The Maryland Court of Special Appeals, the Old Line State's second highest court, handed down a landmark decision that will assure that the criminal justice system protects privacy rights. It issued the first high court decision in this country finding that police investigators are required to secure a search warrant for tracking cellphones, particularly for using a Stingray device to track phones. The Stingray device works a bit like a cellphone tower and triggers all operating cellphones in its range to connect with it. It then operates a real-time tracking device for locating cellphones.
In July 2017, a Maryland court ruling will take effect which will revise a hallmark of the state's criminal justice system. A Maryland Court of Appeals 2016 ruling requires state court judges to release nonviolent offenders from jail without posting bail if they are not a flight risk. However, the state legislature is also considering a bill that would reverse this decision.
The severity of punishment in Maryland's criminal justice system is sometimes illogical. Many years of repeals and changes in its criminal statutes often caused inconsistency and unintended consequences.
As a previous post here discussed, not everyone in Maryland may find that going through every step of the criminal justice system is the best option for their criminal case. The best part about our justice system is that there are many options available to those facing criminal charges, and one of them is to opt out of the system and reduce uncertainty by accepting a plea agreement.
Maryland residents may be aware of that it is their right to be considered innocent until they are proven guilty in a court of law. This is why many who are facing criminal charges may decide to put their case in front of the legal system and protect their rights in that manner. However, there are some instances in which this may not always be the best option and it may be possible to protect and advance one's rights in another manner.
Maryland residents may be aware of their constitutional rights and what to do in case they are facing criminal charges, but what they may not know is that they may not be able to avail various avenues of relief if they are residents but not citizens. American noncitizens who are convicted of committing aggravated felonies may find themselves facing harsh consequences including deportation.
Often times, not just in Maryland but across the country, charges are filed against people and then dismissed at a later date. Or, the accused went through the criminal justice system but was found not guilty (acquitted). In these instances, and others mentioned below, a criminal record might still exist. This criminal record can affect education and employment opportunities for those who have it. It might be possible, however, to have a criminal record expunged in certain instances, lessening the long-term consequences of a brush in with the law.
When someone in Maryland is facing criminal charges, they may be so overwhelmed by the criminal justice system that they do not realize they have certain constitutional rights that they can avail. One of them is the right to counsel, whether it is during litigation or even before litigation begins, in the pretrial stages.
Pretrial detention is a concept many people are familiar with, albeit under a different name. When an accused is detained prior to a criminal trial, this is known as pretrial detention. This can take place because either the crime committed requires pretrial detention by statute or the accused cannot afford the bail payment. Some Maryland lawmakers are now questioning the constitutionality of the cash for bail system, claiming it could potentially violate the accused's right of due process.
Our readers in Maryland may have heard of the terms "felony" or "misdemeanor" in conjunction with criminal charges. Although many may use these terms interchangeably, the reality is that they are very different levels of crimes, with different consequences for those who face the accusations.