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United States District Court for the District of Maryland
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Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland

In a criminal case, it’s not always getting an acquittal. Sometimes, that outcome simply isn’t “in the cards.” Even when it’s not, you still need the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side to protect your rights and ensure you get justice. Even if a conviction is unavoidable, it’s still important to fight back against overcharging or excessively long prison sentences, which can make a world of difference.

There are lots of things that Maryland law says you have the right to present in the sentencing phase of your case. Getting as much of this before the court as possible can be crucial to leaving with a fair sentence.

In D.M.’s assault and burglary case, the court found him guilty of home invasion, burglary, assault, and reckless endangerment. Immediately after the jury returned its verdict, the trial judge sought to proceed directly to sentencing, but the defense asked for a postponement.

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In 2000, an American rock band achieved international commercial success with a song entitled “All the Small Things.” The song saluted the many small things the songwriter’s partner did that were integral to fostering the relationship’s success. A successful criminal defense, much like a successful friendship or couples relationship, is the result of dedication, commitment, and acute attention to detail. Things that might seem small may ultimately be what lead to a successful end result. That’s why, whenever you or your loved one is facing charges, it pays to have skillful representation from an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

To illustrate what we mean, consider this recent first- and second-degree assault case from Frederick County.

During jury selection, the prosecution used a peremptory challenge on a Black man. (A peremptory challenge is one where the side advancing it need not provide a reason for wanting the potential juror excused.)

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For an agreement to be legally binding, certain things must be true. Generally, both sides must have agreed to the agreement’s terms knowingly and voluntarily, free from improper coercion, duress, or fraud. That’s true whether you’re entering into a commercial sales contract, a marital settlement agreement, a plea deal, or an agreement to give the police a statement or confession (and waive your constitutional rights under Miranda v. Arizona.) In each scenario, the standard for invalidating an agreement is different. If the police or a prosecutor deceived your underage child to get you to waive your Miranda rights then, with the help of a skillful Maryland criminal defense lawyer, you may be able to get your agreement or statement thrown out.

Situations involving juvenile suspects are particularly complex and present unique opportunities to get the statement tossed, as one Edgewood homicide case demonstrates.

Three days after the victim’s death, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office arrested 15-year-old J.B. The teen’s parents asked five times to meet with their son, but they were turned down each time.

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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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