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.
Anyone who’s watched enough episodes of the courtroom procedural shows on television has inevitably seen it at some point: the episode in which the prosecution’s star expert witness is, at some point, exposed as having lied on the witness stand. This situation of expert witnesses lying on the stand does occur in real life, and, when it does, it is important to understand what that means for a criminal case in Maryland. The state’s Court of Appeals recently ruled that, when a defendant discovers after a trial’s end that one of the state’s experts lied about his credentials, the trial court must analyze what the jury would have done had they known that the expert lied, rather than simply analyze what the jury would have done if they’d never heard the falsehoods.
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.
Throughout a criminal case, from an arrest to a possible conviction and sentencing, the person charged with a crime has multiple opportunities to challenge or defend against the charges, conviction, and ultimate sentence. The United States Constitution guarantees citizens certain protections, covering a broad range of rights. One such right protects a person from multiple punishments (sentences) and trials for the same offense. While the Maryland Constitution does not have this “double jeopardy” provision, case law has upheld these protective principles. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who fully understands the various laws and defenses applicable to your situation.
In a recent Maryland case, a man was convicted of multiple crimes: robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree assault, theft of property valued less than $1,000, and representing a “destructive device” and making a false statement about that device. The court sentenced him to incarceration for two separate and consecutive terms: 20 years for robbery with a dangerous weapon and 10 years for making a false statement about a destructive device. According to the evidence at trial, during the robbery of a shoe store, the defendant claimed that he had a gun and stole money and boots. He allegedly presented the store clerk with a note stating that there was a bomb in a box and that she should wait 30 minutes before calling the police (after he left), or else he would blow up the store.
Every phase of a criminal case is significant. And each part of the proceeding — from arrest to sentencing — must comply with applicable state law. These laws are in place to ensure that people who are accused of a crime are afforded basic constitutional rights, among other things. Under Maryland’s enhanced sentencing statute, if a person is sentenced as a repeat violent offender, he or she could be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Like most criminal statutes, the language may be subject to interpretation depending on the circumstances of a case. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is important to understand your rights as early as possible in the proceedings. An experienced criminal defense attorney would be able to help defend your case with full knowledge of the laws applicable to Maryland cases.
In a recent criminal case, the defendant was arrested for robbing a bank. He was previously convicted for armed robbery in 1991 and 1995 and for robbery in 2001. The State brought the case against the defendant as a “repeat violent offender.” The defendant was convicted of two counts of robbery and sentenced to serve two concurrent terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The defendant appealed, arguing (among other things) that the trial court erred in sentencing him to two life without parole sentences under the Maryland enhanced sentencing statute. He claimed that his previous robbery and armed robbery convictions are not enumerated crimes of violence under § 14-401, and thus he should not have been sentenced as a fourth-time offender.
The State argued that the defendant’s interpretation ignored the clear legislative intent behind the law. The court conducted a thorough review of the enhanced penalty statute, concluding that robbery and armed robbery have always been included in the list of violent crimes that would form the basis for imposing a more severe penalty against repeat offenders. But the defendant argued that two of his previous convictions arose under “common law” and not the statutory provisions cited by § 14-401. The court proceeded to interpret the statutory language and consulted other sources in order to discern the intent of the legislature.
Depending on the circumstances, a defendant charged in a criminal action may be able to assert several different defenses, some of which could result in a reduction of the severity of the charges or an acquittal. In a recent case, the defendant was convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon and multiple related charges. While he raised two defenses, one related to prejudicial hearsay during the trial and another concerning an impermissibly suggestive identification, the court of appeals upheld the convictions. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is extremely important that you contact a Maryland criminal attorney who can review your case to properly respond to the allegations and raise any applicable defenses to protect your rights.
In the case described above, a man and his son arranged to meet the defendant to purchase two cell phones that were advertised on Craigslist. They brought two additional children with them to make the purchase. According to the facts of the case, instead of selling the phones, the defendant told them they were being robbed and pulled a gun out. Defendant allegedly shot one of the would-be purchasers. As the crime was being investigated, the victims identified the defendant as the assailant through photographic identifications. The defendant moved to suppress the identifications in a pre-trial hearing, arguing that the police used “impermissibly suggestive” procedures in securing the identifications. The motions court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress, and he was later convicted at trial of the assorted charges mentioned above.
The defendant appealed his convictions, alleging that the trial court admitted prejudicial hearsay improperly and that the motions court erred in denying his motion to suppress the photographic identifications. The court of appeals rejected both arguments. During the trial, a detective’s testimony improperly referenced certain out-of-court information that connected the appellant to the robbery. The court agreed that it was inadmissible hearsay, but appellant did not move to strike the testimony, nor did he ask for a mistrial. Furthermore, the court gave instructions to the jury that stricken testimony was not to be considered as evidence. The court of appeals concluded that appellant received all the relief that he sought with respect to the inadmissible testimony, and therefore there was no error. Continue reading →