The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for March 15, 2021

Today on March 15, 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.

Interim Protective Orders In Effect Until Final Hearings Rescheduled

Original Story

What's Going On:

Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has changed some judicial and legal processes, like obtaining protective orders. District Court is open and able to set up interim protective orders, but hearings for the order to be final or terminated are delayed.

What does this mean for the order? Well, the interim order will remain in place until the courts can reschedule and hold the hearings.

Interim orders direct alleged abusers to stay away from those who requested the order until the hearing for a temporary or final order can be held, usually within 7 to 10 days of issuing the order, but the pandemic has halted hearings on these matters.

Why This Matters To You:

Protective or Peace orders without resolution have affects outside of keeping an alleged abuser away from a victim. These orders can keep someone from seeing their kids, remove firearms and weapons from someone’s possession, and prohibit travel or work.

When the amount of time between the interim order and the final hearing is just days, the inconvenience is usually minor and difficulties in the order get resolved at these hearings. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic threw a major wrench into the judicial process.

Good news is that starting today, March 15th, courts across Maryland begin to move into Phase IV of reopening, effectively re-opening courts to the public with exceptions. Non-jury trials and contested hearings in Family, Civil, Criminal, and Juvenile cases resume.

A protective or peace order happens to be a contested matter, so hearings on these begin again. Contact the District Court where an order was issued to figure out when a hearing will be schedule for your individual case that is pending.

If COVID-19 cases stay where they are at the state plans to fully open courts on April 26th.

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Sports Betting Industry's Picture Becoming Clearer in Maryland

Original Story

What's Going On:

Legal sports betting took another step towards reality in Maryland last Thursday.

The Maryland House of Delegates approved a plan that includes licenses for existing locations like casinos, racetracks, state fairgrounds, professional sports stadiums and another 10 licenses for added on-site betting facilities, and 15 licenses for betting websites and apps.

15% of gambling proceeds in the form of a tax will go to Maryland’s coffers, mainly for public education. Lawmakers estimate the yearly proceeds to be about $20 million.

Voters and Maryland Delegates have said yes, the focus now shifts to the Senate where meetings have been held about a plan, but no bill has been introduced about setting up the sports betting industry.

Why This Matters To You:

This past Sunday was Selection Sunday for the NCAA Basketball Tournament and last weeks announcement from the House of Delegates means this time next year we’ll all legally be allowed to bet on the tournament.

People are filling out brackets and making their picks in office pools across the state. Although technically illegal now, these games and more will soon come without a legal consequence. (Keep the pools in office and don’t use the Internet to make payouts, keep it cash only…for this year.)

Sports betting is just beginning to take shape, and while we voted to legalize it, currently gambling on sports remains illegal in Maryland.

Enjoy the Tourney and all the excitement that comes with it on the court, because next year the games will have an extra added element of dramayour bets.

More About Maryland Gambling Matters

Maryland Lawmakers Want To Ban Guns At Polling Sites

Original Story

What's Going On:

Lawmakers in Maryland want to ban guns from polling places. Both the Senate and House are working on bills to keep firearms out of politics.

Those advocating the legislation believe it necessary to prevent voter intimidation. The bills would prohibit anyone from carrying a gun within 100 feet of a polling place. Exceptions to the rule include law enforcement officers.

Penalty for an infraction would be a civil citation and fine of up to $5,000. Many polling places already prohibit firearms, such as schools, but no law exists explicitly prohibiting firearms from polling places.

Conspiracy theories and false stories of voter fraud and ballot security, along with the Capitol Riots have many believing voter intimidation is a real threat to our democracy.

The Maryland Senate advanced the legislation and awaits a final vote, while the House version is up for vote in committee.

Why This Matters To You:

Your vote is and always should be YOUR vote. No one should be intimidated into voting a particular way or not voting at all. It is against democratic principle.

But, in practice there could be some issues with the law. There are private citizens who have conceal and carry permits to carry a gun due to their profession. These people would be refused their voting rights because they have a gun on their person.

Some will argue that they can take time to leave the weapon at home and go vote. The other side will say our lives are busy and finding the time to squeeze in the civic duty to vote along with our professional and familial responsibilities can prevent that.

Guns don’t belong in politics, but should they prevent someone who carries one from voting? Our lawmakers must further evaluate and consider all possibilities prior to sending the legislation to our governor to sign into law.

More About Maryland Gun Charges

A Loophole Allows Landlords to Evict Tenants During The Pandemic

Original Story

What's Going On:

Some Maryland renters still face eviction even though there is a moratorium on them nationally and our governor has put restrictions on them during the pandemic. Landlords found a legal loophole to evict tenants.

The loophole happens to be the non-renewal of a lease. They are not filing eviction for non-payment, but rather overstaying the lease. The process works when a tenant has not paid rent for a time and a landlord wants them out, they just have to inform tenants they will not be renewing the lease.

At least 30 to 60 days’ notice is required of the landlords, but once the lease is up they have the groundwork to begin an eviction. The federal and state moratoriums do not protect people if the landlord decides not to renew their lease.

A major loophole that Maryland Democrats are addressing with legislation that would end tenant hold-over actions until April 2022. A House of Delegates version heads to a vote, while the Senate’s version is in the hearings stage.

Why This Matters To You:

Maintaining a residence during pandemic times has been difficult for many. Millions of Americans lost employment and their ability to afford renting when shutdown orders went into effect in March 2020.

The federal and state eviction moratoriums helped, but that help will only last for so long. If landlords are not renewing leases and protections are not afforded to renters whose leases are up many Marylanders are headed for homelessness.

There are legal options for renters, but if they don’t have a job how can they afford representation? Lawmakers are working on bills regarding that, but will they be ready in time?

On the other side of the issue are the landlords who have a business that no longer supplies income. Without rent getting paid, landlords make no money. No money means they cannot fix or repair things in rental units or pay the mortgage on the property.

Because of the pandemic, some landlords want out of the rental business. To do that they must sell their properties.

Selling can’t be done while renters are living in the residence, so informing them a lease will not be renewed allows the renter time to find a new place, so the property can then be sold.

If that avenue is eliminated, landlords are now put in a position of financial hardship with no exit.

Tough times still lay ahead and working together to solve these problems is our best hope at making it out of the pandemic with a roof over everyone’s head. Real Estate has stumbled and recovered before (2008 housing bubble burst for instance).

More About Maryland Real Estate Matters

Man Admits Ties to "Boogaloo" Movement Pleading To Gun Charge

Original Story

What's Going On:

A Maryland man with extremist group ties plead guilty to federal gun charges in Baltimore last week. According to the US Attorney’s Office the man admitted to being a part of the “boogaloo” movement, a loose anti-government and pro-gun group.

A prior burglary conviction makes the man ineligible to own or posses a firearm. The defendant allegedly got his girlfriend to purchase the lower receiver for an AM-15 rifle. Although not a full functioning weapon, the lower receiver is legal defined as a firearm.

The girlfriend claimed the purchase was for herself and not the defendant. FBI investigators claim a thorough search of her social media accounts showed no evidence of an interest in firearms.

Prosecutors stated the defendant admitted to making several firearm purchases in his girlfriend’s name and delivered to her address over a 6-month period in 2020.

Due to the evidence against him the defendant plead guilty to illegal possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Why This Matters To You:

Extremism is a mounting concern in America, as evidence by the Capitol Riots on January 6th. These groups face scrutiny from local and federal law enforcement agencies because of their views.

Since this man self-admitted to being a part of the “boogaloo” movement he opened himself up to that scrutiny from the long arm of the law. Authorities are tracking and watching these groups and movements as a threat against the country.

The man’s past did not help in the matter either; being a known criminal and associating with an extremist group probably brought an even closer look into his activities.

Now, just because someone agrees and associates with a viewpoint does not mean someone will do something terrible. Maybe he believes his burglary conviction shouldn’t be a reason to prevent him from enjoying our Second Amendment right and this movement sees it that way too.

And, he did state his girlfriend bought the firearm for herself. People tend to surround themselves with people who share similar activities and likes.

Just because she didn’t post about her liking to shoot guns does not mean she isn’t a gun enthusiast. She could just not be that into social media.

The moral to the story, keep a close eye on what you say and do today, everybody is watching and waiting for someone to cancel, as the kids say. Choose your associations and words wisely.

More About Federal-Level Charges