr. Frosh noticed that H.B. 363 used different adjectives than the Model Penal Code. The original version of House Bill 363 included the following language

SECTION 1…. § 210 (c). For purposes of this section, a person acts in a criminally negligent manner… when… (2) [t]he failure to perceive constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that would be excercised by a reasonable person.

SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That it is the intent of the General Assembly that the term “substantial deviation from the standard of care” in § 2–210(c)(2) of the Criminal Law Article, as enacted by
Section 1 of this Act, be interpreted synonymously with the term “gross deviation from the standard of care” under § 2.02(2)(d) of the Model Penal Code of the American Law Institute.

After some negotiation, the Senate Committee changed one word:

SECTION 1…. § 210 (c). For purposes of this section, a person acts in a criminally negligent manner…when… (2) [t]he failure to perceive constitutes a substantial gross deviation from the standard of care that would
be excercised by a reasonable person.

Because Section 2 of the bill already defined “substantial deviation” as “gross deviation” this amendment does not seem to change the bill’s meaning. If the Senate passes the amended H.B. 363, then sponsors in the House should be able to explain that the Senate’s amendment is purely technical.

Maryland Residents: Please CLICK HERE to email your state senator expressing your support for House Bill 363, as amended.