Articles Posted in Assault

An old adage says that “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” The adage, of course, means that it is generally never a good idea to proceed without skilled legal representation in any legal action. The need for effective counsel is never greater than in a criminal case, which is why your defense needs to include a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney working for you.

G.S. was someone who tried to defend himself, and the result of his trial was not a favorable one for him. He was on trial for a very serious matter. Allegedly, he stabbed another man with a machete during a May 2016 altercation. The state charged G.S. with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault and second-degree assault. The defendant did not hire his own attorney and was appointed a public defender. In fact, he was appointed two different public defenders at two different points. G.S., however, decided that he could do a better job than these lawyers, and asked to proceed without counsel. The judge concluded that the defendant hadn’t provided a good reason for dismissing the public defenders but let him do it anyway.

Unsurprisingly, the trial was not a success for the accused. The jury found him guilty on all counts and he was sentenced to life in prison for the attempted first-degree murder count. In other words, the result of G.S.’s trial was the least favorable one possible for him. The lawyers he fired literally could not have done worse in terms of outcomes no matter how well or poorly they performed.

When your defense involves you testifying in your trial, the prosecution is almost certainly going to do something called “impeaching” you. Unlike in politics and government, where impeaching often means seeking to remove an official from office, impeaching in this sense means offering proof that casts doubt upon the truthfulness and reliability of the person testifying. Whether or not you’re testifying in your own defense at your criminal trial, one thing you definitely need is representation from a skilled and experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

There are lots of ways in which the prosecution can try to impeach you as a witness in your own defense. In some circumstances, the law may allow the prosecutor to bring up past criminal convictions you have on your record. One of the rules that the law imposes, however, on this type of impeachment is that the conviction’s significance and connection to the alleged crime(s) at hand must be greater than the potential that the information will unfairly bias the jury against you, the defendant. When you hear a TV lawyer or judge talking about evidence whose “risk of unfair prejudice outweighs its probative value,” that’s what they’re talking about.

Here’s a real-life recent case that gives a good example. B.H. was a man on trial for several serious crimes. A shootout in a parking lot in Baltimore left B.H. facing charges of attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, drug possession and several gun crimes. Part of B.H.’s defense was to argue that he did shoot a gun that night, but that he did so in self-defense.

You probably are familiar with the concept of plea bargains in criminal cases. What you may (or may not) know is that when the prosecution and defense reach a plea agreement, the judge isn’t obliged to follow the deal’s terms. So, even once you have worked out a plea deal with the prosecution, it is essential to be prepared for every possible outcome, including the judge not going along with the deal. In other words, you need skilled Maryland criminal defense counsel that can have you prepared for all possibilities.

A recent case from Baltimore County was an example of this scenario. The background to the case was a domestic dispute. H.H. had allegedly gotten into an argument with his girlfriend at her home and, after being escorted out by other men, threatened to “shoot up” the home. A few hours later, three men arrived at the residence, burst through the rear door and shot up the home. Based on these events, the state charged H.H. with 52 counts, including two attempted murder charges, several assault charges and multiple gun crimes.

H.H. pled guilty, as part of a plea deal, to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, and the state nolle prossed the other charges, meaning that it declined to prosecute those other 51 counts. The sentence to which H.H. agreed was 15 years with all but three years suspended. The judge sentenced H.H. not to 15 years with all but three years suspended but to 25 years with all but 13 suspended. In other words, the judge tacked on an extra 10 years. The man asked to withdraw his plea and receive a new trial, but the judge refused.

One of the most important aspects of any defense in a criminal trial is successfully getting evidence that is not admissible under Maryland’s court rules excluded. Inadmissible evidence, particularly certain types of hearsay evidence, can potentially be damaging to your defense, which makes it extraordinarily important to keep that evidence away from the jury when it comes time for their deliberations. That, of course, requires properly opposing the evidence’s admission and then taking the necessary actions if inadmissible evidence is included in your trial. For these and other essential elements of an effective defense, be sure to retain an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

D.W.’s criminal case, which arose from an altercation at a Montgomery County public park, was one where hearsay evidence was a very important piece of the puzzle Allegedly, a drunken D.W. engaged a group of females and small children in unwanted conversation and, eventually, hit a 13-year-old girl in the face. The group returned home and called 911. A Montgomery County police officer interviewed the alleged victim, and did so with his bodycam on.

As a result of the incident, the state charged D.W. with second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and disorderly intoxication. D.W.’s defense, which asserted that the hit was an accidental strike arising from D.W.’s attempt to “play fight,” focused heavily on inconsistencies in the state’s case. Did D.W. punch the girl or hit the girl with a stick? Did he or didn’t he apologize immediately after the impact for striking the girl? Did he say that the strike was an accident?

There are many things that may be worth challenging in court in your criminal case. You may need to contest improperly admitted evidence or you may need to dispute a legally erroneous sentence. Many of these things may require you to make that challenge to the trial judge and, if not successful in the trial court, again on appeal. Raising these challenges in the right way is very important in order to make sure your appeal is not thrown out on procedural grounds, such as a “failure to preserve” an issue for appeal. All of these things are among the many reasons why an in-depth knowledge of proper trial practice is so important, and why you should retain a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney for your case.

Some family gatherings are cheerful events. Regrettably, not all are; some become contentious and even violent. A father gathering in Silver Spring was an example of the latter. A dispute erupted into a physical altercation between two men at the party. D.P., the son of one of the combatants, pulled a gun and started shooting. One man was grazed on his elbow and another was hit, with the bullet lodging near his stomach.

The state brought charges against D.P., including two counts of first-degree assault and two counts of “use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.” At trial, the state’s evidence was strong. The prosecution had five witnesses who testified that they saw D.P. pull a small gun from his waistband and begin shooting at one man and then firing numerous more shots into the backyard. The state also had two forensics experts who gave testimony that all of the bullets found at the scene were consistent with having come from the same .38 handgun.

In a criminal case, it is important to have skilled Maryland defense counsel on your side to help you make sure that you’ve advanced all available arguments regarding errors made by the prosecution and/or by the trial court in your case. Sometimes, the best possible outcome, if you’ve been convicted, is a reversal of that conviction. In other cases, the evidence is just too extensive, and a reduction of your sentence is the best possible result. Even if you can’t get a reversal of your conviction, that does not mean that your case is not still worth fighting for – it is. Sometimes, a successful argument seeking a reduction in a sentence may cut many, many years off the total time you might have otherwise spent incarcerated.

As an example of this notion, take E.B.’s case. The underlying event leading to E.B.’s trial was a domestic dispute. Based on the girlfriend’s statement to police, they obtained a search warrant for E.B.’s residence and, inside, they found the knife used in the alleged attack and some clothes E.B. allegedly cut off the girlfriend’s body during the dispute.

The state charged E.B. with first-degree assault, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment. During the state’s closing argument, the prosecutor referenced the knife and asked the jury, “Can you imagine being choked and having this thing put at your neck?” The jury convicted the man on both assault charges and the reckless endangerment charge.

All criminal trials are governed by certain sets of rules. One of these sets is the rules of evidence. The rules of evidence can be extremely helpful to your case in the hands of a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorney. These rules can be used to keep out evidence that the law says is not admissible and that, if it got into your case, could potentially harm your defense.

When a trial court does allow inadmissible evidence into a defendant’s case, that error may entitle the accused to a new trial. That was the case for Donald, who was standing trial after the state indicted him on six robbery-related charges and four assault-related charges. At trial, the state produced evidence that Donald and an associate met two alleged drug dealers in a parking lot in St. Mary’s County. A physical altercation ensued, in which the drug dealers alleged that they were “jumped.”

A detective involved in the case took the witness stand and testified as to what one of the alleged drug dealers told him in describing the alleged attack. Donald’s lawyer objected to the testimony, but the judge let the police officer proceed. The trial court acquitted on the robbery charges but convicted Donald on all four assault charges. He received a sentence of 60 years with all but 40 years suspended.

Chances are, there are certain U.S. Supreme Court cases with which you’re familiar, even if you don’t realize that you are. If you’ve ever viewed TV police dramas, you’ve probably heard a character give a criminal suspect various instructions like, “You have the right to remain silent…” or “You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed…” These are concepts that were at the center of two rulings from that court in the 1960s. On the other hand, you may not be familiar with the phrase “voir dire” or the important of a 1986 ruling named Batson v. Kentucky, but an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney would be. This court opinion, and its impact on the jury selection process in criminal trials, continues to play an important role today.

James Batson was an African-American man standing trial for burglary in Louisville, Ky. in 1982. The rules of jury selection give each side the option to strike several potential jurors preemptively, which means for any reason at all. The prosecutor used four of his preemptive strikes to eliminate all four of the potential jurors who were African-American. The all-white jury convicted Batson. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that conviction, ruling that allowing such a practice violated the Equal Protection Clause.

In more recent times, a man named Mark stood trial in Baltimore for several crimes related to a late-night shooting in June 2012. Mark eventually stood trial for first-degree assault and weapons charges. During the jury selection process, the prosecutor used three of their preemptory challenges to exclude African-American women under the age of 25.

In 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.

In 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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