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squad carIn many criminal defense cases, one of the most important aspects of the case may be getting (or failing to get) evidence excluded. One way in which you may be entitled to suppression is if the police stopped you but did not have a reasonable suspicion to do so. One circumstance in which that can happen is when the description of the suspect the police use contains only a race and very general descriptive information. Arguing successfully these types of Fourth Amendment issues is something that can often benefit from the skill of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

A recent case involved a robbery in Gaithersburg. As is normal, dispatch sent out a call about the robbery and information about the suspects. Initially, dispatch simply stated that the suspects were “three black males.” One officer, who was in the area, responded and spotted three black males in the area of the apartment where the robbery took place. According to the officer, the men he saw appeared to be together and were the only black males in the area.

At that point, he stopped one man and discovered various items on his person that were used in the robbery, including a knife and a mask. Based upon this evidence, the state charged the defendant with robbery and assault charges. At the trial, the defendant asked the trial judge to suppress the knife and mask evidence. The officer’s search, he argued, was illegal because he didn’t have the appropriate level of reasonable suspicion to stop him. The trial court disagreed, allowing the evidence into the case, and the jury convicted the defendant on multiple assault and robbery charges.

policeIn a criminal defense matter, a key to a successful outcome may be getting inadmissible evidence excluded. This is one of the many vitally important areas in which your experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can help. In one recent case from Baltimore, a defendant got a conviction reversed because the officer who searched him lacked the required level of reasonable suspicion to allow him to conduct a search.

On March 4, 2016, a Baltimore law enforcement officer responded to a call about “a person being armed.” The officer spotted an individual who he believed matched the description dispatch had provided to him. As the officer approached the man, the man allegedly turned away from the officer. This body language, in the officer’s opinion, was consistent with someone carrying a gun. The officer made the man put his hands above his head, and, during the officer’s pat-down search, he recovered a gun from the man’s waistband.

During the man’s gun possession trial, the defendant asked the court to suppress evidence of the gun on the basis that the search was improper. The trial judge denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant was convicted on two counts.

pistolThe law gives criminal defendants relatively wide-ranging rights when it comes to presenting their defenses in order to ensure that the defendant gets every appropriate opportunity to present his full defense in court. That concept helped one man accused of a gun possession crime to obtain a reversal of his conviction recently. The Court of Special Appeals concluded that, while part of the witness’ testimony may have been inadmissible, that fact did not allow the trial judge to exclude the witness from testifying about other admissible issues. Anyone accused of a crime should work with a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer to ensure that their rights are fully protected and that they get to put on their full defense to the jury in their case.

The gun possession case began as an attempt by law enforcement officers in Charles County to pursue suspicious (possibly stolen) vehicles. Officers converged on the home of a man named Ronald, where many of the suspicious vehicles were located. The officers eventually entered the home, searched the home, and found a locked closet in the master bedroom. They discovered a safe inside the closet and, while searching the contents of the closet and the safe, found a loaded handgun.

At his trial, Ronald faced a series of theft-related charges as well as a gun possession charge. In his defense, Ronald sought to call as a witness his son, Dresean. The defense informed the court that Dresean would testify about the living situation in Ronald’s house, but, if asked about the ownership of the gun, Dresean would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The trial judge disallowed Dresean’s testimony, and the jury eventually convicted Ronald on the gun charge (while acquitting him on all of the other charges).

GavelIn any criminal case, preparing a defense involves covering a lot of bases. Sometimes, success may hinge upon excluding a piece of evidence or obtaining compelling eyewitness testimony. At other times, though, a successful Maryland criminal defense may involve something as specific as the jury instructions given in your case. In the trial of one man ultimately convicted of murder, the jury instructions were the key to his receiving a new trial because those instructions did not instruct the jury about the presumption of innocence or the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof.

David was accused in the late 1960s of shooting and killing another man in Baltimore. In 1969, at the conclusion of a jury trial, David was found guilty and sentenced. The accused man filed motions with the trial court, asking for post-conviction relief, but they were not successful. In 2014, he asked the trial court to re-open his post-conviction relief motions. The court again turned him down.

The accused murderer appealed, and, this time, he achieved success. The Court of Special Appeals ordered his conviction reversed and ordered the trial court to grant him a new trial. What was it that was the key to a reversal of the conviction and David’s receipt of a new trial? It came down to the way that the judge instructed the jury in his original murder trial.

Witness standIf you or a loved one is facing trial on major felony charges, there are many things you can reasonably expect to face, including skillful law enforcement officers and knowledgeable, aggressive prosecutors. One thing you should not have to face is testimony against you when you are not allowed to confront and cross-examine the witness. By having a knowledgeable Maryland criminal lawyer on your side, you can enhance your chances that the evidence you will have to overcome is only the evidence that is admissible under the law.

One recent example of a defendant obtaining a reversal based upon such improper evidence was the trial of a man charged with first-degree murder in connection with a fatal shooting in the parking lot of a Salisbury motel as a party broke up. According to the state’s case, the defendant was accompanied by three accomplices when he shot the 17-year-old victim. Two of the alleged accomplices, Larry and Ky-Shir, asserted their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, and the third struck a plea deal and agreed to testify against the defendant.

At the defendant’s trial, two police officers testified. They testified about statements that Larry and Ky-Shir had made to them. In those statements, the alleged accomplices had attempted to provide alibis but had made inconsistent statements concerning their whereabouts on the night of the killing. The police also testified that Ky-Shir identified the defendant as the shooter.

Maryland CourtA new ruling from the Maryland Court of Appeals is a very important one regarding how battered spouse syndrome can affect and bolster a criminal defendant’s defense. In the ruling, the court concluded that the law of imperfect self-defense requires a belief that the threat was immediate or imminent, but the requirement of imminence does not require proof of closeness in terms of time. In other words, the battered wife on trial did not need to prove that she feared that her husband was going to kill her immediately in order to obtain a jury instruction on imperfect self-defense in her Maryland criminal trial.

The case arose from what law enforcement initially thought was a robbery-gone-wrong incident. Ultimately, police concluded that no robbery took place and that the shooting at the gas station was part of a wife’s murder-for-hire plot to kill her husband. At trial, the wife testified that she did, in fact, hire various individuals for the purpose of killing her husband. She testified that she did so because the husband had abused her for decades, and she had come to fear that, if she didn’t kill him, he would kill her. The wife offered multiple witnesses to back up her claim, including a forensic psychiatrist, who opined that the wife suffered from battered spouse syndrome.

At the conclusion of the case, the two sides debated the proper instruction to give the jury regarding self-defense. The trial judge ultimately gave the jury the instruction proposed by the prosecution. After deliberation, the jury found the wife guilty of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and three counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder.

calendarIn your Maryland criminal trial, there may be multiple different options and tools available to you under the law to enhance your defense. Knowing what all of these are, and how to use them, is one area where the assistance of skilled Maryland criminal defense counsel can be invaluable. In a recent case involving a double-rape charge, the defendant got his conviction overturned because he advanced both state and federal speedy trial arguments, and, while the delay in his case didn’t violate the Sixth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, the Court of Special Appeals determined that it did violate the state law deadline for speedy trials.

The case involved a man accused of raping two teens in January 1982. The state indicted the man on Feb. 19, 1982. The defendant and his lawyer made their first appearance in court on April 19, 1982. The defendant made a proper motion for a speedy trial in May. The rules for a speedy trial require that the state try a defendant within 180 days of the defendant appearing in court or a lawyer representing the defendant making an entry of appearance on behalf of that defendant. In this case, both things happened on April 19, so the state’s deadline was October 15.

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judge's gavelIn any criminal defense, there are two essential parts of the process. First, there is the pursuit of a dismissal or acquittal. Failing that, there is the second part, the pursuit of a fair and just sentence. In the case of one man convicted of assault, the Court of Special Appeals recently threw out a trial judge’s decision to hand down the maximum sentence. The sentence had to be reversed because the judge relied upon statements made by the prosecutor, but the prosecutor’s statements did not have the required level of reliable evidence and details to support them.

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The JuryIn a criminal case, it might be easy to assume that the outcome of the case will be a result of what takes place during the trial. The reality of criminal trials is more complicated than that. A favorable or unfavorable outcome often has a lot to do with who is on the jury, rather than just which evidence is placed before those jurors. The careful execution of questioning jurors and excluding those who might make for poor fits is a vital part of your defense. In the case of one man facing attempted murder charges, an error by a judge in not allowing the defense to ask potential jurors a particular question resulted in a reversal of his conviction by the Court of Special Appeals.

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DNA testOne of the most valuable evidentiary tools in some criminal cases today is DNA testing. For some defendants, a DNA test result can be the key to proving innocence. For others, while not establishing innocence, a favorable test result can at least be a valuable piece in raising reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt. A recent case addressed the very important question of when a defendant is entitled to a DNA test, and the answer to that question helped get the judgment against the defendant vacated.

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