The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for March 22, 2021

Today on March 22, 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.

Baltimore's Power Couple Face Grand Jury Subpoena

Original Story

What's Going On:

Federal prosecutors are looking at Baltimore City Council President Nick Mosby and his wife State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's campaign and business records.

A criminal investigation opened last week focuses on the power couples' finances as authorities obtained tax records, bank statements, credit card statements, loan documents, and canceled checks.

The scrutiny of the couple came from some business and financial dealings over the last several years.

Why This Matters To You:

Raising campaign funds to run for political office happens regularly, but the use of those funds can only support and run the campaign. Sometimes politicians get caught using those funds for personal expenses, a big no-no as it is embezzlement.

The campaign contributions can total millions, making the temptation to use the funds for fraudulent purposes great. It happens, and that is why federal prosecutors are looking at the Mosby's.

Irregularities in finances popped up, and the feds want to make sure campaign funds were not used for business or pleasure.

Politicians hold a position of power and need to be checked from time to time to ensure no power abuse. And, as we all know, tough times happen.

The pandemic has hurt millions, and the Mosby's stated some family incidents caused them to withdraw retirement funds early, which caused a tax debt.

We all run into financial pressures and hardships throughout life, and politicians are people, too.

More About White Collar Embezzlement Charges

New "Elective Share" Law Should Have You Taking a Second Look at Your Will

Original Story

What's Going On:

Maryland lawmakers changed estate planning law back in October 2020, adding an "elective share" law. This law gives a surviving spouse a guaranteed share of the deceased's estate no matter what a Will provides.

Before the law changed, the surviving spouse had rights to one-third of the estate if there were other surviving relatives like children or one-half the estate if no surviving relatives.

The law worked to define what the estate was, determining that the estate consisted of everything in a Will and other assets like trusts, qualifying joint interest, and properties the deceased had a stake.

Why This Matters To You:

Estate planning is personal and emotional. A lot goes into building a life, and deciding who gets what upon your passing ensures your wishes are carried out after you're gone.

If you have already made a Will, you may want to take a second look at it and maybe revise it due to the new "elective share" law. Another look is especially true if children and other family members are beneficiaries.

If there isn't a fair share left to the spouse, some of those inheritances will get to them to meet the requirements. JC Law has an experienced estate planning attorney ready to help you create a Will that satisfies Maryland's new law and ensures your wishes are carried out.

More About Wills and Estate Planning in Maryland

Lawmaker Withdraws Bill That Would Eliminate Child Sex Abuse Statute of Limitations on Lawsuits

Original Story

What's Going On:

A Maryland House of Delegates member removed legislation from consideration last week. Del. C.T. Wilson (D – Charles County) withdrew his bill to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors to pursue civil litigation.

Wilson stated the reasoning for removing the bill from consideration was due to the mental health of those testifying. Rather than testifying in the General Assembly, due to COVID-19, those testifying would be doing so by ZOOM.

Wilson said he could not let those people be alone while ripping scars and old wounds open with no one to help them deal with the trauma of their abuse.

This is Wilson's third attempt at bringing the legislation to the General Assembly, and Wilson hopes to do so again when everyone can be in Annapolis for the hearings.

Why This Matters To You:

Statutes of limitations give victims a specific time frame in which to hold defendants accountable for alleged actions. Once the restriction is met, there is nothing that can be done.

Child sex abuse survivors present a unique problem because many were forced to keep the abuse secret for fear of death or harm. These threats limit abuse victims from coming forward and reporting the abuse before the statute of limitations expires.

Many victims hold on to the secret well into their adult lives, causing mental health problems. By the time they are ready to confront the suspect, it is already too late to do anything.

Society devised laws to set rules for us to abide by, and when those rules are broken, there are penalties to pay. Should the penalties be null and void because the alleged defendant used fear and intimidation to prevent the crime from ever being discovered in time?

Victims and defendants have rights, and sometimes those rights are not necessarily fair or reasonable. That's why we have a legislative process to address any issues.

For now, child sex abuse civil litigation must happen before the statute of limitations expires. Whether that statute remains will be an argument for another time.

More on Child-Related Sex Charges in Maryland

Maryland House of Delegates Passes Bill That Eliminates Juvenile Sexting As Child Porn

Original Story

What's Going On:

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill last Wednesday that defines how to handle juveniles charged with sexting. The bill does not legalize sexting amongst teens but describes certain cases that are not a part of child pornography laws.

In addition to defining juvenile sexting, juveniles are not taken into custody unless an extraordinary circumstance and would not have to register as sex offenders.

Lawmakers looked at two other juvenile sexting bills, too. One applies to the images, either of oneself or another. The different bill aims to decriminalize child pornography for those under 18.

Why This Matters To You:

Young love is quite different than what it was before the Internet and cell phones. Teenage minds are growing, developing, and changing rapidly during puberty.

At this point in life, we notice boys or girls and think of them as more than just friends. Today, the dating scene isn't pizza and a movie on a Saturday night. Snapchat, Facetime, Instagram, TikTok, and messages sent to the DMs are today's dating.

At this age, we explore our minds, bodies, and the world. Sometimes that leads to sex. It is just a fact of life. People have sex and yes, so do teens. As parents, our job is to monitor and talk to our children about the proverbial "birds and the bees."

The technology our kids' use allows them to send pictures, chats, and more instantly. Those pictures can be flirtatious and sexy but not intended to be child porn since it's two kids sharing these photos.

Could you imagine when you got caught "making out" facing a criminal child pornography charge for doing so? Crazy, right? The legislation's goal is to let growing teens be just that, teens.

There are circumstances when a juvenile goes too far, and an act of sexual violence or abuse may occur, and, in those cases, there should be repercussions. But, innocent puppy love is an issue better handled by the children's parents and not the courts.

More About Juvenile Sex Offenses in Maryland

Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentences Took Another Step Towards Ending

Original Story

What's Going On:

Juvenile life without parole sentences took a step closer to becoming a thing of the past last Thursday. The Maryland Senate approved a bill that eliminates the penalty for those convicted of murder or rape.

Proponents of the legislation say it gives juvenile prisoners the chance to show they have changed in the years since committing the crime. Opponents believe that some murders and rapes are so heinous that they deserve severe punishment.

Offenders must show they are no longer a threat, and their release is in the interest of justice, so no one will just be walking out of prison. The bill also waives mandatory minimum sentences for juveniles charged as adults. It also allows those serving a life sentence since a minor to petition for release if already done 20 years.

Why This Matters To You:

Juvenile offenders have not reached mental maturity at the time of allegedly committing a crime. It is reasonable to think with incarceration and treatment that a young offender matures into a person who realizes the error of their way.

Legally we have defined an adult as someone the age of 18, and anyone younger is a juvenile. Teens 18 and younger have undeveloped brains that sometimes lead to bad decisions and criminal activity.

Yes, there should be a penalty for the crime, but since they are young should be afforded the opportunity of a second chance.

Many of us "so-called" adults make mistakes every day and get second chances to prove we can get it right. The legislation is not granting these juvenile offenders a get-out-of-jail-free card, just an opportunity to show they have learned from the mistake and are ready to contribute to society.

More About Juvenile Justice Services