Maryland Criminal Attorneys/Lawyers are often called upon to defend people in cases involving assaults on police officers and in matters involving perverted practice charges. Rarely are we called upon to represent someone charged with both of these offenses in the same case. I had such a case in Baltimore County District Court this week. The facts of the case are really quite humorous, although until this week when the cases were stetted, my client’s failed to see the humor.
My client’s are a married couple whom I will refer to as John and Jane in this blog to protect their privacy. John is in his early forties and Jane, who never took his last name, is in her mid fifties. Neither has ever been in any trouble with the law in their lives. John is in the printing business and Jane has been a school teacher for 30 years. They have been happily married for about 15 years.
One evening they decided to go out for a little entertainment to “spice up” their love life. To that end they went to a local strip club where they each had a single drink and spent about an hour watching the performers. When they got out to their car they began to kiss and one thing led to another….. At about the same time a couple of undercover vice detectives arrived on the scene just in time to see John and Jane exit the nightclub and get into their car. Within a few minutes on John was visible in the car although Jane had not exited it ( I will leave it up to your imagination what was transpiring). At this point the police approached the car and rapped on the window identifying themselves, at least according to them, as Baltimore County Police Detectives. According to John they did not so identify themselves and were not in uniform or displaying badges or anything else identifying them as police officers. Fearing that he was about to be robbed or worse he started the vehicle and pealed out of the parking lot. One of the detectives was struck by the back end of the vehicle throwing him off balance but he was not knocked to the ground and was not injured.
The detectives put out a call and my clients were stopped about a mile down the road by a marked police unit. My client’s stopped their car immediately and were cooperative in every way with the investigation. John and Jane explained to the detectives that they were married and that they did not hear them identify themselves as police officers. The detectives did not believe that they were married as they did not have the same last name, although their ID’s both listed the same home address. They charged them both with perverted practice and charged John with both first and second degree assault.
The case was set for trial this week in Essex District Court. The prosecutor who was assigned to the case was persuaded by seeing the couple’s marriage license to drop the perverted practice charge against both but indicated her intention to prosecute the assault count against John. I advised her that I believed she had an intent issue given that my clients would both testify that the police did not identify themselves and the undisputed fact that they were not in uniform but she refused to budge. Ultimately, I convinced the prosecutor to agree to drop the charge if I could get the cop to agree which is a tactic I employ regularly. I have always tried and I believe succeeded, to maintain a good rapport with the police, at least in part for these situations. There are many criminal attorneys who have such a bad relationship with the police that the officers won’t even speak to them much less do them a favor. My philosophy is that a good criminal defense attorney must be able to do his job without creating bad blood with the police or the prosecutors because if you do so they will be much more willing to do you a favor, particularly in a minor case like this one, than if you do not. After proving to the officer that my clients were indeed married and explaining their misunderstanding as to the identity of the police, he agreed to drop the charges. I still believe that I would have been successful in securing an acquittal had the case gone to trial but there is always risk when you take a case to trial. Sometimes, as in this case, a little diplomacy with the State’s Attorney and the police can shield the client from that risk.