Articles Posted in Appellate Court Rulings

Television and print media love “true crime” stories. While these crimes are often played for the particularly sensational aspects they possess, the coverage of them may still offer information that is highly educational for the rest of us. Sometimes, that educational lesson is the importance of making sure that, if you’re a suspect or a person of interest in a crime, the very first thing you do — before anything else — is retain a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney.

A January 2019 death in East Baltimore and its aftermath teach that important lesson and more. In the case, police found a woman dead in the apartment she shared with her husband, having endured 55 stab wounds, some going all the way to the bone, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Police sought to question the husband, but he was gone. He had fled the state, traveling first to D.C., then to New York and Vermont. Police believe he was headed to Canada, according to the report.

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In Maryland, you have many rights in relation to criminal law. One of those is the right to know the charges against you. One very important side-effect of this right is that the state generally cannot charge you with one crime and then convict you of a similar, but different, crime that was not included. When it comes to protecting all of your rights, including this one, it pays to have legal representation from a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

For example, your rights in Maryland may potentially protect you from being charged with an attempt and then convicted of the commission of the act if the commission crime was not a charged offense. That’s what happened to one Somerset County man, and he was able to use that error to get his armed robbery conviction overturned.

In this man’s case, it all allegedly started when the accused, L.F., and his girlfriend went to K.B.’s home. An argument erupted there and L.F. allegedly hit K.B. Additionally, L.F. allegedly had a gun and demanded that K.B. give him drugs.

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The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution says that the “right of the people to be secure… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” This is one of the most important rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, especially if you are someone on trial for a crime. This right may give you vital tools you can use as part of your defense, such as seeking the suppression of evidence obtained without a warrant. If you’re under investigation or on trial for a crime in this state, you should act immediately to retain an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer who can help you in the protection of your rights.

When people think about the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment, they generally will think of “unreasonable searches.” However, the other right ensured within that text – protection against unreasonable seizures – is every bit as important.

Many times, the evidence the police obtained was something they got by first engaging in an illegal seizure. Such was the case recently for one man from Prince George’s County on trial for a gun charge.

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One of the most potent elements of your criminal defense can be the cross-examination of the witnesses who testify against you. That cross-examination may shed critical light onto the witness, revealing them to be something less than believable and trustworthy. When a witness tries to avoid answering your questions on cross-examination, it pays to have a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side, as that witness’s failure to answer may entitle you to have the witness’s entire testimony thrown out.

S.C. was on trial for his alleged actions during a dispute with the mother of his baby son. The woman, despite the presence of an order of protection she had against S.C., voluntarily chose to text him and ask him for money. She subsequently agreed to meet him and accompany him to a hotel room. While at the hotel room, the woman smoked marijuana and agreed to spend the night with S.C.

The next morning, the woman and S.C. allegedly became embroiled in an alleged physical altercation that was the basis for the charges the state brought against S.C.

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You’ll hear the phrase “he said she said” come up a lot in relation to certain types of court cases. Many times, it might be a family court matter. Other times, though, it’s a criminal case, especially when the alleged crime is sexual in nature. When you’re on trial in one of these kinds of cases, credibility is key… does the jury believe what you said, or do they believe the alleged victim? There are lots of ways that experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyers have of procuring evidence that will bolster your credibility, diminish the accuser’s credibility and give you the fairest possible trial.

Take, as an example, the case of R.G., a man on trial for rape in Montgomery County. At around 5:00 pm on Oct. 8, 2018, R.G. and the alleged victim met up and traveled together to his home. At the residence, the pair consumed tequila. By 7:15 am the next morning, the woman awoke in R.G.’s bed, naked and allegedly experiencing a great deal of pain in her genital area.

The prosecution’s theory of the incident was that the accused had manipulated the woman into drinking to excess, may also have laced a lime wedge with a “date-rape” drug, then proceeded to rape the woman repeatedly in an extremely violent and savage manner.

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A successful defense in a criminal case involves many things. One of these is keeping inadmissible evidence out of your trial. That can include excluding inadmissible hearsay testimony that potentially harms your case. To do this, and to make sure that your rights are fully protected throughout the process, it pays to have an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney on your side.

Winning these kinds of hearsay arguments can be nuanced. Consider the felony case of J.S., who was on trial for assaulting his partner, S.B. In June 2019, the pair became involved in a dispute at their home in Cecil County. Police responded to the home and interviewed both the man and the woman.

During the man’s trial, the prosecution put one of the police officers on the witness stand. Under questioning from the prosecutor, the officer stated that the alleged victim told him that, before the officer arrived at the home, she had made plans to go to dinner with her mother, but that the accused had told her she was not free to leave the home and had pointed a gun at her head.

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If you’re familiar enough with policing, you know that a significant number of criminal arrests start out as traffic stops. Some law enforcement officers, armed only with their own intuition, will do their very best to concoct a reason to make a traffic stop because they believe they can get substantial proof of a crime… if they can just get you pulled over. Many times, though, these kinds of traffic stops are violations of the Fourth Amendment. If you’ve been arrested as a result of an improper traffic stop, you may be able to get all the evidence the police seized tossed, but you’ll have to win a suppression argument to do it. When it comes to this and other critical elements of your criminal trial, make sure you have the legal representation you need from an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer.

Most people are aware of the broad stereotype that people under the influence of marijuana drive very slowly. Comedic actor Tommy Chong once remarked, “Everybody worries about driving when you’re stoned. No! Not gonna hurt anybody going five miles an hour!” Law enforcement officers are aware of this, too.

As a recent drug crimes case demonstrates, though, just driving very slowly down a highway does not, by itself, amount to the required degree of “reasonable articulable suspicion” that the constitution requires in order for a police officer to make a traffic stop.

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One of the most basic concepts underlying criminal trials in this country is the notion of fundamental fairness in the process. One element of that fundamental fairness is having your guilt or innocence determined by a jury of your peers. Toward that end, the law says that the prosecution cannot engage in racial discrimination in the jury selection process. When it comes to protecting your rights, before, during, and after your criminal trial, make sure you have a skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer advocating for you and protecting you from this and other forms of unfairness.

One of the most essential tools in the criminal defense attorney’s “toolbag” when it comes to thwarting racial discrimination in the jury selection process is something called a “Batson challenge.” (That name comes from the 1986 U.S. Supreme Court case of Batson v. Kentucky, in which a Black man was convicted by an all-white jury after the prosecutor struck all of the Black potential jurors during voir dire.)

To give you an example of what the Batson challenge process looks like, we have a recent assault and theft case from Cecil County. B.B., a Black man, was on trial for second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, and conspiracy to commit theft.

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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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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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