Posted On: January 29, 2009

Can the State prosecute a domestic violence assault case without the victim in Maryland

Any experienced criminal attorney in Maryland will tell you that the answer to this question is yes, at least in cases where the State has evidence other than the testimony of the alleged victim. In fact, in a non-domestic violence assault case that was recently decided by the Court of Appeals, Edmund v. State, the Court held that the State need not even identify the victim by name. The only requirement, according to the COA is that the victim be "substantially identified".
In the Edmund case, which incidentally I tried in the Baltimore County Circuit Court for the trial of this case, the defendant was alleged to have fired 5 shots from a handgun at nearly point blank range at a man whom the defendant claimed had been bullying him for some time. Remarkably, the victim was apparently not hit and he fled the scene. The police canvassed the area and checked the local hospitals with negative results. The police recovered the gun and shell casings and my client and his brother (a correctional officer) both gave written statements describing the incident. My client was indictment on attempted first degree murder, first degree assault and various handgun offenses.

In the charging document the alleged victim was only identified as a black male, five feet eight inches tall with a beard and a mustache. The COA held that there was simply no requirement that the victim be named or even identified beyond the vague description contained in the indictment and upheld his conviction. The good news for my client is that he was facing life in prison but I secured him a sentence of just eight years. He'll be home in four.

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Posted On: January 16, 2009

Fourth Time DUI/DWI Offender Successfully Defended

Maryland DUI Attorney. I had a somewhat interesting DUI/DWI case with a client who was repeat offender yesterday in the District Court for Baltimore County. My client, who is from West Virginia, was charged with DUI and DWI. The facts of the case were that he was travelling Westbound on Pulaski Highway in Baltimore County, Maryland at approximately 12:15AM on the morning of September 12, 2008. He and a friend were visiting other friends in Maryland and were staying at a motel on Pulaski Highway. They had gone out to dinner and then to a "Gentleman's Club" and were returning back to the motel.

The motel was located on the East side of Pulaski Highway which is a divided four lane road with two lanes in each direction and a cement barrier separating the lanes. My client and his friend were not intimately familiar with the area and it was dark. They inadvertently passed by the motel and had to proceed approximately a half mile further West on Pulaski to reach the first break in the median. Here, there was a dedicated left turn lane and no signs prohibiting either a left turn or a u-turn.

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Posted On: January 14, 2009

Driving While Suspended- What to do Prior to your Court Date

Driving on a Suspended License is one of the most common charges that causes people to appear in the District Court in Maryland. I appear as a criminal defense attorney almost on a daily bases in these cases. Many first offenders are surprised to find out that a person can actually go to jail for driving while suspended, even if suspended for what seems to be a relatively minor reason. Before I get into what a person should do prior to court if they are charged with driving while suspended in Maryland, let me first describe the most common reasons why a person's license might be suspended and the penalties associated with each type.

By far the most common reason that a person may end up having his license suspended is for failure to appear in the District Court for a minor traffic violation. Anyone who has ever been to minor traffic court knows that many people fail to appear for their court date. When someone fails to appear in court, even for something as minor as a seat belt ticket, the Motor Vehicle Administration is notified and the person's license is suspended. In Maryland the maximum penalty for driving while suspended for this reason is 60 days in jail and a fine of $500. A person's license can also be suspended for failing to pay a fine or failing to appear in court for a ticket received in another state. This did not used to be the case. It used to be that the person's privilege would only be suspended in the state in which that person failed to pay the fine. Today under what is known as the Interstate Compact, the state in which the person is licensed will be notified of the failure to pay the fine or of the failure to appear in court by the state where the violation occurred and the person's license is suspended.

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Posted On: January 7, 2009

How widespread is police brutality or excessive force

Rarely does a day go by during which I don't have one of my clients or potential clients complain of police brutality or excessive force by the police. In fact, the opposite is almost true. That is it is rare these days when clients tell me that the police effected their arrests in a professional and respectful manner and without resorting to the use of unnecessary excessive force.

So it came as no surprise to me to read in today's edition of USA Today a survey of 315 emergency room physicians found that an astounding 98% percent of them believed that some of their patients had been the victims of excessive force at the hands of the police. Think about that - 98%? You can't get 98% of people in a survey to agree that the Earth is round and here we have almost unanimity amongst a large group of emergency physicians across the country that the police use and more often than not, get away with using, excessive force.

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Posted On: January 6, 2009

What are the elements of theft in Maryland

Theft is one of the most common crimes, if not the most common, charged in Maryland and tried by Maryland Criminal Attorneys. Excluding complicated fraud and white collar thefts, most of these cases are run of the mill in terms of the facts, the law and the outcome and rarely pose much of an intellectual challenge for the attorneys handling the case. I had a theft case this morning, however, in Baltimore City Circuit Court that had a rather unique issue that posed a bit of a challenge and made the case much more interesting that the average theft case. First the law.

There are only two elements to the crime of theft and they are both simple and logical. The elements are that property must be taken from another and that it must be taken with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property. The issue in the case went to element number two, whether or not my client intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property in question. The specific issue involved, and was ultimately resolved upon, a somewhat arcane legal concept known as asportation. Essentially what it means is that there must be an attempt by a would be thief to carry the property away from the area where the property was originally taken in order to complete the crime of theft. In other words it is not sufficient for the State to prove that the alleged thief merely took possession of the property that did not belong to him without the permission of the owner; there is the additional requirement that the State prove that the alleged thief moved the property from its original location or at least made an attempt to do so. More on the law in a moment but first, here are the facts of the case:

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