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.
At the trial’s conclusion, the jury found M.S. guilty of three crimes: one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or crime of violence, and conspiracy to use a firearm in the commission of a felony or crime of violence. On all other charges, the jury returned a verdict of acquittal.
M.S.’s shrewd defense team recognized that each of these three convictions was flawed. M.S. couldn’t be guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault because the state charged only two people in that alleged conspiracy – M.S. and Q.B. – and the jury acquitted Q.B. (The law says that you cannot be a conspiracy of one so, if you are charged in a conspiracy crime and all of your alleged co-conspirators are acquitted, then that charge cannot stand because it doesn’t fit the legal definition of a conspiracy.).
Only the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or crime of violence and conspiracy to use a firearm in the commission of a felony or crime of violence crimes remained. As M.S.’s legal team recognized and persuasively argued, there was a major problem with these: the jury had acquitted the defendant of all of the underlying crimes of violence and felony crimes that could possibly serve as the foundations for these alleged crimes.
In M.S.’s case, there were certain things that could have constituted valid bases for these crimes, but they were all things that the state did not charge. Because the predicate crimes that could have possibly supported the weapons charge were, in this case, either things that the state did not charge or things that the jury returned a judgment of acquittal, the weapons charge could not stand. This meant that M.S. was not guilty on all charges.
There are many steps that go into a winning criminal defense. Some may be seemingly small and easily overlooked things. That’s why it pays to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer who knows how to “sweat the small stuff.” Count on the knowledgeable Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC to provide that sort of powerful, persuasive, and effective advocacy for you. To learn more, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.