Articles Posted in Assault

Courtroom witness standAll 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.

gavelChances 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.

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.

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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nurseThere are several ways to get a criminal conviction in Maryland overturned on appeal. One way is to establish that the prosecution was allowed to introduce improper testimony on an essential issue of the case. This is what happened recently in one rape-and-assault case. A nurse, who was brought in as a lay witness, gave opinion testimony despite never having been authorized as an expert witness. That entitled the defendant to a new trial, according to the Court of Special Appeals’ ruling.

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gavelThere are a great many things that can be changed or altered in a criminal case. The prosecution and the defense can ask the court to amend or reverse many decisions made previously. One situation in which that isn’t true is a judgment of acquittal for insufficient evidence. Once the judge in your case makes that decision, it is the equivalent of a “not guilty” verdict, and the Constitution’s prohibition against double jeopardy means that you can no longer be convicted of that crime. This hard-and-fast rule proved to be the key to a Maryland man escaping an assault charge for an altercation at a Prince George’s County supermarket, as decided recently by the Court of Special Appeals.

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In a Maryland criminal trial, the State must prove the elements of the crime of which the defendant is accused “beyond a reasonable doubt.” A significant aspect of this part of a case involves jury instructions. The judge is legally obligated to give the jury instructions on the elements of the crime (or crimes) for which a person is being tried. These instructions must adhere to local state law, or the ultimate conviction could be overturned. This is just one way a person charged or convicted of a crime may seek legal recourse. To learn more about your rights in a criminal case, it is important to consult with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

The defendant in a recent Maryland case challenged his conviction of involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, reckless endangerment, and affray, claiming (among other things) that the circuit court committed error in instructing the jury on the crime of “affray.” Affray is legally defined as “the fighting together of two or more persons, either by mutual consent or otherwise, in some public place, to the terror of the people.”

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thumb-print-1-1151991Each state enacts rules of evidence that govern the admissibility of various kinds of information and testimony during a court proceeding. Most people have heard of something called “hearsay” – a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Hearsay is typically inadmissible, subject to certain enumerated exceptions. In any criminal case, no matter what the charges, it is important to fully understand the rules of evidence and how they can strengthen one’s defense. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is extremely important that you contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

A recent Maryland case illustrates how knowledge of the hearsay rules can help a person successfully appeal a criminal conviction. In Baker v. State of Maryland, Michael Edward Baker was convicted of various sex offenses, second-degree assault, and impersonating a police officer. According to the victim’s testimony, on July 18, 2013, she had been “prostituting,” and she received a cell phone call from the defendant/appellant seeking to set up a time to meet her. When they met, the defendant showed her a police badge, told her he was a police officer, and forced her to perform certain sexual acts against her will. The victim alleged that the defendant raped her.

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justice-srb-2-1040137-mA person who is arrested or charged with a criminal offense will be entitled to many legal protections throughout the criminal proceedings. It is important to understand the extent of one’s legal rights at each stage of the process. Once a case reaches trial, there are many local state rules of evidence that a court may enforce in order to protect the person charged with a crime. One important example concerns the State’s use of evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts in the pursuit of a conviction. Maryland law is fairly clear on this issue. Evidence of prior criminal acts may not be introduced to prove the guilt of the offense for which the defendant is on trial. As with many evidence rules, there are certain exceptions, the applicability of which will depend on the circumstances of the case. If you have any questions regarding a criminal arrest or charge, it is essential that you contact a Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.

In a recent case, Page v. State of Maryland, Jamal Marcus Page appealed his conviction, arguing (among other things) that the court erred in allowing evidence of an alleged “other assault,” committed by Page against the victim approximately two weeks prior to the charged offense. According to the facts revealed at trial, the victim — Rubearth Nichols — claimed that Page shot him six times and then ran away. He further testified that he had known Page for approximately nine or ten years and identified him, both in and out of court. Nichols further testified that, two weeks before this shooting, he and Page had argued over money and that Page attempted to shoot him then, but his gun jammed. The jury convicted Page of attempted second-degree murder and the use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or crime of violence (among other crimes). He was sentenced to 50 years of incarceration, with 15 years suspended.

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u-s--supreme-court-washington-dc-658255-mUnder Maryland criminal law, a murder that is not “in the first degree” is considered to be “in the second degree.”  And in accordance with established case law, there are four types of second-degree murder. In order to reach a conviction under one type or another, the state must prove the specific elements, depending on the charges. One of the four categories is second-degree felony murder.  Under state law, an underlying felony can warrant a conviction for second-degree felony murder when it is committed in a way that is “dangerous to life.” Like many criminal provisions, the language may be subject to interpretation and application by the court. If you have been arrested or charged with any crime, it is important to be clear about the charges against you and to work quickly to protect your rights and freedom. You are encouraged to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

In a recent criminal case, the victim was allegedly beaten, robbed, and shot by a group of men while he was on his way home from work. Tyshon Jones was one of the four men accused of taking part in these crimes. A jury found him not guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder with the intent to inflict serious bodily harm, armed robbery, and robbery. The jury, however, was unable to reach a verdict regarding the charges of first-degree felony murder and the use of a handgun during the commission of a felony or crime of violence. The court granted a mistrial with respect to the last two charges.

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