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Upper Marlboro Criminal Defense Law Blog

Study shows failures of probation and parole

According to a 2019 report out of the CSG Justice Center, nearly half of people admitted to state prisons throughout the United States are there as a result of violating their probation or parole. In Maryland specifically, only 4% of prisoners are admitted from parole or probation violations. Still, the personal and economic costs of this phenomenon remain a nationwide problem. Criminal justice advocates say that the research should spur a call to action.

Probation and parole systems are supposed to be designed to help former inmates avoid incarceration and move on with their lives, but the data shows that the system is not serving that purpose in most states. Many people are put back in prison as the result of minor crimes, and some 95,000 people are locked up each day simply due to a technical violation of their parole or probation.

Your right to refuse sobriety tests

When a police officer pulls you over, you may feel several physical reactions. Your heart may beat faster, your face may feel hot and your hands may shake. This is normal since an encounter with police often has an uncertain outcome. If the officer asks if you have been drinking, you have good reason to be nervous. A police officer who suspects you of drunk driving may have already decided to arrest you.

Nevertheless, the officer needs probable cause, so he or she may ask you to step out of the car and submit to field sobriety tests. Despite your nervousness, it is critical that you think clearly, know your rights and decide how you will respond to the officer's request.

Crimewatch apps may not reduce crime

Some people in Maryland may be familiar with apps that are supposed to show whether crime is happening in the neighborhood. These include Citizen, Next Door, and Neighbors, which is part of Amazon Ring. However, there is no evidence that these make people any safer. They do stoke fears about crime, which people believe to be on the rise even though over the past 25 years, it has significantly dropped.

Although Amazon Ring claims its program does prevent crime, according to the MIT Technology Review, some studies report that houses that have Ring cameras are more frequently burglarized than those without. Ring has also partnered in several states with law enforcement to allow security videos to be monitored.

Man arrested after police seize $50,000 in drugs

On May 28, a 60-year Maryland man was arrested on drug charges when authorities raided two housing complexes in Annapolis. The operation yielded approximately $50,000 worth of cocaine and heroin and more than $1,100 in cash.

According to authorities, investigators from the Annapolis Police Department were alerted to illegal drug sales and gun crimes taking place in the Harbour House and Robinwood housing communities. Officers say they observed the defendant engaging in alleged illegal drug activity while standing by a white car near the intersection of Brashears Street and Monroe Street. A K-9 officer inspected the area around his vehicle and signaled the presence of drugs.

Maryland drug ring busted, 17 arrested

In May, Maryland authorities busted a drug trafficking ring that was allegedly operating in and around Allegany County. The investigation resulted in the arrests of 17 people.

According to media reports, members of the Maryland State Police Heroin Investigative Unit and the Allegany County Narcotics Task Force started investigating the drug ring in 2018. They allegedly discovered that the group was transporting drugs like cocaine, fentanyl and heroin from Baltimore to Allegany County and storing them for distribution.

Probation violations affect your future

A conviction for a violent crime, drug offense or other violation of the law can mean spending months or years behind bars. Even a first-offense DUI can mean up to a year in jail in Maryland. However, following your conviction, you may have been fortunate to receive a sentence of probation.

Probation means you will serve your sentence outside of jail. You may live at home with your family and continue your normal life as much as possible. However, probation does not mean you have no consequences. Your actions must remain within the limitations of your court order. Knowing and understanding the terms of your probation is essential because to violate those terms could result in severe penalties.

Studies examine differences in attitudes toward crime, policing

Black Maryland residents may be more likely than whites to think that the police and the criminal justice system is unfair to minorities. However, they also tend to be more concerned about crime than whites. These findings are consistent across surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center and other organizations.

In a 2017 survey, black respondents were more worried about gun crime, crime in their communities, someone breaking into their home or being a violent crime victim than whites were. However, in a different survey that asked respondents to rate their feelings toward police on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the warmest, they gave police a mean rating of 47 compared to a mean rating by whites of 72. In another survey, a majority of both whites and blacks agreed that police didn't treat blacks as impartially as whites. However, 84% of blacks believed this compared to 63% of whites.

Maryland apartment search leads to $200,000 drug seizure

A 25-year-old man was taken into custody by police in Howard County and charged with 32 narcotics counts after drugs with a street value said to be in excess of $200,000 were allegedly discovered in his Elliot City apartment. According to local media reports, the investigation that led to the May 10 search and arrest was launched after a concerned citizen reported to a drug tip line in January that the residence was being used to store and sell drugs.

The ensuing investigation lasted for four months and uncovered evidence suggesting that the information contained in the tip was accurate. Based on this evidence, police were able to secure a warrant to enter and search the Autumn Branch Lane residence. After being taken into custody by police at the scene, the man was transported to the Howard County Detention Center for processing. He is being held without bond according to media accounts.

Some factors can make a DUI sentence more severe

Anytime you are facing accusations of committing a criminal offense, you have a lot at stake. This is true for charges of driving under the influence of alcohol. While DUI is one of the most common reasons for arrest in Maryland, you should not think of it as a minor problem. Even a first offense DUI can mean severe penalties and repercussions that can affect the rest of your life.

Specific other factors can raise the severity of your DUI arrest. Certain circumstances at the time of your arrest can place you at risk for sentence enhancements that can be even tougher than normal if the court convicts you. Understanding these factors may help you build a strong defense to protect your future.

MS-13 gang member sentenced to 35 years in prison

In late April, a federal judge sentenced a Maryland man to 35 years in prison for distributing drugs and participating in a murder on behalf of the notorious MS-13 gang. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release.

According to court documents, the defendant pleaded guilty to charges of distributing drugs, including cocaine and marijuana, and committing extortion and murder in the furtherance of a racketeering conspiracy. In June 2016, he joined with other MS-13 members to conspire, plan and execute the murder of a rival gang member in Gaithersburg's Malcolm King Park. Apparently, a female MS-13 member lured the victim to a wooded area in the park, and the defendant and three other male gang members attacked him with knives, stabbing him to death. The coroner's report indicated that the victim suffered over 150 penetrating wounds in the attack.

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