Articles Posted in Armed Robbery

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One of the most difficult areas of the law facing criminal trial lawyers is handling eyewitness identifications, both in and out of the courtroom. There is no doubt that eyewitness identifications are often one of the most powerful pieces of evidence against a criminal defendant. They are also extremely unreliable, especially when the identification is the result of a police “show-up” — a procedure where a single criminal suspect is paraded before a witness who is then asked to make an identification. More often than not, the witness is brought by police to see the single criminal suspect being held by the police and under circumstances suggesting that the police have captured the right man. There is often a palpable pressure on the victim to identify the suspect simply because it will please the police.

Unfortunately, Maryland courts have made it extremely difficult for defendants to suppress bad eyewitness identifications. In 2006, the Maryland Court of Appeals in Jones v. State, 395 Md. 97 (2006) ruled that judges must evaluate eyewitness identifications in two stages. The first is whether the police procedures used in the identification were “impermissibly suggestive.” If it is not, then judges must end the inquiry and cannot consider whether the identification itself was reliable. The burden lies with the defendant to establish a “prima facie” case that the procedures were police procedures were fatally flawed. If the defense can show that the police procedures were inappropriate, then the burden shifts to the prosecutor to show by clear and convincing evidence that the identification was reliable.

The job of convincing a Judge that the police procedures were improper is even more difficult given that police officers will rarely admit to doing anything wrong.

But skilled defense lawyers can often convince judges to look at unreliability of the identification as an indicator that the identification procedures had to have been flawed. A recent case handled by the Maryland criminal defense attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White (“STSW”) https://www.mdattorney.comillustrates this point.
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An experienced Maryland Criminal Attorney must have a thorough understanding of the defense of coercion and duress which is also called a necessity defense. I represented a defendant in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County Maryland today in which I investigated a necessity defense but ultimately concluded that such a defense was not viable under the particular facts of this case. Before going into the facts of my case today, here is a synopsis of the coercion and duress or necessity defense.

It is a defense to all crimes other than the taking of a life of an innocent person that the defendant acted under coercion or duress. The most common defense of this type is self-defense or its cousin, defense of others. It also applies to situtions where a person is coerced into committing a crime by an imminent and impending threat of death or serious bodily injury if the act is not committed. There also must not have been an opportunity to escape. If there was a legitmate opportunity to escape that is not acted upon, then the defense is not available. This is essentially the situation that I was faced with in my case and why I was unable to use the duress and coercion or necessity defense.
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Maryland Criminal Attorney – Maryland Criminal Lawyer – Baltimore Criminal Attorney – Baltimore Criminal Lawyer – I had a client today who is 16 years old and is alleged to have committed a robbery with a knife. He is charged as an adult which was confusing and disturbing to both him and his parents. I explained to them that a juvenile can be charged as an adult in the first instance (that is original jurisdiction vests with the Circuit Court) if the person is charged with second degree murder, second or third degree sex offenses, second or third degree rape, most handgun charges, armed robbery, kidnapping, involuntary manslaughter, carjacking, first degree assault, attempted murder, robbery or rape or any other felony if the juvenile has been previously adjudicated as an adult. A child of the age of 14 or 15 will also be charged in the first instance as an adult if he or she is charged with an offense which carries either life imprisonment or the death penalty if committed by an adult which includes first degree murder, first degree rape or sexual offense or any attempts of these offenses. Also in any other case a 15 year old can be tried as an adult if the court grants the State’s motion for waiver of jurisdiction. The State will sometimes file these motions for cases of possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, heroin, marijuana or other drugs or other felonies if the juvenile has a particularly bad record. Once this motion is filed the court will order the Department of Juvenile Services to conduct a study of the juvenile and will make it’s determination as to whether to order the case to be transferred to the adult system based on five factors: the age of the child, the mental an physical condition of the child, the child’s ameniability to treatment, the nature of the offense and the child’s participation in it and the public safety.
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