Monday, July 2, 2012

Client accused of stabbing victim cleared of all charges.

My client was charged with first-degree assault. The victim claimed that my client stabbed and slashed her with a knife. Obviously the charges are serious. First-degree assault is a felony punishable with up to 25 years in prison in the state of Maryland.

After I interviewed my client I began my investigation. The incident was to have occurred at a hotel. I called the hotel to speak with the clerk that was on duty. Had there been a stabbing this clerk clearly would've noticed such a horrific event. I never received evidence from the clerk that this actually occurred.

Further, I checked on the criminal records of the victim. She was a convicted drug dealer.

My client was not at the hotel. I tried to find alibi witnesses for her.

Putting all of this together I was ready for trial. On the date of the trial the prosecution dropped the case.

Finally, because these charges are so serious and are a matter of public record I advise my client how to get this matter expunged from her record.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Unsatisfied judgment through rental car

My client rented a car. She waived the collision insurance. She had an at fault accident. Under the contract between her and the rental car company it states she is liable for those damages plus attorneys fees. The rental car company sued her for breach of contract for failure to pay. They got a judgment.

She never paid that judgment and now her license to drive in Maryland is suspended. I was somehow under the impression that this only applies if the driver is uninsured. Clearly she had the minimum liability coverage required by Maryland. The Maryland statute is written much more broadly and is as follows:

Section 17-201 "Judgment" defined
In this subtitle, "judgment" means any final judgment resulting from:

(1) A cause of action for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use on any highway or other property open to the public of any vehicle of a type required to be registered in this State; or

(2) A cause of action on an agreement of settlement for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use on any highway or other property open to the public of any vehicle of a type required to be registered in this State.

Bottom line, use a credit card which might give you collision coverage or have collision coverage on your own vehicle which would extend to the rental vehicle. She had neither. I do not see a way out of this for her other than an installment payment plan which he breached or bankruptcy which she can't afford.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Corroboration of Confession in Drunk Driving Case

Recently I tried an interesting case in Cecil County. It was a drunk driving case. At trial the state was able to prove that the police officer came upon the defendant who was standing next to his demolished car off the side of the road late at night. The defendant admitted to driving. The defendant's breath test was .26 BAC which is more than three times the legal limit. That was the extent of their proof.

I argued to the judge that the state had failed to prove that the defendant was driving. A mere confession in Maryland is not enough to support a conviction. There must be some independent proof of the corpus delicti to corroborate the confession. I argued that the state could have proven that he was driving independently of his confession by providing the following corroborating evidence:

1. He had the car keys with him
2. The car was registered to him
3. He had injuries on him as a result of the accident

Any of those things would be some independent evidence that he was the driver of the car.

The judge took 3 min. of thinking quietly before stating that it was a close one but finding that my client had driven the car.

Despite the extremely high blood alcohol content and despite the fact that it was a car accident, my client did not suffer a conviction. He did not receive any points for the alcohol-related offense. He was given probation before judgment. My client is in a treatment program and it is my sincere hope that this will have been his only time drinking and driving.