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Criminal Defense Archives

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.

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.

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.

How old warrants can cause present-day problems

Some people might be taken into custody in Maryland and around the country even after having a warrant dismissed, and this may be the result of a clerical error. This happened to one man who was detained in New Orleans on a 25-year-old warrant that had been dismissed. The same thing happened to him multiple times in relation to a bad check conviction from 2006. He said he had lost jobs and his marriage as a result.

Electronic search warrants worry civil rights advocates

Police officers in Maryland and around the country often use portable breath testing devices to determine whether or not a motorist is impaired by alcohol, but blood must be drawn to establish drug use. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that law enforcement must obtain search warrants before drawing blood, and the way police departments are meeting this requirement has many civil rights advocates worried. To speed up the process, 45 states allow police to obtain warrants by video, telephone, or affidavits sent electronically.

Study looks at teen dating violence and murder

Some Maryland teenagers, particularly girls, may be at a greater risk of violence from an intimate partner than they or many people realize. Some experts expressed surprise over a study that appeared in "JAMA Pediatrics" in April 2019. It reported that almost 7 percent of over 2,000 adolescents who were killed from 2003 to 2016 were killed by an intimate partner. The average age of the person killed was 17, and 90 percent were female. Most of the partners were older than 18.

Why bail matters when resolving a criminal case

In many cases, defendants can purchase their freedom while their cases are pending. However, there are times when an individual who has the opportunity to bail out of jail cannot afford to do so. This can have a significant impact on how cases in Maryland and throughout the country play out. For instance, an individual may plead guilty simply to get out of jail in a timely manner. This may occur even if a person could have won at trial.

Younger Americans more likely to be arrested than older adults

People in Maryland and elsewhere in the United States age 26 and younger are more likely to get arrested than previous generations. This is what researchers discovered when conducting a study to evaluate arrest rates and patterns. In general, arrest rates are rising fastest for white Americans and women. The study also linked increasing arrest and conviction rates to reduced marriage chances and lower wages and family income.

Ruling clarifies how judges must assess jurors

Jurors in Maryland and around the country play an important role in the American justice system. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has said that jurors are allowed to let their personal beliefs influence their thought process during a case. The case that led to the court's decision involved a black man who was convicted of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute it. A prospective juror said that she believed that the justice system was rigged against black men.

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.

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