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Baltimore Criminal Law Blog

Legislators: Possession of 10 grams of pot not a drug crime

Maryland's medical marijuana program has officially been revived, though it appears that patients might have to wait for more than 15 months until they can purchase the drug again in the state. Families throughout the region are rejoicing that they will no longer be charged with drug offenses for providing controversial -- but often extraordinarily effective -- treatments to their severely ill children. State government has been active in efforts to decriminalize the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, as well, though many are still questioning the implementation of the new laws.

One of the major concerns about the 10-gram measure involves continued search and seizure. Lawmakers must determine whether officers are permitted to continue to search a resident for more drugs if just 10 grams or less are found on the person. Attorneys may be able to provide answers for defendants who have been victimized by unfair search and seizure, but the proposed laws are still unclear on this matter. Law enforcement officers say they are worried about running afoul of the provision.

Is it child porn? Sex crimes laws in Maryland may say 'no'

Maryland residents may be surprised to learn that the state's definition of child pornography does not necessarily include all nude photographs of children. The revelation came after a group of middle-school girls sent nude photographs of themselves to other children. The recipients are accused of distributing the images on Instagram and through other platforms. School officials in Anne Arundel County have not announced whether they have decided to discipline the students allegedly involved with the incident. Further, authorities say that the youngsters did not necessarily commit sex offenses by distributing the images.

Maryland's definition of child pornography concedes that simple nudity does not make the image pornographic. Rather, the child in the photograph must be involved in actual sexual activity. It is important to note that sex crimes definitions -- including those for child pornography -- vary significantly from state to state. Although 17 states have passed laws against certain types of "sexting," Maryland has not.

Domestic violence programs, laws could affect Maryland defendants

Medical providers on the front lines of patient care are often the first people to come in contact with victims of domestic violence. Now, Maryland health care professionals are getting a boost in preventing domestic abuse with the implementation of a hospital-based domestic violence initiative. The program, supported by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, will use a portion of a $40,000 grant to assist law enforcement officers with identifying abuse and gathering evidence. The program, along with several other legal changes, could have wide-reaching effects on those who face domestic violence allegations in Maryland.

The money will be used to purchase a new device for MedStar St. Mary's Hospital, located in rural Maryland. That imaging device allows hospital personnel to quickly identify signs of physical abuse; specifically, the device may be able to confirm the presence of bruises related to choking. The purchase of this piece of equipment is just one step toward curbing domestic violence throughout the state. The Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention allocates more than $600,000 annually throughout the state to fight physical abuse in Maryland homes.

Trial begins for Maryland teen's violent crime; drugs blamed

A criminal trial has started for a teen accused of murdering another youth in Baltimore in 2013. The defendant, who was 17 at the time of the attack, has been charged as an adult in connection with the violent crimes charges. He is accused of strangling the 18-year-old victim to death while at a party that had drugs in Easton, Maryland. The defendant is facing charges of second-degree murder in the trial that began on April 2. One other young man, age 18, is also accused of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment in connection with the incident.

The key point of contention in the second-degree murder trial is whether the defendant killed the victim, or the victim died from drug toxicity. Authorities say the defendant is facing murder charges after he allegedly strangled the victim while both were high on the designer drug 25C. Defense attorneys say that the accusations of strangulation are false; instead, they say the victim died because he asphyxiated because of the effects of the drug. One witness in the case has said that the defendant simply grabbed the victim in a "bear hug" to prevent him from continuing with behavior that was characterized as self-destructive.

Former rock DJ facing probation revocation for recent DUI

A local celebrity has found himself in trouble with the law again after allegedly violating his probation for a 2012 drunk-driving conviction. The man, known by the nickname "Stash," had been a well-known personality on 98 Rock radio in Maryland. That man is now facing a new DUI charge and a probation revocation after an alleged drunk driving incident in early February.

Official reports show that the man had served time after pleading guilty to driving under the influence in October 2012. He was required to serve a six-month jail term before being placed on three years' supervised release. Five people were injured in that July 2012 wreck, which occurred on Route 24 near I-95 in Abingdon, Maryland. The defendant was convicted of the DUI charge and lost his job at the radio station.

Man faces decades in prison for child porn sex offenses

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to sex crimes involving minors. The man, age 49, reportedly admitted on March 24 that he had produced child pornography during 2013. Official reports show that the man will likely be sentenced to nearly 10 years' prison time for the possession of child pornography, and he will also be required to register as a sex offender because of the sex crimes.

Authorities say that the man was accused of planting a camera in a bathroom that was used by a 14-year-old male child. The hidden camera was reportedly placed in such a way that it could capture images of the child's genital region. The man used the video uploaded from the watch, transferring it to his computer and mobile phone. He had reportedly been sharing the bathroom with the teen as part of a living arrangement with a family. The alleged activities took place between February and May 2013.

Trainer: Rice's injury could have led to domestic violence

Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice is reportedly blaming his recent domestic violence arrest on additional stress caused by injuries he suffered during the National Football League season. Official reports show that Rice was accused of accosting his fiancee at a casino in Atlantic City. Video evidence in the domestic violence case included shots of Rice dragging the unconscious woman out of an elevator at that facility. The couple agreed to attend therapy in connection with the matter, and it does not appear that Rice is continuing to face charges for his role in the dispute.

It seems that no news is good news for Rice, who had been struggling with a secret injury and other concerns throughout the football season. Rice's trainer argues that his client's uncharacteristically low 660-yard rushing year is attributable to a variety of factors, not the least of which was a nagging hip injury that was not publicized. Rice had led fans to believe that he was simply fatigued, but it appears that a serious injury may have plagued him throughout the entire year.

Men charged with violent crimes after taxi driver death

Two young men are facing serious criminal charges after they allegedly shot an Annapolis cab driver. The 41-year-old driver was shot while working on March 12, according to official reports. The 23-year-old and 17-year-old defendants are accused of violent crimes including first- and second-degree murder, along with weapons charges and others.

Authorities say that a neighbor found the victim's vehicle in his driveway. Inside the vehicle, investigators found blood and identified signs of a struggle. However, the taxi driver was not in his vehicle. Instead, his body was found in another location, having been transported to another driveway up the street in the Crownsville, Maryland, neighborhood.

Maryland legislators consider downgrading drug offenses

A group of Maryland lawmakers is fighting for residents who have been charged with criminal offenses for possessing small amounts of marijuana. The change would downgrade certain types of drug offenses out of the criminal realm, instead relegating them to the civil courts. Instead of facing criminal charges, the violators would face punishment akin to a parking ticket. These changes come at a time that another cadre of legislators is pushing for marijuana legalization in the state.

In addition to lowering the penalty for such drug crimes, the proposed measure would allow convicts to expunge previous convictions for certain types of drug crimes. In other words, the drug offenses that are transformed into civil matters for new defendants would also be wiped off of convicts' criminal records. Supporters say that particular provision would have a significant positive impact, opening career paths and other opportunities for those who have been struggling with their old drug convictions.

Nurse gets 60 days in jail after sentencing for sex crimes

A nurse with licenses to practice in Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania has been sentenced to 60 days in jail after admitting to felony charges. The man, age 29, reportedly pleaded guilty to sex offenses in December after an alleged inappropriate encounter with a patient. The man admitted to sexual imposition and patient abuse after having unsolicited sexual contact with a female patient who was in labor at an Ohio hospital in 2012. In addition to the jail term, the man will also be required to spend two years on probation, and he must surrender his nursing licenses. The man will be listed on the sex offender registry for a period of 15 years.

The man had reportedly pleaded guilty to allegations that he improperly touched a patient's breast during her labor experience. Further, she claimed that the man placed her hand on his pants in the area of his penis. Prosecutors accused the man of violating standard protocol by asking others to leave the room while the woman was experiencing dangerously low blood pressure. The assault may have occurred during that time.

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