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Baltimore Criminal Law Blog

How can Maryland residents fight a voluntary manslaughter charge?

The difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter is fairly self-evident. Voluntary manslaughter means that a person intended to kill or at least cause significant harm. Involuntary manslaughter involves reckless or negligent behavior, but any death that resulted was an accident.

Even if a defendant is guilty of voluntary manslaughter, there are defenses that a criminal defense attorney can make to the court, such as showing that the death was accidental, to try to get the charge reduced to involuntary manslaughter. Which defense strategy is used will depend upon the facts of the case.

Petition sent to Congress on false accusations of domestic abuse

A petition has been forwarded to Congress, asking for their help in stopping alleged victims of domestic violence from making false accusations against alleged offenders for abuse. This petition had been signed by 26,279 people at last count.

When an alleged domestic violence victim makes a false accusation, the criminal justice system suffers as well as the defendant. The way many domestic violence laws are set up now, an alleged victim's word is taken without question. The man or woman accused of domestic violence has no voice in the matter until several weeks later.

What are the pros and cons of a plea bargain in Maryland?

Plea bargaining is a viable and useful strategy that many Baltimore, Maryland, residents employ when they are defending themselves against criminal charges. However, before a suspect agrees to engage in a plea bargaining strategy, he or she will generally want to know what the pros and cons are of entering into such a deal.

Just like in many personal injury claims where defendants agree to pay a reduced monetary settlement rather than face the risk of paying more if the case goes to trial, criminal defendants can also reach an agreement with the prosecution in many cases. Such a plea bargain arrangement will reduce the uncertainty that is involved with trial proceedings.

Teen drunk driving focus of Maryland sherrifs

The Maryland Sheriffs Association wants parents and underage teens to be aware of the risks of driving drunk. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a third of the 15- to 20-year-old drivers had been drinking before being killed in a car accident. Another study has shown that just as many 18- to 20-year-old young men said that they have driven while drunk as 21- to 34-year-old drivers have.

One way to decrease the number of teenage drunk drivers starts with the parents and older brother and sisters. The law enforcement community does hope that at some point, teens will use their common sense and not drink and drive. Here are some things parents can do:

Cocaine laws in Maryland

Being familiar with the state of Maryland's cocaine laws can help individuals stay out of trouble. It can also help those accused of cocaine-related drug offenses navigate the complexities of their criminal cases. Indeed, drug laws are tricky and the more we know about them, the better off we are.

Cocaine possession -- even the possession of minute amounts of the drug -- can result in individuals suffering serious penalties if they are convicted of the offenses. For example, possessing a small amount of cocaine is considered a misdemeanor with punishments of as much as 4 years in jail and/or $25,000 in fines. Meanwhile, if one is found guilty of smuggling 28 grams of cocaine into Maryland, it is considered a felony with punishments of 25 years in jail and fines of as much as $50,000. If it is a subsequent offense, then the associated penalties are doubled.

Man with HIV sentenced to 18-months for not telling sex partners

A Bethesda, Maryland, judge has sentenced a 28-year-old man to 18 months in jail on a charge of reckless endangerment. The man pleaded guilty earlier this month to the charge.

The charge stemmed from the man, who has HIV, having sex with two women without telling them about his HIV status. He told the court that the drugs he was taking for HIV would have made it highly unlikely that he would have transmitted the disease. Both women have since tested negative for HIV.

Is it legal to shoot and kill a person who has entered my home?

Baltimore residents can rest assured that if an intruder invades their home with violent intent, then they are well within their right to shoot and kill the person. Generally, the law will protect those who use a gun in self-defense like this from being charged with violent crimes. However, if the individual is outside of your home and on the street, such situations need to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

When it comes to self-defense, everyone has the right to use force in the name of defending themselves. For example, if a Baltimore resident has been charged with murder, it may be possible to use self-defense arguments as a way of defending the accused person against the crimes in court. That said, the amount of force used against the person has to be proportionate to the situation. In this sense, if a thief enters your home, discovers that you are there and attempts to leave without any threat of violence against you, it would obviously be an inappropriate use of force to shoot the thief with a firearm.

The consequences of a protective order in Baltimore

Domestic violence is a hot issue right now, especially with several professional athletes accused of various domestic abuse crimes. In Baltimore, Maryland, and throughout the U.S., protective orders are granted that keep alleged abusers away from victims.

While there is a need for protective orders in many cases, a problem can arise when the allegations against someone are false. Because the judge will only hear one side of the story, the respondent -- the person who is served the order of protection -- won't have a chance to provide his or her version of events. It usually takes about two more weeks for a follow-up court hearing where the respondent or his or her attorney can speak in front of the judge.

Murder allegedly committed by solider from Maryland

A 20-year-old solider was stationed at Fort Meade, a base in Maryland, but he was given time off for leave, and he used it to go see his girlfriend. The problem was that the girl was only 14 years old, and the girl's mother did not approve of the older man dating her daughter. She tried to split the couple up.

In retaliation, the solider allegedly stabbed her multiple times. Some of the stab wounds were to her neck, killing her. Other wounds were found on her hands, showing that she had done what she could to fend him off during the attack. That assault happened in a vehicle, and the 14-year-old girl apparently saw what was happening -- police say she was in the car -- and did nothing.

Underage DWI fatalities are decreasing

Our readers in Maryland may have heard that underage DWI fatalities have decreased over the past decade, but there are still far too many that slip through the cracks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started keeping records in 1982 for people under 21. From 1991 to 2012, there was a 60 percent reduction in the number of people killed in drunk driving fatalities.