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Most people are aware that the Constitution gives criminal suspects the right to remain silent or to refuse to speak to the police. When a suspect tells the police “I’m not saying anything” or “I’m finished talking,” he’s invoking his constitutional rights. What you may not immediately realize, however, is that the protections related to this right don’t end at the police station. It also can play a role in your criminal trial, as well. This right limits what you have to say, and also restricts what the prosecution can say about your silence. Whether you’re facing questions from a police detective or are standing trial, one of the best ways to protect yourself and your rights is to have an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer by your side.

Your constitutional rights give you the prerogative to refuse to talk to the police or to talk for a while and then refuse to say anything more. They also allow you to refuse to testify at your trial. What’s more, though, these rights also prohibit the prosecutor from implying or flat-out telling the jury that your utilizing your right of silence is a sign of your guilt.

That right took center stage in a recent appeal of a Baltimore man’s murder conviction. The defendant, M.A., was on trial for the brutal murder of his longtime girlfriend. The suspect told Baltimore Homicide detectives that he had been out walking his dog and had returned to find the woman covered in blood. Once the police continued pressing M.A., he stated that he wasn’t “going to answer no more questions. I told you what happened, and I’m going to shut my mouth.”

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As we noted earlier this month, many drug arrests start as traffic stops. In addition, a lot of drug arrests stem from encounters where the police stop an individual and eventually engage in a search of that individual’s person. Unless the interaction was completely voluntary (such as a situation where the police informed you that you were free to leave,) that stop may implicate your Fourth Amendment rights, and any evidence obtained in that search may be illegally obtained if the police lacked the required degree of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Contesting illegal searches and getting illegally obtained evidence suppressed is often a key component of success in criminal defense, especially in weapons or drug cases. Having the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side is an essential part of maximizing your chances of success in this type of motion.

A drug case from last year involving a search conducted at a shopping mall highlights many of the considerations involved in this kind of case. The incident began when two local police detectives patrolling the Brooklyn Park Shopping Plaza noticed a man, A.G., who had been banned from the plaza based on suspected drug dealing.

When they caught up to A.G., D.S. was standing at his side. The detectives asked to search A.G. and he consented. At that point, D.S. volunteered to allow the detectives to search his pockets. During the latter search, police discovered an object beneath one of the teen’s pockets. Upon further searching, the police found 26 vials of crack cocaine.

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Many drug “busts” by police officers start as traffic stops. While most are conducted within the bounds of the law, a substantial percentage of them are not. In those instances, the pulled-over driver is subjected to a search and/or seizure that violates constitutional protections. When that happens, the search is illegal and the evidence obtained is subject to suppression in any ensuing trial. To get that evidence suppressed, though, you’ll need to make a motion and win an argument before the judge. When it comes to doing this (and all the other essential tasks of a criminal defense) successfully, make sure you’ve got the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side.

As an example, there’s this drug case upon which the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Maryland, the Carolinas, and two other states) recently ruled.

The minor traffic violation, in this case, was tinted windows. A local police officer stopped H.D., suspecting that the man’s windows were illegally dark. While the officer was speaking with backup officers who had arrived subsequently, the suspect drove away.

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The law of self-defense has been in the news a lot lately… especially to our south. While cases in Maryland that involve arguments of self-defense may not grab as many headlines as those in other states, they are no less important, especially for the person on trial. Getting the maximum usefulness from your self-defense arguments is something that requires an in-depth knowledge of Maryland criminal law, so don’t head into your criminal case unprepared. Instead, protect yourself by retaining an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

When it comes to self-defense in Maryland, a recent gunshot case is very instructive. That prosecution arose from a Dec. 1, 2018 dispute between two North Baltimore neighbors regarding ownership of two air conditioner units. In an unusual twist, each argued that they belonged to the other man.

K.B. testified that he stepped outside after M.P. threw one air conditioner onto his outdoor grill. When he did, M.P. allegedly “darted right inside his house” and immediately went for his gun. K.B. told his neighbor “you’re high. You need to go sleep it off.” K.B. turned to walk away, whereupon M.P. shot him in the leg, according to K.B.’s testimony.

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Sometimes, a criminal trial can be cold and clinical. Did the defendant take a smartphone from the electronics store or not? Did she intend to permanently deprive the store of the phone or not? Other cases, though, can be more emotional. When you’re on trial in a case like that, you need an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer who can cut through all that emotional content and frame for the jury what really matters — the facts and the law.

The death of a man, C.T., in Worcester County in 2015, was something that led to a felony case that likely triggered a range of emotional reactions.

Medical examiners concluded that C.T. died of a heroin overdose. Police located the deceased man’s cell phone, which contained an extensive string of text messages between him and another man, R.S., in which the pair discussed drugs and getting high. The police then interviewed R.S., who admitted that he had purchased heroin and brought it to C.T.’s home. The pair had injected themselves with heroin and C.T. lost consciousness. R.S. found his friend not breathing and without a pulse. He then “freaked out” and left the home.

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An old Chinese proverb says that a “journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” A successful defense against criminal charges can be like that. The monumental final destination of acquittal (or reversal of a conviction) involves hundreds or thousands of discrete tiny steps. Make sure that that first single step is getting skillful legal representation from an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

The right legal team can be crucial in managing the many procedural details that go into a successful outcome. Consider this homicide case from Baltimore as an example.

The case involved a fatal shooting outside a bar in North Baltimore. The victim was behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving “away from an altercation with a group of men” when the shooter fired multiple shots from behind the vehicle.

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Most people, when they think of “murder,” think of an intentional killing. However, here in Maryland, that is only one of two kinds of second-degree murder the law recognizes. In addition to intentional murder, there’s also what the law calls “depraved-heart” murder, where you can be just as culpable (and face equally severe punishments,) even though you had no intent to kill anyone. Sometimes, though, prosecutors in this state will charge “depraved-heart” murder in cases where the facts or the law actually don’t add up to murder. As a defendant, getting justice means, even if you don’t get an acquittal on all charges, you defeat those alleged crimes that the state overcharged. To best protect yourself if you’ve been overcharged, you need representation from an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

A well-known recent second-degree murder case, which involved an eccentric millionaire and the house fire that killed the man who worked for him, is a good example of this issue of the state overcharging depraved heart murder.

D.B., a wealthy man in his 20s living in Bethesda, had a strong fear of a North Korean nuclear strike. To protect himself, he hired men to dig a series of tunnels and a bunker beneath his home.

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This blog spends a lot of time talking about police searches. That’s no accident. A lot of arrests and criminal trials arise because the police stopped somebody, searched them, then found something on them that the state uses as the basis for a prosecution. One of the biggest keys to avoiding that conviction often is showing that the police had no right to stop you in the first place, which means none of the evidence they obtained in that search is usable against you. This essential attack is one of the many areas where having the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

Take, for example, the criminal prosecution of D.S. in Prince George’s County. D.S., a Washington, D.C. man, was hanging around four other men and a dice game in Brentwood. Officers in marked vehicles approached. An officer asked the men if they had “anything illegal” on them. D.S. indicated that he had roughly one ounce of marijuana in his possession.

The officer then did a pat-down search. At that time, he found a gun in D.S.’s waistband. Based on that interaction, the state charged D.S. with several gun charges and also possession of marijuana.

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Television and print media love “true crime” stories. While these crimes are often played for the particularly sensational aspects they possess, the coverage of them may still offer information that is highly educational for the rest of us. Sometimes, that educational lesson is the importance of making sure that, if you’re a suspect or a person of interest in a crime, the very first thing you do — before anything else — is retain a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney.

A January 2019 death in East Baltimore and its aftermath teach that important lesson and more. In the case, police found a woman dead in the apartment she shared with her husband, having endured 55 stab wounds, some going all the way to the bone, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Police sought to question the husband, but he was gone. He had fled the state, traveling first to D.C., then to New York and Vermont. Police believe he was headed to Canada, according to the report.

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In Maryland, you have many rights in relation to criminal law. One of those is the right to know the charges against you. One very important side-effect of this right is that the state generally cannot charge you with one crime and then convict you of a similar, but different, crime that was not included. When it comes to protecting all of your rights, including this one, it pays to have legal representation from a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

For example, your rights in Maryland may potentially protect you from being charged with an attempt and then convicted of the commission of the act if the commission crime was not a charged offense. That’s what happened to one Somerset County man, and he was able to use that error to get his armed robbery conviction overturned.

In this man’s case, it all allegedly started when the accused, L.F., and his girlfriend went to K.B.’s home. An argument erupted there and L.F. allegedly hit K.B. Additionally, L.F. allegedly had a gun and demanded that K.B. give him drugs.

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