Articles Posted in Child Abuse

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From a criminal defense attorney’s view, it is incomprehensible that Sandusky’s lawyer allowed his client to be interviewed by Bob Costs yesterday. As a father of two children, I am so glad he did because this “alleged” child predator all but guaranteed he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Based on what I heard, Sandusky all but admitted his guilt. Consider this:

COSTAS: Innocent? Completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect?

SANDUSKY: Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact. But – so if you look at it that way – there are things that wouldn’t – you know, would be accurate.
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https://www.mdattorney.com/lawyer-attorney-1300820.htmlBaltimore Maryland Criminal Attorneys have witnessed a troubling trend in Baltimore City pretrial bail rulings for criminal defendants over the past year or two. Both District Court and Circuit Judges have seemingly been locked in a competition with one another to out “tough” one another on bail rulings and the result has been a many fold increase in the bail amounts that has put the city way out of the mainstream on this issue. I’m not just referring to defendants who are charged with murder or rape or defendants with long and violent criminal records. I’m talking about first offenders in misdemeanor cases or garden variety felony cases such as burglary or parental discipline type physical child abuse cases (this was known as a spanking when I was a kid) being held without bail or on bails set so high that they are the functional equivalent of no bail.

Every day in Baltimore City courts, defendants who would be released on their own recognizance or on five or ten thousand dollar bails in any other jurisdiction in the State are held on six figure bails or on my personal favorite, “cash only by defendant only” bails that no virtually no defendant can make. It is clear to many of us in the legal community that the judges who set these particular bails are not anywhere near as interested in fulfilling the stated purposes of the bail statute which is to “ensure that the defendant will not flee or pose a danger to another person or the community” as they are in punishing the hated bail bond industry.

I actually had a conversation with a District Court judge about this issue recently in a bail review hearing in which I tried to point out to the judge that if the person actually were able to make the cash only bail, was released and then failed to appear in court, that there would be no one with an incentive to go out and find him and bring him in. In other words the cash only bail defeats the very purpose of the statute. The judge responded with a dismissive wave of her hand and stated that she “didn’t care about that”. I was literally speechless.

These bail rulings routinely cause defendants whom everyone knows will never be convicted or even if they are convicted will never serve a day in jail on the conviction, to remain incarcerated for weeks or months waiting for the opportunity to exonerate themselves at trial or plead guilty for probation. I may be old fashioned but I still believe that except in extreme cases the government ought not deprive a citizen of his liberty without first proving that he has violated the law.

But perhaps the most insidious consequence of these bail rulings is that defendants very often choose to plead guilty to crimes that they did not commit because the State’s Attorney or the Judge will offer them a sentence of the time they have already served and probation to do so. Defendants in Baltimore City routinely accept these offers because they know that the Circuit Court Docket is so backlogged that it will take 6 months or even a year before they will be able have their day in court. Most people in this situation would plead guilty to the Lindberg baby kidnapping rather than sit in the city jail for another year.

I had a case that amounted to a particularly vivid example of this common occurrence in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City just this week. Here are the facts:
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As a full time Baltimore Maryland Criminal Lawyer/Attorney I handle dozens of Child Abuse cases each year without ever achieving a result as bad as the one that I will discuss in detail in this blog. In this case I was hired only after the client had gone through most of the process with another attorney and was obviously dissatisfied with the result. In these situations I usually tactfully ask the client what if any research they did on their attorney to determine whether he was a criminal law specialist and therefore sufficiently experienced to handle the case. I usually get little more than a blank stare in response as I did in this case. I have blogged about this issue in the past and am continually amazed at the lack of effort some criminal defendants put into the search for a qualified criminal defense attorney. It seems that most people just go to whomever they are referred to or the first name in the phone book and never even bother to ask the attorney about his qualifications much less do any independent research into them.

First, the facts of the case.

The client is a 60 year old naturalized American citizen from the Caribbean. She has lived in this country for over 40 years and prior to this situation had never been charged, much less convicted, with anything more serious than a parking ticket in her life. She has always worked, paid her taxes and raised a family. In other words, she is a solid a citizen as any criminal defense attorney could hope to represent.
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Many Marylanders are often wrongly accused of child abuse. Police and prosecutors are often too quick to rush to judgment and fail to do a complete investigation. In several cases, I have been able to exonerate innocent defendants by obtaining the Social Service records of the alleged child-victim. These sealed records, although sometimes difficult to obtain, often point to the real abuser.

The problem arises when a child shows physical signs of obvious abuse. One case I had involving a teacher being charged with physically abusing a 7 year old student. The school nurse had seen marks on the child and inquired the source. Rather than point the finger at the true abuser-the child’s mother- the child thought it would be simpler to wrongfully accuse a teacher. In the child’s mind, it was better to accuse an innocent teacher (whom the child disliked anyway) than point the finger at the true abuser, who the child otherwise loved and relied upon.

In general, it is unlawful for anyone to divulge information concerning social service records. Maryland law states when records may be divulged. This is not a mandatory provision but a discretionary one.