Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Further Expansion of Maryland Expungement Law

Maryland expungement law has become applicable to ever more situations. One of the newer situations is where the person is found guilty of the crime. I found information on the Maryland People's Law Library which is very helpful; below is a list of crimes which might be expunged even if you were found guilty. You will note that some of these crimes are felonies. You owe it to yourself to clean up your record if you can. If you can't do it on your own I can help you for a fairly nominal rate.

Guilty Verdict

If you were found guilty of one of these charges you may request an expungement no less than three (3) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later:
  • urination or defecation in a public place,
  • panhandling or soliciting money,
  • drinking an alcoholic beverage in a public place,
  • obstructing the free passage of another in a public place or a public conveyance,
  • sleeping on or in park structures, such as benches or doorways,
  • loitering,
  • vagrancy,
  • riding a transit vehicle without paying the applicable fare or exhibiting proof of payment, or
  • certain other transportation charges (Md. Code, Transportation § 7-705).

If you were found guilty of one of these charges you may request an expungement no less than ten (10) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later:
  • disorderly intoxication,
  • possessing a controlled dangerous substance (CDS),
  • use or possession of drug paraphernalia,
  • unauthorized manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing of a CDS,
  • breaking and entering a motor vehicle,
  • general theft (Md. Code, Criminal Law § 7-104),
  • littering and illegal dumping, or
  • disturbing the peace and disorderly conduct.

If you were found guilty of one of these charges you may request an expungement no less than fifteen (15) years after the guilty conviction or the satisfactory completion of the sentence, including probation, whichever is later:
  • assault in the second degree,
  • violation of an interim peace order,
  • failure to comply with a protective order,
  • felony theft,
  • possession with intent to distribute or dispense a controlled dangerous substance, or
  • burglary in the first, second or third degree.

Expungement Tool I Found

I have no relation with this service provider, I don't receive anything from them, I do recommend it as an efficient tool to help you file for your expungement requests

https://www.mdexpungement.com/


Thursday, March 7, 2019

It does not take a great deal of evidence to be charged with driving while impaired

I have been practicing law since 1986.

When I first began practicing law it was much harder to prove alcohol-related driving cases and the sanctions were lower. For example, the alcohol driving crimes back then were driving while intoxicated which required a .15 BAC and driving under the influence of alcohol which required a .13 BAC.

There was no administrative per say sanctions for a high breath test.

Currently we no longer have driving while intoxicated. Driving under the influence per se requires a breath test of .08 BAC and driving while impaired requires a test of .07 BAC. A test of .06 BAC will often result in a charge against the defendant.

Even if there is no breath test the case law indicates that not much impairment is required to be convicted.  The following is from a Maryland appellate case, Meanor v. State, 774 A. 2d 394 - Md: Court of Appeals 2001

"Prior to 1995, § 21-902(a) prohibited a person from driving or attempting to drive a vehicle while intoxicated, and § 21-902(b) prohibited a person from driving or attempting to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Neither term—intoxicated or under the influence—was legislatively defined, and neither had been judicially defined by us for purposes of § 21-902. In Clay v. State, 211 Md. 577, 584, 128 A.2d 634, 638 (1957), we defined "under the influence of alcohol," for purposes of the manslaughter by automobile statute, as "drinking to the extent of probably affecting one's judgment and discretion or probably affecting one's nervous system to the extent that there is a failure of normal coordination, although not amounting to intoxication." (Emphasis added). In Alston v. Forsythe, 226 Md. 121, 132, 172 A.2d 474, 479 (1961), we applied that definition in a civil action for negligence arising out of an automobile accident.
The pattern jury instruction drafted by the Maryland State Bar Association Standing Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions (MPJI-Cr 4:10), which is often used by the trial courts and was used in this case, not only makes clear that the distinction between the two states is one of degree but provides what seems to us a better definition of "under the influence" and a workable and reasonable distinction between that and intoxication. It states:
"The distinction between driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence of alcohol is one of degree. A person is under the influence of alcohol when the alcohol that [he][she] has consumed has impaired normal coordination, although not amounting to intoxication. Another way of saying this is that the person's abilities have been reduced or weakened by the consumption of alcohol.
Intoxication means more than being under the influence of alcohol. A person is intoxicated when the alcohol that [he][she] has consumed has substantially impaired normal coordination."

Obviously it's not a good idea to drink and drive for many reasons. But if you do find yourself in that unfortunate situation you need experienced counsel to defend you. Call me if you need some help.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Why it's often worthwhile defending your speeding ticket

Speeding charges or one of the most common charges seen in traffic court. In Maryland speeding convictions put points on your driving record. Points on your driving record lead to increased insurance premiums and even cancellation of insurance coverage.

In Maryland speeds from 1 mile over to 9 miles over equals one point
10 miles to 29 miles over the limit two points
30 miles over the limit five points
anything over 85 mph five points (for example the speed limit is 65 mph and you are clock doing 86 mph that would be five points)

When you receive a speeding ticket you could simply pay the ticket and the points would be automatically assessed against your driving record. That may be convenient but it could lead to long time insurance increases, insurance cancellation and if you accumulate eight points or more license suspension, 12 points or more license revocation.

When you receive a speeding ticket even if the ticket is only $160 (a not unusual rate for a two point speeding ticket) you might consider spending the several hundred dollars it might cost to retain me.

Case in point. I was in traffic court recently. Most people were unrepresented. Several were lucky, the police officer did not show and the tickets were dismissed. That's a pretty good reason for asking for a trial. The defendant has the presumption of innocence and the burden is on the state to have the evidence to prove the defendant guilty. If the officer does not show many times the court will dismiss the ticket.

Before my trial I watched others plead guilty on their speeding tickets. They had the same officer as my client. The judge often would reduce the points on the ticket somewhat and would reduce the fines but there were still convictions.

Under the law of Maryland there really should not be a trial penalty. In other words, the judge should not hold it against you if you exercise your constitutional right to have a trial.

Speeding trials in Maryland are often trial by surprise (I really don't know what the officer will say specifically or what evidence the officer necessarily has, there is no official discovery process for nonserious traffic cases). Nonetheless I have done this for many years and generally know what the officer needs. In my case the officer testified that he was certified to use laser equipment to establish speed and had his certificate as to his qualifications. He also testified that the equipment he had was properly checked out and certified but he did not have the certifications with him. I objected arguing that the best evidence rule required the presence of the certificates. The judge correctly, in my opinion, ruled that the officer did need these certificates and found my client not guilty.

It cost my client several hundred dollars more than the original ticket but it saved my client from increased insurance premiums and possible insurance cancellation.

If you receive a speeding ticket feel free to call me, I might be able to help.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Federal Housing Assistance/Section 8 Housing and Criminal Convictions

I practice criminal defense. Besides the direct possible consequences of a criminal conviction such as incarceration, probation with home inspections, drug tests, counseling, etc. can come collateral consequences such as termination of housing privileges.

Federal Housing Assistance, Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8 Housing) provides housing assistance to qualified persons. The programs are administered in Maryland through County agencies. Persons in the program must adhere to guidelines or risk termination of benefits and ultimate eviction.

One of the program guidelines addresses criminal convictions. If you are convicted of certain crimes, some as ordinary as assault, can have the person and those residing with the person terminated from the home.

The Court of Appeals for Maryland addressed this matter in Karen McDonald Versus Harford County Housing Agency.

When you are contemplating your options in a criminal case you should consider whether a conviction can have you removed from your home.