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.
There 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.
There 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.
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.”
Each 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.
A 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.
Under 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.
Every stage of a criminal case, from arrest to the final appeal, presents an opportunity to assert one’s rights. The Constitution and local state laws ensure that no citizen may be deprived of these rights unfairly and without due process. Maryland courts are often called upon to interpret various provisions of the state criminal code as it applies to any one particular person alleged to have committed a crime. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, you may be entitled to assert a solid defense to the charges. The most effective course of action is to contact an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.
In a recent case, Wiredu v. State of Maryland, the appellant successfully appealed part of his sentences. According to the facts, Wiredu was driving home on a four-lane road (two southbound and two northbound lanes) when his truck collided with a motorcycle headed in the oncoming lane. Although Wiredu testified that the motorcycle swerved into his lane, an officer witnessed the accident and testified that Wiredu “merged” into the motorcycle’s oncoming lane. The officer’s version of the incident was corroborated by a Baltimore firefighter who also witnessed the accident.
Under Maryland law, a person can be charged with the following three types of second-degree assault: intent to frighten, attempted battery, and battery. Case law sets forth explicit criteria to determine whether a criminal defendant has committed any of these crimes. In order to convict a defendant, the State must offer supporting evidence to satisfy each of the elements. In many criminal cases, the person charged may be able to assert various defenses in order to either negate or reduce the severity of the charges. A criminal arrest is a serious matter and should be handled accordingly. An experienced criminal defense attorney would carefully review your case and prepare the best defense under the circumstances.
In a recent Maryland court of appeals case, the defendant was charged with certain criminal offenses, including second-degree assault of the “intent-to-frighten” type against the victim, Christine Johnson (“Johnson” or “victim”). The facts revealed at trial indicate that the defendant walked up to an apartment and knocked on the door. There was some yelling between the defendant and the person who answered the door. After the door was shut, there were three gunshots. The defendant then returned to the car. Other testimony suggested that he was looking for certain people in the apartment. The police found bullet holes in and above the front door, as well as in the apartment.
In a recent Maryland case, a criminal defendant had fired a rifle towards his ex-girlfriend in a parking garage. She was hiding behind her car. The defendant had moved into his girlfriend’s apartment complex in Bethesda. She wanted to take things more slowly, but he took an apartment in the floor above hers in the same building. He was disappointed by the fact that she didn’t help him move in, and she was not happy about how fast things were progressing. She broke up with him shortly thereafter.
A few nights after that, the defendant saw the victim leaving her place with a male friend. He texted her. He came to her apartment around midnight when she and the friend came back. He didn’t get that she had broken up with him and stayed in the hallway even after they were done talking. She was scared to be alone, so the friend stayed and the defendant texted her through the night.
The victim found that somebody had vandalized her car the night before. The police responded to the call and advised her to get a no-contact order against the defendant. The defendant asked her to withdraw the no-contact order and continued to text her. Continue reading →