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.


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.”


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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