New Maryland Laws Affecting Criminal Cases Went into Effect October 1st

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.

Another new law, Senate Bill 583, relates to the use of DNA evidence. Here, the law is intended to broaden the group of people who are permitted to petition a court for DNA testing, or for a log or database search, after a person has been convicted of a violent crime. Such crimes include (but are not limited to) sexual assault, murder, carjacking, robbery, abduction, and child abuse. Specifically, the law clarifies what scientific identification evidence the State of Maryland is required to preserve under specified circumstances. This new law could serve to make access to DNA evidence more widely available.

Yet another new law, Senate Bill 456, addresses the use of medical marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Here, the law serves to protect legitimate users of medical marijuana by requiring a court to dismiss charges of possession of marijuana or related drug paraphernalia if one is able to prove that the drugs possessed are needed for medical purposes. In order to invoke the protections of this new provision, any person in possession of marijuana must have a prescription or an order from a provider.

Finally, it is important to note that under new House Bill 430, drunk drivers who are involved in deadly vehicle accidents will face tougher penalties. The new law provides that a driver with a .08 or higher blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”), who is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in another person’s death, will have their driving privileges suspended for varying degrees of time, depending on the number of offenses incurred. For example, driving privileges will be suspended for six months if it is a person’s first offense, and one year for subsequent offenses. Furthermore, keep in mind that suspensions will increase for drivers who have a .15 or higher BAC to one year for a first offense and a revocation of a driver’s license for subsequent offenses. The law also increases existing penalties for “negligent” driving, depending on the driver’s level of intoxication and number of prior offenses.

Clearly, there have been many changes in the laws affecting criminal cases. If you have been arrested, charged, or convicted of a crime, you are encouraged to seek the assistance of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney who can interpret the laws that are applicable to your situation. Anthony A. Fatemi has extensive experience handling criminal defense cases throughout Maryland.  Our office can work diligently to develop a strong strategy to defend your case. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

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