The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for January 25, 2021

Today on January 25, 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 Lawmakers Aim to Stop a Controversial Legal Defense

Original Story

What's Going On:

Maryland and Virginia lawmakers introduced bills to end the “LGTBQ+ panic defenses.”

A legal strategy asking the jury to find that a persons sexual orientation or sexual identity is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction.

Proponents of the legislation believe that the defense excuses people of heinous crimes such as murder.

They also argue that by allowing such a defense a LGTBQ+ person’s life is worth less than others.

Maryland is one of 39 states that allow the use of “panic defense.”

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee heard testimony last Tuesday, and the Maryland Senate hears it next month.

Why This Matters To You:

At JC Law, we recognize and defend our clients’ rights – and we want them to be applied equally to everyone.

In fact, as criminal defense attorneys, we strive for everyone to be equally treated by the law, whether it is through fair trials or equal rights laws.

Per our Constitutional rights, no one American, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality is better than another.

The proposed legislation is just one way in which we as a society continue to move toward codifying that equality within our laws.

While the proposed legislation could shut the door on one possible defense strategy, that's not the only possible defense in these types of criminal defense cases – or even the default strategy!

Our defense attorneys will continue to work diligently for our clients by finding new defenses under the law. After all, that’s our job!

More About Violent Crime in Maryland

New 6-Month "Cooling-Down" Period Introduced

Original Story

What's Going On:

Howard County State Representative, Vanessa Atterbeary, introduced legislation that could alter the grounds for divorce.

House Bill 243 sets up grounds for limited and absolute divorce to change. Adding extra ground for limited divorce through irreconcilable differences.

And shortening the “cool-off period” for an absolute divorce, from 12-months to 6-months.

Current grounds do not allow either considerations when seeking divorce.

Why This Matters To You:

Maryland has historically been a tough state to get a divorce in. Through legislation and changing times it became a bit easier.

Time spent in court usually makes the cost of divorce go up. So not only does this legislation cut time in half to get a divorce, but due to that there should be lower cost divorces.

A limited divorce, based on irreconcilable differences, gives couples and attorneys another way to absolute divorce.

At JC Law we vigorously work to get our clients a fair and speedy divorce, not just trials. Any legislation that can help people out of a bad relationship or situation is good legislation.

We urge you to contact your local state representatives (State Senators and State Representatives) and recommend they support this bill and get it passed.

Get that fresh start sooner, instead of later.

More About Divorce in Maryland

Legislation Seeks to Keep Name Changes Private

Original Story

What's Going On:

Maryland law requires people to publish a petition for a name change.

No big deal, but it is for victims of domestic violence or transgendered individuals.

A newly introduced bill in the House of Delegates seeks to waive that need.

Aimed to protect the privacy of domestic violence victims and transgendered.

The legislation came before the House last session and passed, but failed to reach the Senate floor due to the pandemic.

Why This Matters To You:

Privacy in today’s world is a huge deal. And, JC Law takes it seriously.

As lawyers we hold a strict client/attorney privacy privilege. Legal situations need such privacy as matters are often delicate.

Domestic violence victims usually deal with harassment and stalking from their abuser.

Making changing their name a step in trying to avoid further violence.

Transgendered individuals make a lifestyle change to leave the past life behind.

They could face discrimination or harassment if their previous name and identity came to light. These are people looking to for acceptance of who they are, not what they are.

A name change is a personal choice anyways, so why does the public need to know?

Fight Domestic Violence Charges

Toddler Allegedly Ate Drugs, Couple Charged With Child Neglect

Original Story

What's Going On:

A couple in Lothian, Maryland are charged with child neglect and reckless endangerment.

According to police, they responded on November 12th, after receiving a call for a baby in respiratory distress.

Cops gave Narcan to the child and it helped improve his condition.

Following the call, authorities began an investigation and determined the child ingested opiates.

The child made a full recovery and is doing well.

Why This Matters To You:

Kids, especially toddlers, get into everything.

Turn your back for a second and something has been taken apart or put in their mouths. (Let’s be honest, teens too, remember the whole Tide Pods challenge?)

Not hard to imagine a toddler accidentally ingesting narcotics if they came across them.

And that is something we don’t know, how the child came across the drugs?

The parents called 911, so it is obvious they care about their kid and want no harm to come to them, which doesn’t sound like neglect.

Yes, somehow the child found something that caused ill effect, but was it really opiates?

Did the toddler find the substance outside of the home? Did a friend or family member leave it at the house without their knowledge?

We need more details and evidence on how the police came to their conclusion, because as it looks now this could simply be an accident.

More About Abuse Charges in Maryland

Man Loses Money and Spends Time In Jail After Cop Lies

Original Story

What's Going On:

Baltimore’s police force is again dealing with a black eye on its reputation.

A judge overturned a 2018 conviction because a Baltimore Police officer provided a false statement.

Cops spotted a young man near a gun and then arrested him. According to the cops’ statement, the defendant threw the gun before fleeing.

A guilty conviction based on that statement saw a young man wrongfully imprisoned.

The man spent 70 days in jail and suffered economic damages of reportedly $50,000.

Appealing his conviction based on a review of the body camera footage that found the officer could not have witnessed what he said happened.

Overturning the conviction following the review.

Now Baltimore has approved a $100,000 settlement, after the defendant sued the city for malicious prosecution and abuse of process.

The officer in the case served 15 months in jail on a perjury conviction due to his false testimony.

The city cannot recoup the cost of the settlement from the officer due to indemnity laws. City Council members are urging state lawmakers to change that law.

Why This Matters To You:

Accusations of a crime are one thing, but false accusations, especially ones that lead to a conviction, are a low blow.

Due process along with a fair and speedy trial are guaranteed rights.

A good criminal defense attorney makes sure to gather all the evidence against a defendant to review.

Gun charges, particularly illegal possession of one, are very serious accusations to face.

Some people, due to a criminal past, may not own or possess firearms making charges even worse.

In this case, body cam footage was not seen by the defendant’s attorney before trial.

If it had they would have cross examined the officer about why what he says, and the footage didn’t match up.

Public defenders do have large case volumes, so details may get missed all the time.

Fortunately, the man found good counsel and won his freedom through appeal.

Along with a bit of cash for an extreme inconvenience of justice.

Not good for the city. Tarnish on an already bruised reputation. And, no way to recoup the funds through litigation.

More About the Appeal Process