Articles Posted in Evidence

Hearsay evidence is generally inadmissible. Hearsay evidence also can be incredibly harmful to an accused person in a criminal case. It can fill in crucial gaps in the state’s case or work to bolster the credibility of a key prosecution witness. Hearsay evidence doesn’t just exclude itself; it requires a well-timed and well-articulated motion by the defense. When it comes to accomplishing this and other crucial goals of your defense, make sure you have a skilled Maryland criminal defense lawyer advocating for you.

The theft and assault case of a Baltimore-area woman is a good example. S.S. was on trial for assault and for stealing $300-$500 of merchandise at a party supplies store.

The case arose after the store’s assistant manager allegedly spotted the accused woman stuffing numerous party favor balls into a “really big purse.” The manager confronted S.S. at the store’s exit, at which point the accused allegedly kicked the manager in the leg. Later, S.S. allegedly punched a cashier in the face.

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A lot of people who face criminal charges have, at some point in the past, had interactions with the criminal justice system. However, when you’re on trial, the law requires that the state build a case against you based on the crime charged, not on whether or not you did less-than-perfect things in your past. That’s why the law generally says that “prior bad acts” can’t be used in your trial. Understanding this and all the other legal rules that exist to protect you from an unfair prosecution is part of having a truly powerful defense. It’s also a crucial reason why it’s well worthwhile to have a knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side.

W.W. was one of those people. In 2017, he allegedly assisted a District Heights woman with modifying her mortgage. He told her he would serve as her lawyer and obtain the modification she sought. Over the course of that business relationship, he collected $3,495 for various expenses.

W.W., however, was not an attorney, and the woman’s home eventually ended up in foreclosure. The state charged W.W. with engaging in a theft scheme of more than $1,500 but less than $25,000.

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As we noted earlier this month, many drug arrests start as traffic stops. In addition, a lot of drug arrests stem from encounters where the police stop an individual and eventually engage in a search of that individual’s person. Unless the interaction was completely voluntary (such as a situation where the police informed you that you were free to leave,) that stop may implicate your Fourth Amendment rights, and any evidence obtained in that search may be illegally obtained if the police lacked the required degree of reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Contesting illegal searches and getting illegally obtained evidence suppressed is often a key component of success in criminal defense, especially in weapons or drug cases. Having the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side is an essential part of maximizing your chances of success in this type of motion.

A drug case from last year involving a search conducted at a shopping mall highlights many of the considerations involved in this kind of case. The incident began when two local police detectives patrolling the Brooklyn Park Shopping Plaza noticed a man, A.G., who had been banned from the plaza based on suspected drug dealing.

When they caught up to A.G., D.S. was standing at his side. The detectives asked to search A.G. and he consented. At that point, D.S. volunteered to allow the detectives to search his pockets. During the latter search, police discovered an object beneath one of the teen’s pockets. Upon further searching, the police found 26 vials of crack cocaine.

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Many drug “busts” by police officers start as traffic stops. While most are conducted within the bounds of the law, a substantial percentage of them are not. In those instances, the pulled-over driver is subjected to a search and/or seizure that violates constitutional protections. When that happens, the search is illegal and the evidence obtained is subject to suppression in any ensuing trial. To get that evidence suppressed, though, you’ll need to make a motion and win an argument before the judge. When it comes to doing this (and all the other essential tasks of a criminal defense) successfully, make sure you’ve got the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side.

As an example, there’s this drug case upon which the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Maryland, the Carolinas, and two other states) recently ruled.

The minor traffic violation, in this case, was tinted windows. A local police officer stopped H.D., suspecting that the man’s windows were illegally dark. While the officer was speaking with backup officers who had arrived subsequently, the suspect drove away.

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This blog spends a lot of time talking about police searches. That’s no accident. A lot of arrests and criminal trials arise because the police stopped somebody, searched them, then found something on them that the state uses as the basis for a prosecution. One of the biggest keys to avoiding that conviction often is showing that the police had no right to stop you in the first place, which means none of the evidence they obtained in that search is usable against you. This essential attack is one of the many areas where having the right Maryland criminal defense lawyer on your side can make all the difference.

Take, for example, the criminal prosecution of D.S. in Prince George’s County. D.S., a Washington, D.C. man, was hanging around four other men and a dice game in Brentwood. Officers in marked vehicles approached. An officer asked the men if they had “anything illegal” on them. D.S. indicated that he had roughly one ounce of marijuana in his possession.

The officer then did a pat-down search. At that time, he found a gun in D.S.’s waistband. Based on that interaction, the state charged D.S. with several gun charges and also possession of marijuana.

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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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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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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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