Whether you are an adult or juvenile accused of a misdemeanor or felony crime, you need sound legal advice and the effective assistance of experienced attorneys. At every stage of the case – arrest through trial and appeal – our firm has extensive experience defending the rights of individuals accused of all types of criminal offenses.
Our firm represents individuals in Maryland’s District and Circuit trial courts, and the federal criminal justice system who have been accused of criminal offenses. We are committed to ensuring and protecting your Constitutional safeguards from initial arrest through every phase of court proceedings. In preparing your legal defense we carefully examine the facts of your case, talk to witnesses, and identify flaws in the State’s case stemming from unlawful or unreasonable police conduct or procedure:
- Were you given Miranda rights advising that you could have an attorney present and had the right to remain silent?
- Did the police allow you to speak with an attorney?
- Did the police have probable cause to arrest you?
- Was there probable cause to search you?
- Was evidence properly seized and properly maintained in police custody?
- Was there a valid basis for the issuance of a warrant to search and seize your property?
We will fight the introduction and admissibility of evidence to be used against you at trial through suppression and evidentiary hearings. We make the State prove their case! You are innocent until proven guilty and the burden is on the State to prove your guilt! The level of proof required to convict a person in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. That means a judge or jury must be convinced of your guilt.
We possess the legal expertise, knowledge and skill that you need for effective representation when accused of a crime. We care about our clients and are dedicated to obtaining the best possible results for them.
Detention and Arrest
Police possess the authority in certain circumstances to approach a person for the purpose of investigating criminal behavior. They may also approach and ask if you are willing to answer questions. You do not need to answer any questions. You can even refuse to listen and walk away. You cannot be detained by the police without reasonable suspicion that you have been or are about to be involved in a crime.
When you are detained by police and unable to freely leave or walk away, you have been seized, and if the police possess probable cause to believe that you have been involved in criminal activity or have committed a crime, they can arrest you. If you are detained on suspicion of committing a criminal offense, or arrested for a criminal offense, it is important to invoke your Constitutional right to remain silent – do NOT answer any questions! Request to speak with an attorney! Once arrested, and before police attempt to question you, you have a Constitutional guarantee entitling you to be warned of your Miranda rights! Any statements you make to police at this critical time can be used against you! If you request to speak with an attorney, all questioning by the police must stop.
Anything you tell your attorney is held in strict confidence! An attorney cannot effectively act on your behalf or properly defend you if you do not make them fully aware of the facts surrounding your case. The attorney-client privilege forms a confidential relationship that encourages a person accused of a crime to be truthful with his or her attorney and to follow their legal advice. You can freely and openly disclose information to your attorney without fear that information will be disclosed to others or used against you!
After arrest and processing by the police, you will be taken before a District Court Commissioner, or if charged federally, a United States Magistrate Judge who will determine whether to release you on your signature or set a monetary bond to assure your appearance in court. Being released on your signature is referred to as “personal recognizance”. If a monetary bond is set, you will be required to either post that money to the court in the amount required, or you can retain the services of a bondsman. A bondsman posts his money with the court and charges you a non-refundable fee to do so. You may also post with the court real estate property as collateral for a bond.
If you are not initially released on your signature and unable to post bond, you will be detained in custody at a local detention center. You are entitled to a bond review hearing before a judge within 24 hours of your detention, or the next business day. We will represent you at that hearing and attempt to have your bond reduced, have you released under the supervision of pre-trial services pending trial, or have you placed on home detention pending trial.
Maryland has a two-tier trial court system. The lower court is the District Court of Maryland which has one or more locations in each county. Your case will be tried in the District Court of Maryland if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or certain felony charges. A misdemeanor is a lessor criminal offense that can be punishable by a fine, and/or one year or less in jail. A felony is a major crime, carrying a penalty of incarceration of one year or more and fines. If you have been charged in the District Court and are subject to a penalty of incarceration, you have the right to request a jury trial and have your case heard in the Circuit Court.
Each county has a Circuit Court where criminal felony charges are tried. You may have been charged with a felony in the District Court, but the trial can only be heard in the Circuit Court of the county in which you were charged. In those instances, your case will be forwarded to the Circuit Court by the prosecutor or by Grand Jury indictment.
If you are charged with an offense that occurred on federal property, and your case is a misdemeanor, it will be heard by a United States Magistrate Judge. Only a judge of the United States District Court can preside at federal felony and jury trials.
A juvenile is a person under the age of 18 years. With certain exceptions, Maryland does not prosecute juvenile offenders for their delinquent acts in our adult criminal justice system. These cases can be decided during an informal hearing at the Department of Juvenile Justice, or forwarded to a juvenile court for a formal hearing. Formal hearings are held before a juvenile Master, not a judge. Police and court records concerning juvenile offenders are confidential and not open to public view.
The commission of certain delinquent acts, relatively minor offenses, will be handled by our Department of Juvenile Justice at an informal adjustment hearing if it is believed that the best interests of the public and the child will be served by doing so. Other delinquent acts are forwarded for a formal adjudicatory hearing before a Master by way of petition filed by the Office of the State’s Attorney.
If a juvenile who is at least 14 years old commits an act that if committed by an adult would be punishable by death or life imprisonment, they will be charged and tried as an adult. If a juvenile who is at least 16 years old commits the crime of abduction, kidnapping, second degree murder or attempted second degree murder, manslaughter, second degree rape or attempted second degree rape, robbery or attempted robbery, a second or third degree sex offense or an attempted second or third degree sex offense, certain firearms offenses, carjacking, or first degree assault, they will be charged and tried as an adult.
Juveniles who are repeat offenders or have been charged with committing a serious delinquent act, may be taken into custody and held in a juvenile facility pending a hearing if the court believes the child needs protection, others need protection from the child, or the child is likely to leave the court’s jurisdiction. That detention may be continued after an adjudicatory hearing and a finding of delinquency by a juvenile Master
A juvenile accused of a delinquent act is entitled to the same Constitutional protections as an adult offender. They have the right to remain silent and to request the assistance of an attorney! If a juvenile makes an admission or confesses to a crime after being advised of his right under Miranda, that admission or confession may be admitted against him at trial.
To prove a child has committed a delinquent act, the Master must determine whether the allegations have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The rules of evidence applied in an adult court are applicable in a juvenile proceeding, and a juvenile has the right to a speedy trial. They are also afforded the right to appeal a Master’s adverse determination.
Parents and/or guardians can be held liable to pay restitution for damages caused by their child’s delinquent acts.
If you are the parent or guardian of a juvenile accused of a delinquent act, it is imperative that you consult an attorney immediately to avoid that child being improperly detained in custody or wrongfully interrogated by police. There are also times when we as parents and/or guardians have lost control of our children and the ability to control their acts. The juvenile justice system is there to help a child in need of assistance, but your rights as a parent or guardian and the rights of that child need protection.
We possess the legal skills and knowledge you need when your child has been accused of a delinquent act or is in need of assistance.
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