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The police have various methods they use to pursue people they suspect to have committed crimes. One of their methods is to find a basis to stop you and then search you. Fortunately, the Maryland Constitution and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution limit what the police can do when it comes to stopping and searching you. Of course, once the police have searched you and found evidence through an illegal search and seizure, that evidence doesn’t just suppress itself at your criminal trial. Instead, you have to know how to make the right motion at the right time, supported by the right legal arguments. In other words, you need representation from a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney.

When it comes to police stops and searches, the U.S. Supreme Court made a very important ruling in 1968 called Terry v. Ohio. That landmark case was so prominent, in fact, that these kinds of interactions are still called “Terry stops” today.

In Maryland, the law says that, in order for a “Terry frisk” to be legally allowable, the police officer who seeks to conduct the search must have a “reasonable articulable suspicion” the person was armed and dangerous. A recent case from Frederick County helps clarify what the police can and cannot do in one of these Terry frisks.

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There are so many reasons why representation from a skillful Maryland criminal defense attorney is worthwhile. One of those reasons is that there are countless areas of the law that are well-known to criminal defense attorneys, but largely unknown outside those circles. By having a knowledgeable attorney on your side, you can have the full benefit of all of the law, and make sure that your rights are protected to the maximum.

One of those areas of the law is “merger.” Even people who have a little bit of knowledge of the law probably think that the law of “merger” refers simply to the process of two business entities combining to form one, larger business. In Maryland though, “merger” has an important meaning in criminal law and, as one case recently demonstrated, it can make a massive difference in the amount of time you serve.

First, here’s a little background about criminal sentences. Say you’ve been put on trial for several crimes. The jury hears the evidence and acquits you of some charges, but convicts you on two crimes. The judge sentences you to serve two years for Crime A and 10 years for Crime B, and also declares that the sentences shall run “consecutively.” That means that your total time of imprisonment is the one sentence plus the sentence for the second crime. In other words, 12 years. (With “concurrent sentences,” the total imprisonment would’ve been 10 years.)

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If you’re ever pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, this is a time when details (even small ones) can matter a great deal. What you do (or don’t do) and what the police officer does (or doesn’t do) can determine whether or not you’ll lose your driver’s license… or maybe whether or not you’ll go to jail. With so much on the line, don’t delay in contacting an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney about your case.

Maryland, like every other state, has what’s called “implied consent” laws. Because driving is a privilege and not a right, the state is free to say that you automatically consent to certain things when you seek and obtain a license to drive. One of those things to which you’ve implicitly consented is undergoing chemical tests when a law enforcement officer stops you on suspicion that you were driving drunk or high.

You still retain the right to refuse to undergo these things but, due to implied consent laws, the state MVA has the option to suspend your driving privileges based on that refusal. However, in order to punish you for refusing, the police first must complete some specific steps. First, the officer who stopped you for suspected DUI must sufficiently advise you of your rights. Then, the officer must give you the choice of either undergoing the chemical test or refusing (which would mean incurring penalties the MVA hands down.) As a recent Court of Appeals ruling has demonstrated, the first of these two steps is something where the police must act reasonably, making it an area where details matter significantly.

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When you are on trial for a crime in Maryland, there are several things that the court has to decide before the jury decides whether you’re not guilty or guilty. For instance, with certain types of proof, the judge may have to decide whether proposed evidence is more likely to bias the jury than prove or disprove some aspect of the case, or vice versa. Winning these disputes about whether evidence should be admitted or excluded can make the difference between a conviction or an acquittal, so it is important to have a skillful Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side to win these arguments and keep out harmful evidence.

Even just a single answer can be enough to alter the outcome of your case. Consider the recent case of C.W. C.W.’s interaction with the police began after a Baltimore County police officer observed what he believed to be a drug transaction involving C.W. and another man. C.W. was eventually arrested and charged with “possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.” During booking, the officer asked C.W. about his employment status and C.W. indicated that he was unemployed. The officer testified to this at trial.

The defendant’s lawyer smartly – and correctly – objected to this testimony, arguing that it was not relevant. The judge denied the objection and the jury eventually convicted C.W.

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Police responses in dealing with persons of color whom the police claim were “resisting arrest” have been major topics across America recently, as they rightfully should be. As anyone who’s ever faced such a charge knows, resisting arrest is one of the most subjective crimes in Maryland, and trials on resisting charges may often come down to a contest of who the jury thinks is more credible – you or the police officer. To win a case like that, you may need to be able to show that the officer is biased or that his testimony is not reliable. Succeeding in doing that often requires a highly skilled and experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney, who knows exactly how to get the officer to come across as biased or unreliable on cross-examination.

Successfully rendering a police officer’s testimony not believable through effective cross-examination is not the only way your knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help you to defeat a resisting arrest charge. There are also specific defenses to a charge of resisting arrest, one of which was highlighted in a recent drug crime case from Worcester County.

The origins of the case began when a Pocomoke City police officer pulled over R.W. for talking on his cell phone while driving. The officer put on his lights and R.W. pulled over. R.W. got out of his car, even though the officer had not told him to do so.

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There are various ways in which the state can pursue a case against you based on drug or weapons charges, with one of those being a “possession” charge. Many times, the prosecution seeks to do so by proving you had “constructive possession” of the contraband. That often relies heavily on circumstantial evidence, and may be more readily defeated than an “actual possession” charge. With the help of a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney, you may be able to minimize the persuasiveness of the state’s circumstantial evidence and get the acquittal or dismissal you need.

Here in Maryland, the law has created a four-part method for determining constructive possession. In the example of possession of ammunition, those parts are: (1) Did the defendant have ownership or the legal right to possess the item (such as a car, a home, a desk or a dresser) where the ammunition was found? (2) Was the ammunition located in close proximity to the accused? (3) Was the property item in “plain view”? (4) Was there any evidence of actual possession of the ammunition?

The recent case a Baltimore man recently faced is an example of clearly insufficient evidence of constructive possession. It’s important to remember that, in every element of the criminal charges you’re facing, it is the state that bears the burden of proof. In other words, the prosecutors have to “prove it” rather than your having to negate elements of the crime.

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We’ve almost all seen it on TV. The police obtain a criminal suspect and place her in interrogation. Once there, the police use a full array of tactics, from encouragement to intimidation to empathy, seeking to get the testimony they need. Because the police officers are often the beloved stars of the show, the techniques they use almost end up being proper and permissible. In real life, it’s more complicated. Sometimes, the police may say things the law considers to be an “improper inducement.” When you can show that that happened to you, it may help you get potentially damaging evidence excluded from your case. Of course, the best way to ensure you are not being lured by police to make an incriminating statement in an interrogation setting is to make sure you have an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney by your side before you say anything to the police.

A.H. was a woman caught in that kind of situation as a suspect in a murder case. While questioning A.H., Baltimore police told the woman many things, including that “honesty is the best policy” and that “this is the honesty you need to stay with to stay out of big trouble.” The police also told her that she was “either going to be a witness or… a defendant,” but that if the woman was “straight up” then “we’ll work with you.”

At that point, A.H. revealed that she was a sex worker who was on an appointment with the victim at the time of the murder. A.H.’s crack dealer, E, instructed her to take the appointment and to “leave the door unlocked.” Because she feared E and because she thought E and his partner would, at most, beat up the victim, A.H. did as she was told. The victim ultimately died of multiple stab wounds. Based on A.H.’s statements, the state went to trial against her on robbery and homicide charges.

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Law enforcement officers may stop your moving vehicle or approach your parked vehicle for a variety of reasons. While many of those reasons are legal and appropriate, sometimes they’re not. When you’re involved in an illegal search and seizure and that encounter ends with your arrest, then the law says that you are entitled to a trial that does not include the evidence found. A trial without that evidence will almost certainly increase your odds of an acquittal. However, to get that trial without that damaging evidence, you have to know the right way to go about seeking a ruling from the judge suppressing that evidence. To ensure that your criminal trial does not include any evidence the police obtained illegally, it pays to have a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney handling your case.

K.W.’s criminal case was one of those situations. He and a woman were inside a pickup truck parked in a Temple Hills apartment complex parking lot. While on patrol, a police officer spotted “a lot of movement” inside K.W.’s truck, so the officer approached the truck.

Once K.W.’s passenger rolled down her window, the officer smelled an odor of alcohol, and spotted a half-empty bottle of gin and two plastic cups with what looked like liquor in them. The officer ordered K.W. out of the truck. The officer then began a search of the truck, theoretically to recover the bottle of gin. During the search, the officer found a gun that was registered to K.W.

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Your skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney can help you in a wide array of ways. One vital area is working out a plea agreement. A knowledgeable attorney has the experience to know when you should or should not agree to a plea bargain and, if yes, how to get the best possible deal. Making the right plea bargain can have multiple important benefits for an accused person. It can reduce the amount of time you have to spend in prison, or help you avoid prison entirely. It also can, if carefully constructed, limit the amount of collateral exposure a person can face, such as being placed on — or avoiding — the Sex Offender Registry.

J.R. was one accused man whose recent case is an example of a legal team that made a good deal. J.R. was facing multiple sex crime charges, and some of those were sex crimes charges against a minor. The accused man entered a guilty plea on exactly one charge. That one criminal charge was a sex crime, but it was not a sex crime against a minor. All the other charges, including the sex crimes against a minor, were dropped by the prosecution as part of the plea agreement.

After J.R. agreed to a plea deal, the state notified him that he was required to register as a “Tier II” sex offender, and remain on the Sex Offender Registry for 25 years, because the victim was a minor. J.R. appealed, taking his case all the way to Maryland’s highest court, where he won.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a British author best known for writing the stories of detective Sherlock Holmes. In the 1891 story, A Case of Identity, Holmes opined that “it has long been an axiom of mine, that the little things are infinitely the most important.” Any good Maryland criminal defense attorney will immediately recognize the wisdom in the fictional Holmes’s observation. In criminal cases, the difference between an acquittal and a conviction may rest upon the ability to spot all the little things, and then use them to the client’s maximum benefit.

For example, take the case of E.B. from Baltimore. The accused man was on trial for burglary and theft. At the end of the trial, E.B. was found guilty of fourth-degree burglary. E.B. got that conviction overturned, and “the little things” were a big reason why.

When you are put on trial for a crime in this state, there is always something that came before that trial. That “something” is either a warrantless arrest, an application for a statement of charges, a charging document or an indictment by a grand jury. Whichever occurred in your case, that’s where you can find out exactly what criminal charge the state is pursuing.

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