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After being involved in an accident or pulled over for a traffic stop, it is natural to want to explain yourself or justify your actions. Unfortunately, what you believe is a simple explanation could actually be viewed as a confession. Each day people in stressful situations accidentally incriminate themselves while trying avoid trouble or reduce potential penalties. Knowing these three ways you may accidentally incriminate yourself may help you avoid making a mistake that could cost you dearly.

Never Apologize

One of the first things we learn as children is to apologize for mistakes, real or imagined. For that reason, it is normal for a person who has been involved in a motor vehicle accident or stopped by a police officer to apologize. Usually, the apology is meant to acknowledge that they have possibly inconvenienced the other party, or it is simply a knee-jerk reaction. Regardless of the reason, apologizing gives the impression that you are acknowledging fault or responsibility for the situation. Refrain from telling the other party that you are “sorry” or saying anything that could be construed as an admission of guilt.

Since the explosion of Internet chat rooms in the late 1990s, law enforcement officials have used various forms of social media to catch criminals and acquire evidence of criminal activity. Now that over 80% of the population has social media profiles, the police have sought to evolve with the times by using their own social media accounts to prosecute crimes. What this means is that your own social media activity may be used against you if you are ever charged with a crime.  Knowing these three ways the police use social media will show you how your own Internet usage history has the potential to cost you your freedom.

Track Locations

Even though over 95% of all law enforcement agencies use social media, people continue to post information about their location online. Multiple platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Yelp allow users to share their physical location with their friends or followers. Not only do these check-ins make it easier for law enforcement officials to find people suspected of committing crimes, it also allows prosecutors to prove that a potential suspect was in a specific area where criminal activity occurred, tying them to a crime.

Getting arrested is one of the most frightening and overwhelming things the average adult will experience during his or her lifetime. Regardless of the reason for the arrest, the first thing a person focuses on is how to get themselves out of police custody as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this desperation to obtain freedom places some individuals at risk. Without meaning to, a person who is attempting to get out of jail or avoid charges may do or say something that extends hs or her stay in prison. Knowing what to do when you are arrested could reduce your chances of making a crucial mistake.

Stop Talking

Even though the arresting officers explain that everyone in custody has the right to remain silent to avoid incriminating themselves, many people ignore the warning and continue speaking to the police. Remember, anything and everything you say really can be used against you later. The only questions you should answer are those needed to process you such as your name, address, date of birth, and social security number. Do not volunteer explanations or offer excuses that a prosecutor could later use to show that you admitted guilt. The only person you should speak to after your arrest is your attorney.

The time immediately following any type of criminal arrest seems to fly by as you and your loved ones struggle to maintain normalcy while preparing for your upcoming hearing. When the time to attend court arrives, it is not unusual for a person to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and completely unprepared. Regardless of how many times you have gone to court for a traffic ticket or any other type of offense, it never becomes any easier. Fortunately, knowing a few ways to prepare for your criminal hearing can make the process a bit more manageable.

Avoid Further Incrimination

From the moment you are arrested until the time your hearing is over, you must be sure that you do not further incriminate yourself. While it is natural for a person who is being arrested to make unwise statements out of fear, confusion, or under the mistaken belief that they will be able to talk their way out of their arrest once you are released, there is no reason to speak with the police. Make sure you allow your lawyer to speak to the police on your behalf and make sure your loved ones do not talk to the police or gossip about your case. The time leading up to your hearing is when the prosecution is most concerned with building a case against you, and you do not want to do anything that helps them.

On June 22, 2018 the Supreme Court of the United States made a historical decision regarding the privacy rights of cellphone users.  The case explored the expectation of privacy that the petitioner, Timothy Ivory Carver, had when using his cellphone. What began as the armed robbery of one Detroit, Michigan Radio Shack turned into a ground-breaking ruling regarding how prosecutors are able to obtain data collected by cell phone companies. Carpenter’s case was built around the Fourth Amendment protections that he believed should have prevented law enforcement officials from learning about his movements by obtaining cell phone records.

Case Background

In December of 2010, a few weeks before Christmas, a Radio Shack in Detroit, Michigan was robbed by multiple armed individuals. The robbery was the first of several in the area that occurred between December 2010 and March 2011 before four of the suspected robbers were arrested in April of 2011. Timothy Carpenter, the petitioner, was not arrested, but after one of the individuals arrested surrendered his cellphone, the FBI agents reviewed calls made from his cell phone when the robberies were committed.

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. 

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