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As body cameras are becoming more and more common among law enforcement officers, bodycam video footage will continue to become more and more common in criminal trials. If you are someone facing criminal charges, it is important to recognize that, just because something was recorded by a police officer’s body camera, that doesn’t necessarily make it admissible against you in your trial. There may be a variety of different reasons why an officer’s bodycam video footage would be inadmissible but, to keep that proof out, you have to know how to mount a successful objection. When it comes to achieving success in this and other tactical maneuvers in your case, it pays to have an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side.

An assault case from Baltimore demonstrates how the hearsay rule may be a powerful weapon in your case where the state wants to use police bodycam footage. In that case, R.B., the defendant, was facing charges that he attacked D.K.

The state did not call the alleged victim as a witness, presumably because the prosecution team could not locate him. The prosecution tried to get around the problem posed by the alleged victim’s absence by introducing into evidence the video footage from the bodycam worn by the local police officer who responded to the scene of the alleged crime and interviewed the alleged victim. In that footage, the police sergeant asked the alleged victim what happened, and he presented his version of events which, unsurprisingly, portrayed himself as innocent and the accused as the sole aggressor.

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If you watch enough courtroom movies or TV shows then you’ve likely seen the following scene or something like it: Our star, an intrepid attorney, has unearthed enormously helpful evidence but it is not admissible. Then the other side makes an ill-considered comment or asks an unfortunate (for them) question. Our protagonist seizes the moment and moves to admit the key evidence. When the other side objects, our intrepid advocate confidently counters, “Your Honor, they opened the door!” and gets the proof before the jury. Of course, real life is often much more complex than TV dramas and movies, but being able to use (or to block) an “opening the door” argument can be extremely important to your real-life case. When it comes to getting all of your best evidence admitted at trial, you don’t need a gifted actor; you need a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney advocating for you.

So what exactly does “opening the door” look like… and not look like? A recent felony case that originated in Howard County helps us see. Police, who were investigating a string of burglaries and a robbery in late 2018, searched a Columbia home three times.

Ultimately, after finishing their searches and collecting evidence, the state charged R.D. with, among other things, armed robbery. At trial, the accused man admitted that he lied to the police about where he lived but said he did so to protect the woman who eventually became his wife. The prosecution then set about questioning R.D. about a “whole bunch of stolen goods and” property the police found inside the residence.

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The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives each person on trial the right to confront his/her accusers and to cross-examine them. In Maryland, this state’s Article 21 gives an accused person even more protection when it comes to cross-examination. This is very important because effective cross-examination is often essential to diminishing or destroying the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence. Of course, it is important not simply to engage in cross-examination, but to engage in genuinely powerful cross-examination that’s carefully engineered to chip away at the state’s case. For that kind of effective cross-examination, you should rely on an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

The right to cross-examination has never been more important than it is today, when cutting-edge technology and scientific reports may be the key pieces of evidence on which the prosecution relies. Getting that report’s author on the stand and taking the necessary steps to minimize his/her credibility may be essential to your getting an acquittal.

Consider J.L., who was on trial for multiple crimes in connection with a Washington County burglary. In the ensuing criminal trial, one of the key pieces of evidence in the prosecution’s case was DNA proof. The police took a swab from blood located on a window frame and a curtain of the burglarized home and created a DNA profile from that swab. A Maryland State Police forensic scientist analyzed the sample and generated a report that named J.L. as a possible DNA match.

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There’s so much minutia that goes into a truly proper and complete defense in a criminal case. Whatever the alleged crime, but especially if that crime is a major felony, a conviction has the potential to drastically alter your life for the worse. Don’t leave your future to chance; make sure that you have the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side to protect you to the maximum extent possible under the law.

An attempted murder case from Baltimore is a good example of just how much procedural details may matter. The victim, E.T., was playing dice in Baltimore when he got into an argument with another man. After E.T. punched the man, that man left but returned one minute later, whereupon he chased and shot E.T., critically wounding him. Immediately after shooting E.T., the shooter fled. All of this was recorded on nearby video camera footage.

The state charged D.W. with the shooting, putting him on trial for attempted first-degree murder. D.W.’s defense was a straightforward one: he wasn’t the shooter. The prosecution asked the trial judge to give the jury an instruction on “flight.”

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The Sixth Amendment gives each person accused of a crime the right to receive a “speedy trial.” This very general right means some very specific things here in Maryland. The prosecution and the courts have some strict deadlines they are required to meet or else you can use that delay as the basis to get the charges against you thrown out. Whether you need to pursue a speedy trial motion or engage in other procedural maneuvers to protect your rights, the requirements for doing so may be intricate, detailed, and exacting, which is why you should rely on the skills and knowledge of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

Statutory law in Maryland says that, absent a good reason, your criminal case has to be brought to trial within 180 days. The starting point of that 180-day time period is the earlier of the first time you are brought before the judge or the first time your attorney appears in court to state his/her representation of you in the case.

Sometimes, the procedural tactics of the prosecution can impact that speedy trial deadline, as one recent case illustrated. The accused, S.W., was arrested and charged with various drug and firearm offenses. The grand jury indictment, in that case, occurred on Sept. 18, 2018. After the state later discovered fentanyl in the drugs, the prosecutors dismissed all the charges in the first indictment. The grand jury returned a second indictment on Jan. 22, 2019, that added four new counts covering the fentanyl.

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If you are pulled over because the police suspect that you were driving drunk, you face an array of potential outcomes, and many of them are not good. Sometimes, though, the police may make procedural errors in the conduct of your investigation and/or arrest, and those errors may allow you to obtain a lesser punishment or to get the charges dropped entirely. If such an opportunity exists, a Maryland criminal defense lawyer knowledgeable about DUI and DWI law can help you put on the strongest possible defense.

There are actually multiple different ways in which a DUI arrest can go awry procedurally. J.D.’s case, while occurring outside Maryland, makes for a good illustration. J.D., while allegedly driving drunk, lost control of her Ford Mustang and hit another car. One of the passengers in that other car died. A state trooper allegedly noticed that J.D. smelled of alcohol, slurred her speech, had bloodshot eyes, and also was unable to perform field sobriety tests successfully.

Eight law enforcement officers responded to the crash scene, but none of them contacted either the “on-call” prosecuting attorney or a judge concerning obtaining a search warrant. Instead, a trooper took J.D. to a nearby hospital for an involuntary blood draw. (The driver had twice refused requests for a voluntary blood test.) The test result was .130 and was a key piece of evidence in her DUI manslaughter case, which resulted in a conviction.

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Television has a major impact on how many people view the world, including the world of criminal justice. Of course, police procedural TV shows represent creative minds’ artistic interpretation of a crime scene investigation, a police interrogation, or a criminal trial. While that’s true, there still may be opportunities to use certain knowledge jurors have absorbed from TV shows to create reasonable doubt in your criminal trial. As with any aspect of your defense, a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney can help you advance your case in the most effective way possible.

One of the more influential shows of the last few decades is “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and its spinoffs. In the “CSI” shows, the stars often solve cases and identify wrongdoers through fingerprints, DNA, and other forensic evidence.

Sometimes, in a Maryland criminal trial, the prosecution’s case against the defendant may have a noticeable absence of “forensic or scientific techniques often featured in police procedural television shows.” This absence may, of course, allow the defense to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the jurors about the strength of the state’s case. To combat this, Maryland law allows trial judges to issue what’s called “anti-CSI effect” jury instructions.

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Events from outside Maryland have once again placed into the national spotlight the issues of police stops of citizens and the bases the police use for initiating an encounter with someone. One important thing to know is that, in this state, the police must have a legitimate basis for stopping you and, if they lack that legitimate reason, then any potentially incriminating evidence they find on you may be excluded from your criminal trial. An experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can help you succeed in these kinds of evidence suppression and other critical arguments.

Here in Maryland, there is strong caselaw upholding citizens’ freedom from being accosted and searched by the police without a reasonable basis. The police still cross that line, though, which is why it is necessary to have skilled legal counsel on your side to get wrongfully seized evidence thrown out when you stand trial.

A weapons and drugs case from Baltimore illustrates this well. In October 2018, a Baltimore police officer was patrolling a mall when he noticed J.M., who had on “slim fitted cargo shorts.” Inside one of the pockets, J.M. had something large that “appeared to slide back and forth.” J.M. allegedly was walking with a stiff right arm to help keep the object inside the pocket from moving. J.M. also allegedly tapped his pocket occasionally “as if to make sure” the object was still there.

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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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