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Criminal Defense Archives

The First Step Act faces many hurdles

Politicians from Maryland and throughout the country have supported the First Step Act. If passed through Congress, the legislation would work to shorten federal prison sentences and alter rules that tend to unfairly harm minorities. For instance, it would make sentencing more equitable for those convicted of crimes related to crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. However, it is important to note that the Department of Justice would still have the final say as to whether a person would qualify for an early release.

First Steps Act may change mandatory sentencing, other rules

Some people in Maryland who are serving a jail or prison sentence may have their sentences shortened or receive other benefits if a bill known as the First Step Act passes through Congress. One thing the bill will do is address the disparities in sentencing between people convicted of drug-related charges involving cocaine and those involving crack.

The truth about wearing ankle monitor devices

The use of electronic monitoring devices doubled between 2005 and 2015, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts. These devices use GPS to monitor a person whether he or she is in Maryland or any other state. They are considered to be more humane than simply locking an offender behind bars. For those who have been required to use an ankle bracelet, however, it is often described as akin to being incarcerated.

Racial bias can affect bail hearing outcomes

Black defendants may face racial bias in Maryland and across the country at bail hearings regardless of the race of the judge involved. This is the conclusion of a study conducted in Philadelphia and Miami that examined over 250,000 court cases in which bail was at issue. Both black and white judges were, according to the study, more likely to detain black defendants until their court hearings, a step that can have a negative impact on the perception of the defendant and the likelihood of conviction. In addition, black defendants were charged an average of $7,281 more for bail than white defendants.

Police changing lineup procedures to reduce errors

Research shows that criminal eyewitness identifications tend to be unreliable, meaning defendants in Maryland and elsewhere could be wrongfully convicted if such evidence is used in a trial. As a result, many police departments are finally changing the way they conduct police lineups.

Individuals now have more control over cellphone data

According to the Supreme Court, a warrant is necessary to access a cellphone's location history. This is considered a major victory for the privacy rights of Maryland residents and all Americans. Its 5-4 decision in Carpenter v. United States is also seen as widening the scope and updating the Fourth Amendment. Under the Stored Communications Act, police could obtain cell site location information, or CSLI, as long as it could reasonably be used to find data relevant to an investigation.

Things to know if a Maryland police officer arrests you

No one really likes to think about facing criminal charges in a Maryland court. Especially if you have never navigated the criminal justice system, facing criminal allegations can be one of the most stressful, challenging experiences of your life. You may have a lot riding on the outcome as well and, depending on how strong a defense you have, your very freedom may be at stake.

Stronger alcohol laws could reduce drunk driving deaths

Accidents involving drunk drivers around the country claim 29 lives every day, and 110 million Americans drive while intoxicated each year, according to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A nationwide .08 percent blood alcohol limit and zero tolerance programs aimed at younger drivers have made roads in Maryland and across the country safer, but they have not been enough to prevent drunk driving deaths from rising alarmingly in recent years.

Supreme Court ruling protects rental car borrowers' rights

A May 2018 Supreme Court ruling could be important for protecting the rights of people in Maryland when driving a borrowed rental car. In a ruling, the high court said that people who drive a rental car with permission from the authorized driver have the same protections from searches by police as the original rental. The unanimous decision affirmed that people who are in lawful possession of a rental car have a reasonable expectation of privacy, even when they are not listed on the rental car agreement as an authorized driver.

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