June 18, 2013

NIJ Report: Ignoring Eyewitness Rules Results in Wrongful Convictions

According to a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) report obtained by USA TODAY, the mishandling of witnesses during the suspect identification process is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions in the U.S. The majority of law enforcement agencies have not adopted federal guidelines that have long been in existence.

As reported by USA Today and published by Cincinnati.com on June 11, ignoring eyewitness rules results in wrongful convictions. A total of 75 percent of wrongful convictions which are later overturned through DNA testing are the fault of flaws in the eyewitness identification process. More than 300 convictions have been overturned through DNA testing since 1989.

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June 12, 2013

Maryland DNA Policy Upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

As reported by thebaynet.com, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Maryland’s DNA Collection Act. In this past congressional session, Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that repeals the ending of Maryland’s DNA law.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was on Maryland’s DNA case — Maryland v. King. Governor O’Malley said that the ruling by the Supreme Court is significant due to the fact that it legitimizes one important weapon against violent crimes in the state.

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April 8, 2013

Investigation Underway in Calvert Shooting Death

The man who shot and killed one of two alleged intruders outside his Huntingtown home was in fear of being killed, according to Calvert County Sheriff Mike Evans. The shooting occurred on March 31 at around 10:30 p.m., according to the police report. As reported by thebaynet.com, the shooting happened on Harlequin Court near a private residence.

Sheriff Evans told reporters that the man who feared for his life was a retired, Washington D.C. police officer himself. According to the preliminary investigation by the Calvert Investigative Team (CIT) the home owner was inside his home at the time and heard a loud knock or banging on his front door. Before opening the door, the resident found his handgun. When he opened the door, he saw two people. Both acted aggressively and made threatening statements. One had a weapon, which he proceeded to brandish. The resident was afraid of losing his life, so he shot at the suspects. One was hit and fell dead near the home’s driveway. The other suspect left the scene of the incident in a vehicle.

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April 8, 2013

Sex Offender Wanted for Home Invasion

Public assistance is being requested by the St. Mary’s County Bureau of Criminal Investigations in locating a Mechanicsville man who is wanted on charges of home invasions. Courtesy of Southern Maryland News Net, the home invasion happened on March 18 near Leonardtown. According to the arrest warrant, the accused has been charged with multiple offenses of home invasion.

The accused was convicted of a sex crime involving a minor in 2009. He was sentenced to seven years jail time with all but 18 months suspended. Additionally, the suspect was convicted of first degree burglary in 2009, which resulted in a five year prison sentence. Only 18 months were served after the rest of the sentence was suspended.

The St. Mary’s County criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Alpert Schreyer believe that all who are accused of facing criminal charges deserve a fair trial and the chance to protect their future. Facing the legal system can be a daunting task. We pursue the best possible outcome in each individual case while protecting our client’s rights.

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January 18, 2013

FBI Reports Crime Increases across United States

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report for the time period between January and June 2012 and it reveals that, as a nation, law enforcement agencies reported general increase of criminal offenses.

According to the preliminary report, law enforcement agencies nationwide reported a 1.9 percent increase in incidents of violent crime as compared to the same time period in 2011. Included within the category of “violent crime” as determined by the FBI are murder, robbery, forcible rape, and aggravated assault.

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January 9, 2013

New Law Allows Non-Violent Offenders in Maryland to Reduce Time under Supervision

A new law took effect with the New Year in Maryland, giving non-violent offenders the chance to decrease the amount of time they must spend under the supervision of a parole or probation officer with consistent good behavior. According to an article in The Washington Times, as much as two-thirds of supervision time may be taken off. This does not mean that the offender cuts his or her time on probation or parole, however. It only affects the time spent under supervision.

While some critics think the new law is soft on crime, supporters believe that it will not only give non-violent, low-risk offenders incentive to keep out of trouble, but will also relieve the burden on overworked parole and probation officers. The disproportionate ratio between case workers and offenders in Maryland (1:188) has been an ongoing and costly issue.

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December 11, 2012

MS-13 Gang Has Strong Presence in MD, Government Takes Aim at Group’s Finances

According to a Silver Spring Patch report, the federal government has a new tool in the fight against the violent gang MS-13, which has a strong presence in Montgomery and Prince George’s County in Maryland. In October, the violent gang was the first criminal street gang to be named a transnational criminal organization by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and this designation allows the government to seize the assets of the group and freeze property. This designation also states that anyone who conducts business with the gang may be sanctioned and face federal prosecution.

The supervisor of the Montgomery County Police Department's gang unit says the designation is important because it strikes at the gang’s finances, an essential part in “taking down gangs.”

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November 29, 2012

St. Mary’s County Police Create Initiatives to Prevent Holiday Crimes

With the recently celebrated Thanksgiving holiday, individuals and families across Maryland are excitedly preparing to celebrate the remainder of the holiday season. In order to ensure the safety of the residents in St. Mary’s County during the holidays, the St. Mary’s County Sherriff’s Office, in cooperation with the Maryland State Police – Leonardtown Barrack, have created various initiatives to prevent holiday-related crimes beginning Thanksgiving Day and continuing through the New Year. The goal of these Holiday Safety and Crime Prevention initiatives is to ensure that everyone has a safe holiday season.

As reported by TheBayNet.com, the prevention initiatives are in place to deter criminal activities likely to take place during the holidays, such as shoplifting, robberies, and thefts from motor vehicles. Local law enforcement is increasing both uniformed and plainclothes foot patrols in shopping centers as well as utilizing marked, unmarked, and covert police vehicles to keep holiday shoppers safe and ensure a safe shopping experience.

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November 13, 2012

Rev. Jesse Jackson Joins Fight Against New Youth Jail in Baltimore, Leads Rally of Hundreds

The Baltimore Sun reports that activists opposed to the building of a new $70 million juvenile detention facility held a rally in downtown Baltimore with the Reverend Jesse Jackson joining the fight. The planned 120-bed facility would hold teens who have been charged as adults. Currently such teens are now held in the Baltimore City Detention Center alongside older inmates charged with felonies. The poor conditions in the facility, such as stifling heat and assaults, were documented in the Sun, and Governor Martin O’ Malley said the plans for the new facility in Baltimore were part of an effort to move the juvenile offenders from the poor conditions.

Youth advocates have agreed that the juveniles in the detention center were not being treated appropriately, but the plans to build the new facility have been panned by a majority of City Council members and a number of state legislators, many of who attended the downtown rally. Activists assert that the current situation could be improved at the existing facility eliminating the need to spend $70 million on a new facility, and that the money could be better used to help steer youth away from crime.

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September 24, 2012

Lawmakers in MD Request Law be Upheld that Allows for DNA Collection

Maryland DNA Collection LawAccording to a news report by The Baltimore Sun, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in Maryland has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the state law that allows police to collect DNA samples from those arrested for violent crimes and some burglary crimes. The group of lawmakers, led by Montgomery County Del. Sam Arora, asserts that the law is a critical tool for law enforcement and should be reinstated as it has helped put rapists and other criminals behind bars. Presently, 18 others have signed the amicus brief, and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has also asked the Supreme Court to uphold the law.

The 2008 DNA collection law was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals in April when court judges agreed with civil liberties groups that argued that people are presumed innocent at the time of arrest. The groups also stated during the case that only a small fraction of law enforcement’s DNA collections lead to arrests; for example, more than 10,000 samples were collected in 2011, but only 19 people were arrested and even less were convicted as a result.

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September 17, 2012

Crime Rates in Maryland at Historic Lows

According to a report by the Washington Examiner, crime in Maryland has dropped to its lowest levels since the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began tracking national crime data in 1975. Governor Martin O’Malley recently released the crime data for 2011, which shows property crime and violent crimes are at historic lows. The total number of reported crimes in MD has dropped by 4.6 percent with almost 10,000 fewer crimes reported compared to 2010. Arrests in Maryland have also decreased by three percent.

Overall, the number of crimes and the total crime rate were the lowest in Maryland since the FBI adopted its Uniform Crime Reporting Program in 1975.

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September 12, 2012

What Questions You Should Ask Your Criminal Defense Attorney

MD Criminal DefenseFacing criminal charges in Maryland can be very frightening, and from the time of the arrest to your trial it can be a confusing, upsetting, and difficult time. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is extremely important that you hire a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

The benefits of hiring professional legal counsel are many. An experienced criminal defense attorney can build an aggressive defense on your behalf in order to protect your future and, negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf.

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August 28, 2012

Maryland Removes Petitioners’ Names from Protective, Peace Orders

MD Protective Orders ChangeThe Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP) recently announced that the state’s online Judiciary Case Search database will soon omit the names of petitioners who have filed requests for protective orders and peace orders. The GOCCP noted that privacy concerns have led to the change.

The reasoning for the change is based on Maryland Rule 16-1008(3)(B)(i), which states that custodians of judicial records “shall prevent remote access to the name” and other identifying information of a “victim or witness” to a criminal case, a juvenile delinquency case, or a protective order or peace order. The Office of the Administration of Courts (AOC) recently determined that this section of the rule includes the name and other contact information of petitioners who file for protective orders.

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August 14, 2012

Prince George’s County Sees Crime Rates Drop

Maryland Crime RateCrime rates in Maryland counties fluctuate, but a general trend can often be picked out. This is true in Prince George’s County for the past two years, in which crime rates have dropped overall.

According to the Prince George’s County Police Department, the number of crimes in seven major categories was lower in August 2011 than in August 2010. Decreases were highest in the category of “violent crimes,” which includes homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. For instance, between August 2010 and August 2011, Prince George’s County saw a drop of 37.5 percent in homicides, from 16 deaths in 2010 to 10 in 2011. Robberies decreased 26.3 percent, and aggravated assault cases dropped 19.5 percent.

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July 24, 2012

Supreme Court Allows DNA Collections from Maryland Suspects to Resume

U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has temporarily lifted the ban on the collection of DNA samples from anyone arrested for a violent crime or burglary in Maryland, according to a recent article in the Baltimore Sun. Several law enforcement agencies have resumed their collection of genetic samples while they await further word from the high Court while others are still determining what steps to take.

MD DNA Collection RulingIn April 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals ordered law enforcement agencies to stop collecting DNA samples from those who had been arrested for violent crimes or burglaries. The court ruled that, unlike collecting fingerprints, DNA samples provided too much personal information to law enforcement and that therefore collecting them was a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of a person who had not been convicted of the crime. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ordered that the collections could continue while it considered the constitutional issues involved.

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July 16, 2012

Maryland Governor Tables Gambling Law Expansions

Maryland Gambling LawIn the face of power outages and severe heat causing dangerous conditions for Maryland residents, Governor Martin O’Malley has postponed a special session to discuss expanding the types of legal gambling allowed in Maryland, according to a recent article in The Washington Post. The governor’s office also noted that legislators who were supposed to participate in the session are not yet ready to convene.

The session would discuss whether or not to open a sixth casino in Maryland, including blackjack tables. If approved, lawmakers would place the casino issue on the November ballot. The new casino would be located in Prince George’s County.

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July 10, 2012

Maryland Crime Rates Dropping, Study Finds

According to the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention (GOCCP), Maryland’s crime rates have been dropping pretty consistently for the last few years. 2010 saw crime rates drop not only for multiple types of crimes, but also in multiple counties.

For several different types of violent crime, Maryland posted its lowest-ever crime statistics in 2010. For instance, in 2010 Maryland had 426 homicides, the lowest number reported since 1986, and the lowest number per capita that Maryland has ever reported. Similarly, Maryland’s 2010 robbery rate, with 11,053 robberies reported, was the lowest number and the lowest rate the state has had since the GOCCP began keeping track of crime statistics. Overall, the number of violent crimes in 2010 was 31,605, the lowest overall number since 1976 and the lowest rate per capita ever recorded in Maryland.

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June 18, 2012

FBI Report Reveals Violent Crime Rates in U.S. are Approaching Historic Lows

US Crime RateNew data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) show that violent crime rates in the U.S. are reaching historic lows, according to an MSNBC.com report. Though the findings of the report, released in the federal organization’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report, represent a seemingly small decline in crime overall, criminologists say the decline is part of a larger downward trend and is the result of changes that have contributed to a more peaceful society. Despite the weakened economy, the crime rates are at the lowest levels since World War II and have dropped for the fifth straight year in 2011.

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June 15, 2012

MD Man Faces Felony Charges after Crashing Vehicle into D.C. Office Building

A 32-year-old Maryland resident now faces three felony charges after he crashed his Jeep into a downtown Washington D.C. office building, according to a report from The Washington Post. According to Maryland Court documents the SUV was stolen from a woman who filed a restraining order against the 32-year old on June 8th, the day of the incident. Reports indicate that around 7:30 p.m., the Jeep drove through a full length plate glass window and came to a stop against a column in the lobby of the downtown Washington Square building. Authorities believe the driver intentionally crashed into the building which is located less than a mile from the White House.

DC Office Building Car CrashAuthorities report that the front seat of the Jeep was apparently soaked in a fluid which they believe was gasoline, and the driver pulled out a lighter and began trying to spark it. The lighter was taken away from the driver, who suffered only minor injuries in the crash. The incident spurred fears of a possible terrorist attack, and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was called to the scene of the accident; however, the D.C. police chief indicated in a statement that they believed the driver’s motive was not related to terrorism. The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation and later released into police custody.

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May 24, 2012

Maryland Court of Appeals Decides to Not Reverse Ruling on DNA Collection

MD Criminal DNA Collection RulingMaryland’s highest court will not overturn or suspend its April ruling that prohibits DNA collection from individuals charged, but not convicted, of violent crimes and burglaries, The Washington Post reports. The Maryland Court of Appeals clerk’s office confirmed that judges denied the request of the Maryland Attorney General to reconsider the decision made in Alonzo Jay King Jr. v. State of Maryland, which found that swabbing criminal suspects for DNA after they are charged is a violation of their constitutional rights. With this new ruling, police will not be able to collect DNA from charged criminal suspects while they await action from the court.

The case centers around a piece of legislation in Maryland that allowed police, starting in 2009, to collect DNA from suspects after they were charged with burglaries or violent crimes; prior to this new law, police officers were only able to collect DNA from convicted criminals. Alonzo Jay King Jr. challenged the law after his April 2009 arrest in Wicomico County on first and second degree Maryland assault charges. Prosecutors in the case used a DNA swab from this case to connect him to a rape which occurred in 2003, and he was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

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April 30, 2012

Federal Funding Drying Up for Anti-Gang Initiatives in MD

The Washington Examiner is reporting that programs aimed at eradicating street gangs in suburban Maryland, as well as Northern Virginia, are now being threatened due to a loss of federal funding. The concerted anti-gang efforts in both states have been successful in reducing gang activity since 2003; for example, the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, which targets youth who haven’t joined gangs yet and at-risk students who already have, has reduced gang activity by 34 percent. This particular gang prevention program is pricey, however, costing $30,000 a month to run.

MD Gang CrimeThe states’ anti-gang programs have been receiving funding under a congressional earmark, which, according to the Examiner, is a “funding mechanism that allows local congressmen to skirt funding competitions within federal agencies.” Now denounced as wasteful spending, smaller jurisdictions, such as Fairfax County, will now have to compete for federal funding against larger cities, such as Baltimore and Chicago.

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April 26, 2012

Former MD College Student Accused of Threatening Shooting Spree Deemed Fit to Stand Trial

The Washington Times reports that a former University of Maryland student has been declared fit to stand trial in Prince George’s County's Mental Health Court. The 19-year-old former college student is accused of posting messages online threatening to go on a shooting rampage at the College Park campus of the University of Maryland. Three people alerted campus police about the messages after seeing them on various social media sites, and the college sophomore was arrested and hospitalized for psychiatric evaluation.

The 19-year-old was later released and is now charged with eight different crimes in relation to the March incident, including misuse of electronic mail and disruption of a school’s operations. Authorities conducted a search of the former student’s dorm room and his family’s home in Fulton, but no weapons were discovered. The suspect is presently under home detention and has been indefinitely banned from the grounds of any University of Maryland campus. Prosecutors say it could be months before the case goes to trial, if at all. A follow-up hearing is scheduled for May 15.

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April 12, 2012

Rise in Cigarette Smuggling in MD, State Wants to Increase Penalties

A report from NACSOnline.com reveals that cigarette smuggling in the state of Maryland is on the rise and is costing the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tax revenue. Maryland assesses a $2 excise tax per pack and the government is intent on trying to keep those tax dollars within the state. Presently, it is a violation of state law to enter MD with more than two packs of cigarettes purchased out of state. A spokesperson for the state comptroller states that any county that borders a low-tax state, including Prince George and Cecil counties, is potentially a target.

Maryland Smuggling ChargesThe spokesperson for the state comptroller says the practice of smuggling cigarettes continues because the penalties are “not very bad,” which can create an environment that breeds repeat offenders. If caught, smugglers currently face criminal charges of transporting and possession of untaxed cigarettes. “Transporting” of untaxed cigarettes carries a fine of $50 per carton and a possible threat of two years in prison, and “possession” is considered a Maryland misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

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October 14, 2011

Federal Investigation Leads to the Arrest of 35 Alleged Gang Members

The Baltimore Sun reports that a recent investigation led to the arrest of 35 alleged gang members for crimes committed in Baltimore and other Maryland locations. The suspects stand accused of a Baltimore murder and other crimes, including witness intimidation, home invasion, kidnapping, and attempted murder. These alleged crimes took place in Frederick, Howard County, Wicomico County, and Allegany County. Kim C. Dine, Frederick police chief, says the arrests represent a significant move for law enforcement. Sixteen of those accused are from Frederick, which means the arrests will have a strong impact on that city.

Anyone accused of a gang-related crime should seek legal representation immediately, as the penalties for a conviction can be much greater if the crime is determined to be gang-related. In some cases, prosecutors charge people with gang offenses even if the accused are not members of criminal gangs. Overzealous law enforcement officials may assume you are a gang member simply because you are in the vicinity of a known gang. If you don’t have an attorney to help you fight the charges, you may be labeled a gang member and may be scrutinized by law enforcement officials for the rest of your life.

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September 30, 2011

Police Charge 14-Year-Old for Pointing a Laser at Rescue Helicopter

According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland State Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy accused of repeatedly shining a laser pointer into the cockpit of a helicopter helping Baltimore County police search for someone threatening suicide. Law enforcement officials explain that shining lasers into the cockpit can blind the pilot temporarily. If someone shines a laser pointer into a helicopter during a critical point of the flight, crew members may become disoriented and unable to perform their duties properly.

The teen, who has not been identified, was charged with attempted second degree assault on police, reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a laser pointer, obstruction, and hindering police. Flight crew members noticed a flashing light in the cockpit and prepared to take precautionary maneuvers. When they saw the light shine a second time, they located the source of the light and directed police officers to proceed to the residence.

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August 11, 2011

Former Annapolis Police Officer Indicted for DUI and Manslaughter

A 52-year-old former Annapolis police officer is facing charges for drunk driving and manslaughter due to his involvement in a crash that killed a 19-year-old man. The officer, who worked for the Baltimore and Annapolis police departments, is also charged with speeding and running a red light. He resigned from the Annapolis Police Department on August 1, 2011.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the accident occurred on October 3, 2010, at the intersection of Patapsco Avenue and Potee Street, where the off-duty officer was driving his personal vehicle. During the crash, a passenger was ejected from the vehicle and later died as a result of his injuries.

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July 21, 2011

Suspect Arrested After Shooting Man and Stealing Car in Baltimore

CBS News reports that a man suspected of a shooting and stealing a car in Baltimore is now in custody after crashing the stolen vehicle. While charges are expected to be filed for one man, a second suspect is still on the loose. The two suspects were in a neighborhood on Liberty Heights Avenue when they allegedly shot a 23-year-old man at least twice and then stole his car. The police report that “one suspect walked up on him, gun in hand and pretty much without warning, shot him.” The young man is now in the hospital and expected to survive.

After the shooting, the two suspects took off in the young man’s car. As the suspects were fleeing from police, the car crashed into two other vehicles. The driver of one of the vehicles was thrown from his van and suffered serious injuries. He died later at the hospital. The police were able to arrest one of the suspects, whom they found hiding behind a nearby house. The other suspect may have jumped from the car before it crashed. Police are still looking for him.

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July 12, 2011

Casey Anthony Found Not Guilty

Nationwide, people have been closely following the Casey Anthony trial. Anthony had been accused of first degree murder, manslaughter, aggravated child abuse and lying to law enforcement. As we now know, she was found not guilty on the first three charges.

Many people were shocked by the verdict as popular opinion and many media outlets portrayed Anthony as being guilty. In a criminal trial, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution, meaning that the accusers must provide adequate evidence to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

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May 16, 2011

Maryland Works to Comply With Federal Rules for Imprisoned Minors

The federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, or JJDPA, tries to protect young people by requiring officials to avoid holding them in the same jail or prison as adults. The law prohibits states from keeping young people in the same jail or prison as adults for more than six hours (or 24 hours in rural areas), whether they are waiting to see a judge, to be “booked,” or are serving a sentence after being convicted. The purpose of the JJDPA is to prevent minors, or juveniles, from dangers like abuse or suicide, which are more likely to occur if imprisoned alongside adults.

In the past several years, however, Maryland jails and prisons have violated the JJDPA requirement several times, according to The Daily Record. In 2009, for example, 287 separate violations occurred, in which young people were kept in adult facilities for more than six hours.

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March 15, 2011

Maryland Legislature Considers Making Domestic Violence a Separate Crime

Maryland’s state legislature is currently considering two bills that would make domestic violence a crime separate from other assaults, according to a recent article in The Maryland Gazette. A separate domestic violence charge would allow the state to keep better track of domestic violence and abuse statistics and make it easier to punish repeat offenders with increasingly severe penalties, according to lawmakers.

The bills - one in each chamber of the legislature - follow actions by Maryland counties to distinguish and track domestic violence occurrences. In particular, Prince George’s County recently established a system of protective orders for domestic violence cases.

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March 10, 2011

Maryland Capitol Police Use Forensic Video System to Improve Investigations

The Maryland Capitol Police, who provide security and law enforcement services for Maryland government buildings in Baltimore and Annapolis, recently acquired a video analysis system designed to make security video images more clear. The new technology is intended to make it easier for the Maryland Capitol Police to spot wrongdoing, according to a recent press release.

The system, known as “dTective,” is designed to analyze security camera recordings and to compensate for shortcomings in videos, such as bad lighting, foggy or rainy weather conditions, and lack of clarity. Security officers hope that, by getting clearer security camera images, they will be able to identify suspects more easily and to save time and money on investigations. The system can also blur or remove images of innocent passersby, thus protecting their privacy if the camera footage is used in court.

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January 18, 2011

Maryland Citizens May Be Able to Recall Officials Convicted of Crimes

A Maryland state delegate will soon introduce legislation that would allow Maryland citizens to recall elected officials if they are charged with a crime, according to BallotNews.org.

Under current law, only the governor can remove elected officials at the state level who have been convicted of a crime or have pleaded guilty to a crime. A council can remove elected officials at the county level only if a physical or mental disability prevents them from performing the duties of their office.

Details about the bill have not yet been released. The delegate proposing the legislation must decide how recall elections would be administered before drafting the legislation.

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December 10, 2010

Attempted Murder Charges Dropped Against Man Arrested for Maryland Knife Incident

Recently, a man who allegedly attacked three University of Maryland students and another man with a knife outside a bar had the most serious charges against him dropped, according to The Washington Post. The man had been charged with attempted murder and other crimes in connection with the attack. Prosecutors have dropped the attempted murder charges, but are still seeking charges for second-degree assault.

The Maryland knife incident occurred outside a bar. After the incident, the man fled the scene and shaved his head in an attempt to disguise himself. However, his picture was caught on a surveillance camera and family members convinced him to turn himself in. Upon further investigation, police found additional surveillance video that showed the man was actually acting in self defense. He was attacked and beaten by several individuals inside the bar, which apparently led to the knife incident outside. The people who were attacked were too intoxicated to tell what happened, and none of their injuries were life-threatening. The bar in which the incident occurred has forfeited its liquor license as a result of the attack.

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December 8, 2010

Baltimore Police Investigate Murder of Correctional Officer

Early Sunday morning, November 21, a 28-year-old woman who worked as a correctional officer was found shot to death in a friend’s home in east Baltimore, reports The Baltimore Sun. She died from her gunshot wounds later that day.

The morning before, Saturday, November 20, her neighbors reported that the woman and her live-in boyfriend got into a loud argument at approximately 4:30 a.m. Police were called to the scene to stop the domestic dispute. Neighbors report that the woman then left to stay at a friend’s. When detectives searched her apartment for clues the next day, they discovered blood on the door. Believing the killer was inside, they called hostage negotiators and blocked off the street. After a three-hour standoff, it was determined the apartment was empty.

Many of the woman’s neighbors had known her since she was a young girl and are stricken by grief and shock. Officially, police have not stated whether the woman’s boyfriend is a suspect in the Baltimore murder case, but they do report that they have not yet spoken with him. The woman had a three-year-old daughter from a previous relationship who is now with family members.

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July 6, 2010

Teen Found Guilty in Baltimore Shooting

A teenage boy was found guilty on June 15, 2010 of shooting a five-year-old child in the head while she was crossing the street according to WJZ.com. The incident occurred last July in southwest Baltimore and has left the young girl permanently disabled. The accused allegedly used the gun to diffuse a dispute that had occurred between himself, his girlfriend, and a third party. The teen was convicted despite skepticism that he was not the one that pulled the trigger.

Authorities recovered video footage from local security cameras that showed the defendant pulling the trigger, though it was argued that someone else was at fault. The jury deliberated for three consecutive days before reaching a verdict, and found the teen guilty of both first and second degree attempted murder. He has been sentenced to life plus 30 years with a possibility of parole. Some argue that this is a harsh sentence for a crime that did not involve any casualties.

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June 24, 2010

Maryland Crime at an All-Time Low

In 2009, Maryland recorded fewer violent crimes since 1979, including an all-time low occurrence of overall crime, according to the Washington Post. Other key measures indicated that the likelihood that a resident will fall victim to rape, violent assault, murder or robbery has lowered significantly, resulting in an expectation that Maryland will drop from the nation’s top ten most dangerous states list. Should Maryland fall from this list, it would be the first time in over two decades.

In 1975, Maryland incurred a total of 242,207 crimes. Last year, Maryland had 33,614 reported violent crimes with a total of 215,878 crimes, a five percent and eight percent decline, respectively, from 2008. Also reported were 27 fewer killings, which added to a twelve percent drop in Maryland homicides.

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May 27, 2010

DC Juvenile Justice May Need Overhaul

Following the murder of a school principle in Washington, D.C., the effectiveness and procedures of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) is under scrutiny. The three young men accused of the crime were arrested while under the supervision of DYRS. According to The Washington Post, the principle was targeted for robbery, and each of the three 18-year-old suspects had criminal backgrounds and had been committed to the city's youth services department for previous crimes.

With these arrests, seven people who had been under the care of DYRS have now been charged with homicide this year. Some believe these arrests should serve as examples that the service releases youth back into the communities too quickly, and they are urging the government to investigate DYRS.

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May 14, 2010

Caregiver Pleads Guilty to Neglecting Vulnerable Adults

A former adult male caregiver recently pleaded guilty to three counts of neglecting vulnerable adults, according to WJZ-13 News. The caregiver admitted to leaving three severely disabled men sitting in a locked car in a diner parking lot while he ate lunch.

Patrons at the diner contacted police when they realized that the three men had been left in the closed car and that the temperature outdoors was near 75 degrees. Although none of the three men could speak, all appeared to police to be in distress: all three were sweating profusely, and one was banging his head against the closed car window.

The caregiver did not think leaving the men in the car would be a problem. He left them there because he says they would have been uncomfortable in the diner, which was crowded and busy. He said the head-banging behavior was normal for the men. At his court hearing, the caregiver said that he had cared for the men for eight years and that the incident had been blown out of proportion.

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April 12, 2010

Hit and Run Accident Suspect Charged with Attempted Murder

A man from Newark, Maryland allegedly caused a rollover collision in Salisbury, Maryland while driving under the influence of alcohol on Monday, March 22, 2010. It was reported that the man fled the scene of the accident and proceeded to ram into the side of a police car. According to the The Daily Times, the suspect is being charged with attempted murder, assault and driving under the influence of alcohol.

A concerned citizen reported the collision to local police and said that the driver was probably intoxicated and fleeing the accident. This bystander followed the suspect’s vehicle, while remaining in contact with the police. The police then located the suspect’s vehicle at a stop sign and positioned their patrol cars around his car in order to stop him from fleeing. The suspect proceeded to accelerate his vehicle and struck the passenger side of one of the patrol vehicles. After attempting to flee a second time, the man was arrested and taken into custody.

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April 7, 2010

Montgomery County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

As one of the most affluent counties in the United States, Montgomery County is located in Maryland, southwest of Baltimore and just north of Washington, D.C. As a major part of both the Washington Metropolitan Area and the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, it is no surprise that Montgomery County has approximately 950,680 inhabitants as of July 2008. The county seat and largest municipality of Montgomery County is Rockville and most of the county’s residents live in unincorporated locales. As a result of being such a heavily populated and well-traveled region, visitors and inhabitants passing through Montgomery County may experience their share of DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI (driving while impaired) arrests.

In order to be charged with DWI in Maryland, a person must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.07. To be arrested for the more serious charge of DUI in Maryland, a motorist must have a BAC of 0.08. Even so, being charged with DUI or DWI does not mean that an individual will be convicted. Although being accused of driving while impaired or under the influence is often a confusing and overwhelming experience, accused individuals have important legal rights that should be defended. With an aggressive and skilled Montgomery County DWI defense lawyer on your side, you can trust that a strong defense can be made on your behalf.

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April 5, 2010

La Plata DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Stretching 6.9 square miles in size, La Plata, Maryland is the county seat of Charles County and houses a population of approximately 8,879 residents as of July 2008 estimates. Many La Plata residents commute to other areas, such as Washington, D.C. and Waldorf, for work. However, as of late, the city of La Plata has undergone a transformation into a business center, thanks largely in part to the recent development of office buildings and other area-wide construction.

Consequently, with the advent of new business comes an increase in traffic and local law enforcement patrols of La Plata city roads and highways. Couple that with the fact that La Plata has experienced population growth of more than 35% since the year 2000, and you are left with a large number of people who are potential victims of false arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI). When facing DUI charges, a good course of action is to retain the services of an experienced La Plata DUI defense attorney that will examine the circumstances under which an individual was arrested, and mount a strong defense on behalf of that individual.

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March 31, 2010

Howard County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Located right between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Howard County, Maryland is one of the most affluent counties in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With a population of approximately 269,457 residents as of 2005 estimates, Howard County is 252 square miles in size, and holds the distinction of being the only county in the state of Maryland that is entirely enclosed by land. Its county seat is Ellicott City, and Howard County, due to its close proximity to Baltimore, is considered a part of the Baltimore Metropolitan area.

Areas such as Howard County are often brimming with motorists, and as such, arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) are not uncommon. However, just because an individual has been accused of DUI in Howard County, it does not mean that the individual is actually guilty of such an accusation. Numerous factors come into play in any Maryland DUI case, and all factors need to be carefully examined in order to ascertain the most accurate picture of the events that transpired during the alleged instance of DUI.

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March 29, 2010

Charles County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Part of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Charles County is located in southern Maryland and houses a population of 140,444 residents according to 2007 estimates. While Charles County has a total land area of 643 square miles, 182 square miles is water and 461 square miles is land. In addition, Charles County has a population density of 303 residents per square mile (also as of 2007 estimates). The county seat of Charles County, La Plata, is home to the College of Southern Maryland.

Being a major part of the Washington Metropolitan Area, Charles County is no stranger to vehicular traffic entering into and leaving county limits. Consequently, accusations of driving under the influence (DUI) are common, and many residents and visitors may find themselves facing charges that they are not in fact guilty of. A good course of action for a motorist facing a Charles County DUI charge is to retain the services of a skilled defense attorney that has the experience and know-how to aggressively combat such charges, protecting the rights of the motorist in the process.

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March 24, 2010

Calvert County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Located in Southern Maryland, Calvert County houses a population of about 86,000 (as of 2004 estimates) and has the city of Prince Frederick as its county seat. As one of the several counties that make up the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, Calvert County has a land area of 215 square miles, and a total area of 345 square miles. Originally known for its farmland, Calvert County is now known as an exurb, meaning that residents commute into larger metropolitan areas for work opportunities. With so many residents commuting into and out of Calvert County, it is no wonder that instances of DUI and DWI affect so many motorists on the road.

Maryland saw more than 24,000 arrests made for DUI in 2007. However, not all motorists accused of driving under the influence are guilty. The circumstances surrounding a DUI charge in Calvert County need to be carefully examined in order to determine as accurately as possible what in fact happened. A good course of action for an individual facing such charges is to retain the services of an experienced Calvert County DUI defense attorney who will mount a strong defense.

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March 22, 2010

Bethesda DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

According to Forbes magazine, Bethesda, Maryland ranks first as the most educated small town in the nation. An unincorporated area with no official boundaries, Bethesda has a population of about 59,000 as of July 2007 estimates, and measures only 13.2 square miles in size. Located just Northwest of Washington D.C., Bethesda is no stranger to many people traversing its roads and highways each year.

In 2007, there were a total of 24,230 DUI arrests made in Maryland. With such an influx of travelers coming and going, accusations of driving while under the influence are bound to affect Bethesda motorists. In the event that a motorist is accused of DUI in Bethesda, it is usually in the motorist’s best interest to retain the services of an experienced defense attorney who will examine every detail surrounding the motorist’s arrest, ensuring that a strong defense is mounted on their behalf.

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March 18, 2010

Maryland Passes Harsher Laws Regarding Sex Offenders

On Friday, March 12, 2010, Maryland legislators moved to toughen laws regarding sex offenders. According to an article on the Baltimore Sun, harsher terms will include truth-in-sentencing provisions for violent and repeat offenders, longer supervision after prison and an expansion of the state’s public registry. The House Judiciary Committee, a government organization that deals with crime legislation, approved seven out of the 75 bills introduced in order to address sex offenses.

"This will have a serious impact on sex offenders in the state," said House Judiciary Chairman, Joseph F. Vallario Jr.

Most adult and juvenile violent and repeat sex offenders, including first- or second-degree rape or other similar sex offenses will be required to have lifetime supervision in addition to having to register as a sex offender in Maryland and being added to Maryland’s existing sex offender registry. Some feel that lifetime supervision is a misnomer as offenders can seek an end to the supervision after five years if trained supervisors and a judge agree to it. The degree of supervision has not been allocated and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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March 17, 2010

Anne Arundel County DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Anne Arundel County has approximately 500,000 inhabitants and its county seat is Annapolis (which is also the capital of Maryland). As a part of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area along the Chesapeake Bay, Anne Arundel County is often referred to as the “land of pleasant living”. Anne Arundel County covers over 534 miles of coastline and is well-known for its rich heritage, closeness to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., water sports, fishing, boating, and swimming. Due to the vast amount of visitors and residents taking to the roads and highways throughout Anne Arundel County, it is not surprising that, every year, many arrests are made for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).

Being charged with DUI or DWI in Anne Arundel County does not mean that a person is guilty or that he or she will be convicted. Nevertheless, a test displaying a BAC of 0.07 will get you criminally charged with DWI in Maryland, and a BAC of 0.08 or more may contribute to a more serious charge of DUI in Maryland. However, test results are not full-proof and an officer who arrests you for driving drunk may not know whether you were actually drunk, what other circumstances may have been applicable, or how safely you were driving.

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March 16, 2010

Woman Accused of Smuggling Drugs into Maryland Prison

According to a recent story, a 23-year-old woman from Glen Burnie was arrested for allegedly smuggling drugs into Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland while visiting an incarcerated inmate. The report states that after receiving an anonymous tip, Police used drug sniffing dogs to catch the woman who turned over four latex balloons containing marijuana and heroin to authorities.

The suspect reportedly had two young children with her, both of whom were immediately handed over to social services following the incident. The young woman has six drug charges against her and as a consequence, faces a maximum of 36 years in prison and $68,000 in fines.

Under Maryland law, possession or use of any amount of marijuana is punishable by jail time and hefty fines. Heroin, a Schedule I narcotic, merits some of the most severe punishments in the criminal justice system.

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March 15, 2010

Annapolis DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

The city of Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and is the county seat of Anne Arundel County. Located along the Chesapeake Bay at the opening of the Severn River, Annapolis has an estimated population of 36,524. Annapolis is not only a bustling part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, but is also home to St. John’s College and the United States Naval Academy. As it is in many other large cities, Annapolis residents and visitors may experience arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).

Being arrested for DUI or DWI in Annapolis can be an intimidating process that often leaves individuals feeling weighed down and confused about their legal rights. This is only one of many reasons why those arrested for DUI and DWI may benefit from having an experienced Annapolis DUI defense attorney on their side.

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March 9, 2010

Two Men Arrested for Police Evasion, Drugs and Outstanding Warrant

Police in Cambridge, Maryland arrested two men on February 10, 2010 after they attempted to elude police during a traffic stop. According to news reports, when officers attempted to stop a vehicle for driving against a state of emergency order issued due to severe weather, the driver failed to pull over and attempted to elude the officers. Fortunately for police, when the driver turned from Washington Street onto St. Clair Avenue, his car became stuck in the snow. Three individuals then jumped from the vehicle and proceeded to flee on foot. The officers were able to catch and arrest both the driver and the front seat passenger.

The arresting officers found 22.3 grams of marijuana on the floor of the front passenger’s seat. The driver, a 22-year-old from Rhodesdale, was driving on a suspended driver’s license. In addition, the front seat passenger, a 25-year-old from Cambridge, was wanted on an outstanding warrant for 13 counts of animal cruelty. Both face multiple charges, and are being held at Dorchester County Detention Center.

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February 25, 2010

Prosecutors Bid to Increase Penalties for PCP Drug Possession

Washington D.C. prosecutors are weighing support for the city’s bid to increase PCP drug possession charges to felony charges under the pretext that violent psychosis caused by the drug warrants the increase of punishment. Based on a recent article, defense lawyers argue that possession of the drug without intent to sell should not garner long-term prison sentences.
Phencyclidine, a chemical substance commonly known as PCP, has been blamed for causing numerous violent rampages in Washington D.C. According to the District’s Pretrial Service Agency, nine percent of adults arrested in the District last year tested positive for the drug. The drug is known to cause paranoid thoughts, feelings of abnormal power, invulnerability and strength as well as panic and a sense of impending death.

Should the bid succeed, liquid PCP drug possession offenders will be punished with up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine on top of having a felony charge on their records. Defense attorneys rally that harsher penalties will result in more incarcerations, something many local governments are against.

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February 19, 2010

Maryland Prisons May Have to Notify Federal Authorities of Possible Immigrants

Maryland lawmakers are addressing a bill that, if approved, will require prisons in Maryland to inform federal authorities of an inmate’s questionable status in terms of being in the country illegally. According to a recent Baltimore Sun article, the bill could potentially save the state of Maryland millions of dollars. Reportedly, the bill may make it easier to detect and deport illegal immigrants instead of spending money on their incarceration, parole, and probation. However, the bill does not specify how prison officials will obtain information regarding immigration status. This uncertainty may impose discrimination upon inmates and increase tension within prisons.

Senator James E. DeGrange Sr. stated that the bill is a response to a law that went into effect in October 2009, making it mandatory for prison officials to issue identification cards to all inmates when released. Based on the article, many lawmakers are worried that illegal immigrants who are released from prison with these cards may use them to get various forms of identification. Lawmakers voted to restrict driver’s licenses from being given to people without documentation showing that they are in the U.S. legally. Before this, Maryland was one of only four states without any laws prohibiting such action.

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February 10, 2010

Maryland's Increase in Monitoring Violent and Sex Offenders

In examining possible reasons for why crime has showed a decrease in Maryland, a baltimoresun.com article reflects how the Division of Parole and Probation has paid more attention to known violent and sexual offenders. In this regard, “paying more attention” refers to assigning all sex offenders to specially trained agents, placing those offenders under required and strict probationary terms, and then monitoring them via GPS. In fact, every sex offender is placed on GPS monitoring for 90 days, during which time he or she is subject to harsh curfews and restricted movements.

Violent offenders are placed in the Violence Prevention Initiative and, along with sex offenders, are closely marked for violations. Based on the article, as of January 2010 and since the Parole and Probation has been implementing GPS monitoring of sex offenders beginning in February 2009, 231 sex offenders and 1,300 total offenders have been placed on GPS monitoring.

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January 26, 2010

Man Accused of Shooting Clerk at Drive-Through Window

A Columbia man was recently arrested and charged with wounding a Dunkin’ Donuts clerk in Anne Arundel County. Police reported that on December 12, 2009 a clerk was shot through a drive-through window after refusing to comply with demands for cash from a man who came to the drive-through window armed with a shotgun. The wounded clerk was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment of serious injuries. The 21-year-old alleged shooter was captured by the police department’s Special Enforcement Team and has been charged with attempted murder.

An attempted murder charge is a form of assault and since the man was carrying a gun, charges may be increased. Penalties could include extended prison time and large fines. Although it is legal to own a gun in the U.S., most citizens are prohibited from carrying one on their person in public. If law enforcement suspects you of carrying a gun, they can legally search you and your vehicle.

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January 21, 2010

Forensic Expert Indicates a Lack of DNA Evidence in Homicide Trial

Testimony from a forensic DNA expert was heard during the trial of a 39-year-old man charged with the murder of a 27-year-old Salisbury man. Two other suspects were previously indicted by a grand jury for the killing after paramedics found the victim unconscious with his ankles and wrists duct taped inside the home of one of the accused. According to prosecutors, drugs and money were the motive behind the killing. A fourth individual who was allegedly involved, was found dead earlier this year from an apparent suicide.

During the December trial, the defense’s forensic DNA expert testified that there was no DNA evidence linking the defendant to the evidence submitted by police for testing. Maryland State Police submitted 21 pieces of evidence; however, swab samples taken from the items, and not the items themselves, were used for testing purposes.

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January 19, 2010

New Application Alerts Drivers to DUI Checkpoints

Drivers with a GPS or Smartphone can now receive instant warnings when approaching DUI checkpoints and speed traps as well as red light and speed cameras. Police fear that this will aid offenders in escaping arrest. Phantom Alert is the company that produces the application which began as a method to help drivers avoid tickets for a small fee.

The checkpoint notification shows up on devices as a martini glass followed by a police car. In Washington D.C, common DUI checkpoints are around popular nightspots. Employees at Phantom Alert are instructed to search police press releases and news reports for new locations. There is also an option for users to report their own findings, which can be helpful to other users since in areas like Montgomery County, Maryland, police sometimes announce checkpoints without specific locations.

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January 12, 2010

Report Shows that Police Taser Use Does Not Follow Standards

Two years ago a man died after a police officer shot him twice with a taser outside of his home in Frederick. Although a grand jury ruled that the officer was justified in his actions, Maryland’s Attorney General was prompted to begin a comprehensive review of police use of tasers. The breakthrough findings were recently released.

The report indicated that police officers have an over-reliance on the weapon, despite the fact that they are told in training to treat tasers as if they were guns or other deadly weapons. The report also showed that not all officers should use tasers and that the weapon should not be used against unarmed people fleeing or destroying evidence as the device can cause death or serious injury in certain circumstances.

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January 8, 2010

Two Men Arrested for First Degree Murder and Assault in 2007 Crime

Two years ago in October, a 21-year-old man was found dead just inside Leakin Park in Baltimore. According to police reports, a motorist who had been driving through the park discovered the body of the man early on the morning of October 10, 2007. The victim's head was covered with duct tape and blood was discovered on his face and head. It was determined that the victim had been shot twice in the head after being abducted the day before. It is unclear what provoked the attack, considering that the victim, who was originally from Ghana, had no criminal record in Maryland.

Two men ages 23 and 30 were arrested on Thursday December 17, 2009 and charged with first degree murder, assault and various handgun charges in the Baltimore murder. They have been ordered to be held without bond. Both suspects charged in this case had prior criminal convictions including burglary and handgun charges. One of the suspects was also found not guilty in 2004 of attempted first-degree murder.

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January 7, 2010

Maryland Pushes for Stricter Gun Laws

The state of Maryland has recently been marked with an increase in gun violence, homicides and police involved shootings, especially in Baltimore City. One solution that many are vying for is stricter gun laws and sentencing for gun offenders as well as no credit for good behavior to shorten prison time. The governor supports harsher legislation for gun violence and better prosecution to put offenders in jail for longer periods of time. However, tougher gun laws have failed in the past few years and leaders are planning to push for stricter legislation in the next year.

The second amendment of the constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. However protection laws can be confusing to legal gun owners. Many people who face firearm charges in Maryland have criminal records; however, there are also many individuals charged who are legal owners of firearms who did not know they were breaking the law. Many prosecutors and leaders in Maryland agree with stricter gun legislation and will continue to push for reform. This means that even small violations can hold a mandatory minimum jail sentence.

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December 10, 2009

Doctor Sentenced to 1 Year in Prison for Providing Prescriptions over the Internet

According to an article from chicagotribune.com, a Virginia doctor has been sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison for allegedly writing tens of thousands of prescriptions for muscle relaxants and other drugs. Apparently, the doctor provided these prescriptions over the Internet and did not meet or examine any of the patients. In addition to the seven counts held against him for introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, the doctor was also charged with four counts of tax evasion. He pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.

The doctor was also sentenced in the city of Boston’s federal court to three years of probation following release from his one-year sentence. Based on the article, prosecutors argued that between 2004 and 2007, the doctor gave out about 50,000 to 100,000 prescriptions based on forms refined for online pharmacies. He was reportedly paid $5 to $7 per prescription and never reported this income to the IRS.

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December 3, 2009

Ocean City Traffic Stop Nets Fugitive

Ocean City police have arrested a 24-year-old Washington D.C. man who was wanted on charges in two Maryland Counties including first-degree assault and armed robbery. According to a mdcoastdispatch.com report, the suspect was taken into police custody after his identity was discovered during a routine traffic stop.

According to the article, when the suspect, Christopher McCray, was pulled over in a traffic stop by the Ocean City Police, he allegedly gave the officers a false name and birth date. However, the officers were later able to determine that the man had two existing warrants for his arrest including failure to appear for a court date in St. Mary's County and for first-degree assault and armed robbery in Prince George's County. In addition, the man now faces charges in Ocean City for driving a vehicle without rear registration illumination, driving without a license, giving a false and fictitious name to police, and other traffic offenses.

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December 1, 2009

Fatal DWI Crash Leads to Sentence of 1-3 Years in State Prison

According to a recent lohud.com article, a 24-year-old former all-star basketball athlete has been sentenced to one to three years in a state prison for causing a drunken driving accident in New York that killed her friend, Lisa Marie Mornay. Meghan Wood, a 24-year-old former basketball player and leading scorer her senior year at Loyola College in Maryland, was sentenced on November 4, 2009.

The New York State Judge handling the case could have sentenced Wood to five years "shock" probation in which she would serve the first six months in jail but he wanted his sentence to be a deterrent to others who would drive drunk. At her sentencing, Supreme Court Justice Lester Adler chastised Wood saying, “You endangered every single person on the road that morning. I can’t forget that; I can’t put that out of my mind.”

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November 24, 2009

Maryland Library Theft Ring: 12 Charged with Stealing Books Worth $87K

A recent wjz.com report discussed the arrest of twelve people for being alleged participants in a library theft ring in Maryland. According to the article, police discovered the suspects by tracking overdue books, uncollected fines and missing hardbacks worth thousands of dollars on the Internet. It appears to Police that all twelve suspects played a role in the alleged library theft ring. The twelve suspects allegedly checked out expensive library books, failed to return them, and then sold them online or to used book stores. The value of the 822 stolen library books amounted to more than $87,000.

Police stated that the library book thefts began in November 2008 and went undetected for so long due to each library system allowing up to 75 books to be checked out simultaneously. In addition, prosecutors believe that the ring began checking out books in Prince George’s County Library and then made its way to Harford, Baltimore, Baltimore City, and Carroll counties.

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November 20, 2009

Insufficient Evidence Leads to Dismissal of Prostitution Charges

According to a baltimoresun.com article, prostitution charges have been dropped against a man from Patterson Park, Maryland due to insufficient evidence. Apparently, two women accused of being prostitutes refused to testify against the defendant. Since no other witnesses were available, and due to additional information and evidence not being strong enough to stand on its own without witness testimony, the charges were dropped. In relation to this case, the Assistant State’s Attorney stated, “The evidence was insufficient to proceed with the charges.”

In the beginning, the man’s case was introduced to the public as one that was full of insurmountable evidence. Such claims can make the public quickly forget that all people are innocent until proven guilty. This particular situation serves as a reminder that just because a person is arrested for a particular crime, it does not mean that they committed any illegal action.

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November 18, 2009

NBA Player Faces Maryland Concealed Weapons Charges

After being arrested for speeding on a motorcycle and carrying multiple weapons, an NBA player was indicted recently on additional weapons and traffic charges related to his September arrest. According to an nba.com story, the athlete was riding a motorcycle along the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County at 10 p.m. while carrying two loaded handguns and a loaded shotgun. A recent addition to the list of concealed weapons being carried by the man included an 8 ½-inch Bowie knife.

The article explains that it is illegal in the State of Maryland to carry concealed weapons and to transport loaded handguns. The misdemeanor charges that this man now faces include:

  • Two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon

  • Two counts of carrying a handgun

  • Two counts of transporting a handgun

  • One count reckless driving

  • One count negligent driving

Each of the weapon counts carries a penalty of up to three years in prison if the athlete is convicted. When the initial charges were filed, the man was facing only two counts of carrying a handgun and with driving in excess of reasonable and prudent speed.

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November 3, 2009

Alexandria Ex-Chief of Police Faces Collateral Consequences of a DUI Arrest

In July 2009, a police chief was caught driving drunk in an unmarked city car after being in a fender-bender in Arlington County, according to a Washington Post article. Speaking publically now for the first time regarding his DUI arrest, the former police chief’s story reveals just how serious and all-encompassing DUI consequences can be.

According to the article, the arrested man was with the Alexandria department for about 20 years and served as chief for the last three. One of the most detrimental consequences of his DUI arrest was having to step down from a job that he loved. He also continues to experience the distress and embarrassment of being a man with a criminal record. But that is not all. Recently, when the former Alexandria police chief was on the phone attempting to get a new life insurance policy, he was told, “There’s nothing I can do for you.”

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October 27, 2009

National Pagans Motorcycle Club President is One of 55 Arrested

A man from Myersville, Maryland, considered to be the President of the National Pagans Motorcycle Club, has been accused of leading the supposedly wide-spread outlaw biker gang in extortion, robbery, kidnapping, plotting to commit murder, weapons violations, and drug dealing, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. Based on a baltimoresun.com report, more than 50 members and associates of the alleged gang are accused of conspiracy to kill and extort rival bikers in order to establish themselves as the top gang of bikers in the area. Those accused are reported to be in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida.

According to the article, within the 44-count, 83-page indictment document against those arrested, it is stated: “The PMC and its existing support clubs unlawfully threatened and intimidated people who wanted to start a motorcycle club in the PMC territory.” The article also mentioned that federal prosecutors are in search of holding the alleged leaders, including the Maryland man, and 20 others, without bail.

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October 22, 2009

Study Shows that Risk of Being Shot and Killed Increases for those Carrying Guns

According to an article from newscientist.com, a group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that has citizens across the U.S. contemplating the risk of carrying a loaded weapon. Apparently, in examining 677 shootings over a period of two and a half years to see if victims were carrying a gun at the time, the study found that individuals who carry guns are 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to be killed compared to an unarmed individual. The research also showed that the chances of a victim being shot were even higher in incidents where he or she had an opportunity to defend themselves with a gun.

Based on the article, this study is considered by its operators to be just the beginning in answering whether possessing a gun is an act that creates protection or welcomes threat. Even though one of the study’s researches said that the results may represent how carrying a gun gives a person a false sense of immortality or empowerment, this study’s intention does not appear to be intended to infringe upon the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

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October 20, 2009

Child Sex Abuse Charges Against Priest

A story from baltimoresun.com reported that a former Catholic priest faces child sexual abuse charges for alleged acts that took place over 30 years ago in Ocean City. The accused 64-year-old man is from North Carolina, which is the location where he has been arrested and where he is being held. According to the report, law enforcement received a complaint of the sexual assault this past spring regarding incidents that allegedly occurred between the years of 1977 and 1982. A spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests stated that a lawsuit filed against the arrested man in June relates to the same alleged victim who is from Baltimore County and is now in his 40s.

Sex crimes in Maryland, such as indecent exposure, rape, sexual assault, and prostitution, are all very serious offenses that can result in consequences that will forever affect the lives of a convicted individual and his or her family. These cases can be even more complex when allegations are made by children or if the alleged sex offenses are said to have involved child molestation. An accused individual does not need to be a priest to experience the negative affects of societal scorn, which often happens even before a sex crime case goes to trial. Any person charged with a sex crime risks having their reputation tarnished. Although some Maryland residents learning about the recent sexual abuse allegations may wonder if there are other victims whom have kept silent regarding this particular priest, it is important to remember that every person accused of such crimes is innocent until proven guilty.

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October 15, 2009

Supreme Court Addresses Possible Time Limit to Miranda Rights

The Baltimore Sun reports in an article that the Supreme Court has begun discussion in the Maryland v. Shatzer case. The case relates to a child sexual abuse investigation from 2003, in which a man was questioned about molesting a young relative. He asked for an attorney, but he was not provided one, so the case was dropped. Later in 2006, the investigation began again and the man was again questioned. Even though he confessed to lewd acts with the boy in 2006 and was convicted, an appeals court decided that his confession was inadmissible due to the prior request for an attorney made in 2003.

At the heart of the case is the lack of distinction as to how long the request for an attorney should last when a suspect is being interrogated. Statements made by an accused person may be deemed inadmissible if they are made after requesting an attorney to be present and such statements are made when an attorney is not present. Therefore, as it stands currently, a break in custody, even if that break lasts for years, does not erase a request for an attorney.

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October 14, 2009

Baltimore Rabbi Accused of Additional Sex Offenses

A wjz.com article reports that five more women are claiming that a well-known rabbi in Baltimore sexually assaulted them or said inappropriate things to them, or committed both acts in some incidents. The 85-year-old rabbi was convicted in April of this year for molesting a woman in a Reisterstown funeral home. He was sentenced to a suspended one-year prison term.

Apparently, it was reported by The Sun that three of the women alleging inappropriate behavior contacted the newspaper and two of the other claims were submitted by other sources. It is interesting that these other five women waited until the rabbi was convicted of a separate sex crime before coming forward with their own allegations.

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October 7, 2009

A List of New Laws in Maryland: DWI Consequences Influenced

As the month of October begins at full-speed, Maryland residents must become aware of new laws that have been introduced in the State. These new regulations are being enforced to help prevent crime and injury, especially when it comes to being behind the wheel. According to a times-news.com report, one of the new laws will affect those arrested for DWI. The new law states that within a span of five years, if a person hits their second DWI arrest, he or she will face an obligatory license suspension for one year.

According to the article, another new law that has taken affect in Maryland is an official ban against texting while driving. If you are convicted of texting while driving, you may face a steep fine of $400 in addition to having one point added to your driving record. Considering that the law will make exceptions for emergencies, cases involving texting and driving may present some complications given that one person’s definition of an emergency may differ from another’s.

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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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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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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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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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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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August 25, 2009

Maryland Bank Robber Sentenced to 56 Plus Years in Prison

An article published in the Northern Virginia Daily recently discusses the case of a Winchester man convicted of robbing a Maryland bank with his grandson. The 54-year-old must serve more than 56 years in prison for robbing one bank in 2007 and attempting to rob another lending institution a month later. The official sentence handed down by Judge Catherine C. Blake sentences the man to 56 years and eight months according to information provided in a press release issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

When the sentence was announced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the accused made no statement. A federal jury found the man guilty of various firearms violations and armed bank robbery in March 2009 stemming from a robbery that occurred on October 22, 2007. According to the press release, the man robbed the M&T Bank in Hagerstown of $33,888. In the course of committing the robbery and fleeing the scene, the man fired a shotgun at a police vehicle, stole a handgun, and held a mother and daughter hostage at gunpoint for several hours while he eluded law enforcement officials.

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August 20, 2009

Could the Death Penalty Be Reinstated in Maryland?

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun claims that Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s administration may be reluctantly considering the resumption of executions in the state after the governor’s efforts earlier this year failed to convince Maryland’s General Assembly to make capital punishment illegal. Earlier, O’Malley postponed proposed revisions to Maryland’s lethal injection protocols while he attempted to build support for repealing death penalty legislation in Maryland. Since December 2006, Maryland has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment but some state lawmakers have been working to have it reinstated.

People on both sides of Maryland’s death penalty issue are watching developments very closely. Cindy Boersma, the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union which opposes the death penalty, said, "This is the first step toward restarting the machinery of death in Maryland, which is unfortunate. But to the extent this is moving forward, it's moving forward the way it should—with the opportunity for public review and comment."

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August 11, 2009

Howard County Employee Faces DUI and Bribery Charges

An employee of the Department of Economic Development was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol recently and faces additional charges of bribery for offering a police officer $5,000 to reduce her DUI charges to “lesser charges.” An article on Gazette.net said that the 51-year-old female employee was stopped by the police around seven in the morning on March 26, 2009, after they had been alerted by reports of an erratic driver near a fast-food restaurant in the 26400 block of Ridge Road in Damascus. She faces charges of:

  • DUI in Maryland

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol

  • Driver failure to yield right of way while crossing a highway

  • Violating a driver’s license restriction

  • Possessing more than one driver’s license

A spokesperson for Howard County said that the woman was placed on paid leave from her position as a business development specialist immediately after her arrest but would not release any details about the woman’s work record as it is covered by Maryland’s privacy laws. Apparently, the woman was driving a county vehicle at the time of her Maryland DUI arrest even though she was not permitted to drive the county car after business hours. County policy does allow an employee to take a county vehicle home from work if they have county business to attend to early the next morning, but the spokesperson said that the employee had no such business on the morning of her arrest.

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August 6, 2009

Police Looking for Three Armed Men in Dry Cleaner Robbery

Law enforcement authorities are looking for three men in connection with an armed robbery that took place on June 20, 2009. An article published in the University of Maryland’s independent daily student newspaper Diamondback Online, claims that three armed men robbed a dry cleaning business on Route 1 as the store was opening for business. According to a University of Maryland crime alert report, three men entered the rear door of the dry cleaner located in the 7200 block of Baltimore Avenue as it opened for business around 6:30 in the morning. The report said that each of the men displayed a handgun during the robbery, allegedly took money from the cash register and personal property from the employees, and then fled in a burgundy Jeep Cherokee with Maryland license plate 545M727.

At the time the article was published, law enforcement officials investigating the robbery had not yet found the Jeep Cherokee and did not know whether or not the Jeep had been stolen for the purpose of committing the robbery. They also did not release how much money had been taken from the dry cleaner’s register or what personal property had been stolen from the store’s employees. The suspects are described as 18-to 25-year-old black men around 5’8” to 5’10” in height wearing dark clothing with medium to dark complexions.

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August 4, 2009

Ocean City Man Posed as Doctor for Fraudulent Prescriptions

A recent article in the Maryland Coast Dispatch discusses the case of an Ocean City man who allegedly posed as a doctor and called in fake prescriptions to local pharmacies for painkillers. The article said that on June 11, 2009, officers with the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) narcotics unit began a pharmaceutical drug investigation of a man who had allegedly been calling in fake Hydrocodone prescriptions while posing as a doctor from Laurel, Maryland. The article said that the 38-year-old defendant in the Maryland drug crime case is from Ocean City, MD.

Detectives from the OCPD began their investigation of the man after receiving a tip from a pharmacist working for a pharmacy on 120th Street. Police officials said that the pharmacist suspected illegal activity from the way that the prescription drugs were being prescribed and the particular drug that was prescribed. In the course of conducting their investigation, OCPD detectives discovered that the person who the drugs were fraudulently prescribed for had recently been discharged as a patient from a Laurel, Maryland doctor’s office.

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July 30, 2009

New Law Will Make Maryland Parks Alcohol-Free This Fall

Cracking open a cold beer or relaxing with any other alcoholic beverage will be an illegal activity in Maryland state parks beginning this fall. This article which appeared recently on the website HometownAnnapolis.com claims that anyone violating this new Maryland law will face fines beginning on November 1, 2009. According to Maryland Park Service officials, the only place that alcoholic beverages will be allowed will be designated picnic shelters and only when someone has obtained a $35 permit from the park’s manager. If park officials catch someone with an alcoholic beverage anywhere beyond designated areas, they could receive a $55 fine.

Under current Maryland law, visitors to state parks can drink alcohol in motor homes, picnic shelters, campgrounds, and cabins without a permit. Under the new law, motor homes and full-service cabins will be exempt from enforcement of the alcohol ban. This new law represents an expansion of an alcohol ban that has been in place for many years which prohibited people from drinking alcohol on park beaches and grassy areas.

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July 28, 2009

Maryland Traffic Policies Earn Place on “Worst of” List for Exploiting Drivers

The National Motorists Association salutes the beginning of the summer driving season with its annual list of the states with the best and worst motor vehicle laws for summer travelers. The news is not good for Maryland, which earned a number three spot on the worst list. Only New Jersey and Ohio have more driving laws and vehicle-related enforcement policies that are more slanted toward filling state coffers.

Some of the behaviors that give Maryland a bad name with summer travelers include policies that have been highly touted by public officials as part of their on-going (and some would argue politically motivated) fight against drunk driving.

Roadside sobriety checkpoints are a common sight during Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend. Public officials roll out plans for these sobriety roadblocks with great fanfare. From the officials’ point of view, a sobriety checkpoint represents the easiest way to prove to taxpayers that something is being done about drunk driving in Maryland.

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July 23, 2009

Eastern Shore Homicide: Sailor Held without Bond

This Washington Post article reports that a man is being held without bond in connection with an alleged murder that occurred in June 2009. Law enforcement officials have charged a 28-year-old man with first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his wife, a 26-year-old, to death and making up a story about her having been killed in a carjacking. Police say that the woman’s body was found beside a rural Kent County road on Friday, June 5, 2009, and the Kent County medical examiner ruled that her death was a homicide.

The accused husband is a member of the United States Navy assigned to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station when the alleged homicide took place. He told police that he and his wife were on their way back home from Brooklyn, N.Y., when they were carjacked on the New Jersey Turnpike. Law enforcement officials charged him with causing his wife’s death when they found inconsistencies in his account of the carjacking. Maryland State Police found the couple’s car in the District of Columbia and recovered evidence that implicated the accused in the killing of his wife.

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July 21, 2009

Maryland Man and South Carolina Woman Face Drug Trafficking Charges

An article published in North Carolina's Davidson County Dispatch on May 14, 2009 reports that a Maryland man and a South Carolina woman were taken into custody by North Carolina authorities recently on drug trafficking charges. Each is being held in the Davidson County, North Carolina jail on $1 million bonds for allegedly trafficking drugs on Interstate 85. The drug trafficking arrests were made when a Davidson County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled over a Honda Accord with Maryland license plates near mile marker 100 on Interstate 85 for following another vehicle too closely.

A K-9 drug sniffing dog scanned the Accord and alerted the deputy to the presence of drugs. The deputy then conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle. In the process of searching the vehicle, the deputy found 10 pounds of marijuana in the trunk. The woman of Rock Hill, SC was driving the Accord when the arrest was made, and she faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia, one count of maintaining a vehicle for trafficking marijuana and two counts of trafficking marijuana.

The 23-year-old passenger in the Accord of Mechanicsville, MD faces charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of trafficking marijuana.

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July 16, 2009

Annapolis Rape: Man Arrested for 2000 Incident

On May 16, 2009, the Annapolis newspaper, The Capital, published an article about an Annapolis man arrested for his involvement in a rape that occurred on August 26, 2000, in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Annapolis. The State’s Attorney’s Office said that evidence from DNA testing led to the arrest of a 26-year-old man from Annapolis. As law enforcement officials staked out the man’s place of employment to take him into custody, he apparently turned himself in at police headquarters. Charges against him include first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping, armed robbery, use of a handgun in a crime of violence and related charges not outlined in the article.

If a jury convicts him on all charges, the rape and sex offense convictions could result in life sentences, and the other charges could result in imprisonment for 20 to 30 years each. When the alleged crimes were committed, the accused was under 18 years old and a Maryland sex crime lawyer could appeal to have the case heard in juvenile court. However, under Maryland law, a defendant is automatically charged as an adult if they are older than 16 when the crime allegedly occurred and when they are charged with first-degree rape.

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July 14, 2009

Maryland DUI Accident Tragically Kills Teen

A 16-year-old boy was struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle recently while he attempted to cross Route 50 in West Ocean City. An official from the Maryland State Police said that the teen was struck and killed just west of the Harry W. Kelley Memorial Bridge sometime during the evening on May 16, 2009. The article about the Maryland DUI was recently published in the Baltimore Sun and reports that the teen was with a group of friends when he ran across the westbound lanes of Route 50 and made it to the median when he was hit by a Jeep Wrangler.

He was taken to Atlantic General Hospital where he died from his injuries. Law enforcement officials investigating the Maryland DUI accident say that the Jeep’s driver was a 29-year-old man from Massapequa Park, N.Y. He has been charged with driving under the influence and driving while impaired. The teen has been identified and is from Ocean Pines. The principal of Stephen Decatur High School told investigators that the teen was a sophomore at the school.

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June 9, 2009

Maryland DUI Checkpoint in Force for First Weekend in May

On May 4, 2009, Gazette.net reported in a story that Maryland police will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint on Friday, May 8, 2009. The checkpoint is part of a larger multistate operation organized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Called “Checkpoint Strikeforce,” the operation will last for six months consisting of a series of checkpoints and aggressive enforcement tactics conducted throughout Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Beginning Friday, May 8, at 9:00PM, the sobriety checkpoint will stop drivers and administer the standard battery of field tests—including the breathalyzer test—in an effort to deter motorists from driving while under the influence. The checkpoint will be operational until 3:00 the following morning.

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June 2, 2009

Montgomery County DUI Arrest Invalid after Security Tape Viewing

A Gazette.net story reports that an officer’s DUI arrest has been found invalid after an in-court review of a videotape which clearly disputed the facts of the arrest. According to the story, on May 3, 2008, Officer Dina Hoffman arrested George Zaliev on a charge of DUI in Maryland, claiming that she had found the man sleeping behind the wheel of his car.

When the case went to court, the arresting officer repeatedly testified that Zaliev was definitely in the front seat of the vehicle at the time of the arrest. However, during the DUI trial, the criminal defense attorney played a video made by a store security camera which clearly showed Zaliev sleeping in the backseat of the car.

Officer Hoffman now faces a perjury investigation in connection with her statements, and the charges against Zaliev have been dropped.

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May 26, 2009

Is the Economy Driving Up Maryland Commercial Robbery Rates?

CNN.com recently published a story on the effect of neighborhood watches on crime. The story cites statistics from the Police Executive Research Forum claiming that almost half of reporting police departments saw an increase in criminal activity that could be related to the economy.

The Heritage Foundation presents an opposing point of view. According to their essay on crime rates in America, criminal activity may not necessarily have any direct link to the state of the economy. Eli Lehrer, the author of the article, claims that making associations between the economy and criminal activity may be a tempting, albeit faulty, way of analyzing crime in the US.

Could the economy be influencing the types of crime seen in Maryland?

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May 19, 2009

Phelps Incident Highlights Emotional, Financial Costs of Drug Use

Although Michael Phelps is currently facing no criminal or drug charges in relation to the infamous photo of the gold-medal winning swimmer allegedly inhaling from a marijuana water pipe, the repercussions from that photograph are still in effect. This example highlights one of the less pleasant aspects of the court of public opinion. Without a trial, and without a guilty verdict, drug use can have significant financial and emotional costs.

The Baltimore Sun reports in an article that Phelps has been dropped by Kellogg Foods, who had given the swimmer an endorsement deal. USA Swimming, the governing body for competitive swimming in America, has suspended him for three months and deprived him of his financial support during that same period. No drug charges have been filed against the swimmer, yet Phelps’s situation clearly illustrates the potential harm that merely being suspected of drug charges can do to a promising career.

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May 14, 2009

DUI Stop Leads to Drug Trafficking Charges

DelawareOnline reported in an article on March 20, 2009, that Georgetown police had stopped an Ocean City, MD man for allegedly driving under the influence. The routine DUI stop took a different turn when police searched the man and allegedly discovered over 40 packets of heroin in the subject’s pockets.

A further search of the DUI suspect’s vehicle revealed more heroin and drug paraphernalia. The total amount of heroin discovered was approximately 10 grams. Since the drugs were packaged in small discrete quantities, police were able to charge the man with drug trafficking.

Although this incident took place in Delaware, one could extrapolate what would happen if the charges were made in the Maryland court system. Under Maryland’s drug laws, the type of sentencing possible in a drug trafficking case depends on the type of controlled substance involved. Heroin, as a Schedule I narcotic, merits some of the most severe punishments under Maryland law.

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May 7, 2009

Former Miss Maryland Faces Cocaine and Conspiracy Charges

According to a FirstCoastNews.com report, former Miss Maryland Tia Shorts has been arrested on drug possession in Maryland and conspiracy charges. The former pageant contestant is being charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.

The charges come on the heels of a series of arrests that took place near the Germantown residence where Shorts lived. In addition to Shorts, three other people were arrested on a variety of drug-related charges, including possession with intent to distribute heroin, marijuana and cocaine and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.

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May 5, 2009

Maryland Trooper Charged with DUI

Gazette.net reports in an article that a Maryland police officer has been arrested on drunken driving charges. The charges stem from a March 28, 2009, incident in which a Montgomery County police corporal crashed a police cruiser into a concrete barrier.

As Montgomery County police investigate the charges, the officer’s arrest powers have been suspended.

A DUI charge in Maryland carries more penalties than prison terms, probation and fines. A social penalty is also levied against those charged with drunken driving. Unfortunately, the social punishment hits someone charged with a DUI before any court date is set and before a sentence is handed down.

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April 29, 2009

Father and Son DUI Charges

From the York Daily Record comes a story of a father and son arrested for DUI not just on the same night, but at the same time.

According to details from the Daily Record, a state trooper stopped a Pennsylvania man. While the officer questioned the driver, the driver’s son appeared on the scene to check up on his father. As a result, the trooper arrested both the father and son on drunk driving charges.

The law enforcement departments of every state take drunk driving seriously. From a law enforcement standpoint, DUI arrests give the perception of cracking down on DUI, which makes good headlines and good political sense. Unfortunately, in the rush to come down hard on DUI drivers, the police can sometimes push the envelope of legal investigative and arrest powers. While the police are winning political points, they may also violate the rights of ordinary citizens.

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April 27, 2009

Zero Tolerance Drug Policies and the Next Generation

In a recent article from the Washington Post, columnist Marc Fisher discussed the confusion and anger that parents are expressing over Zero Tolerance drug policies at Maryland schools. The latest debate surrounds the plight of a Fairfax County junior who committed suicide when faced with possible expulsion over a violation of the school system’s zero tolerance drug policy.

Zero tolerance movements have gained popularity in various sectors of everyday life over the last two decades. The popularity of these tough movements seems to stem from how easy they are for politicians to sell to the public. School districts in particular love zero tolerance policies because they allow the administration to point to the one-size fits all rules and declare that “they are doing something about the problem.”

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April 9, 2009

Cumberland Second-Degree Murder Charges Against Former Teacher

The Baltimore Sun reports in an article that former middle school teacher Cory Yantz, 37, of Cumberland, MD, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The charges stem from the stabbing death of Yantz’s wife, 34-year-old Tanya Yantz, who was killed last August.

In order to understand the difference between first and second degree murder in Maryland, a close reading of the statutes governing first degree murder is required. Maryland retains an older distinction between first and second degree murder which dates from United States common law. A murder is in the first degree if it meets at least one of the following four criteria:

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April 7, 2009

Death Penalty Debate Set for Maryland Senate

On Tuesday, March 3, 2009, the Maryland Senate voted to open a full debate into the issue of capital punishment in the state, reports the Baltimore Sun in an article.

Under pressure from capital punishment opponent Governor Martin O’Malley, the senate first voted to turn down a measure presented by the Judicial Proceedings Committee to retain the right to administer capital punishment in certain cases. After defeating the measure by a narrow margin, the senate tallied votes to open a debate on the death penalty. The future of the debate hinged on a single vote, with a final of 24 in favor of the debates and 23 opposing.

The United States Supreme Court removed the death penalty from Maryland’s slate of punishments in 1972 in the wake of Furman v. Georgia. Six years later, the Maryland legislature passed new laws permitting capital punishment that met the Supreme Court’s definitions of fairness.

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April 2, 2009

Baltimore Shooting Puts Man in Critical Condition

In the rundown of the Baltimore police blotter for March 10, 2009, the Baltimore Sun notes in an account that a 19-year-old northeastern Baltimore man is in critical condition after being shot in the face during the early morning hours of March 9, 2009. Currently, the Maryland assault with a firearm case is under investigation, and no charges have been filed.

Given the limited amount of information available, should an arrest be made, felony assault with a firearm charges seem likely. Felony assault in Maryland is the attempt to intentionally cause serious harm to another, successful or not. In this case, the victim received injuries severe enough to warrant hospitalization, so the possibility of the state tendering second-degree assault charges is very remote, especially since those injuries were inflicted using a firearm. In Maryland, felony first-degree assault carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

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March 31, 2009

Baltimore Stabbing Death Results in Arrest

Baltimore police have arrested Eddy M. Castillo-Diaz, 21, in connection with a stabbing death that took place February 22, 2009, in East Baltimore. According to a Baltimore Sun story, Mr. Castillo-Diaz is a native of Honduras, and police believe that he is in the United States illegally.

Mr. Castillo-Diaz has been charged with first-degree murder in Maryland, assault and weapons charges. Under Maryland law, first-degree murder can be punished by the death penalty,* life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment. Should the State choose this as a capital case, the accused must be notified in writing of this intent at least 30 days before the start of the trial.

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March 24, 2009

Woodlawn Roadway Shooting Considered First Degree Assault

A review of the Baltimore Sun’s police blotter report for Saturday, March 7, 2009, reveals that three people were arrested and charged with first-degree assault in Maryland in connection with a roadway-shooting incident that took place during the early morning hours in the Woodlawn area.

According to the blotter record, the three individuals were driving in the Woodlawn area and at approximately 3:30 a.m., one of the individuals allegedly discharged a .32 caliber handgun at the driver of another car. Fortunately the shot missed, and the driver reported the incident to law enforcement officials.

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February 26, 2009

Carroll County Alcohol-Related Collision Yields DWI/DUI Charges

The Baltimore Sun reported in an article on January 11, 2009, that alcohol may have been a factor in a fatal January 10 car accident in Carroll County. According to the Sun, 21-year-old Timothy Mahoney of Sykesville lost control of his vehicle early on the morning of January 10. Mahoney crossed over into the opposite lane of Route 32 and struck a truck driven by Richard Dixon, also of Sykesville.

Mahoney was pronounced dead at the scene and Dixon was treated for injuries at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Officers found an opened case of beer in Mahoney’s vehicle.

The Sun also reported that one of the witnesses to the crash, Brian Noyes of Eldersburg, had also been drinking. When deputies administered an alcohol test at the scene, Noyes’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.06, lower than the legal limit for intoxication.

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February 17, 2009

Baltimore County Man Sought in Shooting Death of Middle River Woman

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Baltimore County police are searching for 26-year-old Warren Jerome Yates of Dundalk in connection with a fatal shooting.

Police allege that on January 7, 2009, Yates sold another man $4000 worth of marijuana. The other man passed Yates a roll of bills to pay for the drugs, but only one of the bills was real.

The purchaser fled when Yates discovered the ruse, then Yates drew a gun and fired two shots at the man.

One of the shots struck 58-year-old Shirley Worcester, a Middle River resident who was standing outside of her home. The bullet hit Worcester in the chest, fatally wounding her.

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February 12, 2009

Maryland DNA Testing Expanded

As of the beginning of the New Year, mandatory DNA collection will be expanded in Maryland criminal cases, according to an Associated Press story released on wtop.com. Until January 1, 2009, Maryland officials routinely collected DNA samples from convicted felons. The new law dispenses with the conviction requirement and expands the types of crimes that will be subject to DNA collection. Now, Maryland officials will be able to obtain DNA samples from those merely facing violent crime charges or being charged with attempting to commit a violent crime.

The expanded Maryland DNA policy is legally troubling for many reasons. Both the ACLU and the NAACP strongly oppose the new regulations. These organizations highlighted their concerns in a letter to Terri Wilkin, DNA Relations Coordinator with the State Police. In their joint letter, the ACLU and NAACP underline concerns that the new laws will violate Fourth Amendment rights and could be used to discriminate against minorities. Also at issue is the potential for police officers to collect DNA samples at arrest before charging a person with a Maryland violent crime.

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February 10, 2009

Teen Weapon Charges

It is an unfortunate reality of today’s world that teenagers are more often involved in weapons charges. From the Washington Post, we see the story of 17-year-old Patrick S. Yevsukov, who pleaded guilty on January 9, 2009, to charges stemming from the discovery last summer of firearms and explosives at the home of a friend, Collin McKenzie-Gude of Bethesda.

Given the highly-charged political climate calling for increased criminal penalties, teenagers in weapons cases are often charged as adults. In Yevsukov’s case, he was charged as a juvenile and eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of manufacture or possession of an explosive device, along with unauthorized access to a computer and theft.

McKenzie-Gude’s case is still pending. An earlier Post story details the efforts of the defense attorney for McKenzie-Gude, who asked that he be charged as a juvenile since the events associated with the crime took place while he was seventeen.

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February 3, 2009

Maryland Police Program of Surveillance is More Like Spying

A story in the January 4th issue of the Washington Post reveals the unlikely targets of police surveillance—civil rights groups and peace advocates.

In 2005, the Maryland State Police began a program of surveillance as a “threat assessment of protests,” which the police anticipated at the executions of two convicted criminals. According to the Post article, the Maryland State Police initially treated the surveillance as a “low-risk training exercise.” However, the original purpose of the investigation grew blurred as more organizations were targeted by surveillance efforts.

By the time the surveillance activities were curtailed in 2007, the roster of organizations of interest to the Maryland Police included well-known activist groups such as Amnesty International and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Local protest groups—such as the Maryland Campaign to End the Death Penalty and anti-war groups at universities and colleges—were also investigated by the police.

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