Gary S. Bernstein, P.A.

Call Toll-Free: 866-435-2795

Locally at: 410-415-9219

Posts Tagged ‘Talbot County Criminal Defense’

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.

Upcoming Violation of Probation for a New Client Another Lawyer Plead Guilty And Who was Innocent

Sometimes the deal is SOOO good that a defendant who is innocent accepts it, but the deal has to good if the downside of being convicted at a trial is much worse.  It is called an Alford plea and is based on a Supreme Court decision in Alford v. North Carolina. The Supreme Court held that an innocent person can plead guilty in order to accept a favorable plea bargain.  But what if it makes NO SENSE.

I just came from the jail where I interviewed a prospective client who has two Violations of Probation pending.  The first VOP is for an Assault where he can receive up to 18 months, and that VOP is based upon a new conviction for Auto Theft and a DUI arising out of the same incident. The facts of the Assault case were not in dispute.  The problem is the second case.  He was guilty of a DUI and Leaving the Scene where he hit a number of parked cars, but what about the Auto Theft?  He got a year for the DUI and did not turn himself in on a delayed report date so he violated probation.  When he plead guilty to Auto Theft and the DUI he received a 5 year suspended sentence for the Auto Theft- the maximum, and 5 years probation- also the maximum.  If he had gone to trial and lost on all counts he could have received 6 years.  Now he is facing the 5 years for the Auto Theft for violating probation by not turning himself in on the DUI portion of the sentence, and obviously never reporting to probation.

Whose car did he steal?  No ones!!!  He was driving his friend's car when he created all the carnage.  His friend did not want his insurance canceled so they decided to say the car was taken without permission.  Everyone who knows the defendant and his friend knew the story.  The defendant tells his lawyer this when he hires him a week before trial.  Without discussing the absolute defense to the Auto Theft charge, on the day of trial the lawyer tells him to wait in the hallway.  The lawyer returns and tells him he has worked out a probation and to plead guilty to Auto Theft and DUI.  If he goes to trial and wins the Auto Theft he is facing the year for the DUI.  The prospective client tells me he just did what the lawyer told him to do and never thought about the future consequences or discussed the downside of just losing the DUI and the Leaving the Scenes.

He tells me maybe he should hire the original lawyer for the Auto Theft/DUI VOP so the lawyer can tell the judge he was really innocent and took the plea because he did not know any better.  I asked if he thought the lawyer would "confess."  The prospective client's family wants him sentenced to in-patient treatment for drug addiction and the court knew of his addiction.  It is unlikely his story is going to be believed and that the Court is going to say "never mind" when it comes to the 5 years for Auto Theft.

I also ask him why he thinks the original lawyer, who he says screwed him, would suddenly throw himself under the bus?  He gives me a blank stare.  I ask him if he went to a restaurant and got food poisoning, would he go back and eat there again? He say "No" to that.  That example got through to him.  There is the possibility of a Post Conviction but it sadly becomes a credibility battle between the lawyer and the defendant.  The owner of the crime is not coming forward to admit insurance fraud, although at the time of the trial it would have been easy for him and others who knew the truth to be summonsed for trial.  Now it just sounds like sour grapes from a defendant who does not want a 5 year sentence.

If the family can retain me, I need to get the 2 VOP judges to agree to an evaluation for substance abuse and being bi-polar, so that he can serve his time in in-patient treatment.  If he does not go to residential treatment, he will be no better the day he is released from serving these sentences.  He understands that and wants the help, but he should not be facing all the time he may get.  Obviously the deal was NOT SOOO good.  

My Criminal Defense Practice

Most of my website focuses on my DUI practice.  If you are contacting me for a DUI through the website you have probably just returned home from the police station and are looking for a lawyer.  I have decided to add some information on the Home Page about my non DUI cases. My criminal practice includes the defense of all drug cases in State and Federal Court.  These cases have a terrible impact on your future, and you have to fight to keep this type of charge from destroying your future.  If you have a substance abuse problem, I deal with it immediately.   I handle all felony and misdemeanor cases from petty theft to murder.  Everyone is entitled to aggressive representation no matter how heinous the offense is viewed.  

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Domestic Violence Case Injustice

I had a DV case dismissed this morning because the alleged victim failed to appear for the second time.  She should have been charged with assault and therefore required to be there but the system is sometimes rigged against a man.  The facts I am going to set forth are undisputed and everyone agrees what led up to the case.  The man (my client) goes to his daughter's pre-k graduation.  He brings his girlfriend.  The child's mother is outraged that he used one of HIS tickets to bring his girlfriend and calls her best friend from the graduation to get her over there.  This thug comes with her own baby in her arms and as soon as the graduation ends wants to fight my client's girlfriend and is cursing and making a complete asshole of herself.  She attempts to grab the child (not her child), tells my client she will have him shot, and is yelling at the girlfriend "fight me, fight me."  I shouldn't leave out that this thug still had her own baby in her arms while demanding a fight.  

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Contact Information

  • 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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