Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Posts Tagged ‘Cecil County Criminal Defense’

2020 Best Lawyers in America

Just announced today that I have been selected again.

Harford County Not Guilty- Video Schtick

Client was acquitted today of all charges including the minor traffic charges. It was an interesting case as there was CCTV from the Sheriff's Office video-taping my client leaving a restaurant and walking to his car.  He meanders along is a zig zag pattern so they believe he is drunk and an officer goes out to catch him before he leaves the parking lot.  He is too late so he follows my client who drives exceptionally well with only a drift onto the turning lane when there was no other traffic on the road and the same to the shoulder.  Both of these occurred on curves.  The officer approximated his spped at about 50 in a 40.  He used radar but the prosecutor could not get that into evidence except for probable cause.  There was a battle over the radar, that was a complete waste of time because the case was about the DUI not the speed.  Some fights are not worth it.  The prosecutor is relatively new so I understood why she fought everything, but in the future she will move on.  He pulled into a parking lot where the right rear tire of his truck climbed the corner of the sidewalk.  It was a narrow entrance and snuck on him as the officer turned on his emergency light bar.

Now we had talked about the case because I expected to be trying a jury trial in Harford County starting yesterday but that case was postponed.  We agreed my client did well on the SFSTs and I thought his walking outside the car and standing during the tests rebutted any inference that his zig zagging was alcohol related.  The video did not show the extent of the swaying or slurred speech that the officer testified wrote in his report and testified to on direct. The State decided not to use the video.  The judge asked me if I was putting it in, but I said not yet.  

Because on direct examination- for the third time in recent acquittals- the State left out SFST evidence that was crucial, the judge dismissed the DUI and most of the minor charges, but held in the DWI based on what the officer described about the entire episode from CCTV to the SFST performance.  I called the police officer as MY witness.  I introduced the video and asked him ONLY about the parts where he said my client swayed or his speech was slurred.  He said the swaying was there but the judge didn't see it and the video is the best evidence.  I then had the audio played (it did not work during the SFSTs) when the client was in the police car as the in-car audio worked.  His speech was clear, intelligent, and there was NO slurring of any kind.  Now the State got to cross the officer.  She tried to go into the areas she missed on direct examination that I had pointed out on my Motion at the end of the State's case and the judge sustained my objections because I NEVER came near those areas and her questions were beyond the scope of what she was allowed to ask.  

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Cecil County Not Guilty

It is extremely rare when a judge takes a case away from a jury and acquits the defendant.  It happened last week in the Circuit Court for Cecil County.  This was a DUI involving a high breath test.  The client's career depended on the outcome.  He suffers from an extreme medical condition where whenever he eats, he regurgitates the food and has to chew it again and again. He was just coming from dinner when stopped for speeding.  The receipt from the restaurant showed one beer and all that he and his family had eaten.  He explained his GERD issue to the arresting officer, who told him it was not an issue.  Well, it is an issue!  We hired Ronald Henson, PhD. to testify that the breath machine would basically add the alcohol coming from his stomach into his esophagus to the alcohol from his deep lungs and give an unreliable and high reading.  The mouth alcohol detector, if working, would not differentiate because of the constant amount of alcohol interfering with the deep lung air.  

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Body Cam Reveals Drugs Not In Plain View

A drug charge was dismissed today because the search of the car that found the drugs was not conducted properly.  There was one Body Cams.  The first officer picked up the box with the drugs and placed it back in the car.  The second officer did not have a Body Cam and claimed he found the drugs in "plain view."  He was unaware of the Body Cam.

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Bail in 2017

The criteria for bail has been changed because Attorney General Frosh found that the system of cash bail is unfair to minorities and the poor.  Our Attorney General has been a champion for those in the State who are without power and who areb unfairly targeted, wither by the courts or big pharma, or big business.  His work to revise this system is to be commended, and as a result the Chief Judge of the District Court set forth a set of rules to be used to set bail.  The Court of Appeals followed that up with a Rule where cash is no longer king, and is a last resort.  By cash I mean having to pay a bondsman up to 10% of the bail amount.

Interestingly, there was a comfort for judges to set a high bail for serious crimes.  Telephone number size bails seemed to assuage the bench and the public.  Unless you were charged with murder or rape, you were likely to have a bail set.  If your family was fortunate to own real estate in Maryland, part or all of the bail could be posted by pledging the property.

Now that is not the case.  The way the new Rule is practiced by the bench, it is an all or nothing proposition for release.  Since if you are "entitled" to bail the least onerous conditions are to be set, Pre-Trial Release is the preferred method.  It requires monitoring by the Pre-Trial Release Division and they or the prosecutor can apply to have the release revoked for good cause.  However, if you are deemed a danger to public safety you are denied bail.  No longer is a $250,000.00 or $500,000.00 bail set to try to keep you in jail while still honoring the 8th Amendment prohibition on excessive bail.  No bail is as excessive as you can get as you cannot get out of jail.

No bail is now the rule rather than the exception.  The other day at District Court Bail Review, if the accused's crime presented a "danger" the accused was denied bail.  No matter how intrinsically shallow the evidence was in the Statement of Probable Cause, if there was a "threat to Public safety", then there was no bail.  One judge has remarked to me that either you get released on your own recognizance or you are denied bail.  There does not seem to be a middle ground.  

The change that was first advocated by the Attorney General and adopted by the Court of Appeals was and is the right thing to do.  Unfortunately it has resulted in cases of injustice because it is easier to justify keeping someone in jail as opposed to setting terms of release.

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  • Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.
  • 29 W. Susquehanna Avenue, Suite 700
  • Towson, Maryland 21204
  • Toll Free: 866-435-2795
  • Locally: 410-415-9219
  • Fax: 410-823-0610

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