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Maryland Criminal Defense Blog

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.

Avoid an underage drinking charge on your record

Decades ago, it was normal for young people to have a drink, even if he or she was a minor. Today, that's not the case, and drinking as a minor can land you in hot water. Police will go to house parties, parties at fraternities or sororities and even to events and will test the people there for alcohol. If anyone has even a drop in his or her bloodstream, then the police can arrest him or her in Maryland.

One mistake or a single drink shouldn't lead to your life being changed due to an underage drinking charge. These charges can come up on job applications and can hurt a child's reputation, making it hard to get a job, to participate in school activities and more.

Sexting: An act that could result in criminal charges

Sexting is an act that could result in a crime you could be charged with if done at the wrong time or with the wrong person. With sexting, you could be accused of harassment or pedophilia for sending illicit messages to others via your mobile device. You could have sent photos or texts, but whatever that data was, if it's illicit and is harassing or going to a minor, you could be in trouble with the law. There are some defenses against a sexting harassment or child pornography charge, but the defense will depend on your situation.

Sexting implies that the image or text is sent by text message, but the truth is that any image-based or textual transmission over the computer, smart phone, cellphone or other device can be considered for a charge including sexting. While there is not actually a "sexting" charge, sexting can result in child pornography or harassment charges that can land you in hot water.

Woman's conviction overturned after car accident linked to defect

A conviction of manslaughter has been overturned for a person who was accused of killing a passenger in her vehicle in a crash. According to an article from August 27, a woman had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter after she was accused of reckless driving in 2012. At the time, the 25-year-old woman had been driving 75 mph in a 35 mph zone when she collided with a school bus and telephone pole. Her boyfriend, a 16-year-old at the time, was killed in the accident. He was not wearing his seatbelt.

Normally, crashes like this wouldn't necessarily result in convictions being overturned, but her case is special. According to the story, the woman's vehicle was part of the GM recall for a faulty ignition switch.

Is sex or human trafficking a felony in Maryland?

Being accused of sex crimes is very serious in Maryland, especially if there's any sense of coercion or fraud involved. Why? These added offenses instantly help turn a once potentially misdemeanor crime into a felony. As someone who is accused of this kind of crime, it's important to defend yourself, because it's not always clear how a charge will be dealt with; it could be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the situation.

In Maryland, any time fraud, force or coercion leads to a person performing a sexual act, the crime is a felony. The same is true if you help, benefit from or harbor a minor who is being prostituted. That means that even as a parent or friend, if your underage ward, a child or someone staying at your home has been a prostitute, you could be accused of harboring him or her and could be charged with a felony. Of course, those charges can be argued, but the fact remains that mistakes about a situation can get you into hot water.

Defend yourself against accusations of theft or burglary

Accusations of burglary or theft can quickly become dangerous for your reputation and can put your future in jeopardy. Accusations spread quickly through the community you live in and can make friends and family question your integrity. What can you do to prevent yourself from suffering from these accusations and the negative feelings that come from them?

There's little you can do to prevent someone from accusing you of an act, but you can defend yourself from the moment the accusation is made clear. Burglary in particular is a very serious felony in Maryland, so you'll want to make sure you defend yourself by pointing out why you couldn't have been the person responsible or how you were forced to participate in a crime.

Computer crimes and defending yourself against identity theft

Computer crime is a category of offenses that you could be accused of if a computer was part of a criminal act you were or allegedly were involved with. Sometimes, computer crimes are named similarly to crimes that don't use the computer. For instance, fraud can be computer or Internet fraud, or it can simply be fraud.

Computer crimes can involve several kinds of acts. For example, if you introduce a virus to a computer, then you can be accused of a crime. If you use a computer to defraud someone, like if you decide to steal someone's identity, then that's a computer crime as well. Taking data, copying programs, falsifying emails, or stealing information services are all kinds of crimes that can lead to charges.