When you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in Maryland, there may be multiple different outcomes that could count as a successful resolution of your case. Obviously, one outcome is to be declared not guilty. Another is to have the prosecution drop the case against you. So, what do you do when the state decides to drop the charges against you in the middle of your appeal? That was the situation facing one Anne Arundel County man recently, and his case points the differences between the different ways your case can be resolved, and the relative advantages of each.
The case began at an area mall, where police arrested two suspects whom they found eating at the food court. Inside one of the fast food bags, they found bags believed to contain heroin and cocaine. Later, police found additional drugs on one man’s body during a strip search.
The state charged the man whom the police strip searched with a multitude of drug charges. After making an agreement with prosecutors, the man went to trial on one drug charge (conspiracy to distribute MDMA,) with the state entering a nol pros on all the other charges. The court entered a sentence of four years on that one charge.
The defendant later filed a timely appeal to his conviction. His argument attacked the sufficiency of the state’s evidence against him. These events are not very different from what happens in many cases. What was different was that, while this appeal was pending, the state entered a nol pros on the one charge of which the man had been convicted, and asked the appeals court to dismiss the man’s appeals case.
At this point, the man was released from incarceration and jeopardy had attached to the conspiracy to distribute MDMA charge, so the state could not re-try the man on that. Some people might think that this was a total victory and take no further action. This man and his legal team did not make that mistake, but instead contested the state’s dismissal request.
The state argued to the appeals court that the dismissal should be granted because the appeal was moot. The appeals court rejected this argument, declaring that the appeal was not actually moot. A nol pros was not, as the state argued, the same thing as an acquittal. While the nol pros on the MDMA distribution conspiracy charge meant that the state could never re-file this charge against this man (because jeopardy had attached,) it did not mean that the man was clear of all possible prosecution from the events that had yielded the original prosecution.
The state still had the option of bringing other charges from the events on that day. For example, the police found marijuana on the man’s body during the strip search but never brought any marijuana charges. As things stood, the state was free to charge the man with marijuana crimes. However, if this appeal case went forward to its conclusion, and the appeals court decided that the evidence the police obtained in that search should have been suppressed, then the state would not have any evidence upon which to go forward on a marijuana charge.
The criminal case you or a loved one faces in Maryland can take many twists and turns. To make sure your rights are protected at every step, retain experienced criminal counsel. Maryland criminal defense attorney Anthony A. Fatemi has been working for many years to help people accused of crimes get the best defense possible. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.
More blog posts:
Maryland Court Throws Out Drug Convictions When State Asserted Multiple Charges Based on One Conspiracy, Maryland Criminal Lawyer Blog, Feb. 5, 2017
How Ambiguity Regarding a Police Search Can Get Evidence Excluded in a Maryland Criminal Trial, Maryland Criminal Lawyer Blog, Oct. 7, 2016