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Felony vs. Misdemeanor Charges in Maryland

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If you are charged with a felony in the State of Maryland, the general rule implies that you are facing at least one year of potential jail time for the charge, while misdemeanor charges usually carry a maximum in jail of one year or less. However, due to changes by the Maryland General Assembly, some crimes no longer fall within the general rule and some misdemeanors carry longer sentences than felonies.

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Supreme Court News on Criminal Law in Rockville

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On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court decided the case of Birchfield v. North Dakota. As we described in our previous blog on criminal law, the Court in Birchfield took up the issue of whether under the United States Constitution, a state can punish someone by suspending their right to drive simply because they refused to take a blood or breath. Learn More.

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Police Use Cell Phone Tracking Technology in Maryland

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With the pervasiveness of cell phones, police are using GPS coordinates for cell phone tracking and to track the location of crime suspects. However, in their zeal to make arrests, the police have been secretly and illegally using high tech equipment to locate suspects in a wide range of cases, including murder, robbery, and drug-related offences.

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Effect of a Conviction on Your Professional License

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Did you know that if you are charged with a crime, the outcome of your case may have a direct bearing on your ability to practice your profession, if your profession requires that you possess a professional license in Maryland?

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Police Use Spying Technology Behind Court’s Back

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With the pervasiveness of cell phones, police are using GPS coordinates of cell phones to track the location of crime suspects. However, in their zeal to make arrests, the police have been secretly and illegally using high tech equipment to capture criminals. Learn More

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Event Data Recorder

Event Data Recorder – The Factory Installed Black Box in Your Car

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Most of you know that planes contain black boxes that record in-flight data, such as aircraft speed and trajectory. But did you know that your car is probably quipped with a black box too? Learn More

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Cellphone Passcode

Can Police Force You to Reveal Your Cellphone Passcode?

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Most people protect their phones by using cellphone passcodes. But what if police seize your phone and demand that you provide them with the passcode, do you have to give it to them?

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Citizens’ Right to File Criminal Charges

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By Maya Kushner, Esq. and Marc Emden, Esq.

What steps can you take to enforce your rights if a crime is committed against you? When one falls victim to a crime, most people report the incident to the police, which is always an advisable first step. Usually, the police create an incident report, conduct an investigation, and file criminal charges against the perpetrator. But what if after hearing your story the police decide not to institute criminal charges, while you still believe that your case should go forward?

Options

File Criminal Charges

There is another avenue to try: as a victim of a crime, you can go to the District Court commissioner in the county where the crime occurred and seek the institution of criminal charges against the perpetrator. Maryland is one of the few states that allows citizens to file criminal charges. Some of the other states which allow this practice are: Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The District of Columbia does not allow this practice, while Virginia is even more liberal than Maryland in this regard: it also allows private prosecutions.

To utilize this avenue you must go to a District Court commissioner and file an “Application for Statement of Charges.” A commissioner is a judicial officer, and at least one commissioner is available in each county 24/7. The Application is made in writing and should contain a description of the accused and the details of the crime (who, when, where, what, why, how). The commissioner then decides if there is sufficient evidence to establish probable cause to believe that the crime occurred under the criminal laws of this State and that the person you accused was the one who committed the crime.

File Criminal Charges: Probable Cause

If the commissioner finds probable cause, he or she then issues a charging document and either a summons for the defendant to appear in court at a later date or a warrant for the arrest of the defendant. Whether a summons or an arrest warrant is issued is at the discretion of the commissioner. The summons or warrant is then sent to law enforcement officers so that the defendant can be served with the summons or arrested with the warrant.

Once the commissioner issues the charging document, the charges cannot be withdrawn. The State’s Attorney may later review the statement of charges and may dismiss the charges if the attorney finds that they lack merit, otherwise the charges will be resolved by the trial court.

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Black Box: Your Car’s Dark Secret

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Most of you know that planes have black boxes that record in-flight data such as aircraft speed and trajectory. But did you know that your car probably has a black box too? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 96% of model year 2013 and newer cars already have a black box, or an Event Data Recorder (EDR) as it is known, and NHTSA is proposing a rule to make EDRs a requirement.

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