Articles Posted in Post Conviction Relief

Laws affecting criminal cases are continuously evolving, granting (and in some cases, limiting) certain rights. Some of these laws are intended to provide a person who has been convicted of a crime with rights they formerly did not have. The importance of staying abreast of the most current changes in the criminal law arena cannot be overstated. Anyone facing a criminal arrest or related charges must act quickly to prepare a defense. The most efficient way to do so is with the assistance of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney, someone who keeps track of the laws and how they affect criminal cases.

According to an recent article in the Maryland Reporter, as of this past October 1, 2015, several enacted Maryland laws will go into effect. They cover areas such as criminal expungement, DNA evidence, medical marijuana, and drunk driving. Knowing the intricacies of each law can help one to prepare an appropriate and useful defense. For example, one of the latest provisions, also known as Senate Bill 651, permits people who have been convicted of crimes to petition the court for expungement, if the act at the heart of the conviction is no longer a crime in Maryland. Expungement means that a person convicted of a crime would be able to “obliterate” it from their record.

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The journalists from “This American Life,” a public radio broadcast, recently created the hugely popular podcast, “Serial,” which “aired” last fall. According to their website, Serial presents one story (a true story), over sequential episodes. For its inaugural “season”, the journalists at Serial chose the 1999 murder of a Woodlawn High School student, Hae Min Lee. Her high school ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was convicted of murdering Hae Min and is currently serving a life sentence in a West Maryland correctional facility. In some recent legal developments, a Maryland court has agreed to permit an appeal in Syed’s case.

This past January, a Baltimore circuit court denied Syed’s petition for post conviction relief. The most recent decision by the Court of Special Appeals reverses that decision and essentially allows Syed to appeal the denial. Post conviction relief is different than a direct appeal from a trial court ruling. Under Maryland law, a person convicted of a crime at trial has a right to appeal that court’s ruling. In such instances, the Court of Special Appeals is obligated to hear the “appellant’s” challenge of the trial court’s decision. A petition for post conviction relief is different, in that the person convicted of a crime is not necessarily entitled to an appeal. One must file with the court an “Application for Leave to Appeal,” essentially asking for permission to appeal. The court has full discretion as to whether to grant the appeal.

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