One of the techniques that the state can use in prosecuting you in a criminal matter is layering multiple charges based off one single incident. That way, they hope, even if the prosecutor can’t convict you for murder, the state may still land a conviction for, say, weapons charges. One of the keys, then, to mounting the most successful defense possible in a circumstance like this is having what you need to counter as many of these myriad charges as possible. To make sure you have the most powerful and aggressive defense you can muster, be sure you have an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney standing up for you.
Here’s a real-life example of how this can work. C.M. was a man who was facing a criminal case involving multiple charges. According to the state, C.M. drove M.J. to a Baltimore apartment complex, where M.J. shot T.W. multiple times as T.W. rode his bicycle.
C.M. faced first-degree murder, second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. The state also included four alleged gun crimes in the case. The matter went to a jury, and the jury found the defendant not guilty on all of the murder-related charges and on one gun charge. Presumably, the defense had enough evidence on its side to create reasonable doubt, or prosecution lacked sufficient factual evidence to warrant a guilty verdict on those four charges.
The jury convicted on three lesser gun crimes, including “possessing a firearm after conviction of a disqualifying crime.” C.M. appealed. He did so because he recognized that there was a factual shortcoming in the state’s case. The appeals court agreed with the accused, concluding that “there was insufficient evidence to support [C.M.]’s conviction of possession of a firearm by a disqualified person.”
Specifically, the appeals court, after looking at the case, determined that the only way that C.M. could be guilty of the crime in question was if he had what the law calls “constructive possession” of the weapon at issue in the case. There are several types of evidence that can tend to show that you had constructive possession of a firearm. These include:
- Having an ownership interest in the property from which the gun was recovered.
- The firearm’s being in close physical proximity to you.
- Your having actually possessed or used the weapon for your benefit.
So, for example, if you owned the car or truck from which the police recovered the gun at issue, then that might be proof of constructive possession. Something similar applies to a gun found just a few feet away from you.
In C.M.’s case, the state didn’t have enough of any of these forms of proof. The state never proved that C.M. had actual possession of a gun, and the state never proved that C.M. “knowingly had a handgun on him.” In fact, the evidence at trial never established the C.M. even knew that a shooting was going to occur. Based on that lack of evidence, the law required reversing the conviction on that gun charge.
To protect your rights to the best extent possible, be sure you have a powerful advocate on your side. Contact experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney Anthony A. Fatemi, who has been effectively representing the accused in Maryland for many years. To learn more, contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.