Prosecutors in Maryland typically only file charges in scenarios where they believe they can secure a conviction. Usually, that means they have evidence gathered by police departments or special agencies that support their claims that an individual violated state law.
Those arrested or indicted for criminal offenses in Maryland often feel panicked about the potential prosecution they will soon face. A surprising percentage of people simply plead guilty because they assume that if the state has enough evidence to bring charges, they have no chance of defending against those allegations. Yet, there are at least three different ways in which a criminal defense attorney could help someone overcome the state’s evidence and fight back against allegations that they broke the law.
Keeping evidence out of court
There are both state and federal rules limiting the actions of law enforcement authorities to prevent violations of people’s rights. For example, police officers can only search private property when they have a warrant, permission from a property owner or probable cause in most cases. Criminal defense attorneys can sometimes invoke the exclusionary rule by showing that the collection of certain evidence violated an individual’s rights and can keep that evidence out of criminal court.
Showing that the state didn’t follow best practices
Gathering scientifically verifiable evidence requires careful adherence to establish best practices. For example, it is crucial to secure the crime scene as soon as possible. Police officers also need to maintain very thorough records of where, when and how they collect different evidence. Failing to follow those rules might lead to questions about the validity of that evidence during criminal proceedings. Gaps in the chain of custody could raise questions about whether contamination or even corruption influenced the state’s evidence.
Bringing in their own experts
The process of analyzing evidence, ranging from financial records to chemical evidence, requires both precision and appropriate training. Defense attorneys can sometimes raise questions about the accuracy of the state’s analysis of existing evidence by bringing in their own expert witnesses. Professionals ranging from specialized scientists to forensic accountants could raise questions about how the state analyzed different types of evidence and could help generate the reasonable doubt someone needs to avoid a conviction.
Recognizing that there are multiple strategies for fighting criminal charges even when the state seems to have a strong case may help people feel more confident about taking their case to trial.