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Upper Marlboro Criminal Defense Law Blog

What is drug court?

If you are facing drug-related criminal charges in the state of Maryland, you might think that jail or prison time is in your future. You may be right but, then again, you may not. Your legal counsel will work diligently to have your case dismissed, but if that is not an option, there may be something else they can help you fight for so that you can avoid spending time behind bars. What is that something else? Drug court.

What is drug court? What happens if you fail to finish the program? What does it take to qualify?

Colleges cracking down on underage drinking

In recent years, there is an increasing number of colleges in Maryland and in states across the country that are enacting policies in order to deter students from underage drinking. According to the Center for Disease Control, alcohol is the most commonly used drug by youth in the United States. Underage drinking causes more than 4,300 deaths each year and plays a role in destructive behavior, unprotected sexual activity and poor school performance.

Colleges have come under fire for allowing underage drinking to occur on campus, which has led to a variety of lawsuits and has damaged the reputation of some schools. Additionally, in order to secure federal funds for their school, colleges must attempt to control underage drinking. Because of this, college students who are found to be drinking under the age of 21 may face stiff penalties from both the school and local law authorities.

Maryland prosecutor announces more lenient marijuana stance

Lawmakers in Maryland legalized the medical use of marijuana in 2013, but the recreational use of the drug remains forbidden. Civil rights groups say that police disproportionately target black neighborhoods when enforcing the nation's narcotics laws, and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby cited those arguments on Jan. 29 when she announced that she would no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases.

Mosby also said in a press conference that she planned to vacate the convictions of thousands of individuals prosecuted for possessing marijuana since 2011. She pointed out that these individuals were being punished for activities that are now legal in the District of Columbia and 10 states. While legislators have not moved to follow the example set by these states, they did decriminalize possessing less than 10 grams of the drug in 2014.

Certain medical conditions could lead to DUI arrest

Did you know that chronic health conditions can skew the results of a field sobriety test? One second you are driving down the road and the next you are trying to walk in a straight line or blow into a machine. You know you are sober, but the results are saying otherwise. Now what?

Understanding auto-brewery syndrome

Alternative sentencing can reduce recidivism rates

The FIRST STEP Act, which President Trump signed into law in December 2018, was lauded by civil rights advocates in Maryland and around the country as a meaningful step toward a more equitable criminal justice system. The law offers relief to federal prisoners who were convicted of nonviolent offenses, but the overwhelming majority of the nation's inmates are held in state rather than federal detention facilities.

More than 2 million people are currently incarcerated across the country, and civil rights groups claim that this squanders resources that could be used far more productively. While federal criminal justice reform laws do not address this issue, lawmakers in various parts of the country are taking a more proactive approach and have achieved considerable success with alternative sentencing strategies.

Ruling may point to greater protections for suspects' phones

Many criminal defense lawyers in Maryland and across the country have counseled their clients to use alphanumeric passcodes or passwords for their mobile devices. As people come to depend on their mobile devices for all aspects of their daily lives and communications, they may also be concerned about the potential for them to be opened by law enforcement without their consent. In the past, multiple courts have ruled that police cannot force people to disclose their mobile phone passcodes. This is considered to violate the constitutional right against forced self-incrimination.

However, police have been allowed to use biometric options, like iris locks, face recognition or fingerprint technologies, to open phones locked with these methods. Therefore, people concerned about privacy have often preferred to rely on traditional passwords. However, people who have never been in contact with the criminal justice system before may be unaware of the difference in how these different types of protection are treated. A federal judge in California has ruled, however, that biometric locks should be treated identically to passcode locks when police want to examine a device.

Misdemeanor convictions could result in long-term consequences

Most criminal defendants in Maryland will face misdemeanor charges. Although convictions on misdemeanors will not result in penalties as harsh as those for felony convictions, the long-term results could limit people's chances for employment as well as access to student loans or government benefits.

A legal scholar and former federal prosecutor has estimated that misdemeanor cases arise from about 80 percent of arrests. This translates into misdemeanor cases filling the vast majority of court dockets. The heavy caseload overwhelms public defenders, whose limited resources prevent them from investigating cases and constructing effective defense strategies. As a result, plea deals resolve most misdemeanor cases. The scholar argued that this broad inability to defend people accused of low-level crimes effectively forces innocent people to accept plea deals.

Maryland couple facing drug charges after apartment search

A narcotics investigation lasting several months led to the arrests of a 38-year-old Salisbury man and his 23-year-old girlfriend, according to police and prosecutors in Maryland. The couple was taken into custody without incident during the early morning hours of Dec. 15 when two apartments the Wicomico County Sheriff's Office believed were being used to sell drugs were searched by deputies. Media reports suggest that the apartments had been under observation by members of the WCSO Criminal Investigation Division for some time.

The search warrants were executed at approximately 4:11 a.m. by WCSO deputies supported by officers from the Salisbury Police Department and Maryland State Police troopers assigned to the Gang Enforcement Unit. The search of the two Emory Court apartments allegedly yielded small quantities of powder cocaine, crack cocaine and marijuana along with drug paraphernalia, including a set of digital scales and an unusually large number of plastic sandwich bags. Police say that they also recovered a loaded handgun and $1,099 in currency.

Is shoplifting that serious?

Shoplifting is not just a prank or a dare you may have tried as a kid. Retail business owners lose millions of dollars a year to this form of theft. This does not include the amount of money shops and stores must budget for security measures such as cameras, electronic tags, additional staff training and security guards. Because of this, retailers are more likely to seek charges against anyone they believe has committed this offense.

State laws provide severe consequences for those convicted of shoplifting. Because the laws regarding shoplifting meet different standards in every state, it may help you to understand what is at stake if you are facing charges in Maryland.

It would be better to get help than get incarcerated

Addictive substances such as alcohol and many drugs can wreak havoc on an individual. For many people, it begins as a way to self-medicate or results from medication prescribed after an injury. Few people set out to become addicted to any substance, but once it happens, it often takes over their lives.

In 2017, 2,282 people here in Maryland lost their lives due to drugs or alcohol. Those who live through calamities involving their addictions often end up facing criminal charges of some kind. If you are one of those people, you may face DUI charges, possession charges and more, depending on the circumstances.

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