November 11, 2014

Self Defense - Defense of Others

As a Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney, I regularly represent defendants who are charged with Assault in the First Degree and Assault in the Second Degree. These are extremely serious offenses under Maryland Law carrying maximum sentences of 25 year for the felony and up to 10 years for the misdemeanor charge.

As I have discussed in previous blogs, it is a common misperception amongst many of my clients that the doctrine of self defense is not recognized under Maryland Law. This is simply untrue. The doctrines of self-defense, and its close cousin, "defense of others", are recognized in Maryland as well as every other State in the Union. In fact, I successfully defended a client in Baltimore City District Court utilizing both of these defenses just last week. My client was charged with Second Degree Assault resulting from an altercation he had with another motorist after a traffic incident. Here are the facts:

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November 7, 2014

Possession With Intent To Distribute CDS Defendant Successfully Defended

As a Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney for almost 20 years I have long recognized that when defending people you must not let the perfect result become the enemy of the good result, particularly when dealing with serious felonies such as possession with the intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances. I watch far too many inexperienced or simply ineffective attorneys treat criminal defense as if it is a zero sum game in which every case must result in either total vindication or total devastation for the client.

The truth of the matter is that in many cases, a properly prepared defense attorney with a well analyzed and prepared defense, can negotiate a resolution that is more than satisfactory to the client without exposing her to the risks of taking the case to trial. In many cases, if the prosecutor can be convinced that there are legitimate defenses to the case that may cause her to lose her case entirely, she may reduce her plea offer to something the defendant is willing to accept or even dismiss the case altogether. I had an excellent example of just such a situation play out last week in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. Here are the facts:

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November 4, 2014

Confession Supressed in Murder Case - Client Released Pending Appeal by State

As an Aggressive Maryland Criminal Attorney for almost 20 years I have handled hundreds if not thousands of criminal cases in which my client is alleged to have made an incriminating statement or a confession to the police. For obvious reasons, these statements are devastating to the defense and under most circumstances all but ensure a conviction.

Typically the only available strategy in these situations is to file a motion to suppress the statement alleging some violation of the defendant's Constitutional Rights in the taking of the statement. Unfortunately for criminal defendants, these statements are rarely suppressed by trial judges, particularly when they are given after the defendant is advised of his Miranda rights and the statement is recorded. But that is exactly what happened in this case. Here are the facts:

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October 24, 2014

Attorneys Gaming Attorney Rating Websites

As a Baltimore Criminal Attorney with 20 years of experience I have represented thousands of people charged in criminal cases in District and Circuit Courts throughout the State. As a result of my experience, reviews of my clients and industry recognition - that is, recognition from other experienced criminal attorneys, I have earned very high ratings from attorney rating services such as Avvo and Superlawyers.

Unfortunately, I was shocked to recently learn that some inexperienced lawyers, have managed to game the system to get ratings similar to those given to highly experienced attorneys. I will discuss how specifically how I found this out below but, anyone who searches for an attorney using a rating service should carefully scrutinize the attorney qualifications of the attorney starting with how long the attorney has been practicing. This information should also be cross checked by searching the attorney on Maryland Judiciary Case Search. This website is maintained by the State and contains accurate information concerning an attorneys appearances in court. In other words, this is the court record and it doesn't lie. Here is how I found out about this situation:


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October 1, 2014

Gun Range Prosecution of Married Couple

Most Criminal Attorneys in Baltimore County Maryland are familiar with the so call "gun range cases" that have been charged in Balitmore County for the last several years. These cases are viewed as controversial by many, including the writer, as they tend to look more an effort to build gun prosecution statistics than legitimate efforts by the police to protect the community from gun weilding convicted criminals. As I have described in the past, these are very serious offenses that can in certain circumstances subject the person charged to minimum mandatory 5 year prison terms.

This past week I was able to successfully resolve two serparate matters involving husband and wife co-defendants, one in which the duo were charged in two separate jurisdictions. The facts of the two cases were nearly identical:

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September 23, 2014

As an Aggressive Maryland Criminal Lawyer, I have represented hundreds of defendants charged with Possession with the Intent to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substances over the past 16 years. These are very serious cases, often involving complicated Fourth Amendment, illegal search and seizure issues. They are also cases that can carry lengthy mandatory sentences that must be served without the possibility of parole, particularly for repeat offenders. It is imperative that a person charged with one of these serious offenses take the time and care to ensure that they are represented by an attorney who has both the experience and the expertise to handle such a case. I strongly recommend that as in the case of being diagnosed with a serious illness, someone charged with a Felony such as Possession with the Intent to Distribute, should seek out at least two opinions from an attorney who is a specialists in both criminal law and the jurisdiction in which the person is charged.

I have blogged many times in the past about situations in which people find that they are being represented by an attorney who is not qualified to handle their case. Sometimes the individual is fortunate enough to find out before the case goes to trial. Others don't realize the mistake until they walk out a different door than the one they came in accompanied by two armed deputy sheriff's.

I was recently retained by an individual who figured out that he did not have the right lawyer just before his trial date. He is a repeat offender but has an extremely defensible case. Luckily for him, we were able to secure a postponement of his trial date to explore those defenses. Below is the memorandum of law we filed in support of our motion to suppress evidence based on the Fourth Amendment violations. We believe that their is a high probability that the evidence in this case will be suppressed. Even if the State prevails on those issues, the drugs in question were found in a secret compartment of a car that my client was driving but does not own so it is difficult to see how the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he possessed those drugs at all, much less that he possessed them with the intent to distribute them. In spite of all of this, my client's previous lawyer, who is not a criminal specialist, told him he should plead guilty to a mandatory 10 year prison sentence!
Here is the memorandum. I have removed the names, date and location of the offense to safeguard my client's privacy.

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April 4, 2014

Baltimore Gun Range Handgun Cases Increasing in Frequency

In Baltimore County, the Police are increasingly resorting to investigating and ultimately arresting citizens who simply go to gun ranges such as Continental Arms in Timonium or Freestate in Middle River. As an criminal defense attorney with 20 years of experience, I have represented dozens of people who have been charged in these case, probably more than any other lawyer in Baltimore. These investigations and prosecutions are deeply troubling to me as they are nothing more than a shameless attempt to build up the police statistics for firearms prosecutions and confiscations.

The overwhelming majority of the citizens involved in these cases have only misdemeanor convictions that, more often than not, date back a decade or longer. These folks are hard working, law abiding citizens who generally speaking have no idea that they are in violation of the law by going to a gun range and renting a gun to take target practice. Most believe that if their prior records cause any prohibition at all, it is only on ownership of weapons, not simply shooting one in a controlled environment such as a gun range. To make these investigations even more troublesome and, in my view, counterproductive to the stated goal of law enforcement which is to protect and serve the community, the police utilize "ruse interviews" (everyone else just calls it plain old lying) to entrap their targets into incriminating themselves. It is difficult to believe that the police don't understand what a corrosive impact the use of scorched earth tactics such as these have on their relationship with the community they purport to serve. I was recently contacted by a Baltimore County couple that were the target of one of these investigations. I think it is a particularly egregious case. Here are the facts:


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March 22, 2014

Managing Parallel Criminal and Civil Proceedings: Beware of Waiving Privilege

Companies and attorneys should be wary when turning documents over to a governmental entity while in an adversarial relationship, even when a signed confidentiality agreement is in place. The risks associated with doing so took center stage last summer in a civil defamation case, Gruss v. Zwirn, when United States District Judge Paul Gardephe ruled that Zwirn Entities waived the attorney-client privilege when it disclosed portions of witness statements to the SEC as part of an internal investigation.

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March 15, 2014

Dewey & LeBoeuf Partners Indicted

Former top officials of the prominent global law firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, were indicted last week for deceiving banks and hiding the firm’s true financial condition from creditors, investors, auditors, and even its own partners. The lengthy indictment paints an elaborate accounting fraud where executives and financial professionals desperately tried to avert financial disaster. In short, the criminal charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney allege a massive scheme to “cook the books” where the defendants falsified financial records submitted to banks and investors to demonstrate that the firm had complied with existing loans and therefore was worthy of further investor loans. The charges also allege the defendants made fraudulent accounting entries to support these phony representations.

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December 13, 2013

Sexual Offense Case Involving Sex with Underage Victim Successfully Resolved

As an Aggressive Baltimore Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney I have represented hundreds of people charged with Sex Offenses. Many of these case deal with adults (typically men) having sexual contact with underage victims (typically girls) - so call Statutory Rape Cases - although Maryland Law does not use that specific terminology. The basic rule is that if a child is under the age of 16 - which is the age of consent in Maryland - it is illegal for an adult who is at least 4 years older than the child to have an form of sexual contact with the child. These crimes are prosecuted very aggressively throughout Maryland and typically result in jail time as well as requirement to register as a sexual offender for 15 to 25 years or even for life.

What makes these cases even more difficult to defend is that they are so called "Strict Liability" offenses, which means that it does not matter if the adult was aware that the child was underage. This applies even in circumstances in which the child affirmatively lies about or conceals her age. As unfair as this may sound, it is the law in Maryland and in many other states. It also does not matter who initiates the sexual contact. The adult will be held liable even if he was aggressively pursued by the child to have sex. I successfully resolved a case that falls into this latter description last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court. Here are the facts:

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November 27, 2013

Does Maryland Law Recognize Self-Defense?

As a Former Assistant State's Attorney and Baltimore Maryland Criminal Attorney for almost 20 years, I have prosecuted and defended thousands of people charged with Second Degree Assault and/or First Degree Assault. For reasons that I cannot understand, there is a very common misperception in the general population and even with some in law enforcement, that Maryland does not recognize the concept of Self-Defense. This is simply not the law. The State of Maryland and every other State for that matter, absolutely does recognize the legal doctrines known to every first grader as Self-Defense and Defense of Others.

The right of people to defend themselves against violent attack goes back at least to English common law and probably as long as people have gathered together in organized societies. It is an obvious fundamental human right so it is difficult to understand how how widespread this misunderstanding has become in Maryland. The only theory I can come up with is that people are confusing the concept of a Mutual Affray which Maryland does not technically recognize with the universally recognized theory of Self-Defense. I had a client come in and meet with me this week that I think illustrates this misunderstanding of Maryland Law on this subject well. Here are the facts:

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November 25, 2013

Continental Arms Handun Possession Case Demonstrates that in Criminal Cases, As In Medicine, An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

As an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneyshttp://criminal.mdattorney.com/lawyer-attorney-1741744.html we often witness people make the big mistake of representing themselves in criminal court. The old adage is, "he who represents himself, has a fool for a client". Truer words have never been spoken, particularly when dealing with criminal charges

The typical scenario is that someone is arrested and charged in a case that that they view as minor or at least something that they can handle themselves. Sometimes it actually works out and the person gets away with the mistake. Sometimes it blows up in their face immediately and they know it. But sometimes the mistake is latent and the person doesn't realize how badly he messed up his life until years later. I had a case last week in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County in which my client was charged with Illegal Handgun Possession that fell into this last category. Fortunately, I was able to successfully resolve the current case but not before it cost the defendant far more than it would have cost to resolve the original matter had he contacted me then. And I was unable to undue the original conviction which will continue to cause collateral consequences for my client for many years to come and perhaps for the rest of his life. Here are the facts:

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