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Baltimore Criminal Law Blog

Is it smart to refuse a blood alcohol test to avoid DWI charges?

It is a question that many drivers ask when they are pulled over because of suspected drunk driving: Do they have to take a breathalyzer test? In some cases, Maryland residents may be able to refuse a breathalyzer test, though that choice does come with consequences. Law enforcement officers may still be able to obtain a warrant for your blood, urine or breath even if you refuse a preliminary screening. Refusal may ultimately help your DWI case, though it could also lead to unnecessary license suspension.

The consequences for refusing a blood test are generally far less severe than those for a DUI charge. For example, refusing a test could lead to an automatic suspension for up to a year, depending on the number of previous violations. Thus, those drivers who may have a blood alcohol content far above the legal limit of 0.08 percent may be better served to consider breath test refusal, especially considering the penalties for high-BAC drunk driving.

Defendant held on large bond after alleged long-term sex crimes

A man from Elkton, Maryland, is being held on a $500,000 bound after he was arrested for allegations of sexual abuse. The defendant, age 46, is facing a dozen charges related to sex crimes, including rape, assault and sex abuse of a minor. He is accused of sexually assaulting three young girls over a period of more than a decade.

Official reports show that an investigation into the matter began on Sept. 8, when an adult woman told police officers that the man had been sexually abusing her for at least a year. However, the man had apparently become more aggressive since late August. Two other women were eventually called in to bring reports against the man; they claimed that he also assaulted them while they were still minors. One woman said the sex acts only stopped in May, while she was still a juvenile. The final victim said that the man had molested her on several occasions during a seven-year span.

Silk Road user gets 6 years for Internet drug offenses

A 33-year-old Maryland man will serve six years in prison after being convicted of drug offenses related to the online bazaar Silk Road. The Edgewood man has an embattled personal history, including arrests, mental health issues and drug abuse woes. The defendant was one of the first online dealers to be arrested and charged for drug offenses in connection with the Silk Road enterprise.

Authorities say that the man was initially taken into custody in 2012. He was accused of selling heroin and the synthetic drug methylone. Dealers on the Silk Road site were reportedly protected by a software program that confounded investigators' efforts to identify individual users. The use of bitcoin, an online currency, also blocked investigators' efforts to identify drug distributors through the system.

What constitutes domestic violence?

Many Maryland residents who are charged with domestic violence violations may not have been aware that their actions constituted a potential criminal act. These defendants, who may also face allegations of spousal abuse, should understand the precise definition of "domestic violence" in order to mount a criminal defense. So, what exactly constitutes domestic violence in Maryland? Today, we help you answer that question.

What are the forms of domestic violence? There are generally four recognized types of domestic violence. These include the commonly prosecuted physical abuse, which can include striking, biting or otherwise physically harming the victim. Emotional abuse happens when someone uses psychological tactics to undermine the victim's sense of self-worth. Economic abuse occurs when the abuser prevents the victim from maintaining financial independence, therefore "trapping" the person in the relationship. Finally, sexual abuse can also occur if sexual acts are forced upon a victim.

Why you should take your sex crimes charge very seriously

Criminal defendants who have been charged with a sex offense in Maryland should know that "minor" sex crimes do not exist in this state. In fact, the vast majority of sex crimes require registration on the sex offender registry -- an archaic practice that can cause professional and personal consequences that you may not have ever imagined. Even one of the less-serious charges -- such as prostitution or soliciting a prostitute -- can cause major damage to your professional life and future.

If you have been charged with a sex crime, you need to know that you have rights under the law. Sex crimes comprise a wide range of alleged violations, ranging from prostitution to rape to child molestation. Even indecent exposure is considered a prosecutable sex crime in Maryland.

Maryland men facing violent crimes charges for beating death

Two Maryland men have been taken into custody after they allegedly beat a North Whitehall Township man to death in mid-August. The men, ages 22 and 27, have officially been charged with second-degree assault and manslaughter, both considered violent crimes. The victim, age 37, was reportedly found unresponsive in a hotel parking lot on Aug. 24; he died later that day.

Authorities say they are still not sure exactly what began the fight, though it appears that only the three men were involved in the fray. Investigators are not certain whether alcohol played a role in the late-night confrontation. Those involved in evaluating the case say that the incident appears to have been a typical fistfight that turned deadly after the man was simply "hit in the wrong spots."

Former federal agency official convicted of Internet sex crimes

A former official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is facing a potential life sentence after a conviction for child pornography. The man, age 56, has been living in Germantown, Maryland, before he was tried in a Nebraska federal court. The man, who had been the acting director of cyber security for the federal agency, was found guilty on three counts of sex crimes after a jury trial.

The man was reportedly convicted of several serious charges, including engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. That allegation alone could carry up 20 years to life behind bars, according to the defense attorney in the case. The man is slated to be sentenced in early November.

Murder charges for man accused of killing wife's beau

A Maryland man is facing serious criminal charges after he allegedly killed a man who was dating his estranged wife. The man also apparently attempted to kill himself during the encounter in Laurel, according to authorities. The defendant has been charged with violent crimes including first- and second-degree murder in connection with the incident.

Authorities say that the defendant, age 39, suffered life-threatening injuries in the apparent attempted murder-suicide. Official reports show that the victim, also 39, was found lifeless in a roadway on Aug. 20 at about 10:30 p.m., and he was pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital.

Keep drug charges off of your criminal history in Maryland

If you are facing allegations of drug crimes in Maryland, one of the first things you should do is seek the help of an attorney. Drug charges can be confusing, and the legal process is often difficult to navigate for those who are unfamiliar with its subtleties. Further, the potential serious consequences that arise from a drug offense can crush your ability to obtain student loans, keep your job or even remain in school. In these high-stakes scenarios, you should know that you do not have to go through the process alone.

Maryland attorneys can provide information and assistance for those who are accused of drug possession and distribution of a variety of substances. These include crack, heroin, marijuana, ecstasy and many others. Maryland's penalties for drug crimes depend on the severity of the violation, so it is important to understand the nature of the drug charges you are facing.

Man cleared of sex offenses after victim fails to testify

A 19-year-old Maryland man who was accused of accosting a sleeping woman at a summer concert has been cleared of the most serious charges connected to that incident. The man was tried on two counts: public intoxication and assault and battery. He was accused of sexually assaulting the alleged victim. However, courtroom proceedings cleared the defendant of the sex crimes, though he was found guilty on the public intoxication charge. The defendant had initially been charged with aggravated sexual battery, though that sexual assault charge was dropped before the trial began.

The alleged victim in the case did not testify in the criminal trial. That woman, age 49, had accused the defendant of groping her while she was sleeping at a concert put on by the Zac Brown Band at the Jiffy Lube Live music venue. Instead of the victim testifying in the sex crimes case, three witnesses came forward to support the defendant. All of those witnesses said they saw the man simply lie down next to the woman; they did not observe any untoward behavior.