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One of the techniques that the state can use in prosecuting you in a criminal matter is layering multiple charges based off one single incident. That way, they hope, even if the prosecutor can’t convict you for murder, the state may still land a conviction for, say, weapons charges. One of the keys, then, to mounting the most successful defense possible in a circumstance like this is having what you need to counter as many of these myriad charges as possible. To make sure you have the most powerful and aggressive defense you can muster, be sure you have an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney standing up for you.

Here’s a real-life example of how this can work. C.M. was a man who was facing a criminal case involving multiple charges. According to the state, C.M. drove M.J. to a Baltimore apartment complex, where M.J. shot T.W. multiple times as T.W. rode his bicycle.

C.M. faced first-degree murder, second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. The state also included four alleged gun crimes in the case. The matter went to a jury, and the jury found the defendant not guilty on all of the murder-related charges and on one gun charge. Presumably, the defense had enough evidence on its side to create reasonable doubt, or prosecution lacked sufficient factual evidence to warrant a guilty verdict on those four charges.

In TV courtroom dramas, the critical moment in the case – the one that dramatically turns the case to expose the guilty party and ensure justice for all – almost always happens at or near the end of the actual trial. In real life, the “key” moment in your case can happen at any point in your trial and can even happen before the trial starts. What this should tell you is that it is vitally important to have skilled Maryland criminal defense counsel on your side at every step of the process.

One of those extremely important, but sometimes overlooked, pre-trial procedures is voir dire. This is the point in the process when the judge asks the potential jurors a series of questions. The answers to these questions may help the opposing sides in determining which potential jurors should be ruled out from the jury pool.

Given how extraordinarily important jury selection can be in determining whether or not your final outcome will be “guilty” or “not guilty,” it is vital that the right questions get asked, and get asked in the right way. A failure may mean that you are stuck facing a jury that is not really impartial and unbiased.

When you are facing criminal charges in Maryland, you have several essential decisions you have to make. One of the most important of these is deciding whether your guilt or innocence will be decided by a jury or by a judge. (The former is called a jury trial and the latter is called a “bench trial.”) You have a right to a jury trial and a jury will hear your case unless you communicate a valid waiver of that right. When it comes to making this and other critical decisions, be sure to rely on the advice of a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney to help you throughout the process.

There are actually several good reasons why you might want your case heard by a judge instead of a jury. Let’s say, for example, your skilled defense attorney has crafted a potentially winning, but highly technical, defense based upon very complex scientific information or highly dense legal concepts, doctrines and rules. In either of those cases, you might prefer a bench trial where the details of your defense are less likely to be lost on a judge as opposed to a jury. Additionally, if the facts of your case are the sort of things that might inflame the passions of the jury against you (such as sex crimes or child abuse), then you might want the dispassionate perspective of a judge and not a jury who could be more likely to let their emotions get the better of them.

If you decide that you want a trial by judge, there’s a very specific procedure that must be completed in order to make that happen. Another possible advantage for you as a defendant is that if the court fails to go through those required procedures, goes forward with a bench trial and ultimately finds you guilty, then you may be able to use those procedural errors to get your conviction reversed because the court violated your rights.

Once your criminal trial is over and you’ve been found guilty of a crime or crimes, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of options. To the contrary, there are potentially many different avenues available to you to better your circumstances. Even if you have no reasonable expectation of getting a reversal of your conviction, you may still have the ability to challenge the severity of your sentence. For those who do have a reasonable hope of reversing their convictions, there are even more options. The key, of course, is getting reliable advice about the paths available to you and which one(s) offer the best chances of providing meaningful betterment for you. For that and other essential advice, look to a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney.

In addition to possibly having many options, it is important to understand that some options may require multiple steps to get the most from them. Consider the case of a man named B.E., who was facing several charges related to possession of child pornography. The accused man went to trial with his case decided by a judge. The judge acquitted the man on four charges and found him guilty on three misdemeanors.

B.E. could have simply accepted this outcome, but he wisely didn’t. In his case, the defense filed something called a “motion to reconsider” This motion, if granted, means that the trial judge will re-look at some aspect or aspects of your case and consider whether changes should be made. That motion was fruitful as, in 2014, the judge considered B.E.’s new information and granted the motion, wiping out the finding of guilt against B.E.

Immigration, and particularly the issue of undocumented individuals, is very much a “hot button” issue these days. That is even true in civil and criminal trials, where a party in the case may seek to make an issue of a witness’s immigration status in order to diminish the witness in the eyes of the jury. Sometimes, Maryland law says that you can’t bring up a witness’s immigration status as a means of attacking that witness’s credibility (which is something the law calls “impeaching a witness”). In some specific circumstances, though, you may be able to use a prosecution witness’s immigration status against her in order to make her less believable in the eyes of the jury. As always, it helps to have an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side who knows all the “ins and outs” and nuances of the law, and how to use them to maximum advantage in your defense.

A recent case involving an undocumented witness provides some useful knowledge about how this process works. In the case, the state put T.K. on trial for murder. T.K. was a man who resided on the street where the shooting occurred. One the state’s key witnesses was M.L., a 15-year-old boy and a neighbor of T.K., who allegedly saw the accused shoot the victim. Another prosecution witness was M.L.’s mother, who allegedly saw T.K. running away from the scene of the shooting with a gun in his hand.

M.L. and his mother, however, were undocumented immigrants. The defense wanted to use that information to attempt to persuade the jury that the boy and his mother were not always honest and therefore not trustworthy. The trial judge didn’t allow the line of questioning and the jury convicted T.K. The Court of Special Appeals upheld that ruling on appeal.

You probably are familiar with the concept of plea bargains in criminal cases. What you may (or may not) know is that when the prosecution and defense reach a plea agreement, the judge isn’t obliged to follow the deal’s terms. So, even once you have worked out a plea deal with the prosecution, it is essential to be prepared for every possible outcome, including the judge not going along with the deal. In other words, you need skilled Maryland criminal defense counsel that can have you prepared for all possibilities.

A recent case from Baltimore County was an example of this scenario. The background to the case was a domestic dispute. H.H. had allegedly gotten into an argument with his girlfriend at her home and, after being escorted out by other men, threatened to “shoot up” the home. A few hours later, three men arrived at the residence, burst through the rear door and shot up the home. Based on these events, the state charged H.H. with 52 counts, including two attempted murder charges, several assault charges and multiple gun crimes.

H.H. pled guilty, as part of a plea deal, to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, and the state nolle prossed the other charges, meaning that it declined to prosecute those other 51 counts. The sentence to which H.H. agreed was 15 years with all but three years suspended. The judge sentenced H.H. not to 15 years with all but three years suspended but to 25 years with all but 13 suspended. In other words, the judge tacked on an extra 10 years. The man asked to withdraw his plea and receive a new trial, but the judge refused.

In science, there exists something called the “butterfly effect.” The butterfly effect involves circumstances in which a small change in an initial state can result in massive difference in a later state. The concept got its name from scientists who asked the question: can a massive storm in one part of the world be traced back to a butterfly flapping its wings in another corner of the globe? In other words, sometimes very small distinctions or differences can, in the long run, have dramatic impacts on future outcomes. That’s true in the law, too, where very seemingly small things can sometimes be the difference between acquittal and conviction, which is why it pays to have a knowledgeable Maryland criminal attorney on your side for your defense.

Consider a man named C.W. C.W. was facing a very serious felony charge when he stood trial in Montgomery County. In order to obtain a conviction, the state had to show that C.W. inflicted “severe physical injury” on his alleged victim. In Maryland, the law defines severe physical injury as “a physical injury that either “creates a substantial risk of death” or “causes permanent or protracted serious disfigurement, loss of the function of any bodily member or organ, or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”

At the end of C.W.’s trial, the judge gave the jury its instructions. The judge, following a “pattern” jury instruction, informed the jury that they should convict if the prosecution sufficiently showed that the alleged victim suffered an injury with a substantial risk of death, that caused “permanent or protracted serious disfigurement,” or “causes loss or impairment of a member or organ of the body or its ability to function properly.”

In any criminal case, there are varying forms of success. Obviously, the primary target the defendant seeks is an acquittal. However, even if the result of a trial is a conviction, there are still battles to be won, such as ensuring that your case does not result in you receiving a sentence that is illegally severe. Whether you are at the point of battling for an acquittal or battling for a fair sentence, you need an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney who knows how to fight for you.

The case of K.V. shows how important this can be. K.V. was a man on trial for multiple felonies based upon events that occurred when K.V. was 17 years of age. Allegedly, K.V. was a member of a group that carjacked a 26-year-old man in Baltimore. K.V. was the member who took the wheel of the stolen car. With K.V. behind the wheel, others took the vehicle owner and put him in the car’s trunk, where they reportedly shot him five times. Later, the group set the car on fire.

Of the numerous criminal charges that K.V. faced, two were kidnapping and armed carjacking. The accused was eventually found guilty on all charges and the trial judge issued separate sentences for each of the crimes involved.

In this country and in this state, people are afforded certain rights, including the right to be free from being stopped by the police for no reason. That freedom is very important because, sometimes, a large amount of evidence that would otherwise be admissible in a criminal trial may be excluded if it was the result of an illegal stop. In other words, the “motion to suppress” can be one of the most important tools in your arsenal in a criminal case. To make sure that you’re only facing the evidence that the police acquired through legal and constitutional means, be sure that you have a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney one your side.

A recent case from Baltimore is yet another example of an illegal stop and the ways in which a defendant can use that illegality to his advantage. The case began after an officer observed M.W., who allegedly matched the description of an armed robbery suspect. A second officer arrived and conducted a pat-down search of M.W., checking for weapons. M.W. told the officer he had marijuana in his possession. The officer searched some more and found cocaine on the man. The officer then arrested M.W. and further searching uncovered a Glock handgun and 12 live rounds of ammo.

The state charged M.W. with gun and drug crimes. At his trial, M.W. asked the judge to suppress his statement that he was in possession of marijuana and all the evidence that the police uncovered after that statement. The basis for that argument was that the police didn’t have the required degree of reasonable suspicion necessary to stop M.W.

Expert witness testimony can be an extremely important part of the evidence offered as part of your defense in a Maryland criminal case. The law says that the expert must be qualified, his methodology must be competent and that his testimony must be about something that is beyond the scope of knowledge of the average lay person. If the evidence does those things, then it is generally admissible. Understanding how to use experts and to get the most from their testimony is just one of many ways in which an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney can help you or a loved one facing trial.

A recent case that originated in Worcester County is an example of how expert evidence can work and how its improper exclusion can help get the accused a new trial. The man standing trial, K.S., had been the police chief in a small southeastern Maryland city. The chief was on trial for official misconduct. The state’s prosecutors claimed that he conspired to cover up a man’s possible drunk driving incident because both the driver and the chief were members of the same Masonic lodge.

As part of his defense, the chief wanted to offer the testimony of two expert witnesses. Those witnesses would have testified about “the considerations and objectives that impact a police chief’s exercise of discretion during an investigation.” This testimony would have backed up the chief’s defense argument that his handling of his lodge brother’s case was “reasonable under the circumstances and consistent with the routine discretion that a small-town police chief exercises.”

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