The Weekly Writ: Maryland Legal News You Can Use for May 24, 2021

Today on May 24, 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.

Get Your Drivers License and Registrations In Order

Original Story

What's Going On:

The suspension of legal time authorizations for drivers' licenses, permits, and registrations comes to an end on June 30th. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an executive order at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that put a hold on legal time authorization.

Why This Matters To You:

The time to get your driving affairs in order is here. If you haven't renewed your drivers' license, vehicle registration, or other MVA related things, now is the time to do it.

We were given a reprieve from dealing with these issues. Now that we're beginning to ease restrictions and get back to normalcy, those breaks are ending.

Starting July 1st, police will again hand out citations for driving on an expired license and expired tags. This might seem like a minor inconvenience of getting to the MVA and taking care of the problem, but the MVA is never easy. Take care of it before you're stuck in line at the MVA with a hefty fine to pay.

More About Maryland Traffic Matters

Montgomery County Police File Suit Against Use Of Force Policy Change

Original Story

What's Going On:

Montgomery County Police are suing the county over the new use of force policy. The lawsuit stems from a claim made by the Fraternal Order of Police, FOP, who represent officers in Montgomery Co., that they were left out of the talks to craft the policy. The FOP says the county breached the county charter by not being in those talks.

At the lawsuit's heart are police officers' working conditions, health, and safety. The FOP alleges that by prohibiting collective bargaining, the county violated the charter because the officers were not given the right to bargain over the terms and conditions of their employment.

Why This Matters To You:

As Maryland moves forward with police reform, there is bound to be pushback. It is expected that some police organizations and forces will take issue with the new policing standards being developed.

This lawsuit makes sense as police should be involved in the conversations about police reform. They are on the front lines of this work and can provide valuable insights into policing.

Change is necessary, and we adapt to it. This type of change involves the public and police, so both sides need to create a better policy to adapt.

Frivolous, this lawsuit is not. Only by working together will we create a better policing standard for the public and law enforcement.

More About Civil Litigation in Maryland

Federal Jury Hung On Drug Charge, But Convict Man On Gun Charge

Original Story

What's Going On:

A federal jury in Baltimore failed to reach a verdict on drug charges but convicted the defendant on gun charges. The accused was never caught with drugs, a fact his defense attorney made clear during the trial, only guns.

The case against the defendant included charges he conspired to deal crack and cocaine along Baltimore's Monument Street. Investigators never found any drugs at the suspect's residence during his arrest.

The US Attorney's Office stated they intend to retry the drug case against the defendant. The gun conviction carries a prison sentence of up to ten years.

Why This Matters To You:

Evidence used against a person in a criminal case must remove any doubt that they didn't commit the crime. In this case, the lack of evidence (no drugs) cast a shadow of doubt over the conspiracy to sell/distribute drugs. Great work by the defense team making sure the jurors knew there were never any drugs to conspire about.

Prosecutors said they had wiretap phone evidence and testimony from co-conspirators but failed to show the burden of proof without a doubt. If they plan on retrying the case, their evidence needs to be more concrete.

More About Maryland Drug Charges

Police Chase Dirt Bike to Catch Suspect Wanted in Connection to Annapolis Murder

Original Story

What's Going On:

Police in Annapolis arrested the man they allege is responsible for the city's only homicide in 2021. Last Tuesday, the defendant was arrested following a chase after he fled on a dirt bike.

The man is charged with first- and second-degree murder and other offenses related to the April 3rd homicide on Newtowne Drive. Law enforcement used forensic evidence from shell casings and surveillance videos to identify suspects.

Why This Matters To You:

Forensic evidence and video surveillance create problems for defendants. Video shows the alleged committing the crime, while forensic evidence shows the defendant owns the weapon. These are tough spots to be in, but plausible scenarios could bring reasonable doubt.

How clear is the video? Unless it is Ultra 4K HD video and crystal clear, there is always doubt about whether the person is whom police say it is. Doppelgangers do exist, and identities can be mistaken.

Also, the forensic evidence may no longer be in possession of the defendant. What if the police's suspect owned the gun used in the crime but sold it? Someone else then could have committed the crime using that weapon.

The evidence needs to be attacked and questioned regarding its validity, making doubt reasonable. No case is black and white on either the prosecution or defense's side.

Homicide is the most serious offense a person can be accused of, and any evidence gathered needs thorough examination. There is no justice when innocent people are locked up for crimes they didn't commit.

More About Maryland Murder Charges

Maryland and DC Team Up With Federal Authorities to Combat Carjacking

Original Story

What's Going On:

Local law enforcement in Maryland and DC join forces with federal authorities to form a carjacking task force. The task force creates a partnership to coordinate the prosecution of carjacking cases that cross jurisdictions.

The agencies will work together to decide where the defendant will be charged for the crime and share information amongst the different agencies about suspects.

Why This Matters To You:

Carjacking is a unique crime as it involves multiple criminal acts committed at once…robbery, motor vehicle theft, kidnapping, and use of a weapon during a crime. Those are just the standard charges, as more could be applied depending on the circumstances.

The task force extends the reach of local law enforcement and provides more resources to fight these crimes. Where the task force decides to charge a defendant can significantly affect how the case will play out.

Some jurisdictions allow for mitigating circumstances to be factored into cases while others don't. It just depends on the county. These mitigating factors do not excuse the behavior, but they explain it and may allow for the punishment to be less severe.

More About Motor Vehicle Theft Charges