The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for April 19, 2021

Today on April 19, 2021, read about:

Of course, if these or any other legal questions are impacting you and your family, then don't hesitate to reach out to JC Law for your free initial consultation with one of our expert domestic, criminal, or civil litigation attorneys.

Maryland Governor To Be Removed From Parole Process

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What's Going On:

Lawmakers in Maryland passed a policy last week that removes the governor from the parole process for those serving life sentences. Advocates of the move believe it will depoliticize parole.

The bill becomes law on October 1st, if Gov. Larry Hogan signs it or lets it be enacted without his signature. Currently, Maryland, Hawaii, and Arkansas require the governor to approve parole recommendations for people serving life sentences.

This legislation removes the governor and makes the requirement for paroling life sentences as 6 out of 10 members of the Maryland Parole Commission vote for parole.

Why This Matters To You:

The judicial branch handles the punishment and should be responsible for serving that penalty and for how long. When a person is arrested, charged, tried, and either found guilty or not guilty is a judicial process, not a political one.

No one should be denied or granted parole based on political pressures. Parole is a condition based on how well someone has behaved while incarcerated, length of time served, showing remorse for their actions, and behaviors of growth and change. It is not a decision based on if the party in power believes it will make them look good to their constituents.

Also, the governor is the executive branch. Why should that branch have a part in parole? It doesn't make a lot of sense, as seen by the fact only three states in the US have that rule.

When paroled, a person must follow specific rules, or their freedom is revoked. Violations of parole or probation lead to more time served behind bars. Just because a person receives parole doesn't permit them to act the way that got them locked up in the first place. Behaving in that nature sends a person back to jail.

Best to leave the handling of crime and punishment to the legal experts, not politicians. We at JC Law hope this change takes place and allows for a greater opportunity at second chances for Marylanders.

Learn More About Violating Bail & Probation

Couple Finds Body Parts Dumpster Diving in Baltimore

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What's Going On:

A couple dumpster diving in Baltimore found what appear to be parts of a human foot. The discovery of body parts made last Tuesday prompted a police investigation.

The foot pieces are at the medical examiner's office for testing to determine if the foot was severed from someone alive or deceased and whether it connects to remains found elsewhere or can be identified through DNA.

Other body parts discovered include a woman's torso found in Southwest Baltimore in November 2020 and another foot in Brandywine in September 2020.

Police found no other body parts after a further search of the dumpster.

Why This Matters To You:

Body parts being found in a trash dumpster always draws intrigue. (Bet that was the last thing that couple expected to see during their dumpster dive.)

How did it get there? Who put it there? Is someone hurt? Did someone get murdered?

The public rumor mill surely is churning after this news. Body parts should be attached to a person, not in a trash can. We hope the police find the person whose foot parts were found alive and well, but these kinds of cases usually have a terrible outcome.

Is this a Hollywood script kidnapping and the pieces of foot were proof of life?

Maybe someone had an accident and cut some toes off but couldn't find them before going to the hospital, but did after getting home and just threw them away. It's possible and plausible.

This is the third instance of body parts found around the Baltimore area. Could they be connected? Are the parts one person? What kind of violent crime took place? Police did not comment on their ongoing investigation on the other body parts, so we can only speculate what is going on for now.

But, speculation leads to wild stories and tall tales, so we here at JC Law wait for the facts of the case to be laid out by law enforcement.

More About Maryland Murder Charges

Juvenile Reconsideration Act Gets A Second Chance

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What's Going On:

Gov. Larry Hogan vetoed the Juvenile Reconsideration Act last week, but lawmakers overrode the veto and made it law. The law makes Maryland the 26th state abolishing juvenile life without parole sentences.

The bill also allows those convicted as adults for a crime committed while they were a juvenile who have served at least 20 years to petition for a sentence modification.

Another juvenile bill that became law this legislative session deals with sexting. Punishment for some teen sexting is lessened, such as not registering as a sex offender.

Why This Matters To You:

America is about second chances, and the Juvenile Reconsideration Act got its second chance when the General Assembly overrode the governor's veto. We at JC Law commend our Maryland Lawmakers for supplying juvenile offenders with an opportunity for a fresh start.

We've stated it before, but again, young developing minds need to have the opportunity to show they have grown and learned from the mistake made in youth. If we were never given a chance to learn from the mistakes made while growing up, we wouldn't know how to be an adult.

Yes, the people made some terrible mistakes, but they were committed in youth and should have the chance to prove they've grown and are ready to contribute to society.

The other measure lawmakers passed lessens punishments for some teen sexting. In today's digital world, the dating game and how people flirt and communicate intimately are drastically different from 30 years ago. Sending provocative pictures to one another is the norm, but those pictures can lead to trouble when distributed to other people without the person's consent in the photo.

Young minds make mistakes, and they often stem from first relationships as they learn how one works and how to handle the ending of one. Bad decisions and choices made during young love need better penalties, like therapy or classes on relationships.

More About Juvenile Justice Services

Sports Betting Makes Its Way In Time For The 2021 NFL Season

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What's Going On:

They did it! Maryland lawmakers passed sports betting at the 11th hour. On the final day of the legislative session, the General Assembly approved a complex bill that includes 60 online licenses, six retail sportsbooks, and five other sportsbooks at venues like Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

The tax rate for the state sits at 15%, which means about $10 million a year expressly set aside for public education. Hopes are to have the state sports betting up and running by the start of the 2021 NFL season.

Why This Matters To You:

We as citizens of Maryland said yes to sports betting during the November election but waited with bated breath as our legislators worked to set up how the industry works in our state.

It took our lawmakers until the last second to do it, but they did, and we expect to bet on sports by the time the next football season starts. This law expands gambling in Maryland, so now, along with casino gaming, horse racing, lotteries, we have sports betting. It kind of feels like Vegas out east.

The change in the law now makes only running an illegal gambling house and private lotteries the only illegal forms of gambling left in the state. Soon they'll be calling the Inner Harbor Las Bay-gas.

More About Maryland Gambling Matters

The First Digital Ad Tax Is Put On Hold Until 2022

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What's Going On:

Maryland's digital ad tax, the first of its kind, will be delayed in implementation because of the onslaught of lawsuits against the law. Comcast and Verizon are the two latest tech companies to file a lawsuit against Maryland, saying the tax is illegal and violates the federal Internet Tax Freedom Act.

Just days after the law passed, the first lawsuit came from the US Chamber of Commerce and a collection of trade groups representing tech giants, also calling the tax illegal.

Maryland does not tax print ads but wants to put a 10% surcharge on digital ads. The lawsuits ask to delay when the tax begins. Still, last week, the Maryland General Assembly passed an emergency bill that pushes back the implementation of the digital ad tax until 2022.

Why This Matters To You:

Our Internet purchases and advertising remain untaxed for the time being. The lawsuits filed came from some pretty powerful entities and forced Maryland to look deeper at the law.

This is a good thing as parts of the bill need clarification, like a digital code. There needs to be time taken to create a fair and just bill, especially since the tax will probably be passed down to the consumer.

The delay will also provide time to figure out the legality of such a tax since that is at the heart of the lawsuits against Maryland's digital ad tax.

More About Business & Civil Litigation in Maryland