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“Ex post facto” is a phrase that often gets overused… and misused. Many people may recall learning about ex post facto laws in junior high or high school civics and government classes, but may not really understand what the phrase truly means. Unskilled “jailhouse lawyers” often apply it incorrectly in appeals they file. On the other hand, a valid ex post facto argument, when in the hands of a skillful Maryland criminal defense attorney, can be a powerful constitutional claim in your criminal case.

To get an idea what a valid ex post facto situation looks like, there’s the case of E.H. from Prince George’s County. In 2011, E.H. was convicted of first-degree assault and weapons charges. He received a sentence of 25 years.

Under Section 8-507 of Maryland’s Health General Article, the inmate had, at that time, an “essentially unrestricted right” to seek commitment to the Department of Health for substance abuse treatment. In December 2017, E.H. applied for such a commitment. The judge denied the man’s request, but told him to try back in about a year. “I fully intend to grant this petition at some point,” the judge said from the bench.

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Police many times strive to create situations in which they can conduct a search of your vehicle in order to obtain additional evidence… and possibly additional charges. The problem for the police is that they cannot search just anyone’s car. They need either to have a search warrant for that car or they need to have probable cause to conduct a warrantless search. A great deal of evidence is often unearthed through the execution of warrantless searches and, a lot of times, those searches are the result of insufficient probable cause. When that happens, you need the right Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side to get that evidence suppressed at trial.

O.W. was someone caught in a warrantless search scenario like that. In early 2019, Anne Arundel County police sought to arrest him on an open arrest warrant. The police apprehended the man at a Glen Burnie car wash. After the police took the man into custody, they searched the vehicle he drove to the car wash. The police found a handgun lying on the seat underneath a jacket. That gun led the police to add an additional weapons charge against O.W.

O.W. faced several complications in seeking to get the gun evidence excluded from his case. For one thing, the car wasn’t legally his, a fact that the state pointed out in its argument against suppression of the gun evidence. O.W.’s girlfriend had leased the vehicle and the lease had expired the day before the police apprehended the man.

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Here in Maryland, our state constitution and the U.S. constitution give everyone certain rights. As you may already know, especially if you watch all of those TV police shows, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer the police’s questions. What happens, though, when you’re advised of your rights in a language that is not your native one? Depending on the exact circumstances, this evidence may be critical in getting certain incriminating statements you made to the police excluded from your trial. Whether or not you speak English, make sure you have someone ready to speak for you. In other words, be sure you have the services of a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney.

J.S. was one of those people where a language barrier was an issue. In J.S.’s criminal case, the police found drugs inside the man’s home. They charged J.S. with possession of cocaine and other related crimes.

The police transported J.S. to the station house, where a detective questioned him. During that interrogation, J.S. stated with regard to the drugs: “It’s only my problem. My wife is nothing to do with it.”

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Being falsely accused of a sex crime can be an enormously terrifying experience, especially if the alleged victim was a child. There can be many reasons why this might happen, from a vindictive ex-spouse seeking to gain an advantage in family court to an over-zealous therapist suggesting a repressed memory that wasn’t real to a rebellious, troubled stepchild acting out against discipline. Whatever the specifics of how you got charged, the penalties are potentially severe and life-changing, so you need to be sure you have strong representation from a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney.

There are several situations in which you can bring in evidence of your own good character into your criminal trial. For example, if you were on trial for a crime that involved fraud, lying or deception, you could put on proof that you had a reputation for truthfulness and honesty. However, what if you’re on trial for a child sex crime… can you use evidence of your past history of always conducting yourself appropriately around children? According to a recent Court of Appeals decision, yes, you can.

The defendant in that Court of Appeals case was a male teacher who allegedly sexually abused several female students. As part of his defense, the teacher sought to present testimony from other teachers and from parents of students. Those individuals’ testimony would all state that the defendant was a man who was frequently around children and who “behaves appropriately with children in his custody or care.”

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One of the ways that police seek to obtain evidence to use against suspects is through performing warrantless searches. A warrantless search may allow the police to recover drugs, weapons or other objects that lead to an arrest. Fortunately, the constitution does not allow the police to conduct warrantless searches whenever they want; rather, the law requires them to have a “reasonable articulable suspicion.” Without that, the search is illegal, and evidence recovered is subject to being suppressed at your trial. Keeping that evidence out requires making the right suppression arguments, though, so be sure you are protecting your rights by having an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney representing you.

Having established that a reasonable articulable suspicion is required, the next question you’re probably wondering is… what is a reasonable suspicion? For example, is the fact that you were caught by the police in a high-crime area enough to allow for a search without a warrant? As one recent case from Prince George’s County recently reminds us, the answer to that generally is “no.”

In that case, two Prince George’s County police officers went to an apartment complex in a high-crime area in response to a noise complaint. The officers saw several people in and around a dark-colored car. As the officers approached, T.R. stepped up onto the curb in front of the car. One officer asked T.R. a question and, after T.R. made a motion that the officer interpreted as reaching for a gun, he conducted a pat-down search.

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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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