One mistake many people who are a charged with a crime make is failing to retain a qualified attorney at their earliest opportunity. Some hope to defend themselves in court, others put their faith in public defenders, while a few contact the first attorney they find during a basic search for representation. Unfortunately, these three methods for picking attorneys can seriously hurt a person’s chances of receiving reduced charges or having a case dismissed. Knowing how to choose a qualified criminal defense attorney can greatly influence how your case is resolved.

Check References

Research has shown that over 85% of consumers consult online reviews before making any purchases or major decisions. If you are a person who will not order food or purchase a pair of shoes without searching for reviews or outside references, do not retain an attorney without doing the same. Always check your attorney’s references to verify education and the outcome of major cases in which he or she was involved. A good lawyer who is professional and honest will have good feedback from past clients or associates. While even the best attorneys may have some negative reviews, a reliable attorney will have an overwhelming majority of positive feedback and praise from past clients.

On May 14, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States made a decision regarding the appeal of petitioner Terrence Byrd. The case centered around the expectation of privacy that the petitioner, Terrence Byrd, had during a traffic stop that ultimately led to his arrest. Byrd’s case was based upon the protections offered by the Fourth Amendment that he believed should have prevented the arresting officers from searching his vehicle during his 2014 traffic stop. During his trial, Byrd attempted to suppress all of the evidence obtained during the initial stop because he claimed he did not actually agree to the stop and had a reasonable expectation of privacy, even though he was not an authorized user.

Case Background

In September of 2014 Latasha Reed, the mother of Terrence Byrd’s children, rented a car in the state of New Jersey. After paying for the car, signing the rental agreement, and obtaining the keys, Reed left the car rental company and immediately gave the keys to Byrd. Reed did not list Byrd as a spouse or authorized driver on the rental agreement. Eventually Byrd was stopped by Pennsylvania State Troopers near Harrisburg after he incorrectly passed a vehicle on the four-way highway.

Finding yourself in police custody is terrifying, even if you expect to be released from jail in a few hours. Law enforcement officials work hard to ensure that anyone charged with a crime, regardless of how minor, is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Regardless of whether your possible penalty is a large fine or jail time, it is crucial that you take steps to secure your rights.  One misstep could give the prosecution an easy victory while destroying your own future. If you or someone close to you is ever charged with a crime, there are three mistakes you should never make.

Talking About the Case with Everyone

A nervous person may attempt to relieve some tension by speaking with those around them. Unfortunately, it is easy to reveal too many things to the wrong person. If you are taken into custody, do not discuss your case with those incarcerated around you, the officers guarding you, or during phone calls with friends. Those looking for leniency for themselves may betray your confidence in an effort to reduce their own sentences. The only person you need to discuss your case in detail with is your attorney.

With the city reporting more than 300 homicides for the third year in a row, Baltimore’s high violent crime rate is the focus of Maryland Senate Bill 122. Passed by the state Senate in April, the Comprehensive Crime Act of 2018 legislative bill targets recidivists by enhancing sentences for firearm-related, repeat offenses in connection with drug trafficking and other serious crimes. The latest effort by Maryland’s government to strike a balance between public safety and sentencing, the policy initiative will lay the framework for strengthening criminal penalties in cases in which witness intimidation or obstruction of justice is found to be present. The proposed legislation will also support law enforcement capabilities in the investigation of firearm-related criminal cases by expanding those agencies’ authority to wiretap suspects.

System-Wide Reforms, Targeted Programs

If enacted, the 2018 legislation proposes to increase law enforcement agencies’ powers as part of an effort to tackle the systemic causes of crime. The Act includes policy guidelines for multi-year investment in programs to provide law enforcement and community partner agency support in the state over the next four years. Programs to evolve from the proposed legislation of more than $40 million in funding will go to support community safety through police-youth relationship building initiatives, as well as victim relocation and witness protection programs.

The legal duration of a traffic stop was recently subject to deliberation in the United States Supreme Court, Jason Nathaniel Carter v. State of Maryland, No. 290, Sept. Term, 2017. The court found that U.S. Constitutional Law deems that law enforcement detention of a driver during a traffic stop should be within reasonable and permissible limits.

Traffic Stops and Constitutional Law 

In Carter v. Maryland, the law enforcement officer party to the matter had not completed a citation for traffic violations when a canine officer produced a positive alert indicating presence of a controlled and dangerous substance. While the plaintiff claimed that the officer delayed processing of the traffic citations, the defense argued that the traffic stop was underway at time of the canine search. No misconduct on behalf of the officer was found, despite record of temporary pause from processing the traffic citation to request the driver to exit the vehicle and brief the other officers before the canine scan could be performed. At no time, found the court, did the officer abandon the process or impermissibly delay the traffic stop. 

The debate on how to fix crime rates, and which law enforcement policies work and which do not, are being brought back into the spotlight. A new crime bill seems to lean the opposite direction of most popular thoughts on crime and punishment—for example, enacting harsher, longer penalties, when the trend had been finding avenues for people to get out of prison and back into the workforce if their crimes were not considered violent.

In fact, many lawmakers say that the new laws remind them of the tougher, often cited as unfair, crime laws passed in the 80s. Of course, others say such change is needed.

Proposed Crime Law Changes

There are some places that you just do not expect issues of constitutional criminal law to pop up. Your local big box retailer is probably one of them. But it seems like large electronics retailer Best Buy is finding itself in a controversy involving the FBI, the constitution, and individual rights.

Man Has Information Reported to FBI

The case began when a man brought his computer into Best Buy’s “geek squad.” The Geek Squad is the name Best Buy gives to the in-store service that repairs and fixes people’s computers and laptops.

As march madness approaches, college basketball is in the spotlight. Lately, the sport has also been in the spotlight for some of the wrong reasons–specifically, an FBI probe into the NCAA, and alleged bribery crimes committed by college coaches, agents, and officials of large shoe companies.

The NCAA Scandal

The investigation stems from allegations that college coaches knew of, organized, or encouraged shoe companies to pay players to attend certain schools. In return, when and if the players turned pro, they would sign with the shoe company as an endorser, and with the sports agent that helped make the deal happen.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case that could have a significant impact on the level and extent of citizens’ fifth amendment rights. The fifth amendment, popularly known as the right to avoid self-incrimination (“pleading the fifth”) is often believed to be universal and applicable at each and every stage of a criminal matter. As this case shows, that idea is very much in doubt.

Case Stems from Civil Dismissal

The case arose when a police officer allegedly retained a knife from his employer (the police department and thus, the city). Later he went looking for a new job, and when he applied to a different department, he told them about the knife. That department instructed him to inform his old department that he had retained it, which he did.

In many cases in our daily lives, we want to make sure that we can document what people say to us. Maybe it is for goodwill, maybe it is for our own memory, or maybe it is to try to “prove” that someone is doing or saying something they should not.

The obvious answer and one we see in the movies often, is to just record them. In Maryland, as in many states, that is wiretapping, and it is a crime.

The Maryland Wiretap Act

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