Posted On: September 29, 2009

Vehicular Homicide and the Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Accident

A recent article about a man who may be charged for fleeing the scene of an auto accident that killed a pedestrian in Anne Arundel County raises many questions regarding the legal penalties surrounding vehicular manslaughter, especially when such an act takes place in a hit-and-run situation and/or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In this particular incident, police have said that prescription drug use may have been a contributing factor that led the 26-year old driver to lose control of his Dodge Caravan, strike a woman that had been standing on a nearby sidewalk and drive away from the scene. The suspected vehicle driven during the accident has been found by law enforcement officers.

Although the article didn’t specify the exact charges being brought against the driver in this incident, it can be speculated, based on the circumstances surrounding this case, that the driver may be charged with vehicular manslaughter and operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. The penalties for these charges can include significant prison time and hefty fines. If it is determined that the driver was operating his vehicle under the influence of drugs, additional prison time could be added. These charges could all be on top of other criminal charges or traffic violations associated with a particular incident, such as driving with a suspended license. Being suspected of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death may also contribute to an increase in punishment.

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Posted On: September 24, 2009

MD Lawmakers Discuss Juvenile Treatment Facility Reform

A topic of much discussion lately in the state of Maryland relates to problems regulating violent and abusive behavior against employees at the Department of Juvenile Service’s highest-security treatment facility. The Baltimore Sun reported in an article on June 22, 2009 that Maryland Lawmakers plan to have hearings this fall regarding the facility and what improvements need to be made.

Juvenile reform is much needed as multiple reports revealed that the facility is not well prepared to handle its young offenders. In fact, an escape in May that came after a violent assault on employees at the Victor Cullen Center was even cited. A report organized by Maryland’s independent juvenile services monitor concluded that, as the state’s only locked treatment facility for teenage boys convicted of crimes, the center is not rehabilitating some of its most threatening juveniles, therefore not serving its purpose.

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Posted On: September 22, 2009

Mother Pleads Guilty to First-Degree Murder: Judge Decides She Was Legally Sane

After a two-day trial which focused entirely on the testimonies of two state psychiatrists regarding the mental state of a Kent Island woman accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter, a Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court judge ruled that she was legally sane when she murdered her youngest child. The judge considered the statements from the hearing, which circulated around the doctors’ opinions and how they reached those conclusions regarding the defendant’s mental health. Now the woman may be sentenced to life in prison when she is sentenced on September 28, 2009.

The accused pleaded guilty to first-degree murder but claimed to not be “criminally responsible” for the killing due to being so depressed that she could not control her actions or thoughts. Stating that she knew it was wrong to poison her daughter, it was also reported that the woman suffered from a major depressive disorder and previously attempted to kill herself.

In this particular homicide case in Maryland, the jury did not decide if the Kent Island woman suffered from insanity; instead, it was the judge. During the course of the first day of trial, the psychiatrists testified that the accused revealed her plans to kill her daughter to a nurse practitioner at the family doctor’s office. The psychiatrists also said that the defendant was able to control herself in almost every other part of her life.

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Posted On: September 17, 2009

Worcester County May Ban the Hallucinogen Salvia

It may surprise many Maryland residents that a hallucinogen is in fact legal both in our state and throughout the rest of the U.S. However a statewide ban on the hallucinogen, salvia, is waiting to be passed by the Maryland General Assembly. This ban may not come soon enough for Worcester County. According to a recent report, the County Commissioners introduced a bill to ban salvia in all of Worcester County. Decision on the bill will be made during a public hearing during which it will be decided whether or not emergency legislation should pass. If the bill is passed on September 1, 2009, it will go into effect right away.

The recent efforts to ban salvia are not the first Maryland has seen. A Mid-Shore Maryland State Senator last year sponsored a bill to criminalize salvia that turned out to be unsuccessful at getting the herb on the list of Schedule I drugs, those which are illegal to both possess and sell. The Senator referred to salvia as “one of the most powerful natural grown hallucinogens known to mankind…as powerful as psilocybin mushrooms.”

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Posted On: September 15, 2009

Howard County Homicide at Assisted Living Community is First of 2009

According to a recent article, an 87-year-old man from Columbia has been charged with the first homicide in Howard County this year. Commonly associated with being an affluent and safe city, the main centers of Howard County, Columbia and Ellicott City, were named together as 4th in Money Magazine’s “America’s Best Places to Live.” This secure reputation is undoubtedly shaken by the recent assault and homicide incident that took place at an assisted living community in Columbia. The elderly suspect is a resident of the nursing home whom Police believe began striking a fellow resident in the head without having been provoked. Any sort of motive for his actions is unknown at this time.

According to the article, the victim was 91-years-old and his cause of death was reported to be death caused by head trauma. The classification of his death was deemed homicide. Investigators do not think that the suspect and the victim knew each other. The 87-year-old suspect has been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and second-degree assault. The last homicide in Howard County was in October 2008, with a total of four homicides having taken place in the county that year.

Although it is unknown at this time what prompted the alleged assault, investigators may examine the mental health of the suspect, especially since the attack took place very abruptly and at random.

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Posted On: September 10, 2009

Extra Padding a Bust: Woman at BWI Caught with Cocaine in Bra

A woman was recently caught trying to smuggle 2 pounds and 9 ounces of cocaine from Jamaica into Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The 35-year-old District woman split the cocaine into two packages and hid the large amount of drugs in her bra; one of the less invasive ways in which people try to transport drugs, but a common attempt at trickery that customs officials seem to be highly aware of.

According to a Customs and Border Protection port Director for the Port of Baltimore, “Narcotics smugglers will go to great lengths to conceal their dangerous drugs, and this is another unique concealment method…unfortunately for her, it wasn’t so unique that it fooled our highly trained officers even for a second.”

Although it has not been released at this time as to what charges the woman will face, she is likely to be accused of possession of cocaine, drug trafficking, intent to distribute, and even felony drug charges. All of these offenses have the potential to impose drastic changes in a person’s life, with consequences that may include lengthy sentencing with a slim opportunity for parole, fines amounting to thousands of dollars that can land one in debt, and years or even decades of incarceration. Additionally, undocumented individuals may also face deportation if convicted of drug offenses.

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