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Maryland Criminal Defense Law Blog

Serious penalties exist for theft of a motor vehicle

Theft laws are meant to deter people from trying to take things that don't belong to them. For some offenses, such as those involving low value items, the penalties might not seem very serious. Once you start looking into the higher value items, such as vehicles, you are looking at much more serious penalties.

One important thing to know is that you don't have to break into a car to face a grand theft auto charge. Instead, one can come if you take a person's car without permission and in any manner. Even if the door is open, the key is in the ignition, and it is already started, you can face criminal charges if you get into it and drive away.

Know your rights when police want to conduct a search

Many people have heard about police officers coming to search a home or business. If you are ever faced with this situation, you need to know about your constitutional rights. According to the Fourth Amendment, you have very specific rights when the police want to enter your business or your home to conduct a search.

The bottom line is that the authorities can't conduct a search or seizure if it is unreasonable. One way that this is assured is that they typically need to have a search warrant if they are going to enter. There are exceptions to the need for a search warrant. For example, if the officer makes an arrest and needs to search for weapons, the search will likely be considered a lawful one.

What is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test in DUI stops?

There are several tests that are part of the standardized field sobriety test that are used to help police officers determine the impairment of a driver. One of these tests is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. This one has to do with how your eyes react when you are looking at a moving object.

Remember, this is only one component of the test. There are two others – the one-leg-stand and the walk-and-turn. Together, these provide a glimpse into your impairment level. The test is highly subjective, so there is a chance that these points might be called into question as part of your drunk driving defense.

Fourth Amendment rights might be diluted in probation and parole

When you are stopped by police officers, you need to know your rights. There are several things to remember in these cases. One of the primary ones is that you have the right to remain silent. This is usually a good idea -- but you need to be clear when you take that step so that there are no ambiguities.

You can invoke your right to remain silent by simply saying that you are choosing to remain silent. The one bit of information that you might have to supply is your name. In some cases, the officer might also ask if you are on probation or parole. This might be a suitable question to answer.

Penalties are harsh for drug charges

Controlled substances must be treated very carefully. The laws in Maryland don't leave any room for having them in your possession or acting with them illegally without facing very strict penalties. The state uses a schedule system that takes the propensity for abuse and the acceptable medical usage into account. This is based largely on the federal schedule for controlled substances.

Schedule I and II substances come with the harshest penalties. Here are some of the penalties to know:

  • Schedule I and II penalties:
    • First offense: Narcotics -- up to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $25,000; Hallucinogenic -- up to 20 years in prison, fine of up to $20,000
    • Second offense: At least 10 years in prison, up to $100,000 fine
    • Third offense: At least 25 years in prison, up to $100,000 fine
    • Fourth offense: At least 40 years in prison, up to $100,000 fine
  • Schedule III, IV, and V penalties:
    • First offense: Up to five years in prison, up to $15,000 fine
    • Subsequent offenses: Minimum of two years and up to five years in prison, up to $15,000 fine

Domestic violence charges can't be dropped by the victim

Things can sometimes get out of hand when you and your spouse argue. One thing that shouldn't ever happen is that the argument turns physical because this could mean that someone is going to jail. If you do find yourself in this situation, there are a few things that you need to remember.

Unfortunately, these charges likely mean that you will have a restraining order placed against you. This means that you will be unable to contact your spouse in any way until the order expires or is lifted. There is a chance that your children might also be included in the order, which could mean that you only get to have supervised visits with them.

Larceny charges vary based on several factors

Theft is a crime that is more common than what people may think. When it comes to this category of crimes, there are actually several forms of theft. One of these is larceny. This occurs when a person takes something from another person without the use of force. There are several points to remember if you are facing a larceny charge.

There are four elements that have to be present for larceny to occur. Some of these are similar to other theft-related charges.

  • You must take something and bring it with you
  • The item must belong to another person
  • The owner of the item didn't give you consent to take it
  • You have no intention of giving the item back

Circumstances can matter in drug paraphernalia cases

People who are using drugs sometimes often need various types of "paraphernalia" to accomplish their goals. This is something that they might not think much about, but it is something that can lead to criminal charges. It is possible to face criminal charges based solely on the presence of drug paraphernalia, even if there aren't any drugs present.

Some items are clearly used for drugs, which makes these a bit of an easier target for police officers to pick up on. These include things like roach clips, which really don't have any other purposes. In this case, the officer who finds the roach clip might initiate an immediate arrest and confiscate the clip.

Commercial drivers have strict blood alcohol concentration limits

Commercial drivers are held to different standards than other drivers. One area where this is true is drunk driving laws. For noncommercial drivers, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving is .08%. For commercial drivers, that standard is much lower at only .04%. The reason for this is because commercial vehicles are much larger and much heavier than regular personal vehicles. This means that they are a much bigger hazard for others on the road, as well as pedestrians.

There are many different types of facts that can classify individuals as commercial drivers. These include:

  • Drivers for churches
  • Drivers for civic organizations
  • For-hire motor carriers
  • Private motor carriers
  • Local, state and federal government employees who drive government vehicles
  • Leasers and owners of a commercial vehicle
  • Individuals who assign drivers for commercial vehicles

Anger management courses might be part of probation or parole

For people on parole or probation for certain crimes, completing anger management classes are part of the requirements they have to meet. These courses can be very helpful in teaching you ways to spot the fact that you are getting too angry and finding the tools that will help you to calm down. The goal of this is to help you better cope with the anger so that you don't find yourself facing criminal charges again.

Anger management classes can include an entire group of people who need to learn how to do these tasks, but some therapy options use one-on-one methods so that the entire focus is on you. The duration of the program can vary from a few weeks to a few months. Instead of thinking about how long you have to take the classes, think about how much they can help you in the future.

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