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Proposal targets men who solicit sex

October 21, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

Confiscating the vehicles of men soliciting prostitutes and jailing men who threaten the lives of their wives or girlfriends were among proposals offered Tuesday by two Hagerstown City Council members.

The mayor and council were discussing legislation they want to propose to the Washington County delegation of the Maryland General Assembly.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said he wants men who threaten to kill the women in their lives to be jailed for 48 hours to give them time to cool off and prevent possible murders.

McClure said he's seen too much domestic violence in the community.

Councilman William M. Breichner said he wanted people who solicit prostitutes to lose their vehicles, just as people busted on drug charges do.

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, a defense attorney, said he was opposed to both proposals.

Metzner said throwing someone in jail because one person says there was a threat violates due process. People have the right to know the charges, have a lawyer and fair hearing, confront witnesses and make the accuser prove a crime was committed.

Metzner said if a witness were required, he would consider it, but still had problems with due process issues.

Metzner and Breichner said 48 hours in jail might further incense the man rather than cool him down.

As for seizing the vehicle of someone who solicited a prostitute, Metzner said it sounds good, but has problems.

For example, Metzner said, what if the man relies on that vehicle to get to work so he can support his family? Now the father is unemployed.

"Is that the goal you want to achieve?" Metzner asked.

There also could be a double jeopardy problem since seizing the vehicle can be considered punishment, he said.

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