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793842_school_bus-300x224Maryland State Police troopers recently charged a Carroll County public school bus driver with DUI after her bus crashed into multiple telephone poles on Route 32.  Troopers responded to Bartholow Road in Eldersburg and observed such severe damage to the telephone poles that the road was forced to be shut down for roughly 9 hours.  According to reports the school bus drove off the roadway around 2 p.m., and police responded shortly thereafter.  Troopers allegedly observed signs of impairment on the driver that were consistent with recent consumption of alcohol or drugs, and later arrested her on charges of DUI and DWI.  Additional charges may be forthcoming pending the results of a blood analysis that was likely required by the officers.  There is no indication that the driver, a 54-year-old woman from Westminster, was injured, but it appears she was treated by medical personnel.  Reports stated the bus driver was in fact on her way to pick up children at one of the nearby schools, but law enforcement has not confirmed this as fact.  The two closest schools in the area are Eldersburg Elementary and Liberty High School.  At the time of this post the bus driver’s charges had not been released publicly, but she will likely face a host of traffic violations in addition to DUI and DWI, such as reckless driving and negligent driving.  If the results of the blood test reveal an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher the driver will be cited for DUI per se, which carries a 1-year maximum jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.

While there were no children on the bus at the time of the accident, this case will not sit well with the State if indeed there is sufficient evidence of impairment.  The bus driver does not appear to have a criminal record, but does have two prior convictions for driving on a suspended license.  One conviction was from Baltimore County in 2014, and the other from Carroll County in 2012.  If in fact the bus driver was heading to pick up children from school there is certainly going to be a great deal of public attention surrounding the case.  The Blog will certainly follow its progress, and may post a follow-up article in the future.  Obviously, the situation could have been drastically worse if children were in the bus, so the accident may have actually been a blessing.

If there had been children in the bus, the driver could have faced a host of other charges, including criminal charges, regardless of whether an accident occurred.  For starters she would have faced charges for driving while impaired (or under the influence) by alcohol or drugs while transporting a minor.  The maximum penalty for DUI while transporting a minor is up to 2 years in jail for a first offense, which is double the normal maximum penalty.  Repeat offenders face up to 3 years for a second offense and up to 4 years in prison for a third or subsequent offense.  Under Maryland law the maximum penalty for DWI while transporting a minor is up to 6 months in jail, which is three times the normal maximum penalty of 60 days.  The maximum penalties are much harsher, and the judges and the State will also take these cases far more seriously.  For this reason, it is important to retain an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer for your charge right away.  There are a host of things that a defendant can do prior to court to improve the outcome of the case, and it should start right away.  Benjamin specializes in DUI while transporting a minor, federal DUI, repeat offender cases, out-of-state defendants and minors charged with DUI, and has successfully defended numerous clients charged with these offenses.  Call Benjamin anytime for a free consultation at 410-207-2598 and learn what defenses may be available in your case.
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technology-2500010__480-300x200According to a recent press release by the Prince George’s County Police Department, thirteen of its own officers have been indicted on charges of theft and misconduct in office.  The indictment was revealed last week at the Prince George’s County Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro.  The defendants in the indictment were mostly experienced members of the police force, as ten were Corporals and one has since retired.  Based on the press release the department began an internal investigation after catching wind that several officers were working for a security company and receiving compensation while on duty at police officers.  The company serviced more that 20 apartment complexes in the county from at least the end of 2019 until February 2021.  The officers were suspended in April of 2021.  Among other allegations, the officers allegedly provided false information to the apartment complexes in order to justify their continue employment.  The total amount that the officers profited is alleged to be between $1,500 and $25,000, which means they are facing felony charges in addition to the misdemeanor charge for misconduct in office.

The department initiated the investigation after another high-ranking officer pleaded guilty to tax evasion several years ago.  In an effort to make sure this type of conduct ends with this indictment, the department has instituted policy changes that began a few months after the officers were suspended.  The policy changes include a blanket prohibition on officers working as security guards, as well as hiring a third-party software company to allow officers to clock out of work before beginning secondary employment.  The internal affairs division of the department will also conduct site investigations of any secondary employment locations that employees disclose, and  these site investigations will be conducted at random.

The officers are charged with theft based on the allegation that they were collecting taxpayer dollars while engaged in private employment.  It’s true that the defendants did not physically steal anything, but their pay from the government was accepted under circumstances where the they were clearly double dipping.  It is still an interesting and fairly uncommon means of charging a theft case, and if the cases go to trial, there may be some arguments that could sway a jury to acquit.  Regardless, state prosecutors seem to be in good shape on the misconduct counts.

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hammer-802296__480-300x225Can the State go to trial without the defendant being present in court?  Last month a Washington County man was convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and driving under the influence after a traffic stop in the early morning hours of April 8, 2021.  Normally this type of case would not be especially newsworthy for the Blog but for one glaring detail; the defendant was tried and convicted by a jury despite not being present in court.  In legal terms the defendant was tried in absentia, simply meaning he was absent from court but the judge decided to move forward with the case anyway.  The stop and the trial occurred in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, which is just north of the man’s hometown of Hagerstown on Interstate 81.  According to a press release by the District Attorney’s Office the man was traveling southbound toward Maryland on I81 and nearly collided with a tractor trailer.  After making contact with the Hagerstown man, Troopers noticed marijuana in plain view in the vehicle and observed signs of impairment.  The defendant then allegedly admitted to drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before driving.  Upon being arrested for DUI Troopers recovered a plastic bag with a white powdery substance that the defendant was trying to conceal in the front bumper of the vehicle.  Chemical analysis revealed that the substance was in fact cocaine, weighing nearly 75 grams.  The amount of cocaine apparently was enough for the jury to conclude that it was not for personal use, but rather that he possessed the drug with intent to distribute.  Sentencing is set for October 4 of this year, and it remains to be seen whether the defendant will show.

Although the defendant was arrested and prosecuted in Pennsylvania, the law regarding trials being held in absentia appear to be similar to the Maryland law.  We do not usually post about cases in other states, but the defendant does hail from Hagerstown and the trial brings up an interesting and rare issue.  Pursuant to Maryland Rule 4-231 a defendant in a criminal proceeding is entitled to be physically present in person at every stage of the case and trial.  The most common exceptions are during arguments over the law, or a when nolle prosequi or STET is entered.  The courts have been conducting remote hearings for more than two years, but at most hearings the judge reminds the defendant that he or she has a right to be physically present.  This is especially true for evidentiary hearings and plea hearings.  There is one more exception to this rule, and it is triggered when the defendant waives his or her appearance by being voluntarily absent from court after the proceeding has commenced or when the defendant engages in conduct that justifies exclusion from the court.  A defendant may also personally or through counsel waive the right to be present.  We have seen cases where defendants have been disruptive in court and then removed from the courtroom in the middle of a trial.  One particular case occurred in Florida, and the trial continued without the defendant even after the jury witnessed the outburst.  This is obviously a rare situation that all parties attempt to avoid, but it does happen.

The lawyers for this defendant in this Pennsylvania case likely attempted to postpone the trial or even withdraw from the case, but the State and the judge seemed to agree that moving the case along was in the best interest of justice.  It is not clear whether the defendant was absent for the entire case or just for the trial, but the language of the Maryland rule does appear to create somewhat of a murky issue by stating “after the proceeding has commenced”.  An argument could be made that the proceeding means the actual jury trial, and therefore a defendant’s presence cannot be waived by failing to appear at trial.  The Blog will continue to follow this case to see whether the defendant shows, and whether the sentence takes into account the defendant’s failure to appear.  It would likely be advisable for the defendant to show up for sentencing, as unlike during trial, a judge does have the ability to factor in failing to appear at sentencing.

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annapolis-237078_960_720-300x195A current member of the Maryland House of Delegates was recently charged with numerous offenses according to a criminal information that was filed in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County.  The information, which is a charging document filed by a state prosecutor, alleges that the lawmaker committed misconduct in office and theft through two separate scams that spanned more than a decade.  One scam involved rent payments for the delegate’s district office, and the other involved office furniture reimbursements.  The delegate, who represents portions of Baltimore County and Harford County, has apparently been under investigation for at least a year.  His district office was searched by law enforcement back in September of 2021, though the State waited to issue a charging document until July of this year. Some fellow state lawmakers have called for the charged delegate to resign his position, though he has through his attorney denied any wrongdoing.

The rental scam began back in 2012 when the delegate moved his legislative office to a cottage near the Middle River in Essex.  The cottage used to be located in his actual district, but redistricting took it to the neighboring district.  This alone would not have been a major infraction, as lawmakers are permitted to maintain offices outside of their districts with approval.  On the other hand, the conduct alleged to have occurred was far more than a simple infraction.  According to the charging document the delegate chose a location for his district office that was next door to a unit he had been renting for several years as a so-called river cottage.  The charging document alleges that the delegate stopped paying rent on his personal cottage in 2012 and paid double the market value for his adjacent district office starting at the same time.  Since the district office was paid for with state funds from his rental allowance as a public official, the defendant is accused of using taxpayer money to fund his recreational second home.  Prosecutors are also alleging that the actual district office unit was being used for personal enjoyment, as investigators found camping beds, pellet rifles, ammunition, clothing, coolers and skis when they executed their search warrant.  The total amount of rent that the State paid for the defendant’s river cottage/district office was $92,800 over the course of ten years.  Based on these allegations the delegate was charged with misconduct in office, which is a common law misdemeanor that carries no defined maximum penalty other than it must not be cruel and unusual punishment.  He is also facing felony theft over $25,000 but less than $100,000 and fraudulent misappropriation by a fiduciary for using the state’s money to pay for his personal cottage.

As if the river cottage scheme wasn’t enough, the State is also alleging that the delegate stole taxpayer money through another scam involving an office furniture vendor.  Allegedly the delegate instructed his chief of staff to pay for office furniture yet instruct the vendor not to actually order said furniture.  The delegate then submitted for reimbursement from the state for amount he was charged, while also obtaining store credit for the items that were never ordered.  This credit was then allegedly used to pay an invoice for campaign mailers, meaning the delegate used taxpayer money to indirectly fund his campaign.  While the value of this scam was less than $2,500, the effort made to defraud the state will not sit well with a judge should the delegate be convicted of these additional theft and misconduct in office charges.

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holster-648014__480-300x206In an opinion that was hardly a surprise, the Supreme Court recently struck down a New York law that required citizens to prove a good reason why they should be able to carry a firearm outside of the home.  This case was of particular interest here due to the fact that the Maryland concealed carry permit law is almost indistinguishable to the New York law.  The Maryland State Police has long since required citizens to provide a good and substantial reason why they should be granted a concealed carry permit (officially known as a Handgun Wear and Carry Permit).  This clause is located in the Public Safety Code of the Maryland statutes under Title 5, which governs firearms.  Section 5-306 requires proof of a good and substantial reason to protect against apprehended danger, and typically only been satisfied by those whose occupations place them in reasonable fear for their life when outside of their home.  Certain business owners who carried large amounts of cash, or who operated in high crime areas had been some of the few who qualified for this permit.  The MSP has taken the official stance that they want all qualified individuals to be licensed to carry, but the good and substantial reason requirement still left many out in the cold when it came to permits.

Over the last month the tide has drastically shifted, as soon after the Supreme Court opinion was released the Maryland Governor and the Attorney General directed the State Police to immediately suspend the good and substantial reason requirement.  Currently applicants must only state their reason for the permit is for personal protection, and are not required to provide any sort of documentation to this effect.  The Supreme Court decision and subsequent change to the permit application has not gone unnoticed, and it seems that prospective applicants have been waiting on this news for some time.  From mid-June to mid-July of 2021 the MSP received roughly 1,000 Handgun Wear and Carry Permit applications.  During that same timeframe this year there have been over 7,000.   This number will likely continue to rise dramatically over the rest of the year, with one of the only holdups being the availability of licensed instructors.  Almost all civilian applicants are still required to possess and HQL and complete 16 hours of firearm training.  Instructors are booked solid, and handguns are in short supply at Maryland gun shops.  Still, the supply will eventually catch up and applications will continue to soar this year before eventually leveling off.

While the good and substantial reason requirement has been eliminated, applicants still face strict background checks.  Anyone with a prior criminal conviction or even a protective order faces the possibility of being denied.  Maryland law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of a crime that carries more than 1 year in jail from obtaining a concealed carry permit.  It does not matter if the applicant never actually served a day in jail, as the maximum penalty is the only relevant factor.  Dozens of non-violent misdemeanors carry more than 1 year in jail in Maryland.  An applicant with no prior criminal record could still be denied a permit if he or she has exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger.  This is where protective order or peace order findings could come into play and result in a denial of a conceal carry permit.

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baltimore-1483757__480-300x200A former Baltimore Police Sergeant has been sentenced to almost two years in federal prison for conspiracy to deprive civil rights under 18 U.S. Code § 241.  The sentence was handed down in the Baltimore City federal courthouse this week, more than 6 years after the actual incident.  According to facts presented at plea hearing, the former BPD officer first joined the department in 1992 and became a sergeant in 2011.  During the time when the incident occurred the officer was in charge of a Special Enforcement Section in the department’s Western District.  This area is notorious for a high volume of drug and gang activity, and is home to some of the most dangerous areas of the city.  In March of 2014 while the defendant was working as an officer-in-charge, he received a phone call from another officer who stated that he had just ran over an arrestee in front of a Northeast Baltimore home.  At the time he received the call he was having dinner with a BPD detective.  In a regrettable course of conduct the officer obtained a BB gun from another BPD colleague, drove to the scene of the accident and planted the BB gun in the area where the arrestee had been injured.  The arrestee was actually already in the hospital when the defendant planted the gun.  Additional BPD officers then noticed the BB gun, packaged it as evidence and charged the injured arrestee with possession, use or discharge of a pellet/BB gun.  The arrestee was held without bail for ten months at the detention center before the charges were ultimately dismissed by the State.

While not directly related to the Gun Trace Task Force scandal and subsequent indictments, the defendant’s actions likely came to the attention of law enforcement after the investigation and arrest of numerous GTTF officers.   After the officer who hit the arrestee and six other GTTF officers were arrested the dominoes began to fall, and the former sergeant became nervous about his involvement with the BB gun incident.  He arranged a secret meeting with the same BPD detective he was with when he received the original call about the accident.  The meeting took place at a swimming pool to ensure that neither party was wearing a wire, though in hindsight this only proved the former sergeant’s guilty conscious.  During the meeting the former sergeant attempted to induce the detective to lie to federal investigators by stating that they were both at the scene of the accident for the purpose of scene security. He also told the detective to say that the BB gun was already in the sergeant’s trunk, which was also not true.  It seemed at that point the sergeant already knew he was going down, and had shifted to a mitigation strategy.  In reality this meeting turned out to make matters much worse for the former sergeant, and showed the government that he was not willing to accept responsibility for his actions even after the feds became aware of the BB gun incident.  The defendant likely saved himself a few months in jail by pleading guilty, but based on the evidence there was no way a prison sentence could be avoided.  The case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by the same U.S. Attorney who went after the former mayor of Baltimore City, and who is currently prosecuting the Baltimore City State’s Attorney.

The Blog will continue to follow cases involving public corruption and misconduct in office, and we will post articles as news becomes available.  If you have a question about a criminal law or have been charged with a crime, contact Maryland defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime at 410-207-2598.  Benjamin has successfully represented government employees in charges such as misconduct in office and bribery, and has also represented police officers, correctional officers and public figures in high profile assault and theft charges.  Benjamin accepts cases in all Maryland jurisdictions including the federal courts in Baltimore and Greenbelt.  He is licensed to practice law in Florida, and has extensive experience defending those charged in Miami, Broward and Palm Beach Counties with gun and drug offenses as well as fraud, theft, aggravated assault and battery.

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liquor-264470_960_720-300x200Maryland State Police troopers were extremely busy over the July 4th holiday, and recently reported the arrest of nearly 100 drivers over the long weekend.  From Friday the 1st through Monday the 4th 95 drivers were arrested on suspicion of drunk or drugged driving and cited with numerous other traffic violations.  The State Police conducted DUI saturation patrols on Route 50 in Anne Arundel County and the lower Eastern Shore, and also worked patrols on I-695 in Baltimore County, I-70 in Howard County and I-495 in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.  Troopers and officers from various departments such as the MDTA Police issued 1,396 citations on interstates 695 and 70, and an additional 852 along Route 50 in Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Anne Arundel and Prince George’s Counties.  Ocean City Police officers and Deputy Sheriffs from Wicomico and Worcester Counties also likely arrested several impaired drivers over the weekend, and drunk driving arrests will continue to add up over the summer.

The sheer number of citations issued over the weekend seems extremely high, but keep in mind that each time a person is arrested for DUI in Maryland they almost always receive at least 3 citations.  Police typically charge DUI and DWI as well as DUI Per Se if the driver took a breath test and blew over .08.  In addition, there is often a traffic infraction that justifies the original stop, such as speeding, failing to stay right of the center and/or failure to obey a traffic control device.  A driver will typically be issued a traffic infraction along with the impaired driving tickets.  Also, it is almost common practice for the Maryland State Police to charge a person with reckless driving and negligent driving when they arrest a person for drunk driving.  If you are charged with DUI in Maryland, it is not beneficial to prepay the traffic citations associated with the case, as they will ultimately be set for trial along with the impaired driving citations.  Paying the citations will result in points being assessed by the MVA, and could also cost hundreds of dollars.  In most cases the non-jailable traffic citations end up being dismissed by the State’s Attorney’s Office pursuant to a plea on one of the more serious citations.  A driver cannot be sentenced on more than one impaired driving ticket, so do not be alarmed when you see two or more similar citations.

The Blog will continue to follow trends regarding DUI arrests in Maryland over the course of the summer, and may post a follow up article as the various police departments release information about stops and arrests.  If you have been charged with a traffic violation, contact Maryland DUI lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin has successfully represented hundreds of clients charged with impaired driving, and he has extensive experience representing out-of-state defendants and repeat offenders, as well as federal DUIs and individuals charged with DUI while transporting a minor.  Benjamin has won numerous jury trials and has argued for the dismissal of evidence based on illegal stops.  Anyone who is arrested for impaired driving may also face MVA license suspensions ranging from 6 months to a year, which are separate from what happens in the court case.  Benjamin can help on this end as well and has successfully handled numerous MVA hearings at the Office of Administrative Hearings or OAH in Hunt Valley.  Recently, Benjamin successfully argued that the State Police had not provided sufficient evidence that his client was in control of a motor vehicle when arrested for DUI, which led to the restoration of his client’s full driving privileges.  Contact Benjamin anytime to discuss which defenses may be available in your case at 410-207-2598.  The Herbst Firm represents clients in all Maryland jurisdictions including the federal courts in Greenbelt and Baltimore, and also accepts criminal defense and DUI cases in Florida.

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drugs-908533_960_720-300x200Last week a Berlin man was sentenced to 7 years in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release for possession with intent to distribute cocaine.  The incident in question occurred back in 2018 in Worcester County where the man had been under investigation by the Worcester County Criminal Enforcement team.  The WCCET was also working with various local law enforcement departments including the Ocean Pines and Ocean City police departments.  While conducting surveillance of the defendant’s home, investigators saw another suspect enter and exit the home in a manner consistent with a drug transaction.  A traffic stop was conducted and police discovered cocaine and a glass pipe.  Upon being questioned, the suspected purchaser admitted to having just made a drug transaction with the defendant.  This traffic stop provided law enforcement with the requisite probable cause to obtain a search and seizure warrant on the defendant’s home, which was executed a short time later.  Upon execution of the search warrant, the criminal enforcement team located almost 400 grams of crack cocaine, cutting agents, a scale, three cell phones and $1,472 in cash.  Additional search warrants were obtained for the phones, and upon executing these warrants police discovered text messages that indicated the defendant was allegedly involved in drug trafficking.

The defendant was originally charged in the Snow Hill District Court and released on bail at the end of September, 2018.  His case was then transferred to the Circuit Court for Worcester County upon the filing of felony charges, but just a few months later he was arrested again on a separate federal warrant.  Upon being arrested by the feds the defendant was found in possession of cocaine that he tried to discard as police approached.  The defendant also had possession of a cell phone that was subsequently searched.  Text messages revealed that he was allegedly still actively engaged in drug distribution since his release on bail from the state charges, and the feds were not too pleased with this alleged behavior while out on bail.  The Worcester County Circuit Court case was ultimately dismissed by the State and the Eastern Shore defendant was charged in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore.  Now, nearly four years after the original incident, this defendant finally learned his fate in the drug case, and he will likely serve about 6 years behind bars. Of course, this sentence does not include any other open cases the defendant may have in state or federal court, as the U.S. Attorney’s press release did not provide further detail about the Berlin man’s 2019 federal warrant.

The feds do not typically pick up mid-level drug distribution cases that do not involve firearms, and this is especially true for the cases that originate from the Eastern Shore jurisdictions such as Worcester County and the Salisbury area.  There is actually a federal courthouse in Salisbury, but it is not used for felony criminal prosecutions.  When the feds pick up a case from state court, they still must use the local law enforcement officers as witnesses should the case go to trial.  After all, it was not the DEA, ATF or FBI that made the original arrest or executed the search warrant.  It is not ideal to have a dozen or so law enforcement officers on standby to testify when they are working 2 hours away, but this case seemed to strike a chord with the feds to the point that logistics didn’t matter.

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police-224426__180Yesterday the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland announced the guilty plea of a 25-year-old Baltimore man who committed a robbery while on supervised release for another federal crime.  According to facts presented in the guilty plea, back in January of this year the defendant attempted to rob a convenience store in Baltimore City.  The store clerk refused to comply with the defendant’s demand for money, whereupon the defendant displayed a gun from within his waistband.  Off-duty Maryland State Police officers responded to the scene shortly after the store manager called 911, and were joined by Baltimore City police officers minutes later.  The defendant was detained by law enforcement officers, and search incident to arrest revealed a loaded 9mm handgun in the defendant’s waistband.  Security cameras inside the store captured the entire incident on video, making the guilty plea the only reasonable choice for the defendant.

The 25-year-old defendant now faces up to 20 years in federal prison for the federal robbery charge, which is codified as attempting to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery.  Robberies are generally prosecuted in state court, but the federal government can obtain jurisdiction over virtually any commercial robbery committed in the U.S.  This most commonly plays out for bank robbery cases due to the fact that banks are insured by the FDIC, and also gun stores that are licensed to do business by the federal government with a FFL (federal firearms license).  But the Commerce Clause allows the feds to obtain jurisdiction over other business that have a potential customer base from multiple states.  The question is whether it’s possible – not likely that a local convenience store in Baltimore City is frequented by individuals from across the country.

Sentencing for the defendant in the federal robbery charge is set for September of this year, though he also must answer for the violation of supervised release.  Supervised release is the federal term for probation, as there is virtually no difference between the two.  Supervised release simply occurs after a defendant has been released from a term of incarceration.  The federal justice system no longer uses suspended sentences; rather when a defendant violates probation or supervised released, he or she could face up the maximum remaining prison sentence upon a guilty finding of a violation.  For example, a defendant sentenced to 5 years on a robbery charge could face up to 15 years upon if found in violation of supervised release.  In Maryland state court, most judges impose suspended sentences to cap the amount of time that could be imposed in a violation of probation, but some judges simply suspend the maximum and decide an appropriate sentence should the defendant violate.  Any defendant who receives a probation before judgement (PBJ) faces the maximum penalty upon a violation of probation.  There are exceptions including whether the violation is considered non-technical or technical.  In Maryland state court, technical violations have a presumptive non-binding cap of 15 days for a first violation.  Technical violations include positive drug tests, failing to complete treatment or failing to pay restitution.  Non-technical violations include missing more than one probation appointment and/or committing a new offense.  Many defendants believe new arrests are the only non-technical violations but this is not true, as it is just as common for defendants accused of absconding to receive some or all of their back up time.

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technology-2500010__480-300x200Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to the summer season in Maryland’s only beach town, but these days tourists from the region begin traveling to Ocean City to attend events and enjoy the night life as soon as the weather turns warm.  With graduations completed and school about to let out, it’s safe to say that summer is now in full swing down at the ocean.  This being a criminal law Blog we’re not here to report on the calendar of events in OCMD, but rather the host of new arrests and police activity that comes with the dramatic uptick in visitors.  This week one notable arrest took place after a New York man was pulled over for multiple traffic infractions including aggressive driving, and traveling roughly twice the 35 miles per hour speed limit on the Philadelphia Ave. section of coastal highway.  This area is one of the busiest and most heavily trafficked areas of Ocean City, so needless to say officers rushed to pull the vehicle over as soon as possible.  It seems that the actual traffic stop was effectuated without much drama, but the defendant’s alleged actions that followed were anything but calm and collected.

According to an Ocean City Police Department press release, officers detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage upon approaching the defendant, and shortly thereafter determined that he was driving on a suspended out-of-state driver’s license.  The defendant was then requested to complete standardized field sobriety exercises, and was arrested after becoming uncooperative during the tests.  He was initially arrested for DUI, fleeing and eluding and disorderly conduct, but it turns out these charges only represented a fraction of what was yet to come.  While the defendant was seated in the backseat of the patrol vehicle, he attempted to make a phone call from his smartwatch.  Making unauthorized phone calls while in custody is a huge no-no with police and correctional officers, but the defendant was not happy about giving up his watch to the police.  He allegedly became aggressive and kicked the arresting officer in the face chest and arms, and then kicked another officer who came over to offer assistance.  Ocean City EMS arrived on scene to treat the defendant and the officer, and the defendant was taken to Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin for treatment.  After receiving treatment for what the police deemed were minor injuries, he was taken to the police station and booked for a total of 5 criminal charges including two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct and obstructing and hindering.  He also received 16 traffic citations for charges including DUI and driving under the influence of drugs.  The defendant faces hefty fines and potential points for aggressive driving, reckless driving and negligent driving, and according to the charges the defendant’s license was already suspended in the state of Nevada.

The defendant was denied bail by the District Court Commissioner, but granted release on a $25,000 bail the following day when he went before a judge.  He posted bail and now will return to court in July for his trial date.  The Blog will continue to follow this case as it progresses through the court system, and we anticipate whichever judge hears this case will not be pleased with the defendant’s alleged conduct.  Aggressive driving combined with driving under the influence is a dangerous combination, especially in a crowded area such as lower Ocean City. The driving behavior combined with the alleged assault on police officers made a bad situation even worse, though the defendant may be able to challenge many of the charges in court.  He certainly is going to require a strong defense to avoid jail time and permanent convictions on his record.

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