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A few weeks ago I defended Baltimore County Police Officer Christopher Spivey in a use of force assault case.  After listening to 3 days of testimony and evidence, the jury took less than 30 minutes to find him not guilty of all charges.  Then at least six members of the  jury waited around to shake Officer Spivey’s hand and thank him for his 10 years of service to the community as a police

officer.  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-co-spivey-verdict-20170914-story.html

A few days later the Editors of the Sun wrote what I view as an outrageous editorial in which they dismissed the juries’ verdict and all but lamented the fact that there were no demonstrations of social unrest as a result of the acquittal.  Below is a link to the editorial as well as the response that I sent to the paper.  Not surprisingly the editors lacked the journalistic integrity to print my response.

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Representation in cases involving Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography require expertise that only an Aggressive Criminal Law Specialist can provide.  I am a full time Maryland Criminal Attorney and former Baltimore County Assistant State’s Attorney with more than 20 years of experience.  Throughout my career as a prosecutor and full time criminal defense attorney,  I have handled hundreds of cases involving the Possession and/or Distribution of Child Pornography in Baltimore County and across the State.  Over the last 20 years I am aware of no other criminal attorney in the state who has handled more of these cases than I have along with my partner, Former Assistant United State’s Attorney and Chief of the Sex Offense Unit,  Andrew C. White.   As I have written before on this blog, these cases are prosecuted extremely aggressively and often result in substantial state and federal prison sentences.  This is why is is so imperative to hire attorneys who specialize in these types of cases.

Unfortunately, there are many lawyers who advertise for these cases who simply do not possess the necessary experience and expertise to effectively represent people who are charged with these offenses.  I strongly suggest that anyone who is considering hiring a criminal attorney for a case involving child pornography possession or distribution  (or any criminal case for that matter) , research all prospective attorneys on Maryland Case Search.  This is the official court record for all cases filed in Maryland and it does not allow for exaggeration of an attorney’s experience or credentials.

Today, the typical Child Pornography case involves the use of peer to peer,  (P2P) networks such as, Bit Torrent, Shareaza, Gnutella, eDonkey2000 and Kademlia  (commonly referred to as Kad) which allow people using P2P software to download and share files with other people on the network.  A Detective named Reese handles all of these investigations in Baltimore County and he is very good at his job.   In the typical case, the detectives will conduct online investigations using law enforcement investigative software.  When an IP address located in Maryland become associated with a device known to be of investigative interest to child pornography, they will link up with that computer and simultaneously download the material from the Maryland IP address as it is downloading it from the device known to contain child pornography.  Once they have this material, they will research the IP address and draft an application and affidavit for search and seizure warrant.

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As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and full time criminal attorney for over 20 years, I have both prosecuted and defended hundreds of individuals who have been charged with Sex Offenses.  Many, indeed virtually all, people who are convicted with one of these offenses are required to register as a sex offender.   The statute controlling sexual offender registry is complicated and, in recent years, has been amended several times.  I have recently been retained by 3 separate clients who have had their Sexual Offender Registration Requirements retroactively changed as a result of these amendments.  One was not required to register at all as a result of his conviction but is now being told he must, and two others who have had their registration terms changed from 10 years to life.   We believe that these changes are in clear violation of the Ex post Facto Clause contained in Article 17 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights.  We are filing what is called a Declaratory Judgment action in the Circuit Court in each one of these cases to request that the court issue and Order to the Department of Public Safety to remove these individuals from registry.  Here is a brief synopsis of the law:

In 2009, the General Assembly passed a new law, effective October 1, 2009 changing the registration requirements.  The new statute said an offender who committed an offense prior to October 1, 1995, but was convicted after, and had not previously been required to register, now had to register.   In 2010, the statute was again amended changing the registration term for Tier III sex offenders from 10 years to lifetime registration.

In 2013 the Court of Appeal heard the case of Doe v. Department of Public Safety.    In this case, Doe  filed a civil proceeding, seeking declaratory judgment seeking removal of his name from the registry.  That relief was denied by the Circuit Court and Doe appealed to the Court of Special Appeals.  On appeal, he argued that requiring him to register violated his plea agreement and raised an ex post facto argument.  The Court of Special Appeals affirmed the trial court.  The Court of Appeals took certiorari.

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In July I finally resolved a murder case that I have been working on for the better part of 3 years. I received a not guilty on the case in spite of the fact that my client gave a recorded “confession” to the crime.  I am convinced that in spite of his confession, he was indeed an innocent man – and 12 jurors agreed in just over 4 hours of deliberation that he was.  Here are the facts – as I often do I will leave out specific names and locations to protect the privacy of those involved:

In the early morning hours of one day in March of 2013 the police were called to the scene of a single car accident in Baltimore City. Once on the scene, they found an unresponsive adult male slumped over the steering wheel.  They removed him from the vehicle and quickly determined that he had suffered from a single gunshot to the back.  The paramedics worked on him at the scene but  were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police inventoried the contents of the vehicle and found $1200 in cash (mostly in $20 bills) a gold watch, a half consumed bottle of soda and a few other items. The vehicle in question was a 10 year old Mercedes Benz.  It was determined in the initial stages of the investigation that the victim was unemployed and had been for some time.  It was also determined that he had been involved in the distribution of narcotics.  In fact this information was confirmed by his girlfriend.  Finally, a bulletin was very recently circulated to the officers and detectives working this part of the city, that there was a significant uptick in gang related activity (in particular Crip activity) in the area.  I will let the reader draw your own conclusions about the likely circumstances of this shooting but it look fairly obvious to me that it was drug related.

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The client did possess a commercial driver’s license but when he was pulled over for exceeding the speed limit by 15 miles per hour, he was operating his personal vehicle. When the Trooper approached the defendant he smelled of alcohol, had a flushed face and had slurred speech. The Trooper asked him to step out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests. In the opinion of the officer, his performance on the field sobriety tests indicated that he was impaired by alcohol. He was taken into custody and once back at the barracks, agreed to take the breathalyzer. The test result was .11 grams of alcohol per 210 milliliters of breath. The case against the defendant was strong to be sure. The Trooper clearly had probable cause to pull him over as he was exceeding the speed limit by 15 miles per hour. Based on the smell of alcohol, his performance on the field sobriety tests and the Trooper’s other observations, it was also quite clear that the Trooper had probable cause to take him into custody and request that he take a breathalyzer. He blew a .11 which is above the legal limit of .08. The attorney pled his client guilty to the DUI “per se” charge under 21-902A2 of the Motor Vehicle Code. In mitigation, he explained his client’s circumstances to include that he was the father of 3 and the sole breadwinner for the family. He advised that he was a truck driver with a commercial driver’s license. The attorney then requested probation before judgment so that his client “would be able to maintain his CDL and his employment”. The judge granted the request, stuck the guilty verdict and entered probation before judgment. Both the client and the attorney walked out of the courtroom with looks of relief and satisfaction. But did the attorney really do a good job for his client? The answer is no because, presumably due to his lack of experience, he didn’t understand the law. What the inexperienced apparently didn’t understand is that under Maryland Vehicle Law 16-803, even a probation before judgment on 21-902A violation, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, violation results in the mandatory revocation of a person’s commercial driver’s license for a year for the first offense and a permanent revocation for a second or subsequent offense. The fact that he received probation before judgment does not prevent the MVA from suspending his commercial driver’s license as the attorney apparently believed. The appropriate way to handle a case like this would have been to either try to convince the prosecutor to allow the client to plead to the lesser offense of 21-902(B). Under this subsection the defendant would not be subject to having his commercial license revoked. I have convinced prosecutors to do this in these types of cases many times simply because it is more often than not the right thing to do. If the State’s Attorney were unwilling to accommodate, as they usually are in these types of cases, then the case must be taken to trial. The attorney should have moved to suppress the test result and argued to the court that the evidence was sufficient only for the 21902B violation, but not the 21902A violation. These arguments are successfully made on a variety of grounds every day in the district courts of this state. Because this was not done, this client is going to have a rude awakening when he is notified by the MVA that his commercial license and therefore his livelihood will be taken away for a year. Had this client taken the time to do a little research and hired a DUI/DWI specialist, it is highly unlikely that this would have occurred.As an Aggressive and Experienced DUI Attorney, I have represented dozens of Defendants in DUI cases who have commercial driver’s license. These cases pose a unique set of challenges and considerations for Maryland DUI Attorneys as the administrative sanctions associated with commercial driver’s licenses are far different than the sanctions associated with standard Class C driver’s licenses. I have blogged often about the importance of selecting an attorney who specializes in DUI/DWI Defense when charged with this serious offense and this advice is even more applicable to cases involving commercial driver’s licenses. Unfortunately, all too often we see attorneys with little or no experience with these types of cases appearing in court to represent clients. Because of their lack of experience, these attorneys often make mistakes that can have serious consequences for their clients.
Often these attorneys make simple mistakes that no experienced DUI/DWI attorney would ever make. I was representing a client in the District Court of Baltimore County a few days ago. While waiting for my case to be called I witnessed an attorney whom I know not to be a Criminal/DUI Specialist representing a client in a DUI case involving a defendant with a commercial driver’s license. I found out later that this attorney was a so called “general practitioner who spends the majority of his time handle divorce and personal injury matters. In other words, he was NOT a DUI/DWI specialist. Here are the facts.
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As a former Assistant State’s Attorney and current Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney with decades of experience, I have handled scores of cases involving the illegal Possession and Distribution of Child Pornography. These cases can be charged in state court or in federal court where the penalties are far more severe. For this reason, I always team up with my partner Andrew White to work these cases as Andy is a former Federal Prosecutor who headed up the sex offense unit for 7 years. He has been very successful over the years at convincing his former colleagues to defer prosecution in these matters to the state courts. Even in State court, however, These are serious crimes that carry the possibility of a felony conviction and extended prison sentences. It may come as a surprise to some to learn that a even a conviction for Misdemeanor Possession of Child Pornography requires mandatory registration as a Tier I Sex Offender for 15 years. A conviction for Felony Distribution or Possession with the Intent to Distribute Child Pornography requires registration as a Tier II Sex Offender for 25 years.

For many people the prospect of having to register as a Sex Offender can be even more daunting than going to prison. Most people are aware of the terrible society limitations and stigma such a designation can carry including but not limited to: Limitations on where one can live, prohibition from even stepping on the property of their children’s schools, notification of neighbors by the police and inclusion on web sites that includes their pictures and exact locations of their homes. I recently represented a 21 year old man who found himself facing all of these daunting consequences. Here are the facts – as always in these types of cases, I have changed or left out enough identifying facts to protect my client’s anonymity but the facts of the case are completely accurate:
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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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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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As an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneyshttps://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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It seems that Maryland Criminal Attorneys represent people charged in Domestic Violence Assaults with ever increasing frequency these days. As I have noted in the past, police and prosecutors seem to get more and more aggressive in charging and prosecuting these case by the day. In many of these Domestic Violence Assault cases, the alleged victim refuses to cooperate with the prosecution. Alleged victims will often recant the allegations that they made on the date of the incident, refuse to come to court, even when they have be summonsed or, if the couple is married, invoke the marital privilege and refuse to testify.

There are many reasons why alleged victims do this including that the couple has reconciled their relationship, the defendant is the primary breadwinner in the family which often means if he goes to jail his family is devastated financially, or that the charges were fabricated in the first place. It is hard for some to believe that someone would fabricate charges against another person but unfortunately it happens all the time. And I believe that that is exactly what happened in a case I recently had had in the District Court for Baltimore County. Here are the facts:
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