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Sometimes, a successful defense in a criminal case is like the reverse of building a house of cards or one of those tower-building puzzle games. The prosecution’s job is to build a case based on proven facts that satisfy the requirements of the crime(s) charged. On the defense side, defeating that prosecution may be a matter of removing one or two items, and then allowing the entire structure to collapse. Even if you’ve been caught in some tough circumstances, the right Maryland criminal defense attorney potentially can help you do just that and get the acquittal and/or dismissal you need.

M.S. was someone who seemed to be facing that sort of difficult circumstance in his criminal case. After a late-night verbal dispute inside a restaurant, a drive-by shooting occurred in the parking lot outside the restaurant. According to the state, M.S. was the driver and Q.B. was the shooter. The shots hit no one.

The state charged M.S. and Q.B. with several counts of attempted murder, first-degree assault, and “use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or crime of violence.” The prosecution also pursued charges of conspiracy connected to each of those three crimes.

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When you are on trial for drug crimes or weapons charges, there’s a realistic chance that the primary evidence the state intends to use against you was obtained by a police search conducted without a warrant. The state will inevitably attempt to argue that the evidence is admissible under one or more of the exceptions to the general rule against warrantless searches but, sometimes, that argument is deficient, and there is no constitutionally permissible basis for the warrantless search in your case. When that happens, it is critical to have a skillful Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side to get that evidence excluded from your case.

One of the exceptions to the rule against warrantless searches is something called the “community caretaking” exception. This exception recognizes that the police wear multiple hats. Not only do their job duties include obtaining evidence to use against criminal suspects, but also ensuring public safety. It is important to recognize, however, that a police officer’s public safety duties do not give them carte blanche to do whatever they want in terms of conducting a search. If they do a search that goes beyond what is necessary to ensure safety, then the exception will not cover the evidence they find.

A recent drug case from Frederick was a good example. A police officer responded to an apartment building at 2:00 a.m. after a 911 call and a potential domestic disturbance. In the apartment, the officer encountered a man and a woman. Later, a second officer arrived as back-up. At that time, the woman disclosed that her children were in the apartment.

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If you’re on trial, one thing you may find exceptionally intimidating is when the prosecution puts on a scientific expert witness to testify. You may fear that the jury will give great importance to what this person says and, if his/her testimony seems to indicate that you’re guilty, then the jury will say so, too. However, what if there was a way to keep the jury from hearing anything at all from this expert witness? There is and, with the help of a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney, you too may be able to accomplish it and reap the benefits of a stronger defense as a result.

One way to block the prosecution from putting an expert witness’s testimony before a jury lies within something called Rule 5-702. That’s a rule of evidence that says that all expert testimony must have “a sufficient factual basis … to support” it and, if not, then you are entitled to make a motion objecting to the expert, and the trial judge should exclude that expert’s evidence.

A recent murder case illustrates how this process works. K.M. was on trial in connection with the deaths of two people shot multiple times at close range.

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There are actually several different ways that your Maryland criminal conviction can be tossed and, believe it or not, some of them may start with an action taken by prosecutors. Sometimes, after you’ve been tried and sentenced, prosecutors may discover evidence that has a clear connection to you and is adverse to the state’s case against you. They may file a request to have the court vacate your conviction. Is that surprising? What may be even more surprising to you is that, even when this happens, you still need to be sure that you have a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney working for you. You see, just because the state asks to have the conviction vacated doesn’t automatically mean the judge automatically will vacate your conviction.

So, you may be wondering, “how does this whole process work?” A recent drug case is a good illustration. In that case, Baltimore police officers executed a search warrant on April 1, 2016. After they completed their search, they arrested A.W. The state charged A.W. with an array of crimes, including cocaine charges, heroin charges, drug paraphernalia charges, conspiracy, and assault.

The accused man eventually pled guilty to one charge of possession with intent to distribute heroin.

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One of the most invasive incursions the state can make against its citizens is to breach the citizens’ right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects.” It is this invasive nature that led the Founding Fathers to address the topic within the Bill of Rights, banning unreasonable searches and seizures and requiring probable cause for the issuance of search warrants. It is this amendment that renders many warrantless searches illegal and the evidence seized in those searches improper for use against you at your criminal trial. Of course, illegally seized evidence generally doesn’t suppress itself; instead, you need the services of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney who knows how to go about making – and winning – a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence.

Several months ago, this blog covered the criminal case of K.C., a man discovered to be in possession of a gun and illegal drugs after the police conducted a warrantless search.

K.C. was convicted in the trial court, but the Court of Special Appeals reversed that conviction. That appellate court, among other things, looked at K.C.’s lack of control over the situation and concluded that his was not a “consensual encounter” with the police, which, in turn, meant that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated.

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Chances are pretty high that you’re rarely heard the phrase “statement against penal interest,” if you’ve heard it at all. Chances are also very, very high that your knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney knows exactly what this is and how to use it.

A “statement against penal interest” is one of the exceptions to the general rule of evidence that says hearsay statements are not admissible at trial. That’s a big deal because if you can establish that a statement meets the criteria of this exception, you can use an otherwise inadmissible piece of evidence at trial to strengthen your defense.

An example of this kind of statement might be an ex-girlfriend who testifies, “He told me he killed that old couple.” As you can see from that example, the “statement against penal interest” exception is something that often will be used by the prosecution. Sometimes, though, as a recent case highlights, this kind of statement can be a helpful element of an accused person’s defense.

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Details matter in a criminal case, and, sometimes, even seemingly minor or trivial details may matter A LOT. Something else that matters a great deal in defending against criminal charges is pursuing all the potential areas in which you can attack the charges. That’s where having a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney can be an invaluable help. An experienced attorney can potentially spot details you overlooked or identify potential areas of attack that you would not have thought possible.

Take, for example, the weapons charge case against H.L., a man arrested after a police chase in Elkton. At the end of the vehicle chase, H.L. crashed. He then allegedly escaped on foot and was apprehended after he fell down. The police found a weapon on the ground next to the man.

One of the charges the prosecution brought was possession of a regulated firearm. Now, most of the time, a defense against the charge of possession of a regulated firearm focuses almost entirely on demonstrating either that an affirmative defense made the defendant not guilty, or else that the facts the state proved do not support the legal standard of “possessing” the weapon in question.

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For many people accused of crimes in Maryland, the option of probation can be very beneficial. Probation may allow you to get a shorter stint behind bars… or avoid serving time in jail entirely. The key, though, is to avoid any violations of probation, as a violation may lead to your spending vastly more time in jail. There are, however, ways in which you can beat the state’s assertion that you’ve violated your probation. Doing that, though, often requires an in-depth knowledge of the law, so it is well worth your while to retain a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney for your case.

One of the keys to winning your hearing regarding an alleged violation of probation is to win the argument about whether your violation was a “technical” one or a “non-technical” violation. It’s important because technical violations are more minor in nature and generally involve, at most, just a few days in jail. The maximum a first technical violation can get you is 15 days in jail. For a second technical violation, it’s 30 days and 45 days for a third. A non-technical violation, on the other hand, is more significant and may lead to your serving the entire portion of your sentence that the judge suspended, even if it’s your first violation.

Maryland statutory law defines a technical violation as “a violation of a condition of probation… that does not involve: (1) an arrest or a summons issued by a commissioner on a statement of charges filed by a law enforcement officer; (2) a violation of a criminal prohibition other than a minor traffic offense; (3) a violation of a no-contact or stay-away order; or (4) absconding.”

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On your favorite police-and-prosecutors procedural, you may encounter an episode where one of the attorneys intones dramatically that a particular outcome in a certain case could impact thousands of cases and lead to the reversal of hundreds of convictions. Real-life is often less dramatic. Occasionally, though, a real-life case comes along where the impact does represent a major shift in the law. When that happens, it pays to have a truly knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side, giving you a powerful advocate who has a completely up-to-date awareness of all of the changes in the law and knows how best to utilize them for you.

One of those “game-changer” sorts of cases happened here in Maryland in January. That month, the state’s highest court reversed a previous decision that had stood – and had governed voir dire in Maryland criminal trials – for more than 50 years.

The new rule announced in Kazadi v. State said that when an accused person’s attorney requests, the trial court must pose voir dire questions to potential jurors about their willingness and ability to follow the court’s instructions regarding the defendant’s presumption of innocence, the state’s burden of proof and the defendant’s right to decline to testify. (The 1964 decision stated that trial judges could, in their discretion, decline to pose those questions, even if the defense asked for them.)

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Back in September, the Maryland Court of Appeals made a very important ruling. Unless you read legal publications, you probably haven’t heard about it, as it didn’t make the major newspapers. The case wasn’t a big reversal of an accused person’s major conviction. In fact, it wasn’t even a criminal matter at all, but it potentially impacts a lot of criminal defendants in this state. What it does represent is a reminder that having a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney, who’s up to date on the latest developments in the law in this state, can make an enormous difference in your criminal case.

The ruling involved a civil case where a woman sued her former landlord for harm she allegedly suffered as a result of lead paint exposure. The key issue the state’s high court addressed was the correct standard for assessing whether or not evidence from an expert witness is admissible at trial. The court changed the standard that Maryland courts must use, adopting a standard created in a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case.

The impact of that change is already being felt by people facing criminal charges in this state. A man, K.A., received a new opportunity to potentially defeat the murder charge against him. In K.A.’s trial, the state presented an expert who used a “toolmark identification” method to determine that, in his opinion, the bullets recovered from the victim’s body matched a gun recovered from K.A.

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