The Law Offices of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC
Call 24/7 - Free Consultations 443.701.4525
Hablamos Español • EmailChat

Maryland Criminal Defense Blog

Online threats: Questions of First Amendment rights

Everyone can agree that one of the staples of the American way is the First Amendment or freedom of speech. Without this, you couldn't speak out against the negative things that happen or potentially even share parts of your culture with others. When does sharing your thoughts become dangerous? Can social media posts become threatening, at least enough to cause a stir or an arrest? If you've been accused of threats of violence, you may want to discuss this case and how it will affect you with your attorney.

A man in Montana has been charged with two felonies after a Maryland man reported him to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The man had written several threats online, although he claims he was just trying to draw attention to problems in the world. He's been charged with criminal defamation and intimidation, but some are arguing that he was using his right to free speech.

What is parole, and how does it work in Maryland?

Parole is an interesting option for some people who find themselves imprisoned. Like everywhere in the United States, parole can be offered to prisoners in Maryland after they serve a certain amount of time on their sentence. Not all people can get parole, so if you're confused about your situation, you may want to speak with an attorney to find out if you can be released on parole or not.

With parole, you're released on the condition that you do not reoffend. There are two kinds of parole you could find yourself offered. The first is discretionary, which is when a parole board decides to release you based on a determination made that you are eligible. This may be based on your behavior in prison or other factors.

Collateral consequences faced as a result of a felony

A criminal conviction leads to more consequences than the punishment issued by the courts. Instead of serving time or paying a penalty and being able to move on, being convicted of a felony or misdemeanor can make it harder to get work, to find a home and to participate in other social activities.

What can you do to prevent these kinds of consequences? The best thing is to prevent yourself from getting a felony at all with the use of a good defense, but in the case that you do have one, knowing how it may affect you can help you mitigate the effects.

Maryland allows expungement of misdemeanor crimes

If you've been accused of a misdemeanor crime in Maryland or have one on your record, your luck may be changing. Your attorney may now be able to help you remove the crime from your record, so you can face your future with a clean slate. Whether you've been convicted of underage drinking, being in possession of alcohol or using drugs, you're in a position where you may be able to get a second chance in the eyes of the law.

On Oct. 1, Maryland's laws changed to make way for underage and adult people who have been convicted of crimes to start fresh. When you're accused of misdemeanor crimes, your criminal record is affected, and that can make getting a job or home difficult when you're older. Now, it may be much easier.

Law enforcement group wants alternatives to arrests

Law enforcement officers know that the best solution for criminal acts isn't always to put the criminal in jail. Yes, there are times when people may become safer because of someone being put behind bars, but in the vast majority of low-risk drug offenders' cases, going to jail is something that isn't helping. Instead of getting the help and therapy needed, they're being locked away from the very things that could help in society. With these changes, it could be easier for people like yourself to work with attorneys to find the fair solution to their charges.

A group of 130 law enforcement officials have come together to discuss unnecessary incarceration and what it means to those who have low-risk crimes keeping them in jail or prison. Many times, the group agrees, these people end up in prison because of mental illness or addiction, and those are things that can be treated with the right kind of care.

Am I more likely to be accused of cybercrimes as an IT worker?

While you may think it would be difficult to be accused of a cybercrime, even the most innocent people could be put at risk of these accusations in difficult IT situations. For example, if you work with computers in high-risk security settings or are around your business's systems often, any malicious attacks on the system or fraud through the system could be something that traces back to you, even if you're not responsible.

Why is this the case? IT professionals are sometimes caught in the middle of attacks, because the real attackers use your system to infiltrate your workplace and network. You'll also be the one people look at for an explanation, because you're the person with the expertise required to pull off a crime.

How can I respond to a criminal charge?

There are plenty of times when people have been accused of a crime they didn't commit; your case may not be any different. While you're working with your attorney on a way to fight the charges, it's important to learn about how to defend yourself and reputation. You have a few ways you can answer the charges against you, but the most important fact of a criminal charge is that the prosecutor will need to prove that you're guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you can make a jury or judge doubt that you're guilty, then you have a chance to win your case.

The first major defense is innocence. If you can prove that you didn't commit the crime, then you shouldn't have anything to worry about. In the American legal system, you are always presumed innocent until the court can prove otherwise. In order to avoid incriminating yourself, you can also choose to plead the fifth, which means you can stay silent and hear what the prosecutor's claims are.

Expunged records possible for many in Maryland

If you have a conviction on your record, you know that it can be very hard to find a job, housing, or other things you need. This is because having a conviction, no matter what it is, seems to make you unfit for jobs or housing, even though the conviction may be decades old or be for a minor charge. Fortunately, expungement is becoming more common in Maryland, and that means you may be able to get your conviction removed from your record, opening you up to an easier time in the employment market.

One example a report from Sept. 26 reported was that a man, age 31, with violations including having an open container of alcohol in his vehicle and disorderly conduct, has been struggling with finding work. Even though the charges had been dropped, postponed, or he had already served probation, those charges remained on his criminal record. That means that prospective employers can see those charges and choose to not hire him based on his alleged criminal past.

Some Internet crimes are still unsolved

A lot of people used to watch a show called "Unsolved Mysteries" because there was just something alluring about crimes that weren't solved and circumstances that couldn't be explained. Much like more common crimes, there have been a lot of Internet crimes over the years that have never been cracked.

All the way back in 1989, for example, a group calling itself Worms Against Nuclear Killers decided to target NASA. This was right before the Galileo probe was sent into space, and it was fueled with plutonium. The group hacked NASA's website and put up messages protesting the probe. NASA got everything taken care of eventually, to the tune of $500,000, but they never figured out who did it.

You can sue the police for a false arrest

If you're arrested for a crime you didn't commit, you may think you can sue the police for a wrongful arrest. The truth is that you could have a case in which you can sue, but you need to make sure the police have actually committed a crime.

If your situation fits the criteria for a false arrest, then you could pursue compensation from the police by pointing this out. What kinds of arrests are illegal? Any arrest that is made without probable cause can be considered illegal. For example, if you're pulled over for no reason and then searched and arrested, you could point out that there was no reason to pull you over and no legal reason to search your vehicle.