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March 2015 Archives

How can an attorney help a defendant navigate sentencing guidelines?

The discussion in our last couple posts has been concerned with mandatory minimum sentencing, particularly the public debate concerning the fairness and effectiveness of mandatory minimum sentencing for drug crimes and why it is important for criminal defendants to work with an experienced advocate in navigating sentencing guidelines. Although our discussion has been more focused on how sentencing guidelines work in Massachusetts, much of what we are saying is also applicable to federal cases.

How can an attorney help a defendant navigate sentencing guidelines?

In our last post, we spoke briefly about the public debate that is currently going on with respect to drug crime policy, specifically the effectiveness and fairness of mandatory minimum sentencing. As more changes continue happening at the state and federal level, the public debate is bound to continue and become a more mainstream discussion.  

Mandatory minimum sentences publicly criticized at criminal justice summit

Readers are aware that the heyday of the war on drugs has passed and that there has been a significant shift in recent years at both the state and federal level. Not only has the federal government shifted its prosecutorial policy to exercising greater lenience toward nonviolent drug offenders and taken steps to ease the burden on federal correctional facilities, numerous states have established medical marijuana systems and more are beginning to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and even permit the recreational use of marijuana.

DUI checkpoints in Maryland: know your rights

Yesterday, things got a bit crazy for St. Patrick’s Day in Annapolis. In the midst of a DUI checkpoint, a motorist reportedly fled from police and struck several cars before his own vehicle crashed and caught fire. According to police, the man had been driving without a license and was under the influence of a controlled substance. He is now charged with DWI and other offenses in connection with the incident.

Step 1: invoke the right to remain silent. Step 2: call a lawyer.

Have you ever watched a television crime drama? You have probably sat through at least one scene where a police officer is vigorously interrogating a suspect. The officer fires questions at a rapid pace, lies about the evidence, suggests alternative motives or fills in the blanks for the suspect. The suspect eventually admits to certain facts or confesses to the crime. After a commercial break or two, you learn that the suspect is innocent.

D.C. marijuana legalization creates precarious situation

Maryland readers are likely all aware of the situation in the District of Columbia regarding the legalization of marijuana. With marijuana now legal there, the situation in Maryland is a bit precarious. Maryland residents may be only minutes away from being able to purchase the drug legally while it remains illegal in their own state.

DUI checkpoints in Maryland: know your rights, P.2

In our last post, we began speaking about DUI checkpoints and their legality in the state of Maryland. One of the points we tried to hit home was that DUI checkpoints do not destroy the constitutional protections owed to motorists. As we noted, this includes the right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures and to remain silent in the face of police interrogations. This is an important point to understand, not only during the investigation itself but also afterward in scrutinizing the police investigation itself.

Work with us in fighting federal drug charges

In our last post, we wrote about a recent push in the Maryland House to allow state level charges for drug dealers who contribute to the fatal overdose of a client. As we pointed out, there is already such a law at the federal level. The law applies not only to heroin cases, but also to cases involving other opiates, including morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl.

Increase in fatal drug overdoses prompts consideration of new bill

With the problem of spreading heroin use gaining greater attention in Maryland in recent months, it makes sense that state lawmakers in the House are currently contemplating a bill that would increase penalties for those who deal the dangerous drug. The bill would allow prosecutors to charge dealers or heroin or fentanyl when one of their clients overdoses.

Work with an experienced attorney on your asset forfeiture case

We’ve been discussing the issue of asset forfeiture in our last couple posts, mentioning changes that could be coming at the state level and a recent change in forfeiture rules at the federal level. In this post, we’d like to offer a few comments about how an attorney can help property owners in these cases.

Federal civil asset forfeiture program limited by recent order

In our last post, we began discussing a bill currently under consideration in the House of Representatives which would shift the burden of proof in asset forfeiture cases from the property owner to the state. Other changes the bill would bring about are that seized assets would have to be returned to the owner if they are not charged with a crime after 90 days, and that officers would be prohibited from seizing money valued at $300 or less.

Proposal would make changes to state asset forfeiture law

When an individual is suspected of criminal activity, police immediately set out to gather as much evidence as they can to obtain probable cause for searches, seizures and arrests, and to maximize the criminal charges they are able to pursue. Police are not, however, able to make an arrest or conduct a search until they have probable cause to believe a crime was committed.