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According to the Pew Research Center, nearly all U.S. teens say they use the internet every day, with almost half reporting they are online “almost constantly.” As every parent knows, the internet is a double-edged sword: it is an incredibly useful tool, but it is fraught with potential danger for our children—especially when unsupervised.  

Our client is a high school student in Maryland who, facing difficult mental health issues, found himself in the middle of a “catfishing” scandal. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a report from several internet sites for potential “self-exploitation” by a user. Allegedly, our client used photographs that female classmates posted online to create profiles on various websites and have explicit conversations with others online. As a result of the reports, the police began an investigation. 

Though we opened a line of communication with the State’s Attorney’s Office to prevent charges from being brought, the prosecutor filed a juvenile delinquency petition alleging our client violated Maryland’s identity theft statue, Crim. Law § 8-301(c)(2). That statute makes it a crime to “knowingly and willfully assum[e] the identity of another person…with the fraudulent intent to…obtain a benefit, credit, good, service, or other thing of value.” Prosecutors typically use this statute as a tool to hold defendants accountable for using another’s identity to open a credit card, or other similar offenses. 

After the petition was filed, we analyzed the case law and presented a strong legal defense. Though the conduct seemed reflexively “bad,” the facts did not meet the legal elements of the identity theft statute. Put simply, “value” is an essential element of identity fraud. Parks v. State, 259 Md. App. 109, 120 (2023). Because the punishments for identity theft are premised on theft between $100 and $1,500, “value” necessarily means monetary value. See Md. Crim. Law. § 8-301(g). Effectively marshaling our argument, we convinced the State’s Attorney’s Office that the explicit conversations could not legally satisfy the monetary value element and that their case was insufficient to adjudicate our client as a delinquent. As a result of our advocacy, the prosecutor dismissed the charges at a pre-trial conference, over strong objections by the complainants and their families. 


If you have a juvenile criminal case or investigation that you would like to discuss, or have questions about identity theft in general, please call Eric Bacaj, Esq. at (443) 909-7503. 

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Both criminal and domestic attorneys are frequently confronted with whether domestic violence protective orders or peace orders can be expunged. This is an extremely important question given how readily available court information now is on the internet. Anyone with a computer or even a smart phone can bring up Maryland Judiciary Case Search and find out a person’s entire legal history in seconds. This information is available to potential employers and undoubtedly costs people job opportunities daily. 

That is, of course, unless the person has been able to get the court records expunged. Under the criminal code a person is entitled to have any case expunged that resulted in either a nolle prosequi (a dismissal), a stet (inactive), or a not guilty verdict (also called an acquittal). There are exceptions to this general rule such as a situation in which a person has pending charges or seeks to expunge the entry of a probation before judgement and has a subsequent conviction within three years of that entry.  


But what about a domestic violence protective order or a peace order?  

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Expungement is available only in criminal cases and only in the limited circumstances that I outlined above. What is available is a process called “Shielding,” but it is also available only in limited circumstances and is not nearly as complete a cleansing of the record as is expungement. 

Basically, a person is entitled to have a domestic violence protective order or peace order shielded if it was denied or dismissed at the interim, temporary or final order stage of the proceedings. This right to shielding is subject to limitations such as if there are pending criminal charges from the alleged abuse or another order between the parties has previously been issued. Even if neither of these limiting circumstances applies, the order still can be denied if the Petitioner appears and shows “good cause” to the court as to why the order should not be shielded.  

Additionally, a person can request shielding of a peace order once the order expires. A court may grant the request if the person seeking shielding consented to its entry, did not violate the order, has no other orders issued or pending against them, and has no convictions or pending charges against the person who filed for the peace order.  

Finally, even if the order is shielded, unlike in the case of expungement, certain people may still access the records, including law enforcement officials and victim services providers. Despite the limitations in the shielding statute, it is still something that should be done by anyone to whom shielding is available. The most important result of the shielding process is that if granted, the information will be taken off the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website. This will make the information unavailable to potential employers and others who may use the information to the disadvantage of the person against whom the order was sought.  

At Silverman Thompson, we handle expungement and shielding matters regularly. To discuss having a domestic violence protective order or peace order shielded or criminal charges expunged from you or a loved one’s record, please call Brian Thompson, Esq. at 410-659-9930 for a free consultation. 


If you are looking for a family lawyer, please contact Monica Scherer, Esq. at 410-625-4740.

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This week, the Harford County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed all criminal charges against our client after the entirety of their evidence—incriminating statements coupled with the recovery of more than twelve pounds of cannabis and a loaded firearm—was suppressed by Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt, following a three-hour suppression hearing held earlier this year.

In February 2023, our client was driving a rental car with California license plates and tinted windows when he was pulled over on I-95 for allegedly committing two traffic violations: (i) speeding and (ii) driving through a “gore area” of the Maryland House rest stop (the striped triangular area between the highway and the exit ramp). Upon initiating the traffic stop, the officer ordered our client to exit his vehicle and sit in the officer’s patrol vehicle, while the officer purportedly completed the traffic enforcement paperwork.

After isolating and detaining our client in the patrol vehicle, the officer delayed the traffic stop for several minutes, asking more than a dozen questions unrelated to completing the traffic stop paperwork and without ever advising our client of any Miranda warnings. During the interrogation, our client imprudently revealed that he was a cannabis farmer from California and that he possessed marijuana. Shortly thereafter, the officer asked for permission to search the vehicle, which our client refused.

Ippei Mizuhara, an interpreter for L.A. Dodger’s star Shohei Ohtani, was recently charged by federal authorities in California with one count of bank fraud related to his alleged theft of millions of dollars from Ohtani, which Mizuhara used to bankroll his prolific gambling habit. Though federal investigations often take a long time, the IRS was investigating the illegal gambling ring Mizuhara used to place his bets, so they had a substantial head start on their investigation.

News outlets often report the maximum penalties associated with criminal charges. But the reality is that the maximum penalties are seldom imposed. Instead, federal courts are required by law to calculate a range of imprisonment based on the sentencing guidelines. The federal sentencing guidelines are advisory – meaning the court need not impose a sentence within the guideline range – but they are the starting point for every federal sentence imposed. If a court decides to impose a sentence outside the guideline range, it must provide specific reasons for doing so. As a result, the guidelines provide a far more accurate estimate of the potential penalty that a federal defendant might face.

The guidelines work like a mathematical formula. The facts of the case determine whether certain guidelines apply, and any dispute about the application of the guidelines is resolved by the court at a sentencing hearing. These factors include the criminal history of the defendant, his role in the offense, and whether any aggravating circumstances exist.

The Rights a Defendant Waives: Qualification Guide for Defense Attorneys

As a service to members of the Maryland Bar, below you will find a typical criminal litany given by the defense attorney to the defendant before a guilty plea is accepted. Different lawyers have different styles when advising a defendant of the rights he/she is giving up in exchange for a guilty plea. This framework is typically effective and comprehensive as long as the proper elements and below questions are included.

As an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney, I have essentially given the same litany over 5,000 times in Circuit Courts throughout Maryland, dating back to my days as a felony Public Defender in Baltimore City (1991-1994). There are rare occasions when this litany needs tweaking due to the uniqueness of a particular case, but you should feel confident in using this verbatim in almost all instances.

At Silverman Thompson, we put our experience as former federal prosecutors to work to secure favorable outcomes for our clients. In March 2024, we successfully secured the dismissal of felony charges including armed carjacking, kidnapping, and armed robbery, among a host of related charges, against our client before he even appeared in Court.

What is the Interstate Agreement on Detainers?

The Interstate Agreement on Detainers (“IAD”) is an agreement between 48 states and the District of Columbia that streamlines the resolution of charges pending against sentenced prisoners. Louisiana and Mississippi are the only states that have not adopted the IAD.

What is the maximum penalty for a DUI in Maryland?

The maximum penalty for a DUI in Maryland is 1 year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine for the first offense, and 2 years imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine for a second offense.  See MD Code, Transportation §§ 21-901(a)(1), §27-101. If the offense involves the transportation of a minor, the maximum penalty increases to 5 years imprisonment and/or a $ 5,000 fine.

Do first-time DUI offenders go to jail in Maryland?

Sam Bankman-Fried was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in defrauding users of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX. While this sentence certainly seems harsh, and many commentators are stressing that the harm caused to investors was immense, several important federal sentencing statutes and programs will operate to significantly reduce the amount of time that Bankman-Fried actually spends in jail.

Under the First Step Act, Bankman-Fried will be able to receive “earned time credits” that will likely make him eligible for release from prison after serving 12.5 years. Under this act, inmates, like Bankman-Fried, who are convicted of qualifying fraud offenses and who complete “productive activities” can be eligible for pre-release custody (for example, home detention) at the halfway point of a sentence. The Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) encourages inmate participation in these “productive activities” because they reduce recidivism.

Additionally, federal inmates can earn a reduction in their sentence if they are eligible for and complete the “Residential Drug Abuse Program” or “RDAP.”  The RDAP program is the BOP’s most intensive treatment program in which inmates participate in half-day programming and half-day work, school, or vocational activities lasting nine months. If an inmate successfully completes the RDAP program, they can receive up to a one-year reduction of their prison sentence. In Bankman-Fried’s case, he would receive a one-year reduction of sentence if he completes the RDAP program.

“Moving forward, our office will continue to pursue stiff penalties [for child pornography cases] …”

That was the strong message delivered by Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy on November 20, 2023, following the sentencing of Patrick Wojahn. Wojahn, the former mayor of College Park, pled guilty to 140 counts of possession and/or distribution of child pornography and was subsequently sentenced to 30 years in prison. The prosecutor assigned to that case explained during the sentencing hearing, “The reason why he pled to 140 counts was because our office is not going to take a position as to which child deserves to have their rape—that was memorialized on video and forever lives on the internet—pled to.”

So, you can imagine the angst my client felt when he learned on December 7, 2023—just a little over two weeks after the Wojahn sentencing—that he had been indicted with the same criminal offenses, in the same jurisdiction, by the same prosecutor. Like Wojahn, my client had no prior criminal record, was well-educated, a devoted family man with a good paying job. Yet here he was facing the possibility of decades in prison.

Section 16-303(d) of the Transportation Article of the Maryland Code criminalizes driving while your “license or privilege to drive is revoked in this State.” A new reported opinion from the Appellate Court of Maryland clarifies that to obtain a conviction for driving on a revoked license, the State must prove that the driver knew or was willfully blind to the fact of his or her revocation.

The case, Christian Eric Adkins v. State of Maryland, involved a challenge to the trial court’s refusal to instruct the jury that the State needed to prove that the driver had knowledge of his revocation. Rather than give the instruction, the judge simply read the statute, which does not specifically mention the knowledge element. The Appellate Court of Maryland held that the requested instruction should have been given because the statute requires proof of knowledge to convict.

This is a sound decision as a matter of common sense and prior case law governing similar offenses. The Court relied on cases analyzing Transportation Article, § 16-303(c), which governs the offense of driving on a suspended license.  Those cases interpret the suspension statute as requiring knowledge as an essential element of the offense because “mens rea is required for the charge of driving while suspended.”’ Steward v. State, 218 Md. App. 550, 560 (2014) (quoting State v. McCallum, 321 Md. 451, 457 (1991)).  As explained in Steward, “the State must present evidence that the defendant either had actual knowledge that his or her drivers’ license was suspended, or that the defendant was deliberately ignorant or willfully blind to the suspension.” Id. In fact, Transportation Article § 12-114(a) provides that the MVA will give notice by either personal delivery to the person to be notified or by mail to the person at the address of the person on record with the MVA. Therefore, in the usual case, the State may be able to prove that a driver had knowledge.

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