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money-1428594__480-300x200Back in March the Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill that would place legalized sports gambling in the hands of voters come November.  At the time wagering on sports was effectively prohibited under federal law in almost all states, but Maryland lawmakers had expected the day to come when the Supreme Court would put an end to the illogical ban under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA). That day finally came yesterday when the nation’s highest court declared PAPSA unconstitutional by a vote of 6-3.   We won’t bore our readers with the technical nuance of the ruling, but a brief explanation should be helpful to those not inclined to tackle the 30 page opinion. We will also comment on the expected impact of this opinion here in Maryland, which to put it plainly will be enormous.

Yesterday The Supreme Court reiterated that it is not the business of the federal government to regulate the way state governments regulate their citizens.  PAPSA did not make sports gambling illegal under federal law, and in fact wagering on sports has never been a specific federal crime.  Rather, PAPSA prohibited states from establishing their own sports wagering industry by allowing the Attorney General and individual sports organizations to bring legal action against anyone operating sports gambling business outside of Nevada.  The Court basically told federal lawmakers that if they want to make gambling illegal then go ahead, but if not then states have the authority under the 10thAmendment to make the decision for themselves.

Sports betting is now legal in all 50 states (or more accurately is not prohibited under federal law in any state), so what will the impact be in Maryland? As usual we’re starting off a little late to the game, as neighboring West Virginia has already passed sports gambling legislation and Delaware and New Jersey sports books will be up and running in no time.  But at least some of our lawmakers had the wherewithal to anticipate the SCOTUS ruling and start the ball rolling.  There will likely be a referendum on election day this year to officially legalize sports gambling at casinos and racetracks around the state, and there is no doubt that it will pass.  By 2019 we could see sports books opening at Laurel, MGM National Harbor, Maryland Live, The Horseshoe in Baltimore and all other licensed gambling establishments.  The main impact of legalized sports betting in Maryland will be the millions of dollars to spread around, though the profits may not be as high as people think as less than 5 percent of casino profits in Vegas are attributed to sports gambling.  But legalized wagering will bring increased traffic to the casinos and likely boost the already massive $1.7 billion in yearly revenue currently generated by Maryland casinos.  Casinos sports books don’t simply generate revenue through bets, as they are entertainment destinations for gamblers and sports fans alike.

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monitor-1307227__480-300x212Theft is one of the most common crimes in Maryland, with over 100,000 cases reported annually to law enforcement.  Most of the reported cases involve valuable personal property, but if you factor in retail theft/ shoplifting and the thousands of other petit cases that citizens don’t bother to report the true number of thefts is likely around a quarter of a million per year.  Unlike 10 to 20 years ago, only a small percentage of these cases are motor vehicle thefts. In the early 2000’s and at points in the mid 90’s there were frequently over 35,000 motor vehicle thefts per year, and now this number is hovering around 10,000.  The drastic drop in motor vehicle thefts could be a result of new technology, which has made cars more difficult to steal.  But the real story is the evolving ability of law enforcement to track the commerce of second hand items.

All vehicles sold in America have unique vehicle identification numbers, which make it difficult to illegally buy and sell stolen cars.  Nobody wants to drive a stolen car because it’s only a matter of time before law enforcement finds it.  This drastically decreases the value of a stolen vehicle, and in turn makes cars less of a target for thieves.  The incentive to steal cars in this day and age is for the expensive parts and the scrap metal, which have no unique identifying information.  This creates an obvious problem for law enforcement, as there is no way to know if something is stolen.  On the other hand if you can track when, where and by whom something is sold, you may be able to match that up with a reported theft to produce a suspect. This data gathering approach to law enforcement is far from glamorous, but it has been highly effective in Maryland.

Last year Maryland law enforcement officers recovered over $5 million worth of stolen property by analyzing data stored in the RAPID database, which keeps track of all scrap metal, pawn/jewelry, and recycled automotive part transactions around the state.  Any licensed business that engages in the second hand commerce of these products is required to keep track of all their transactions, including gathering and entering the identity of persons selling items. The transactions are then recorded and saved into a uniform database that is accessible by all law enforcement agencies.  A quick example of the RAPID database in action could go like this:  a suspect breaks into a house and steals a laptop and a watch in Anne Arundel County.  There are no eyewitnesses and the suspect makes a clean getaway.  The same suspect or an accomplice then travels to another area like Baltimore or Montgomery County to pawn the items.  The pawnshop employee gladly takes the items in exchange for cash (at a major discount) with the only condition that the suspect produces identification and sign for the items.  Two days later the homeowner reports a burglary to police, who come out to the scene and inventory the stolen items.  A detective then runs the items through the RAPID database, the transaction pops up and the detective basically has enough evidence right there to seek an arrest warrant for the suspect for theft and burglary.

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squad-car-1209719_960_720-300x162As a parent there are few things worse than finding out that your child has been arrested and charged with a crime.  The initial disbelief is soon replaced by concern, fear and anger, and the worst part is not being able to do anything about it right away.  The emotions are compounded when a parent is going through this for the first time, as it’s easy to assume the worst and impossible to know what to expect.  The important thing for all parents to remember is that the juvenile criminal court system in Maryland is not designed to punish individuals like the adult court system.  For most juvenile cases punishment is secondary to providing the child with guidance and counseling to make sure he or she does not become a repeat offender. It may be a tough road ahead, but most juvenile defendants do not end up with any type of criminal record that could interfere with college applications or future employment as long as their case is handled properly.  That being said, the process will be much easier and the rate of success much higher if the parents and the child are informed each step of the way.

Most juveniles that are arrested are charged by citation and released to the custody of their parents. After the arrest the first step is for the child to appear before a juvenile services officer at an intake hearing. The intake hearing is an excellent opportunity for the child and family to avoid going to court, and should be treated seriously.  The intake officer has the ability to close the case and issue a warning or place the child on an informal period of probation that typically involves community service.  Each of these options will close the case without any type of official criminal court record being created, which is absolutely key to preserving the child’s future opportunities.  In some cases the State’s Attorney’s Office or the victim may object to the case being closed, and this will result in the case moving on to the circuit court.  The intake officer could also decide to forward the case to the circuit court.  If the case is forwarded to the circuit court it does not mean the child will be sent off to a program and it doesn’t mean the child will have a permanent criminal record.  To the contrary there is still a strong likelihood that the child will not be subjected to any drastic forms of punishment, and will be totally done with the court system within six months to a year.

When a case is forwarded to court the juvenile will receive notice to appear for an arraignment within a few weeks, though in some jurisdiction the arraignment is cancelled if an attorney files his or her appearance.  In the weeks between arraignment and trial or disposition the lawyers from both sides will discuss the case and attempt to come to a resolution. This is similar to adult court, but the time frames are much shorter.  Trial will usually be set within one month instead of three or four months.  Regardless of whether there is a plea or a trial, juveniles are not found guilty or not guilty, as the term guilty is replaced by delinquent.  If a child is found delinquent, he or she may still be able to have the case expunged and in some cases if a proper motion is filed may be able to have the finding overturned.  Both of these outcomes will assure that the child’s future is not negatively impacted by the case, which is the ultimate goal.

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hammer-719066_960_720-300x225Probation sounds great when the only other alternative is jail time, but the relief felt when a judge announces a suspended sentence instead of active incarceration can be short lived.  Not everyone is built for probation, and while some may breeze through, others are in a constant battle to complete their requirements.  Many times it’s the officer who makes the probation term next to impossible to complete, but other times life simply gets in the way. Whether there’s just not enough time to comply with all the requirements or there’s an officer who’s out for blood, probation violations are so common these days that it almost seems as if they outnumber new criminal cases.  The odds are stacked against anyone facing a probation violation, so it’s best to avoid one at all cost.  While there is no secret formula to successfully completing probation, there are some relatively easy things that can be done to avoid a return trip to court to face a disappointed judge.

Any defendant placed on supervised probation in Maryland must abide by the 9 standard conditions, which include reporting as directed, refraining from illegal drug use and not incurring any new criminal or jailable traffic offenses.  The most common violations are missing appointments and catching new charges, but officers will violate a defendant for almost anything, including positive drug tests and failing to pay restitution.  The new sentencing laws place limitations on the punishment for technical violations, but unfortunately the most common violations such as failing to report are not considered technical in nature.  Again, the best way to beat a VOP is to avoid one altogether, and the best way to do this is to get off probation as soon as possible.  Most judges will strongly consider granting an early termination of probation motion provided the defendant has fulfilled his or her obligations and completed roughly half of the term.  For example a defendant who is sentenced to 3 years of supervised probation with restitution could conceivably be done with everything at around 18 months provided the fines, costs and restitution are paid, and no prior violations have occurred. If the Court requires drug treatment or anger management, get it out of the way early and file for early termination. If a motion for early termination is not granted the judge at the very least may consider converting the balance of probation to unsupervised, making life much easier and the odds of violation much lower.

Other simple tips include keeping in touch with the probation officer regardless of how annoying it becomes.  If you’re running 15 minutes late or can’t make an appointment call ahead and take a screen shot of the call.  If you’re falling behind on restitution make any type of payment you can afford.  Even if it’s 10 or 20 bucks and you owe hundreds, the Court will at least see effort is being made.  Probation officers will rarely go out of their way to make sure you are not slipping up and they are often difficult to get in touch with.  In order to avoid a violation you have to be proactive and you have to put up with the BS until it’s over.  For the most part probation officers enjoy their power, and may let some minor issues slide if you’re just nice to them.  In sum, probation can be annoying and in some cases painful, but the alternative is worse.  If you need help having your supervision terminated, or would like to try to convert to unsupervised probation contact attorney Benjamin Herbst at 410-207-2598. Benjamin specializes in Maryland violation of probation representation, and offers free consultations and payment plans. If you have a bench warrant for a violation of probation, Benjamin may be able to have it converted to a summons, and he will appear in court for you when the time comes.

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Gun-evidence-box-300x225Last week a Baltimore City jury found a 21-year old man not guilty on all counts of gun possession after a circuit court trial, but this type of verdict alone is typically not enough to create news headlines.  City prosecutors have recently struggled to earn convictions for gun possession cases due in large part to mistrust of city police offers in the aftermath of the gun trace task force scandal, and an acquittal for a possession charge is hardly out of the ordinary.  What made this result newsworthy is the fact that the lead arresting officer is now the commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department.

At trial the commissioner took the stand and testified how he pulled a vehicle over, in which the defendant was a passenger, for traveling with a broken headlight.  According to the acting commissioner, upon the vehicle coming to a stop the defendant immediately took flight.  As other officers gave chase the commissioner checked the glove box and allegedly located a handgun.  The problem with the state’s case was that the only evidence that the gun belonged to the defendant was the testimony of the officers. Neither the commissioner or his fellow officers had their body cameras activated at the time of the stop, and none provided an adequate explanation for this inexcusable lack of evidence. Further, the commissioner failed to photograph the firearm in the place it was alleged to have been recovered, and the evidence was never submitted to the crime lab for fingerprint or DNA analysis.

In a case like this, where the only evidence of possession is the word of police officers, prosecutors try to convince the jury that it’s a simple open and shut case.  They introduce the gun as evidence and sometimes even allow the jurors to hold it (albeit secured in an evidence box).  The state will tell the jurors they’ve seen the gun and heard the testimony and the rest is just a distraction.  Fortunately for defendants our justice system places a higher burden on the state, and thankfully most jurors take their job seriously, and hold the state to this burden.  Jurors can’t simply be expected to believe a police officer simply because he or she comes to court with a badge and a uniform or shirt and tie. This is not to suggest that physical evidence linking the defendant to the gun or drugs at issue is required, but in cases where this evidence is readily available to law enforcement there is no excuse for its absence.  In this case officers failed to have their body cameras activated, failed to preserve the crime scene with photographs and did not even consider submitting the gun to the crime lab for print or DNA work.  Each of these failures came without justification or explanation, and therefore the jury got it right.  Proof beyond a reasonable doubt means that the finder of fact must be sure that the defendant did what the state alleges, and even seasoned officers must be held accountable for sloppy police work.  Decades of experience and smooth demeanor on the stand are no replacement for cold hard evidence, and it’s reassuring to know these jurors agreed.

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handcuffs-2102488__480-300x169Conducting prostitution stings was once a practice limited to a few select police departments, but in the last few years numerous Maryland law enforcement agencies have joined the fray after the internet has made prostitution more accessible to the average person.  Traditional prostitution stings consist of an undercover female police officer hanging around in areas known to be hotbeds for this illegal activity.  Undercover officers are always flanked by a team of officers in unmarked cars close by, who arrive in seconds once a “take down” signal is relayed.  These operations were once common in urban areas such as Baltimore City but they are tedious and possibly dangerous endeavors for police.  Assigning undercover officers to walk the streets of high-crime areas creates an environment that is far from controlled.  On top of that vice teams could spend hours searching for Johns without any takers, as high prostitution areas are virtually nonexistent after being replaced by online the marketplace.  Rather than spend an entire day in the street searching for solicitors police departments developed plans to have the Johns come to them, and in turn arrest numbers have increased.

Anne Arundel County was one of the first departments to aggressively combat online prostitution after fielding numerous complaints from hotels in the BWI region.  These hotels began to notice activity that was consistent with sex commerce, and in response police began to set up fake online profiles for escorts in online classified websites such Backpages.  The fake profiles aimed to mimic real profiles with seductive pictures and slang phrases.  Like real profiles the fake ones never actually said specifically what was for sale or how much it would cost, as the vague language was used to dispel any fears that cops were on the prowl.  After posting the fake ads police set up shop in the same hotels where the complaints originated, and waited by the phone for calls or texts.  Police didn’t end up waiting long as Johns showed up at pre-determined rooms where an undercover female officer was waiting to negotiate a deal if one had not already been reached via text.  In some cases the female officer would wait until money was produced before giving the take down signal to a group of officers stationed in an adjacent room, but other times the undercover would send the cavalry in earlier. Either way, the result was the same, as the support team basically arrested anyone who showed up at the room regardless of whether a deal was verbalized.

Anne Arundel County Police made hundreds of arrests at area hotels using fake Backpages profiles, and they continue to conduct these stings.  In the last few years other Maryland police agencies such as Prince George’s County police and Howard County police have started to conduct the same stings and these departments have showed no sign of discontinuing this effort.    A person that shows up in response to a fake Backpages at can expect charges for solicitation and assignation, and often police include multiple counts of each. The multiple counts represent each time police perceive that an offer and acceptance for sex takes place, but the state will typically only prosecute one of these counts.  Howard County police have been known to charge Johns with disorderly conduct as well, though this charge is definitely a long shot in the courtroom.  There are also instances where Johns have touched the undercover and been charged with 4thdegree sexual offense.  Fourth degree sexual offense is a misdemeanor with the same maximum penalty as solicitation, but it is a far more serious offense with potential consequences including registering as a sex offender.  While it would be difficult to prove this charge in a solicitation case it nonetheless raises the stakes, and makes it all the more important to hire an experienced and skilled lawyer.

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play-593207__480-300x199In 2010 Maryland’s first casino opened in Cecil County, a location picked due to its proximity to gambling establishments in nearby Delaware and New Jersey. Lawmakers and citizens were growing tired of losing out on millions of dollars in tax revenue and thousands of jobs to neighboring states, and the response was legalizing casino gambling. Since the Hollywood Casino of Perryville opened roughly 8 years ago five more casinos have opened their doors, with the newest being the billion-dollar MGM National Harbor Casino in Prince George’s County that opened at the end of 2016. The casinos are spread pretty evenly across the state from the Rocky Gap Casino in Allegany County to Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore. The Horseshoe in Baltimore and Maryland Live in Anne Arundel County are the closest together distance wise, but draw from a large customer base and have no trouble keeping the profits flowing. Average monthly revenue from the casinos is approaching $150 million. The six casinos draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and the positive economic impacts have been undeniable. While the tax revenue and job creation have been a huge positive for the state there is also a dark side to the all the bright lights and jackpot payouts. Six new casinos opening in a little over five years brings an increased risk for gambling addiction. Marylanders once had to board a plane to Vegas or drive 3 hours in traffic to play table games, but now it’s hard to find a place in the state that is more than an hour drive away from a casino.

Upon legalizing casinos lawmakers also created provisions to combat gambling addiction including educational resources and 24 hour hotlines, which are both helpful tools for those who desire help. On the other hand these resources lack teeth for players and their families that are trying to stop. For those that require additional help lawmakers and the gaming commission created the voluntary exclusion program or VEP, which allows a person to voluntarily agree to refrain from entering and playing at any Maryland casino. Anyone can enter the program with the caveat that the application has to be accompanied by an in person interview. Spouses, friends and family members may try to convince a person to enter the program but they cannot enter it on their behalf. The reason the commission requires a thorough application process and an in person interview is because the consequences for violating the pact to refrain from entering a casino are criminal. A person enrolled in the voluntary exclusion program may be charged with criminal trespass upon entering a Maryland casino, and odds are that this will happen regardless of whether a chip is played. Casinos take the exclusion program very seriously, and they have to in order to remain in the good graces of lawmakers. Issuing a large number of criminal trespass citations ensures the image of compliance, so a person who is caught will almost certainly not be able to talk their way out charges. While a person may take themselves out of the voluntary exclusion program after two years this does not happen automatically. You have to apply to take yourself off, and the commission must approve this request before you can reenter or play again. It is not a defense that 2 or more years have passed since acceptance to the program.

The casinos can easily locate an excluded person through face recognition technology, credit card alerts and players club card alerts so do not be surprised to see security walk up on you within minutes of entering the facility. Generally casino security will escort a potential offender off the gaming floor to a back room, where a local police officer will show up toting a citation booklet. Offenders are then issued a citation and escorted off the property. Criminal trespass carries a maximum sentence of 90 days in jail, though most people that receive these citations are first time offenders and realistically do not face a lengthy jail sentence upon conviction. On the other hand, the potential to receive a permanent criminal conviction looms large for anyone who receives a trespass citation, and this result could have devastating effects on the ability to maintain employment, professional licenses and security clearances. If handled properly casino trespass citations could be nothing more than an inconvenience so it is important to contact an attorney who has experience handling these cases. An attorney can attempt to work out a favorable resolution in advance of the court date, which will not only limit exposure to criminal sanctions but also eliminate the stressful uncertainty of a court appearance.

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thirteen-bags-of-marijuana-found-in-taxi-cabLegalizing marijuana through an amendment to the state constitution remains a possibility, but independent of this of this massive policy shift lawmakers are still working diligently to modernize marijuana laws. There have been over twenty marijuana related bills introduced by Maryland lawmakers this year, but few will end up as law, and even fewer will have a impact in courtrooms across the state.  One marijuana bill that could potentially have an impact on the court system recently passed in the Senate by a wide margin, and is now headed to the House for a vote the first week of April. If this bill passes and is later signed into law the threshold for criminal possession of marijuana would increase from 10 grams to 1 ounce, meaning it would no longer be a crime to possess between 10 and 28 grams of pot.

If the marijuana threshold bill becomes law the amount of civil citations would likely double, but these cases have much less of a burden on the court system than criminal cases. Defendants in civil marijuana cases typically prepay the fine and forgo showing up to court, which is permitted for anyone age 21 and over. When fines are prepaid witnesses (generally police officers) do not need to be summonsed and judges and courtroom clerks can be utilized for other cases. Even if a defendant requests a trial, most jurisdictions treat these cases like minor traffic violations, and do not assign assistant state’s attorneys to prosecute them. Although most defendants over the age of 21 prepay the pot citation fines, we advise these defendants to show up to court and contest the allegations. Paying a fine for a civil marijuana citation will result in a conviction, albeit for a civil violation that is not subject for public inspection and does not appear on the judiciary website (casesearch), but it’s still a conviction for an offense that is illegal under federal law. Requesting a court appearance could result in a more favorable outcome than prepaying the fine such as a probation before judgment, a STET, a nolle prosequi or a not guilty finding. Each of these outcomes would allow the defendant to resolve the case without a conviction and eventually apply for an expungement. If you have the time to show up to court or the money to hire an attorney it would definitely be in your best interest.

The marijuana threshold bill passed 36-11 in the Senate, a wide margin by any calculation. Naturally for this many Senators to vote to increase the criminal possession threshold there would have to be some concessions in the other direction, as most politicians are weary about being too lenient on an issue that is perceived as a criminal in nature. The concession for this bill is an added provision making it illegal to consume marijuana in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle that is driving, standing or parked on a public road. This provision, listed in section 21-903 of the transportation article would apply to drivers and passengers. In other words a cop could pull a car over and cite all its occupants for illegal marijuana use. This offense is not a major or jailable traffic crime, but it does carry up to a $530 fine and one point (3 points if there is an accident). It is virtually the same as the provision against consuming alcohol inside a vehicle, but the alcohol consumption statute only applies to drivers, and not passengers. We expect that this measure will pass in the House virtually unchanged, and eventually end up as law in October, but there are never guarantees when it comes to Maryland and marijuana laws. The Blog will continue to follow this bill and others related to state criminal and traffic laws. If you would like to speak to a lawyer about a criminal or traffic citation, or any other offense contact Benjamin Herbst at 410-207-2598 for a free consultation. Benjamin specializes in DUI, drug possession and alcohol consumption/ open container defense, and is available anytime to discuss your case.

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handgun-231699_640-300x169Maryland State Senators recently passed a sweeping bill that would modify a number of existing criminal laws ranging from drug dealing to gun possession, and now the bill moves on to the House for a vote later this month. The measure passed by a wide margin in the Senate, and the governor’s approval is expected as long as it arrives at his desk. The bill made headlines for including provisions that increase jail sentences for repeat offenders and adding funding for crime prevention initiatives, but there are numerous other proposals that could have major impacts in courthouses around the state.

Firearms and fentanyl have become two of the main hot button criminal law issues of the past few months, and the comprehensive criminal bill touches on both. With respect to firearms, the bill adds a provision that would enable police officers and prosecutors to apply for wiretaps in cases involving certain public safety code gun laws. These laws include the sale of stolen firearms and the transportation of guns for the purpose of illegal trafficking. Crimes involving straw purchases of regulated firearms may also be investigated through the use of wiretaps under the proposed law. A straw purchase would be buying a gun for someone who cannot or does not want to buy one, and while straw purchases are generally legally, when it comes to firearms the opposite is true. Other firearm provisions in the new bill include raising the maximum and minimum penalty for certain crimes involving handguns. Under the law a second conviction for wear, transport and carry of a handgun would carry a 15-year maximum penalty, up from 10 years. If the second offense occurs on school property the minimum sentence would be increased to 5 years, up from 3. The 5-year minimum sentence for use of a firearm during the commission of a crime would remain under the proposed law, but it would be classified as a felony instead of a misdemeanor. A second offense of this provision would carry a new 10-year minimum sentence.

In addition to stricter gun laws the Senate version of the crime bill also enhances the potential punishment for crimes involving fentanyl. This powerful synthetic narcotic has been responsible for thousands of overdoses, and in many cases the user had no idea that he or she was using it. The strength of fentanyl makes it an easy swap for heroin, and the abundance of it leads to higher profits for dealers. Previously fentanyl was grouped with morphine and opium derivatives with respect to the large amount section of the Maryland drug distribution laws, which meant that it would take more than 28 grams to trigger the 5-year mandatory penalty. Under the proposed law possession of more than 5 grams of fentanyl would trigger enhanced penalties reserved for suspected volume dealers.

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keyboard-453795_1280-300x200Maryland sports one of the most convenient systems to access criminal case information via the casesearch website. The website allows the user to search a database of thousands of cases by first or last name of the defendant, and displays the charges, court location and hearing times. If the case is closed it provides a brief summary of the outcome or disposition including the length of suspended and unsuspended jail time, the terms and conditions of probation and whether a probation before judgment (PBJ) was granted. The site lists any attorneys involved including the prosecutor and defense lawyer, and in some cases includes the victim or complaining witness. The site also lists the names of any police officers involved, but for a few days last week and without warning or explanation these names suddenly disappeared.

The details behind the information blackout are still somewhat murky, but we do know that at some point in the last few months a government committee that oversees the website voted to replace the officer’s first names with their initials in the interest of protecting police from potential retaliation. This change had been on the agenda of the Anne Arundel County Police for years though AA County PD never advocated for the complete deletion of officer information. After the names disappeared we learned that no law enforcement agency in the state actually advocated for the complete deletion of officer information. Quite to the contrary most publicly denounced it, which made the move even stranger and only increased the amount of backlash by civil rights advocates, police watchdog organizations and criminal defense attorneys around the state. Accessing the names of arresting officers is essential to filing expungement applications, which are processed at a rate of close to 6,000 per month. In order to apply for an expungement within the first three years of a case being dismissed all defendants must fill out a waiver and release form that basically states you will not sue the police. Without the arresting officer’s name you cant properly fill out the form.

There was certainly a shortage of justification for deleting the information from public view, and the move could not have come at a worse time. In light of Baltimore City police corruption gaining widespread national media attention over the past few months you would think the response by state agencies would be for more transparency and not less. The rocky relationship between police and the general public is not going to smooth out by adding another layer of secrecy. Luckily before the backlash grew the Maryland Court of Appeals stepped in and reversed the decision and ordered the judiciary to undo the deletions. It wasn’t quite no harm no foul as the government wasted over ten thousand dollars deleting and restoring the data. As of now the site is back up and running like normal, but there are still unanswered questions about what actually happened.  The judiciary called the move an honest mistake, though the Blog will continue to track this bizarre story and if any new information comes to light we may post a follow up article. For any questions on criminal defense issues such as expunging a case or seeking representation for a current charge feel free to contact Benjamin Herbst at 410-207-2598. Benjamin defends clients charged with any offense in all Maryland jurisdictions including federal court.