The seriousness of a criminal arrest cannot be overstated, no matter what the severity of the crime. An arrest record or conviction can affect a person’s life in a variety of ways for years to come. And while a felony conviction is typically accompanied by a lengthier sentence and possibly more stigma later on, it is equally important to defend against a misdemeanor charge. If you have been arrested or charged with any type of crime, it is critical that you take steps to prepare a strong defense as early in the process as possible. An experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney will work to protect and preserve your rights at each stage in the proceeding.
The State of Maryland prosecutes misdemeanors and felony cases alike. The laws governing these offenses are codified by section within the state code and set forth certain elements that must be established before a person’s rights can be taken away. In many cases, a jury will determine whether the State has proven that the defendant violated the law within the particular facts and circumstances of a case. This is where a defense attorney comes in: to present a solid defense, either negating an element of the crime, or reducing the severity of the charges.
In a recent Maryland case, a woman was charged with failure to comply with a peace order and resisting arrest. She allegedly was present at another person’s home, on his property, in violation of a peace order. Law enforcement officers testified that when they arrived at the home to arrest her, she resisted, with the use of force. Under the Criminal Code Section 9-408 (b), a person may not intentionally resist a lawful arrest. The State must prove that a law enforcement officer arrested or tried to arrest the defendant, the arrest was lawful, and the defendant refused to submit to the arrest, with force. Courts in Maryland have held that the level of force required to satisfy the law is not high. As for the failure to obey a peace order, Criminal Code Section 3-1508 provides, in pertinent part, that a person who fails to comply with a peace order is guilty of a misdemeanor.
There was some factual question in this case as to whether the woman used the level of force required under the statute. Officers testified that she refused to place her hands behind her back during the arrest and struggled with the officers and kicked and yelled during their attempt to place handcuffs on her. The jury had the opportunity to judge the credibility of the officers’ testimony, as well as the defendant’s. The court of appeals agreed with the jury’s conclusion that there was sufficient evidence that her actions “rose to the level of the amount of force” required under the statute. The court of appeals also agreed that there was sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction of failure to obey a peace order, which in this case was proven by the defendant’s own admission that she entered a certain person’s home in violation of the terms of a peace order.
The woman was ultimately sentenced to 18 months in prison. Despite her efforts to appeal the matter, the court of appeals affirmed the jury’s decision. In many cases, however, an experienced criminal defense attorney, who handles the matter from the moment of arrest, is able to provide a solid defense to the charges. Seeking the counsel of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney is one of the most effective ways to approach any criminal investigation. If you are arrested or charged with a crime, our office will work diligently to develop the best strategy to defend your case. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.
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