Well, the Maryland General Assembly session is now over. As a practicing Maryland lawyer who focuses on Maryland Criminal laws and Maryland DUI defense, it is vitally important to stay on top of the changes in the law, or else you run the risk of embarassing youself and doing harm to your client.
Not effecting Maryland criminal laws, but of note:
- Taxes are again much higher (thank you special session)
- Waste water treatment regulations are tighter
- The world still turns.
- For a review, you can find our earlier posts on the Maryland General Assembly update to the update and the Maryland General Assembly update.
- This is going to be the Skinny version of the General Assembly update (the fattened version, I’m sure would bore you all to death).
Maryland Criminal laws: What passed?
- Marijuana – possession for under 10g. There was a penalty and procedure change. See Maryland lawyer Jeremy Eldridge’s post here.
- Bath Salts (Mephedrone and others) – now officially classified as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance (aka completely, totally illegal with no lawful use). Bottom line, bath salts are bad. They quite literally drive you insane and ENlawyers would like to get you into a drug treatment program if you are faced with being charged with possession or distribution of bath salts. We’ve already detailed the coming zombie apocalypse here. Enough said.
- Child Abuse (Justice’s law) – changes were made in the individuals who can be considered “family” for purposes of being convicted of 1st degree child abuse, the penalties were also increased to 40 years max. See SB 521/HB 604
- Maryland DUI and DWI (with injuries) – Several bills were passed which increase the penalties associated with drunk and drugged driving where the results of the impairment & accident causes life-threatening injuries. This effects a very small number of Maryland DUI cases.
- Fantasy Competitions – Guess what! Fantasy football is now legal in Maryland. No, we’re not kidding. It’s been exempted from the Maryland criminal laws gambling section. See HB 007
- DeWolfe v. Richmond – The Maryland General Assembly overturned the Court of Appeals in Dewolfe that required the OPD to appear at commissioner hearings. This is an extremely lengthy bill and has several very important procedural aspects that you should be aware of. see below:
- OPD is NOT required to appear at a commissioner hearing (what happens almost immediately after arrest), but a person charged with a violations of Maryland Criminal laws or a Maryland DUI may have a Maryland lawyer present, if they can reach a lawyer (procedural and practical issues aside).
- Statements made by a defendant at a commissioner’s hearing may not later be used in the trial against him or hear
- Beginning in January 2013, any violation of Maryland Criminal laws that carries a penalty less than 90 days should be charged by citation (with certain exceptions).
- Limits the ability of commissioners to issue arrest warrants.
- SECOND PBJ!!!!! – The Maryland General Assembly changed the laws related to obtaining a PBJ. Right now for drug crimes (Title 5 of the Maryland Criminal Laws) a defendant is prohibited from ever receiving a second PBJ. This legislation allows for a second PBJ if certain conditions are met (there are many). If you are in such a situation, you should consult with an experienced Maryland Lawyer.
- Child Pornography – statute of limitations increased to 2 years from one for the lower level child pornography (possession) charges.
- Sex Offender Registry – expanded tier III registry requirements
- Felon in possession of a firearm – expanded definition of “firearm” and included predicate convictions to other states for felonies. Also, important changes last year increased the penalty from 5 years to 5 years mandatory minimum and 15 years max.
If you find yourself charged with a violation of Maryland Criminal laws or a Maryland DUI, be absolutely certain to hire a Maryland lawyer who keeps up with the changes in law, because the difference could literally mean jail time.