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  1. Criminal Law Topic: Assault and Battery

    As soon as you are released or soon after you are charged with Assault, you need to contact an assault defense attorney in the jurisdiction where you were charged. It is important to retain an attorney right away so all details from the incident can be accounted for.

    There are varying degrees with the assault and battery charge. Charges differ based on the type of contact or threat and whether the victim suffered serious injury. Charges can range from misdemeanor offenses to felonies. There are also more serious charges like first-degree assault, a felony charge involving “serious physical injury”, which is defined in Maryland as creating a substantial risk of death, or actually causing permanent disfigurement, impairment of an organ, or the loss of function of any bodily member or organ. All felony assault in Maryland requires the prosecution to prove that the injuries sustained were intentional.

    For any criminal charge you should be represented by an attorney, even if you are a first time offender. In many cases, a lawyer who specializes in criminal defense will be able to look into the circumstances of your case, review the relevant facts, and develop a defense in your favor. Individuals are protected with certain Constitutional and statutory rights. When an individual undertakes self-representation they ay waive rights, and compromise their chances to obtain a not guilty finding.

  2. Criminal Law Topic: Drug Possession

    Drug possession charges are the most frequently seen criminal charges in Maryland courts. However, their prevalence doesn’t make them any less serious. These charges have the potential to negatively impact your life, your reputation, and ultimately take away your freedom. They can have serious consequences on a person’s future including getting turned down for job offers, losing scholarships, not being able to sign a lease, and being denied for loans. While you may understand the basics of criminal court, a local criminal defense attorney is often your best advocate.

    It is important to notice that almost all possession charges have the same consequences. If you have been charged for possession of a hallucinogen, such as ecstasy or MDMA, you can be charged with a felony, up to 4 years in prison, and a $25,000 fine. The same penalties accompany a possession charge for drugs such as cocaine, Vicodin, or Oxycontin. The maximum sentence for marijuana possession (without intention to distribute) is one year in prison.

    Many drug possession arrests and charges are made without valid reason to search by the police. It is common for drug arrests to be the result of illegal searches and seizures, in which case criminal defense lawyers can build a strong defense for the accused. In these cases, there could also be a motion to suppress evidence. With this motion, a lawyer could protect you and your rights and possibly minimize penalties. With a good defense attorney, arguments can be made to make you a candidate for alternate punishments to prison, such as probation or community service.

    Subsequent offenses of drug possession can result in double the penalties of a first time offender. This means, up to 8 years in prison for most drugs and up to a $50,000 fine. In these cases, you should retain a criminal defense attorney who will be able to investigate your arrest

  3. Criminal Law Topic: DUI/DWI

    There is strong public policy against drinking and driving. There are frequent changes to the law, making the penalties and consequences increasingly more and more severe. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of the offense. Even a first time DWI offense, without an underlying accident, can result in fines, incarceration, a revoked driver’s license, a criminal record, and possibly more. The offense can not be erased from your record. It is recommended to seek additional help from an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable in the area. There are remedial measures that can be taken BEFORE you go to court to minimize the penalties that will be imposed. It is crucially important to be proactive. You should contact an attorney immediately and follow the advice given.

    In the State of Maryland, a DUI (“Driving Under the Influence”) charge can result in more severe penalties than a DWI (“Driving While Impaired”) charge. You will receive a DUI if your BAC is .08 % or above, and a DWI if your BAC is between .07% and .08%.

    A 1st offense conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines upon conviction. Subsequent DUI offenses are prosecuted more aggressively and carry more serious charges and penalties. Charges and penalties are not only based on the number of offenses, but on the actual crime as well. Special circumstances that would carry a more severe charge and harsher penalties involve causing an injury or killing another while operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    Since a DWI is a criminal offense, it is taken very seriously. If you are convicted for the DWI, it will remain on your criminal record forever. In order to deter you from committing DWI offenses in the future, prosecution will try to punish you to the full extent of the law, even if the law enforcement made a mistake at the time of your arrest.
    If you refuse to submit a blood or breath test when you are pulled over and under suspicion of a DWI, the Motor Vehicle Administration will likely impose strict consequences which could include you losing your driving privileges.

    DUI or DWI cases can be very complicated, but knowledgeable defense lawyers understand that much of a drunk driving case is based on one perspective. Being arrested for DUI of alcohol or drugs takes a specifically prescribed process, within which mistakes can be made on the part of law enforcement. It may be a police officer’s job to keep Maryland’s roads safe from drunk and impaired drivers, but it is a defense attorney’s job to make sure the police officer does not charge intoxication or impairment when none exists.
    Hiring an attorney for an impaired driving case can help reduce charges based on various factors such as; whether it is a first or repeated offense, whether the law enforcement officer followed correct procedure, what the driver’s actual BAC level was, whether the driver caused an injury accident (and its severity) and whether the driver caused a fatal accident.

    If you have a prior impaired driving conviction, it is best to consult and attorney. Secondary offenses and future offenses will dramatically increase the amount of fines and the length of incarceration and license suspension. Many jurisdictions will enforce more serious penalties on repeat offenders than on first time offenders. In these cases, the help of a specialist could make sure you are protected by your rights.

  4. Criminal Law Topic: Shoplifting

    If you are arrested for shoplifting and you have a clean record; meaning no prior offenses, it is still a good idea to retain an attorney. Thee are several actions that an individual should undertake before going to court on a shoplifting charge that may lessen the penalties imposed in court. Maryland law may offer some first-time offenders the opportunity to enter a pre-trial diversion program which will avoid prosecution of the criminal charges.
    A minor will have an easier time getting their shoplifting case dismissed and their charges dropped under HYTA. HYTA is a sealed record; the case will be on your record for one year and then the offense will be dismissed.

    Theft under $500 will typically result in a misdemeanor. A person convicted of misdemeanor theft is subject to a period of 18 months of incarceration and a fine not to exceed $500. In addition, this misdemeanor offense can have a negative impact on your career in the future. Theft over $500 can be tried as a felony in Maryland. This can have very serious consequences such as up to 15 years in prison, fines of up to $25,000, and a permanent criminal record.
    You may have to pay civil penalties. These are costs which include damages and the value of up to twice the cost of the stolen merchandise. In this case, the penalty is separate from any criminal penalties you may also receive and is decided by the merchant.
    If your criminal record is clean or this is your first shoplifting offense, you should be prepared for diversions and plea bargains in court. Diversions could incorporate, instead of jail time or fines, court-ordered community service, probation, or restitution. Plea bargains are offered by the prosecution. The bargain can have reduced charges and minimized penalties in exchange for admission of guilt.

    An attorney could be able to reduce the charges you face through investigation into the details of your case. In some cases, a shoplifting charge can be reduced to an infraction, which is comparable to the severity of a traffic ticket. An attorney can also explore alternate sentencing programs or expungements which can possibly help you to keep a clean record. If you were wrongly accused or the police did not follow proper procedure during your arrest, the use of an attorney may be vital in having your case dismissed or invalidated in court.

    If you have a history of shoplifting, prosecution is more likely to seek the maximum penalties. In this case, it is best to seek the help of an attorney who is specialized in this area. Help from a professional could be crucial in minimizing court-ordered fines and jail time.

  5. DUI - How many points will I get on my driver’s license?

    A conviction of “driving while impaired”, which results from a conviction of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of less than .08, you will get 8 points on your license.

    A conviction of “driving under the influence”, which results from a conviction with a BAC of .08 or higher, you will get 12 points on your license.

    If you are convicted of multiple charges arising from the same occurrence, you will receive points only. A license is suspended when an individual accumulates 8 points. A license is revoked when 12 points are accumulated. The MVA must issue a “Notice of Revocation” that must be served on the individual by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice must advise the individual that they must request a hearing within ten days if they would like to be heard. Failure by the MVA to provide the required notice may provide a basis for avoiding the suspension. If you receive a “Notice of Revocation”, you should request a hearing immediately and employ counsel. Feel free to call us for a free 15 minute consultation.

  6. Reasonable Doubt

    The standard for proving guilt in a criminal case is "beyond a reasonable doubt" which is very high standard to meet. As a practical matter, this high standard means that judges and jurors are supposed to resolve all doubts in the defendant’s favor. With such a high burden of proof, a common defense is to argue that there is reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.

    Sometimes, a defendant can avoid punishment even if the prosecutor shows without out a doubt that the defendant committed the crime. Self-defense is an example of this situation. Self-defense is usually asserted by someone charged with a crime of violence. The defendant admits that he or she did commit the crime, but claims it was justified because of the other person’s threatening actions. Self-defense can be difficult to prove, and if the facts are not clear, it is a defense that is used with caution, because the defendant is admitting he or she committed the alleged act.
    The most important aspect of criminal law to remember is that the burden of proving a crime is on the prosecution. Therefore, if you are charged with a crime, you do not have to prove your innocence, although it sometimes seems as if that is the case. To find out more information about a specific crime, please call us for a free 15 minute consultation.

  7. Criminal Justice System

    The criminal justice system in Maryland affects nearly every individual at some point in his or her lifetime. Contact with the system ranges from a mere traffic ticket to incarcerable offenses. In Maryland, a crime is any behavior that is punishable by incarceration or fine or both. The legislature determines which acts are considered criminal and then these acts are divided into two categories, namely felonies and misdemeanors. This division is based on the potential punishment. If the act is punishable only by a fine, such as a parking ticket, it is usually not considered a crime.

    To be charged with a crime is to be formally accused of that crime. Police officers begin the charging process with an arrest or a citation. The police then send copies of their reports to the State’s Attorney, who then decides what charges, if any should be filed. The State’s Attorney is permitted to examine all circumstances of the case, including the suspect’s past criminal record, when determining whether charges should be filed.

    If you have been arrested, it is important that you take immediate steps to minimize the consequences that you will face in court. It is important to be proactive; you can make a difference and lessen the impact of the crime. If you would like assistance in handling a criminal matter, please come see us for a free 15 minute consultation.

  8. Drinking and Driving Offences

    Drinking and Driving offences are taken very seriously in Maryland and can result in the loss of your driving privileges, as well as incarceration. If you are charged with a drinking and driving offense, your license will be immediately suspended and you will be issued a temporary license. You will be required to appear at an Administrative Hearing conducted by the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). At the hearing, the length of the suspension and whether you will be allowed restricted driving privileges during the suspension period will be determined. Restricted driving privileges are allowed for travel to and from work, and travel to and from alcohol treatment/education. You must prove at the hearing that you are taking the violation seriously, that you are not a threat to the public, that you need your license to commute to and from work, and that you need your license to commute to and from the alcohol education/treatment center.

    If you have been charged with a drinking and driving violation, we can help. Feel free to call us for a free 15 minute consultation.