Articles Posted in Guns

The “rules of the game” in criminal trials are constantly evolving to one degree or another. New decisions from the Appellate Court or Supreme Court — as well as new laws from the legislature — can impact an array of issues relevant to criminal cases, including things like what constitutes a custodial police interrogation (as it relates to a defendant’s constitutional right to counsel,) what degree of reasonable suspicion is necessary for the police to stop someone on the street (in terms of that person’s search and seizure rights,) or what level of blood toxicity is required to constitute legal intoxication. Ensuring that your rights are protected to the fullest is about more than simply having any Maryland criminal defense lawyer, but rather having a skilled and knowledgeable one who is fully up-to-date on all recent changes to the law and how they impact your case.

If one Baltimore delegate has his way, the rules will be changing again — this time, to limit the use of “creative expressions” in criminal trials. This bill comes in the wake of a well-publicized racketeering trial to our south.

Young Thug is a Grammy Award-winning rapper. According to prosecutors in Georgia, he is also the head of an Atlanta-based criminal street gang. The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office put the rapper and 28 associates on trial for 56 criminal counts, including racketeering.

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Generally, this blog discusses court cases where the accused person obtained a favorable result in the Appellate Court or the Supreme Court. L.B. from Baltimore was not one of those people. Nevertheless, we spotlight his case because his actions provide a list of “what not to do” in a traffic stop. These can only harm your position legally and make the task of your skillful Maryland criminal defense lawyer immensely more difficult to avoid a conviction and jail time.

L.B.’s legal troubles began when an officer with the Anne Arundel County Police pulled him over in Severn. The officer initially stopped the man for a non-working license plate light. This traffic violation is a minor one and carries only a small fine.

Once stopped, L.B. exited his car and told the officer he didn’t have his driver’s license. Driving without a license is a more serious offense, but still only a misdemeanor. It can trigger larger fines (up to $500) and as many as five points assessed on your license.

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Some things that are ubiquitous parts of our lives today probably would’ve seemed unimaginable 40, 30, or even 20 years ago. That includes developments like smartphones and social media. As technology evolves, so do the methods law enforcement officers use to pursue criminal suspects. Just as with anything else, though, a search of a social media account has the potential to represent a violation of the accused’s Fourth Amendment rights if it wasn’t backed by a valid search warrant. When it comes to getting illegally obtained evidence suppressed (whether that evidence was housed in something as old-fashioned as a bedroom closet or as modern as a TikTok account,) having representation from an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer often can enhance your chances of success.

Many times, this blog covers criminal issues arising from the Maryland courts. Today, we look at a federal criminal case for its insight into police searches of social media accounts.

According to federal prosecutors, T.R. was a member of the Cruddy Conniving Crutballs (a/k/a “Triple C,”) a Baltimore street gang. In the spring of 2021, federal prosecutors charged T.R. and 14 alleged Triple C members with various racketeering, conspiracy, drug, and gun crimes.

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The rules of evidence say that a party may not use hearsay to prove their case (or disprove the other side’s case,) unless that hearsay evidence falls within one or more of several exceptions laid out in the rules. Parsing these exceptions — and keeping potentially harmful
evidence that falls outside these exceptions out of your trial — is a place where having an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can be vital. Because any criminal trial can come down to what the jury hears — and what they don’t — winning these battles is crucial.

One of those exceptions is something called a “statement against interest.” Maryland Rule 5-804(b)(3) says that hearsay may be admissible if it “so tended to subject the declarant to civil or criminal liability, . . . that a reasonable person in the declarant’s position would not have made the statement unless the person believed it to be true.”

That exception was at the center of a recent drug case from Salisbury. In that case, the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office raided a home in the early morning hours and recovered 69 bags of suspected crack cocaine, 98 suspected bags of heroin, 17 rounds of .40-caliber ammunition, a digital scale, and six cell phones.

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Courts, as well as the legal community, are keenly aware of the challenging job that police officers have, Officers daily make split-second decisions while seeking to keep the neighborhoods they serve safe. They also, however, are charged with “respecting the dignity and Constitutional rights of persons they confront.” Sometimes, even skillful officers acting in good faith can step over the line and stop and/or search someone without a proper legal basis. When that happens and criminal charges come from that stop, knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense lawyers are here to vindicate the rights of those accused people.

This is especially true in neighborhoods that are home to high levels of crime, as a recent weapons case from Southwest Baltimore demonstrates.

Two city police officers, while on foot patrol in a high-crime area, spotted a man who they thought was acting suspiciously. Essentially, what they knew was this: the man, L.B., walked with his right arm swinging “freely” while he kept his left arm “braced against his side.” While the man was inside a convenience store, they spotted a “bulge in the front of his waistband.”

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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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The Sixth Amendment gives each person accused of a crime the right to receive a “speedy trial.” This very general right means some very specific things here in Maryland. The prosecution and the courts have some strict deadlines they are required to meet or else you can use that delay as the basis to get the charges against you thrown out. Whether you need to pursue a speedy trial motion or engage in other procedural maneuvers to protect your rights, the requirements for doing so may be intricate, detailed, and exacting, which is why you should rely on the skills and knowledge of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney.

Statutory law in Maryland says that, absent a good reason, your criminal case has to be brought to trial within 180 days. The starting point of that 180-day time period is the earlier of the first time you are brought before the judge or the first time your attorney appears in court to state his/her representation of you in the case.

Sometimes, the procedural tactics of the prosecution can impact that speedy trial deadline, as one recent case illustrated. The accused, S.W., was arrested and charged with various drug and firearm offenses. The grand jury indictment, in that case, occurred on Sept. 18, 2018. After the state later discovered fentanyl in the drugs, the prosecutors dismissed all the charges in the first indictment. The grand jury returned a second indictment on Jan. 22, 2019, that added four new counts covering the fentanyl.

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Events from outside Maryland have once again placed into the national spotlight the issues of police stops of citizens and the bases the police use for initiating an encounter with someone. One important thing to know is that, in this state, the police must have a legitimate basis for stopping you and, if they lack that legitimate reason, then any potentially incriminating evidence they find on you may be excluded from your criminal trial. An experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer can help you succeed in these kinds of evidence suppression and other critical arguments.

Here in Maryland, there is strong caselaw upholding citizens’ freedom from being accosted and searched by the police without a reasonable basis. The police still cross that line, though, which is why it is necessary to have skilled legal counsel on your side to get wrongfully seized evidence thrown out when you stand trial.

A weapons and drugs case from Baltimore illustrates this well. In October 2018, a Baltimore police officer was patrolling a mall when he noticed J.M., who had on “slim fitted cargo shorts.” Inside one of the pockets, J.M. had something large that “appeared to slide back and forth.” J.M. allegedly was walking with a stiff right arm to help keep the object inside the pocket from moving. J.M. also allegedly tapped his pocket occasionally “as if to make sure” the object was still there.

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Sometimes, a successful defense in a criminal case is like the reverse of building a house of cards or one of those tower-building puzzle games. The prosecution’s job is to build a case based on proven facts that satisfy the requirements of the crime(s) charged. On the defense side, defeating that prosecution may be a matter of removing one or two items, and then allowing the entire structure to collapse. Even if you’ve been caught in some tough circumstances, the right Maryland criminal defense attorney potentially can help you do just that and get the acquittal and/or dismissal you need.

M.S. was someone who seemed to be facing that sort of difficult circumstance in his criminal case. After a late-night verbal dispute inside a restaurant, a drive-by shooting occurred in the parking lot outside the restaurant. According to the state, M.S. was the driver and Q.B. was the shooter. The shots hit no one.

The state charged M.S. and Q.B. with several counts of attempted murder, first-degree assault, and “use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or crime of violence.” The prosecution also pursued charges of conspiracy connected to each of those three crimes.

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