America's war on drugs is full of small battles going on in individual states. Many Maryland residents are aware that voters in Washington state and Colorado elected to legalize marijuana in the last election, though the drug is still illegal under federal law. This discrepancy has created considerable friction between local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as frustration among dispensary owners and users. Other states have legalized medical marijuana only, making the national conversation about this recreational drug all the more confusing -- but also very interesting.
A former contractor for the federal court system in Maryland has been accused of taking bribes from defendants to provide inaccurate urine test results, tampering with witnesses and lying to a grand jury. The woman's former co-worker recently pleaded guilty to similar charges.
Since medical marijuana was first approved in 2010, there have been some changes in how the Washington, D.C., government looks at marijuana usage, so much so that the mayor recently said that District officials should keep an open mind about relaxing or decriminalizing recreational marijuana use. As it is, someone charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession can be sentenced to prison for six months and be forced to pay a $1,000 fine. This is double the punishment that someone would face if they had just crossed the border into Montgomery County.
Many people in Silver Spring know that someone can't be tried twice for the same thing. The principle of double jeopardy protects everyone in Maryland from multiple trials for the same actions, but double jeopardy does not prevent prosecutors from appealing a guilty verdict in order to get a harsher punishment.
It is a cornerstone of the American legal system that someone is presumed innocent until proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he or she is guilty. One of the ways that the courts protect this right is by only trying someone in front of an unbiased and impartial jury. Trying to defend against a criminal charge in front of anything less puts a suspect in an extremely difficult and dangerous position. A former member of the Taliban's recent extradition to the United States and conviction of serious drug charges in Washington, D.C., calls into question whether he truly had an unbiased and impartial jury.
Possessing child pornography is a serious crime that carries substantial penalties. Further, because child pornography crimes often involve the Internet or other channels of interstate commerce, suspects can be charged with both state and federal crimes. Maryland or Washington, D.C., residents who are accused of or charged with Internet sex crimes will need a strong criminal defense attorney to combat the severe consequences of a conviction.