Bias suspected in some state crime labs

We’ve all seen the scenes from TV’s crime dramas. In a bright white lab coat, the forensic scientist examines the evidence from a high profile burglary or heist, arrives at the solution, then confidently presents his findings as fact. It makes for gripping television, but unfortunately, it is not indicative of a real life crime lab. In reality, lab technicians can never be one hundred percent confident in their findings, and elements of human error are always a possibility.

In fact, the human element of a crime lab was what led two researchers to examine the funding systems currently in place for many state crime labs. The researchers discovered that many state crime labs are funded on a per-conviction basis — a shocking revelation that throws the reliability of a crime lab’s findings into question.

When a crime lab processes evidence that results in a guilty verdict, the guilty party is assessed a “laboratory fee,” an amount of money intended to compensate the lab for the work they’ve done. However, when a not guilty verdict is returned, the lab receives nothing. The fear, then, is that technicians may be working under a bias that tends to favor incriminating evidence.

In Florida, for example, one crime lab was given $50 for each guilty verdict or plea related to drunk driving or boating. The lab was given $100 each time they processed evidence in a drug-related case — but again, only if the case ended with a conviction.

This system apparently exists in many labs across the country, and criminal defense advocates are treating it as a cause for legitimate concern. Some advocates have already suggested a number of potential reforms, policies that would sever the connection between convictions and crime lab funding.

Source:  The Huffington Post, “New Study Finds That State Crime Labs Are Paid Per Conviction” Radley Balko, Aug. 29, 2013

Unusual break-in leads to 6-12 year prison term

Breaking and entering is a crime that often results in heavy prison sentences or fines. While the financial damage from the crime itself is often compensated by homeowner’s insurance, many victims of robberies cite mental anguish resulting from the incident, a fact that often leads to longer sentences.

Of course, sentencing varies wildly depending on the circumstances. A person with no prior criminal history will likely receive a lighter sentence, for example, than a person who has a long criminal record. The circumstances of the incident are also important; attorneys involved in a breaking and entering will often work to point out any unusual circumstances that could result in a lighter sentence.

One Maryland man was given the relatively harsh sentence of six to 12 years for his actions in a break-in last year. On Aug. 22, 2012, the man apparently entered the hotel room of a business traveler and concealed himself under her bed. The man then apparently waited for the woman to return and while she was asleep, stole money and credit cards and attempted to get into bed with her. When she awoke, he fled.

The man later used the woman’s debt card to make purchases at two locations, all totaling less than $150.

He was arrested and charged with simple assault, burglary, theft and access device fraud. The man apologized and pleaded guilty. The judge took the apology and the guilty plea into account when determining the sentence, but also noted that the man had a long criminal history. He then settled on the six to 12 year prison term.

Even though crimes such as this one can garner a lot of media attention, an experienced criminal defense attorney will work diligently to protect the rights of his or her clients. It’s important to remember that any one charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Source:  Erie Times-News, “Man sentenced for Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel break-in” Lisa Thomson, Nov. 12, 2013

Maryland man accused of multiple break-ins

Burglary and theft are often difficult crimes for police to pursue. They often occur when the home or vehicle is unoccupied, leaving no witnesses and very little evidence. Generally, there is nothing in particular tying the perpetrator to any particular property, so assembling a list of suspects is difficult or impossible. Often, robberies come in a string, one after another in a similar area. Local residents usually put a great deal of pressure on law enforcement officials in these situations.

When a suspect is apprehended in the commission of a robbery, there is a common assumption that he or she must have also committed a number of other robberies as well. Immediately, public opinion holds the suspect guilty of the other crimes in the area, in addition to the one for which he or she is accused. Sometimes, the suspect is charged with these crimes as well.

Charging one suspect with multiple related crimes is legal. However, authorities must have compelling evidence connecting the suspect to the related crimes. Simply apprehending him or her in an area that has experienced multiple break-ins is not enough.

A Maryland man is currently in a related situation after he was apprehended while allegedly attempting to steal a television. The incidents occurred in Delaware, where a number of beachside communities have recently reported approximately 40 robberies.

Police apprehended the 27-year-old man after a resident reported a suspicious vehicle in the driveway of a nearby home. Following the man’s arrest, he was charged with five additional break-ins in the area that occurred in the last three months. For each break-in, he was charged with burglary or attempted burglary. Police have not stated what evidence ties the man to the additional robberies.

Source:  Delmarvanow.com, “Maryland man arrested in connection with area break-ins” Leigh Giangreco, Dec. 03, 2013

Maryland man indicted for Medicaid fraud felonies

A man from Charles County is facing several felony theft counts for his alleged involvement in a Medicaid fraud ring. Although the man is not accused of physically stealing – burglary and breaking and entering are not alleged – he still is thought to have stolen thousands from the government administrations that oversee the Medicaid program. Medicaid is a healthcare provision program that allows families, children and sick individuals to access low- or no-cost medical services. Maryland residents are vetted for the program using a combination of income evaluation, disability status and several other considerations.

Authorities allege that the 54-year-old man, indicted on charges of felony Medicaid fraud and felony theft over $1,000, submitted claims to Medicaid for services he never provided. The man is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, according to news reports. He is accused of lying about providing therapy services for low-income patients in the Medicaid program from December 2011 through October 2012. News reports do not indicate exactly how much the man is accused of stealing.

These felonies are accompanied by serious consequences. The man in this case could face decades in prison; felony theft can lead to a 10-year prison term, while felony Medicaid fraud can yield a five-year stint for each count. The man is accused of three counts of each crime. Further, the man could be required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in criminal restitution for his alleged involvement in these felonies.

Although the man has been accused of these crimes through a federal indictment, he is still innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. A trial date has not yet been set, and the man does not appear to have entered a plea in the matter. Defendants who are facing similar criminal charges may benefit from the assistance of a qualified defense attorney, who can help them learn more about their legal options and rights.

Source:  Southern Maryland Online, “Charles Co. Man Indicted in Medicaid Fraud Case” No author given, Dec. 27, 2013

1 man and 2 women arrested on robbery charges in Maryland

Police in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, have taken three individuals into custody on burglary charges. Allegedly, the involvement of a fourth person is suspected, but that individual has yet to be apprehended by authorities. Police say that the alleged home robbery took place in Glen Burnie at approximately 3 p.m. on a recent Sunday afternoon.

Officers were called to the scene after the robbery was reported to police by telephone. When police arrived at the front door of the residence, they allegedly heard the door lock and heard sounds coming from inside. However, the individuals inside would not open the door, and they refused to answer officer commands. One man escaped from a window, but police tracked him down and arrested him. Police then arrested two women who had been inside the home.

The three arrested individuals are aged 20, 26 and 37. According to authorities, they will be charged with burglary and drug charges. Police suspect that the three people were in possession of drugs discovered inside the residence. Police have obtained a warrant to take the fourth suspect into custody; however, this individual has yet to be detained.

Burglary, breaking and entering and robbery charges come with the threat of spending time in jail for any Maryland resident who is found guilty of such crimes. However, the accused individuals in this case will have various legal defense options available to defend themselves against their robbery and drug possession charges. For example, some Maryland residents accused of crimes may try to cast a sufficient level of doubt upon the prosecution’s version of the facts in order to make conviction impossible. Others may choose to enter into a plea bargain agreement and plead guilty to certain crimes in order to get a reduction in punishments served. A plea bargain, however, is not in every defendant’s best interest.

Source:  WBALLTV11, “3 arrested in Glen Burnie burglary” Saliqa Khan, Apr. 29, 2014

Felony for Maryland man leads to 30-year sentence

Sometimes, things happen that can land you in hot water. You may be at the wrong place at the wrong time or have made a bad decision. If you’re facing charges for burglary or other crimes, you may want to seek a defense to protect yourself in court.

The news reports that one man, a former employee of Amherst County Schools, has pleaded guilty to eight felony charges for child pornography and sexual offenses against three girls in Nelson County.

The 57-year-old from Maryland faced three dozen sex-related charges against children under the age of 13. He entered a guilty plea, and because of that, the remaining charges weren’t prosecuted. The judge in the court ruled that the man should spend 30 years in prison for two counts of the production of child pornography. He also sentenced the man to 30 additional years on six charges of object sexual penetration. That time was suspended, since the man had entered into a plea agreement.

The news claims that the man had sexually molested children, and their parents turned over a laptop with several hard drives that the man had left behind at a local church. When a search warrant was obtained, the police claim they found videos showing the man participating in sexual acts with the three girls who were allegedly molested.

According to the sentencing, the man has to register as a sex offender and have no contact with the victims or their families when he is released from prison. The agreement was allegedly proposed after the families agreed on the terms. Because of the terms of the agreement, the children will not have to testify in court.

Source:  The News & Advance, “Man sentenced to 30 years on Nelson County sex charges” Justin Faulconer, Jun. 24, 2014

Woman accused of stealing over $350,000 in Maryland

Working for someone else, you know that if you’re granted access to company credit cards or bank accounts that you can’t use them for your own personal gain. Sometimes, you are granted permission to do so or to use the accounts to make purchases for events or activities at work. In some cases, being accused of stealing money is a mistake, and that means you have the right to protect your good name.

This recent news story describes a similar situation. A woman from Chester has been charged with a felony for a large-scale theft scheme, according to a report from Dec. 14. The woman, a 67-year-old, has been accused of stealing over $350,000 from the business where she was employed as an office manager. She had worked at the company for seven years.

The woman, who was arrested, faces several charges for the alleged thefts. She faces three counts of theft scheme over $500, six counts of theft of $10,000 to less than $100,000, and theft scheme in excess of $100,000. Each one of those charges is a felony, with the theft in excess of $100,000 being the most serious of the crimes.

The woman has been accused of using her company credit card to make personal transactions. She is also accused of manipulating the business’s checkbook, using her know-how to cover up the transactions and to make them look like official business purchases.

If you’ve been accused in a situation like this one, it’s important to get help. Felonies have major consequences and sentences that can result in prison time, so defending yourself is vital.

Source: The Star Democrat, “Chester woman charged with felony theft” Angela Price, Dec. 14, 2014

Man accused of stealing over $20,000 of goods in Maryland

If you’ve ever had the urge to steal from a store due to being unable to afford items or wanting to have something you saw without paying, then you know that it’s a criminal offense to do so. Stealing can lead to federal charges in some cases, especially when the amount you’ve stolen grows into the thousands of dollars’ worth of products.

This shocking story may enlighten some readers about what happened to over $20,000 worth of stolen merchandise from area stores in Federalsburg, Maryland. According to a report from Jan. 24, a man from Dorchester County, Maryland, was arrested with over $20,000 of merchandise in his home.

The Maryland State Police reported that the 44-year-old man was arrested without a fight when they arrived at his home. A search warrant had been issued for the man’s home. The authorities reported finding missing items like kitchen appliances, a tag sensor remover and clothing.

The man was reportedly a contracted driver with JC Penney. Investigators claimed that one of the drivers, allegedly this man, had been removing merchandise from the trucks since June 2014. Because of the ongoing thefts, extra tracking methods were put into place to find the person responsible. Now, the 44-year-old man faces several charges including theft $10,000 to $100,000, burglary in the fourth degree, for a theft scheme of $10,000 to $100,000.

If you’ve been caught or accused of shoplifting or theft, it’s important to stand up for yourself and to develop a criminal defense strategy as soon as possible. Your alleged acts could lead to a felony conviction, prison sentence or other punishments, but with some help, you may be able to reduce the damage to your reputation and future.

Source: NBC Washington, “$20,000 Worth of Stolen Merchadise Recovered in Md. Home” Jan. 24, 2015

Defend yourself against theft accusations in Maryland

If you’re accused of a theft, then you know that you could be facing charges that may place you in jail. The kinds of fines and jail time you could face depend on the value of the items you stole, if people were injured and other various considerations.

Any theft conviction can damage your reputation, making it harder to get jobs. Few employers want to work with someone accused of stealing, especially if it was in the form of fraud or stealing from the company itself. Whether you’ve been accused of identity theft, credit card theft, employee theft, trespassing or other crimes, it’s important to have a defense in place to protect you against unlawful charges and accusations.

Consider this: When you steal less than $100 of merchandise or cash from a business or person, you could go to jail for up to 90 days and be fined up to $500. The crime is considered a misdemeanor. If you are involved in a theft of $100,000 or more, that misdemeanor becomes a felony that is punished with up to 25 years in prison and $25,000 in fines. Regardless of your situation, you could be looking at jail time and fines well above the norm.

If this is the first time you’ve been accused of theft and you could be convicted, you may want to work with someone to discuss your eligibility for probation instead of having a conviction on your record. With probation, you’ll be able to state that you never were convicted of a crime on applications, help you get a job in the future. Our page has more information on misdemeanors and felonies, so you can better understand your situation.

Felony burglary and murder charges filed against 20-year-old

When you’re charged with a felony for a robbery, you want to know that you have the right to protect yourself and your reputation. If you’re facing burglary charges, you could face work punishments like getting fired or suspended and penalties from the law in the form of fines or even prison time. Because of this, it’s vital that you do what you can to defend yourself in Maryland.

This young man may be in a position similar to yours. The man in Baltimore has been charged for allegedly taking part in a string of robberies and a shooting in Maryland. Police have said that the man, a 20-year-old, was arrested on Aug. 22 for armed robbery and then connected to several other burglaries around the area. That’s just one of the 12 robberies in the Southeastern District on that day, six of which he’s been linked to.

One man was shot during a robbery on S. Albemarle St. when he wouldn’t comply with the robbers. According to the police, the 43-year-old man was shot in the forearm before the robbers left with an iPhone and wallet. Following the 20-year-old man’s arrest, he was interviewed about the robbery and allegedly admitted to taking part in it.

For the incident where the man was shot, the 20-year-old faces a first-degree murder charge and robbery charge for his part in the crime. He’s being held without bond, which may be partially to do with his past. Court records proved that the man had previously been convicted of armed robbery in 2010; at that time, he had a sentence of 18 years that was mostly suspended. He spent only five years in prison.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Man charged in shooting, string of robberies in Southeast Baltimore” Justin Fenton, Aug. 28, 2014