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United States District Court for the District of Maryland
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Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland

The “rules of the game” in criminal trials are constantly evolving to one degree or another. New decisions from the Appellate Court or Supreme Court — as well as new laws from the legislature — can impact an array of issues relevant to criminal cases, including things like what constitutes a custodial police interrogation (as it relates to a defendant’s constitutional right to counsel,) what degree of reasonable suspicion is necessary for the police to stop someone on the street (in terms of that person’s search and seizure rights,) or what level of blood toxicity is required to constitute legal intoxication. Ensuring that your rights are protected to the fullest is about more than simply having any Maryland criminal defense lawyer, but rather having a skilled and knowledgeable one who is fully up-to-date on all recent changes to the law and how they impact your case.

If one Baltimore delegate has his way, the rules will be changing again — this time, to limit the use of “creative expressions” in criminal trials. This bill comes in the wake of a well-publicized racketeering trial to our south.

Young Thug is a Grammy Award-winning rapper. According to prosecutors in Georgia, he is also the head of an Atlanta-based criminal street gang. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office put the rapper and 28 associates on trial for 56 criminal counts, including racketeering.

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Many of the undocumented immigrants who find themselves facing deportation may choose to avail themselves of the process known as “cancelation of removal.” A new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court says that many of those applicants may, even if unsuccessful at the agency level, continue pursuing their case in the federal courts. Whether you’re before an immigration judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals, or a federal court, your odds of success are greatest when you have legal representation from an experienced Maryland deportation defense lawyer.

The immigrant in the Supreme Court case – S.W. — faced deportation following a 2019 arrest on drug charges. Although local prosecutors later declined to pursue the criminal case, immigration authorities went forward with the deportation action against the man.

The immigrant acknowledged that he was eligible for deportation (he had long overstayed the tourist visa he obtained in 2003,) but argued that he was entitled to a cancelation of removal.

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In many criminal matters that make it to trial, the difference between an acquittal and a conviction is which side’s witnesses the jury finds more believable. To ensure you have the benefit of a fair trial, the law forbids the prosecution from doing or saying certain things that would tend to bolster unfairly the credibility of its witnesses. Keeping out this kind of inadmissible evidence often requires a well-stated and well-timed objection, which one reason why is any accused person’s case can benefit from the services of a skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

The prosecution of E.C. in Montgomery County is a prime example of this sort of inadmissible evidence.

In April 2022, the accused man stood trial in a multi-count sex crime case. The state’s central witness was the alleged victim. In addition to the alleged victim, the prosecution also presented a physician who spoke to the alleged victim. The physician testified that the alleged victim’s comments and statements were “credible.”

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Generally, this blog discusses court cases where the accused person obtained a favorable result in the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court. L.B. from Baltimore was not one of those people. Nevertheless, we spotlight his case because his actions provide a list of “what not to do” in a traffic stop. These can only harm your position legally and make the task of your skillful Maryland criminal defense lawyer immensely more difficult to avoid a conviction and jail time.

L.B.’s legal troubles began when an officer with the Anne Arundel County Police pulled him over in Severn. The officer initially stopped the man for a non-working license plate light. This traffic violation is a minor one and carries only a small fine.

Once stopped, L.B. exited his car and told the officer he didn’t have his driver’s license. Driving without a license is a more serious offense, but still only a misdemeanor. It can trigger larger fines (up to $500) and as many as five points assessed on your license.

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A television show from the 2000s and ‘10s bore the title What Not to Wear, and featured men and women who had made many purported fashion “mistakes.” Court rulings sometimes educate readers in a broadly similar way, cautioning them about “what not to do” in legal actions. One way to minimize the mistakes that can damage or destroy your asylum case is to work with an experienced Maryland asylum lawyer, who will help you ensure your case has what it needs, and that it avoids the missteps that often derail asylum applications.

A recent cautionary opinion came from an asylum case in the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas. The asylum seekers — a couple and their minor child — came from El Salvador and alleged that they would face severe persecution from the MS-13 gang if U.S. authorities returned them to their native country.

Specifically, the couple asserted that their relative, Guadalupe, was the ex-girlfriend of Francisco, a local MS-13 gang leader. 12 days before their asylum hearing, the couple submitted affidavits that asserted that the family was unsure of Guadalupe’s whereabouts and “always believed that she has been taken by MS-13 gang members.” They also alleged that “no one knows where she went. She just disappeared. She may have been taken by the gang members.”

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The jury selection process in Maryland criminal trials is influenced by many competing factors. Each opposing side seeks a jury panel that, in their opinion, will be optimally receptive to their arguments and evidence. Prosecutors have many tools and know numerous techniques to help them fashion the jury they want. If you’re someone facing trial, you need a skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side who can level the playing field and help you get the fair jury you need.

In some cases, two factors that may conflict are the right to utilize peremptory challenges (which allow the removal of potential jurors even in the absence of a reason for that removal) and the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. A theft case recently before the Appellate Court of Maryland highlights what the law requires in these circumstances.

Courts follow the seminal case in this area, a 1986 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Batson v. Kentucky. The high court said that prosecutors could not use their peremptory challenges to exclude potential jurors based on discriminatory considerations like race. (In that case, a Kentucky prosecutor used peremptory challenges to remove African-American potential jurors, leaving an all-white jury to decide the fate of an African-American defendant on trial for burglary.)

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The effects of an unsuccessful asylum application can be catastrophic. It can mean being uprooted from your home and your family, being sent to a country you’ve never known as home, and possibly a place where you may find yourself to be a target for hate and violence. For these reasons and more, you must put forward the strongest asylum application possible. Statistics show that asylum applicants with attorney representation are six more likely to succeed than those without, so don’t delay retaining an experienced Maryland asylum lawyer to assist you.

Membership in any collection of people that U.S. immigration law recognizes as a “particular social group” can be essential to a successful asylum application. You can qualify for asylum if you are a member of one or more of these groups and you present proof that, if you are returned to your home country, you either (a) have a reasonable fear of harm or (b) a history of past harm as a result of your membership in the group.

To succeed on this basis, you need the right social group undergirding your application. Simply asserting, for example, “Honduran females” as your group will almost certainly be deemed too broad. An overly broad group will doom your application and leave you subject to deportation, as was the case with one California man recently.

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Maryland law gives law enforcement officers extensive leeway in the interrogation tactics they use. Officers may permissibly manipulate, deceive, and even outright lie to a suspect; those are all valid investigative tactics. This reality is one of the reasons why refusing to speak with officers without a qualified Maryland criminal defense lawyer present is almost always a good idea. Your seasoned attorney may recognize when an officer is employing the “tools of the trade” to get you to say something incriminating, and protect you from making statements that could later harm you at trial.

However, the statements an officer can make in an interrogation setting are very different from statements the state can introduce into evidence in a criminal trial. And, as a recent murder case shows, while the police can tell a suspect “your story defies belief” in the interrogation room, the state generally can’t admit that opinion commentary into evidence in the suspect’s trial.

The murder case arose from an alcohol-fueled dispute between two friends. Police arrived at a Montgomery County apartment to find a man, Y.R., dead. They took a woman, S.N., into custody and interrogated her. That interrogation was recorded on video.

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The EB-5 immigrant visa program serves a very important purpose, granting legal status to investors and entrepreneurs whose contributions are vital to maintaining a healthy U.S. economy. The program imposes numerous and sometimes complicated requirements that demand the production of considerable evidence to secure a green card. Failure to meet all the various requirements may result in unnecessary delay or denial. A knowledgeable Maryland investor visa lawyer can help you ensure that your business plan is strong and that you have everything you need to secure your visa.

The program provides green cards to investors who infuse a set minimum amount into a job-creating commercial venture in the U.S. Today, that figure generally is $1 million. That number is only $500,000, however, if the commercial venture is placed in a targeted employment area (TEA.) The federal government defines “high unemployment” TEAs as areas where the unemployment rate is 1-1/2 times the national average or higher. Additionally, the program demands that the venture create at least 10 jobs. Those jobs don’t have to exist at the time of the investment but they must be created within 2 years.

In 2022, Congress passed the EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 (RIA), which amended the statutory sections that govern the EB-5 program. One of those changes added new statutory language requiring that EB-5 investments “be expected to remain invested for at least two years.” A new guidance document from the USCIS addressed an important question created by this modified statutory language: what’s the start date for this 2-year requirement?

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When people hear the phrase “deferred action” concerning immigration law, they may initially focus on the DREAMers. Other processes beyond just Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, potentially can help immigrants protect themselves from deportation, however. To find out if you can shield yourself from deportation through a deferred action process (or other means,) consult an experienced Maryland immigration lawyer.

One form of deferred action (outside of DACA) was in the news earlier this year, and it safeguards immigrant workers caught in an all-too-common situation. You may have even seen fictionalized versions of this circumstance play out on television. The undocumented worker is the victim of (or otherwise witnesses) his/her employer engaging in illegal practices. The employer then blackmails the worker into silence by threatening to contact “Immigración” (a/k/a federal immigration authorities) and get the worker deported.

The Department of Homeland Security has long had a process to allow these workers to pursue deferred action and protect themselves from removal. Earlier this year, DHS announced that it had “streamlined” the process, allowing workers to receive “expedited” processing of their deferral requests.

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