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Silver Spring Criminal Defense Law Blog

Montgomery County police cracked down on DUIs over holidays

Motorists in Silver Spring may have noticed an increased police presence on the roads over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays. In fact, police in Montgomery County cracked down on DUIs in the seven-week stretch from November 14 through January 5, via its Alcohol Holiday Task Force. As of January 2, 2019, 286 individuals were arrested for drunk driving during this timeframe.

The task force concentrated on enforcing DUI checkpoints, issuing citations those who host parties where alcohol is consumed by minors and performing compliance checks at places where alcohol is sold. This is due, in part, to certain laws that have been enacted to prevent such incidents. For example, under Maryland law, any person convicted of a drunk driving offense -- even if it is a first offense -- must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. This law was enacted after an officer on the alcohol task force lost his life when he was struck by a drunk driver. In addition, under "Alex and Calvin's Law," those who host underage drinking parties could be incarcerated and fined $5,000. This law was enacted after two high school aged students lost their lives in a car accident after attending an underage drinking party.

Is marijuana possession illegal in Maryland?

Recreational marijuana use is now legal in some states in the nation, but it is still technically against the law in Maryland. However, in 2014 a law was passed in Maryland that made possessing under 10 grams of the drug merely a civil offense rather than a criminal one. A first-time violation of this law will result in a $100 fine. A second violation of this law will result in a $250 fine. Subsequent violations of this law will result in a $500 fine. If a person is under age 21 or if it is the third time they have violated this law, they will be assessed for substance abuse disorder and they may be ordered to attend a drug education program.

However, police in Maryland generally do not have scales on them to measure how much marijuana a person possesses. They must resort to "eyeballing" it. This could become problematic if, in fact, a person is under the 10-gram threshold but is nevertheless charged with a more serious drug crime because the arresting officer estimated the person was in possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana.

Maryland home improvement store robbed at knifepoint

A 29-year-old Rockville man has been charged with multiple offenses after the robbery of a Home Depot store. On December 2, at approximately 3:40 p.m., a man entered the store located on Georgia Avenue in Aspen Hill. He then proceeded to steal a large spool of copper wire and relocate it into some nearby trees on the property.

Two employees who recognized what was happening confronted the man. He claimed that the wire belonged to him, and threatened them at knifepoint. He placed the large spool in his vehicle and left. Montgomery County Police received a tip from a citizen that helped them locate and arrest the man. He was arrested and charged with armed robbery, assault and several other offenses.

When can a criminal record be expunged in Maryland?

One of the unfortunate consequences of being charged with or convicted of a crime in Maryland is the fact that you will incur a criminal record that is accessible to the public. For example, a potential employer or landlord might run a criminal background check, see that you have been convicted of a crime and thus might choose not to hire you or rent a home to you. This can make life difficult, even after you have paid your debt to society.

However, it may be possible in some circumstances to have your criminal record expunged. When a criminal record is expunged, it means that it cannot be accessed by the public. Agencies that retain criminal records can be found in Motor Vehicle Administration files, police files and court files. There is a specific process for expunging a person's criminal record from each of these agencies. No single process removes a criminal record from all agencies.

Maryland woman acquitted of murder charges

When a person is killed at the hands of another, police and prosecutors will go to great lengths to determine who committed the crime and prove that person is guilty. It may be easy to jump to conclusions in an effort to identify the perpetrator of the alleged murder. However, it is important that an innocent individual is not wrongfully convicted of such a serious crime.

The trial of a Maryland woman charged with murdering her estranged husband has ended in an acquittal. The man, a retired agent with the FBI, died after being shot and beaten in March of 2017. His body was discovered in the yard of his home.

Violent crime charges in Maryland require a strong defense

Violent crimes such as assault, manslaughter and homicide, among others, can be some of the most serious charges a person in Maryland can face. These types of crimes often carry with them mandatory minimum sentences that could mean years or even decades behind bars, in addition to fines and a criminal record that could make it difficult to find housing and employment after the sentence is served. Therefore, those accused of violent crimes will want to take all the possible measures they can to defend themselves.

Facing a criminal trial can be intimidating, especially if it is a person's first offense. It is important to have a strong defense strategy, but oftentimes a person accused of a violent crime may not know where to start, much less what defenses are best in their circumstances. That is when it can help to have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney.

Were you stopped at a DUI checkpoint during the holidays?

The day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year in Maryland and nationwide. It is also a time when people may be celebrating the holiday early with friends and family. These celebrations often involve alcohol. Due to the celebratory nature of the holiday, combined with an influx in traffic, police across Maryland will be on high alert for those they believe are driving under the influence of alcohol this time of year.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, a DUI checkpoint was set up by officers in Harford County. The aim of the checkpoint was to apprehend those who have indulged in too much consumption of alcohol prior to the Thanksgiving holiday and are drunk driving. If a person in Maryland is convicted on DUI charges, they can face jail time, mandatory alcohol education courses, thousands of dollars in fines and they may have their driver's license suspended.

Can convicted felons possess firearms in Maryland?

In Maryland, those who have been convicted of a "disqualifying crime" may not possess a statutorily defined "regulated firearm." "Disqualifying crimes" include violent crimes, felonies and misdemeanors with statutory penalties of more than two years. However, after serving the sentence, a person who has been convicted of a "disqualifying crime" may pursue a pardon in order to regain the right to possess a firearm.

A pardon serves as proof that the convicted felon has adjusted back to society after serving the sentence. Therefore, people cannot apply for a pardon if they are still incarcerated. To be pardoned for a misdemeanor crime, a person must not commit any crimes for five years from either the date of sentence, release from prison or release from parole, whichever occurred last.

Assault charges in Maryland can lead to serious penalties

People in Maryland will get into fights with friends, loved ones or even strangers from time to time. Most of the time, these fights only consist of verbal disagreements or insults. However, the stakes are raised if one party threatens the other with physical harm or causes physical harm.

Under Maryland Code §3-201, assault constitutes the crimes of both battery and assault, as defined in case law. Maryland Code §3-203 prohibits an individual from committing assault. If they do, they will be charged with second-degree assault, which is a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

Can you lose your driver's license following a DUI in Maryland?

Driving is a necessity for many people in Maryland. It's how they get to work, how they make it to medical appointments and go grocery shopping, among many other tasks. Getting your driver's license is a rite of passage and, once you have it, it's hard to imagine life without it.

However, it is possible to lose the privilege of driving. For example, if a motorist is pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, that driver may be asked to submit to a breath test. If the motorist does so and the breath test shows a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, the motorist's driver's license will be confiscated. The motorist will be given a temporary paper license and will also be given an Order of Suspension containing information about how to request a hearing with the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, along with a form for doing so. The motorist has 30 days to request an administrative hearing, but if the motorist wishes to keep driving until their hearing date, that person has within 10 days following the date of the Order of Suspension to request a hearing.

Law Offices of
James N. Papirmeister, Esq.

Law Offices of James N. Papirmeister, Esq.
8630 Fenton St., Suite 320
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Office Number: 301-589-2100
Afterhours Number: 301-367-6500

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As Published in Washingtonian Magazine | Washington's Best Legal Minds | 2013