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Baltimore Criminal Law Blog

What are the requirements for police to get a search warrant?

Television programs often show police handing someone a search warrant as they burst into a home. In order for police to be able to search a property and seize items in most places, a search warrant must be issued from the appropriate court.

The Fourth Amendment of our Constitution protects citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures." That means searches are allowed when certain requirements are meet, such as:

How common is domestic financial abuse?

Financial abuse is a type of domestic abuse that directly involves money and assets. It can exist on its own, but often exists as part of an abusive relationship overall. For instance, someone may suffer from intimidation, which is emotional abuse, along with both physical attacks and financial abuse. Though they're all technically different, one often leads to the other, so they may all be cited in a case.

Simple financial abuse could just include telling someone that he or she doesn't get any access to the family bank account. More drastic abuse could actually involve taking money from accounts that the person holds, such as investments or retirement funds, which may even have been owned before the marriage. Oftentimes, if one partner decides to get out of the relationship and tries to leave, the other partner may take all of the money out of these accounts so that it can't be used.

Officers still need cause to make a DUI arrest

Something has to cause a police officer in Baltimore to pull you over and give you a DUI. While this may sound obvious, it's actually a very important distinction, since it means police officers can't just randomly pull over any vehicles that they want, hand out breath tests, and take drivers who fail down to the station. Before the breath test, something has to cause the traffic stop, and any stop done without cause—even if you are drunk—may not be legal.

Keep this in mind as technology advances. There have been talks about setting up laser monitoring devices that could detect alcohol and then tell police to pull certain vehicles over. This has never been done before, and it could have a huge impact on drivers' rights if it becomes a reality.

Body armor and weapons in the commission of a crime

It's likely not surprising for people to hear that the use of a weapon in a crime makes it more serious. However, did you know that wearing body armor during the commission of a crime can add an additional charge?

According to the Maryland criminal code, those who have a previous conviction for drug trafficking or a violent crime may not buy, possess or use bulletproof body armor. Anyone who violates this law may face five years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine. However, a petition may be filed by someone who has a previous conviction for drug trafficking or a violent crime can file a petition with the Secretary of State Police or with someone who is designated by the Secretary. That petition can ask for a permit to buy, possess and use body armor.

Which crimes are most common, and where does violent crime rank?

When looking at crime rates in the United States, it's easy to see that property crimes are far more common than violent crimes. In fact, there are around ten times as many committed each year.

Data from 2003 shows that there were 1,381,259 violent crimes, which comes in as 11.7 percent of the total, and there were 10,435,523 property crimes, which is 88.3 percent of the total.

Are some types of drug paraphernalia legal in Maryland?

Earlier this year, the Maryland Senate voted to give final approval to a legislative bill that will make drug paraphernalia legal. It also will make the amount of marijuana that is subject to civil penalties twice what it was before.

The vote was 44 to 3 in favor of the amended version, which now returns House Bill 105 to the House of Delegates. The bill received the support of police department, marijuana advocates and the Maryland State's Attorneys Association.

Damage caused by untrue criminal allegations

Crime victims receive a lot of sympathy which makes taking on the role of a victim attractive to some people. A desire for compassion is one of several motivations for making false accusations. What attention seekers don't or won't consider is the extensive damage false criminal charges cause for Baltimore defendants and an overburdened legal system.

Anyone who has been tied directly or indirectly to an arrest, imprisonment or criminal court appearance knows the legal process is stressful. True and false allegations can generate media attention, which can destroy a defendant's professional and personal relationships. Made up charges cause real problems for law enforcers, courts, defendants and, ultimately, for the false accusers.

Defense strategies against child sex offense charges

Being charges with a child sex offense can make your life very uncertain. There is a stigma attached with such charges -- and charges involving children -- that is often difficult to overcome. This occurs even when the charges haven't been proven in court. There are some defense strategies that experienced defense attorneys employ in order to make the jury see the defense's side of the case. These include:

-- The child's injuries are the result of an accident.

High school student dead after high-speed crash

A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a fatal high-speed drunk driving accident that happened last Labor Day weekend. The incident resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy who was ejected out of the the vehicle.

The driver of the car pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, in addition to the charge of causing a life-endangering injury while intoxicated. According to prosecutors, the teenage driver lost control of the vehicle on a curve while driving 119 mph in a 35 mph zone. After losing control, the young man's Chrysler convertible hit a tree.

How prevalent is underage drunk driving?

When the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility first started analyzing the surveys of students and alcohol usage, the reported usage among students was considerably higher than it is today. Unfortunately, the survey results are still cause for concern.

The Monitoring the Future Study survey is given to eighth, 10th and 12th grade students each year. While there is a substantial decline in alcohol usage from 1991 when the survey was first given, there is also a decline from 2012 to 2013 for most parts of the survey. Here are some of the results titled, "Drinking Patterns 2014."