If you are charged with or accused of a crime, you should immediately seek the services of a Maryland criminal defense attorney with experience. The stakes are often higher in a criminal case than in a civil case, and the rules are different. You should not talk to the police about a crime without consulting a criminal defense attorney first, even if you are innocent, because any information you reveal can be used to build a case against you.
All criminal defendants are presumed to be innocent until they are convicted, either as a result of pleading guilty or through trial. At a criminal trial, the prosecution seeks to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person who is charged with a crime actually committed it. A major goal of a criminal defense attorney is to create doubt in the minds of the judge or jury members as to the defendant’s guilt.Misdemeanors and Felonies
Crimes can be divided into two general groups: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are considered less serious in Maryland, carrying fewer and less significant penalties than felonies do. Usually, sentences for misdemeanors include no more than 12 months in prison and/or minor fines. Some common misdemeanors include petty theft, drunk driving, reckless driving, vandalism, and minor drug possession. Although these charges are not as significant as felony charges, a conviction can still have a profound impact on the quality of your life.
Sentences for Maryland felonies, or more serious crimes, are determined in accordance with statutory guidelines. They typically include a mandate of more than 1 year in prison, and may be accompanied by a number of other penalties including probation, community service, fines, and classes addressing substance abuse or domestic violence. A felony conviction can also result in the loss of certain privileges, including loss of a driver’s license, loss of a professional license, termination of public or government employment, and/or removal from public office. Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC handles a wide range of felonies, including assault, grand larceny, sex crimes, murder, drug sales, and kidnapping.Defenses
With the help of a skilled Maryland criminal defense attorney, a person accused of a crime can employ a number of legal defense strategies. Some approaches can provide a complete defense, while others simply reduce the severity of the charge. Further, some defenses may arise because an element of the crime cannot be proved, while other defenses can result from procedural errors.
In determining which defense is best in a given case, it is important to keep in mind that crimes are often made up of two parts: both the defendant’s physical act (an actus reus) and mental state (a mens rea) while committing the act. Mens rea means “guilty mind.” Although there are strict liability crimes in which the mens rea does not matter, for many crimes the defendant’s intent is a crucial element of the crime, without which the crime cannot be charged.
Further, most defenses that negate an element of a crime negate the intent element. For example, to obtain a conviction for murder under Maryland law, the prosecution must show that there was “a deliberate, premeditated, and willful killing.” If there was no intent to kill but there was a killing, the charge may be reduced to homicide or manslaughter. Other defenses that depend on the accused’s state of mind are self-defense and the insanity defense.
Another substantive defense is the alibi defense. For example, if you were in another city with a person who can vouch for you at the time the crime took place, you likely could not have committed the crime.
Finally, procedural defenses may arise if your case was not properly investigated. Law enforcement officers must follow appropriate procedures when collecting evidence in your case, otherwise the prosecution may not be able to use that evidence against you. For example, a criminal defense attorney may be able to keep certain evidence out of a trial if it was obtained by means of an illegal police search. Or, if your “Miranda” rights were not read to you at the time of your arrest and you did not know you had the right to an attorney, certain admissions you made to the police may not be admissible at trial.
If you are accused of a crime, don’t wait until it’s too late to seek help with your defense. We recommend that you contact the experienced Maryland criminal defense attorneys at the office of Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC right away. It may help your defense if the prosecution is not able to question you without your attorney present, and if the police do not have a significant head start in gathering evidence to build a case against you. Call us at (301) 519-2801, or submit our online contact form today.