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Self-incrimination and using the “5th”

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Maryland law on immunity in drug overdose cases

gavel2 1 Maryland’s Criminal Procedure statutes provides for immunity from arrest or criminal sanction when a call is made for medical assistance because of a suspected drug overdose. 

Whether that immunity extends to a person who has overdosed when someone else calls 911 was explored in a reported opinion last week from Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in a case called Christopher Noble v. State of Maryland.

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The folly of fleeing an accident scene

gavel2Under Maryland law, a person involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident has the duty to stop and remain at the scene, to render aid to the victim, and to report the accident to the police. 

Maryland’s intermediate appellate Court in an unreported opinion last week addressed what other crimes fleeing the scene of a fatal collision may prove, in a case called Richard Curtis v. State of Maryland. 

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The distinct odor of marijuana

gavel2The Maryland legislature has now decriminalized the possession of less than 10 ounces of marijuana. However, use of the odor of marijuana is still used by the police in making arrests, as was explored by a divided panel from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court in a case called Rasherd Lewis v. State of Maryland.

The majority opinion indicates that Lewis was convicted of wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, after his motion to suppress the handgun from evidence on 4th amendment unreasonable search and seizure grounds was denied by the trial judge.

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State passes new domestic gun law

gavel2Among the new gun control measures passed by the Maryland Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2018 addressing guns owned or possessed by persons convicted of crimes of domestic violence. The new statute, which was House Bill 1646, amends the Criminal Law Article to require persons convicted of such crimes to surrender their firearms and provides as follows.

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Self-defense requires fear of harm

gavel2In criminal cases involving violence, the defense of self-defense is often raised by a criminal defendant. In a reported opinion from Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals called Donovan Bynes v. State, senior Judge Charles Moylan explored what the elements are to allow such a defense to be considered by a jury.

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When rape accusations are inadmissible

gavel2One of the issues that often arises in criminal prosecutions for sexual offenses is what if any evidence regarding the victim’s sexual history can be introduced in evidence. Maryland has a “rape shield” law that provides, with limited exceptions, that ordinarily evidence relating to a victim’s reputation for chastity or abstinence is not admissible at trial. Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals recently addressed whether evidence that the victim had accused others of rape should be admitted in a criminal trial, in an unreported opinion called Kevin Edward Snider v. State of Maryland.

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Parents of slain pregnant woman fight to change law

  • Published in State

Wallen Family 2aLaura Wallen's family with Sen. Justin Ready and Del. Trent Kittleman in Annapolis. PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIANWhen the father of a slain Olney woman found out the man accused of killing his pregnant daughter would only be charged with one count of murder, instead of two, he said he was shocked.

“It wasn’t going to count,” Mark Wallen said of his daughter Laura’s unborn child’s death. “Justice was not going to be done for my grandson. The law now says the life of my grandson doesn’t even exist.”

Under current state law, charges of murder or manslaughter for an unborn child can only be brought against a person if a fetus is considered “viable” outside of the mother’s womb. 

Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy charged Laura Wallen’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Tyler Tessier, 33, of Damascus, with one count of murder last October. Wallen was 14 weeks pregnant at the time of her death, according to the state’s chief medical examiner who conducted an autopsy. She was having a boy, whom she planned to name “Reid.”

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Handcuffed but not arrested

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One area of criminal law that has been the subject of many appellate opinions is the notion of “stop and frisk,” as originally adopted in the Supreme Court’s opinion in 1968 in Terry v. Ohio. Although the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures protects persons from a warrantless arrest without probable cause, where the police have a reasonable suspicion that a person may be armed and dangerous that is enough to stop them and frisk or search their person for a weapon. Whether this allows the police to actually handcuff such a person was explored by a recent case from Maryland’s highest court called Ira Chase v. State.

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