Nikita Khrushchev never had to deal with the Maryland General Assembly

Historically, representatives play nice, but when the shoes come off, watch out!

Just like keeping up with new case law coming out of Maryland’s Appellate Courts, any Maryland Attorney worth their fee is also going to pay attention to the 4 month long legislative session.  Maryland, like many other states, has part-time legislators.  Because of their part-time status, they cram all their work into a hearing-filled, lobbyist crazed 4 months (Mid-January to Mid-April).

Because the session is so fast and many of the bills change the law shortly after the session ends, The Law Offices of Eldridge & Nachtman, LLC makes it a priority to keep up with the changes in the law as they are happening.

We’ve compiled a preliminary report of bills you should watch (so far – legislators have a few more weeks to submit new legislation). We’ve also included some bills from the last few years that we think will be re-filed.  Finally, we’ve included our odds that the bills will pass.  We’ll continue to blog as the session continues, so check back for updates.

What we expect to be filed in the next few days:

  1. Several bills relating to mandatory use of Interlock devices

    before, during, and after arrest for suspicion of Maryland DUI laws in all cases.

    • Right now, in certain (almost all) circumstances, someone arrested and charged with violations of Maryland DUI laws has some sort of option to use the interlock device, depending on if the violation is a refusal, a high BAC, or some other circumstance in order to avoid license suspension.  The bill would make it mandatory for even arrest.
    • ENlawyers odds of passing:  coin flip – but it is a bad law and could cost anyone charged with a violation Maryland DUI laws even more money; typically a $300 install fee and $80 per month (in addition to pesky lawyer fees, court fines and costs, probation fees, insurance increases, and possible jailtime).
  2. Bills amending the “gang” statute

    (aka a law that makes it a crime to hang out with friends, in certain circumstances).

    • A gang bill passed a few years ago and has proved useful in prosecuting cases the state otherwise wouldn’t be able to prove.
    • Odds of a stronger bill passing: about the same as the Redskins going to the Superbowl

Bills already in the hopper:

  1. Medical Marijuana

    – It is already an affirmative defense, but this would create an exemption to the law and allow lawful possession for medical purposes.

    • Odds of passing:  NOT THIS YEAR (SORRY Cheech, the support just isn’t there)

      Marijuana Laws

      Slightly outdated, but good map of Marijuana Laws by state

    • We’ll devote a separate post to the reasons why this should pass later
  2. Marijuana sentencing reduction

    (max penalty for simple possession from 1 year to 90 days). It seems like a good idea on paper, but because it takes away the jury trial right of anyone charged with possession of marijuana we should approach this with caution. ENLawyers thinks the legislature should take it 1 step further and make the penalty for possession of Marijuana a fine only, like these many, many, many other states.

    • Odds of passing: about the same as Baltimore Ravens fans forgiving Billy Cundiff
  3. Taking away arrest warrant

    power from the general public through the commissioner’s office – right now, any ole person can take out an arrest warrant if they swear someone else hurt, robbed, kicked, punched, or somehow harmed them (without presenting any evidence besides their word).

    • Odds of passing: who knows, but it would eliminate tons of frivolous cases clogging the district court systems across the state.
  4. Caylee’s law

    – will make it a crime to fail to report your child missing to proper authorities within a certain time period.  This law is awful because it criminalizes inaction and there are hundreds of situations where an overzealous prosecutor could use this law with disastrous and damaging effects.  ENLawyers will try to devote a complete blog post to the debunking of this law in the near future.

    • Odds of passing: better than a jury finding Casey Anthony guilty
  5. Other bills on the table this session include:

    elder abuse, sexual offenses , Flash mob (not to be confused with flashers), graffiti, harassment, changes to the manslaughter by vehicle law, and NCR (insanity) procedures.

    • Odds of any of these passing: less than Tom Brady wearing a pair of Uggs