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At the MacDonald Law Office, LLC, our attorneys are focused on providing our valued clients with the help they need, no matter what they are facing. We offer them our knowledge, experience, and commitment to ensure their rights are protected and their legal needs are met. From those who have never been arrested to individuals who are facing a second or subsequent offense, knowing what to expect and what you are facing is a good place to start.

Our Salisbury criminal defense lawyers offer the following articles to help you understand what you are facing as well as your rights and legal options

  • What Constitutes Illegal Search?

    The Fourth Amendment is where we look to understand what constitutes an illegal search by police. It states that people are to be secure from unreasonable searches and that warrants may only be issued when there is probable cause.

    Basically, this means that police must have a reason for searching you, your car or your home. While it sounds simple, it is one of the most complex areas of criminal law. Many, many criminal cases are built around showing that evidence was obtained illegally.

    Probable cause — the reasonable belief by police that you have committed a crime — usually hinges on one of these conditions:

    • Seeing. An officer approaching your care who sees a gun or a packet of heroin in plain sightis almost always justified in searching you.
    • Circumstantial evidence. If your car wanders across lane lines, an officer may have a reasonable belief that you are driving under the influence and so may search or administer a sobriety test.
    • Expertise. This category is vague. Search is permitted based on an officer's experience and instincts. Because it is so vague, this area is often open to dispute.
    • Information. Your own statements or statements by passengers or victims may be enough to trigger a legal search.
    • Sensory. If the officer smells liquor or pot on your breath or sees cocaine residue on your nose, that's probable cause for searching and administering a Breathalyzer test.
    • Consent. The officer asks if he can search and you say yes.

    These are just the bare bones of search law, which draws on thousands of case examples. To know if you were illegally searched, talk to the lawyers at MacDonald Law Office, LLC, in Salisbury, Maryland.

    Come in for a no-charge, no-obligation case evaluation. Call 410-713-4465 or email our attorneys your questions.

  • What Is The Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act?

    Under Maryland's new Justice Reinvestment Act, effective October 1, 2017, if you are serving a minimum mandatory prison sentence without parole for a felony drug crime in Maryland, then you are eligible to file a motion for modification of sentence asking the court to reduce your prison sentence and remove the no parole provision. The motion to modify must be filed before September 30, 2018. Only one motion can be filed so it is important to get it right the first time with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

    The MacDonald Law Office, LLC, can file a motion for modification of sentence for you under the Maryland Justice Reinvestment Act and appear in court with you for the mandatory hearing on the motion. There are several factors the court must consider before reducing a sentence under the new law including: the nature of the crime, the history and character of the defendant, the defendant's chances of successful rehabilitation, injustice to the defendant and the protection of the public. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to persuade the court that you are a good candidate to have your sentence reduced under the Justice Reinvestment Act. Call the MacDonald Law Office, LLC, today to discuss this unusual and extraordinary opportunity to reduce your minimum mandatory sentence for a drug crime in Maryland starting October 1, 2017.

  • Maryland's Strict Gun Ownership Laws Draws Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

    A man convicted of violating one of Maryland's strict gun ownership laws appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Charles F. Williams, a Maryland resident, purchased the gun legally but did not have a permit to carry the gun in a public setting. A police officer spotted Williams rummaging through his backpack. Ultimately, Williams was sentenced to a relatively severe 3-year prison term.

    Williams appealed, however, claiming that the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gave him the right to carry a legally purchased weapon in public, even if he did not have a permit from the state of Maryland to do so. It is a violation of Maryland gun possession law to carry a weapon in a public place without a permit.

    District of Columbia v. Heller

    Williams is relying on the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a Washington, D.C., law that prevented anyone but a law enforcement official to carry a weapon. The court found that the Second Amendment protected an individual's right to keep a weapon in the home. In 2010, the Supreme Court held that state and local laws cannot be more restrictive than federal laws in McDonald v. Chicago.

    Combined, Williams argues, these cases suggest that Maryland has no right to restrict gun ownership in public places; rather, the Second Amendment protects gun ownership both inside and outside the home. Unfortunately for Williams, lower courts have found for the state, ruling that Heller should be interpreted narrowly as only protecting gun ownership in the home.

    Recently the Supreme Court decided not to hear Williams' case. This means that current Maryland law applies to all gun owners in Maryland, so those wishing to carry a weapon in public must obtain a permit to do so.

    Another Appeal Pending

    Williams is not the only gun owner convicted of violating state and local laws to appeal to the Supreme Court. Sean Masciandaro was driving home from a business presentation when he pulled into a national park in West Virginia to take a nap. A police officer investigated the vehicle and found a loaded gun in the trunk of Masciandaro's car. Ultimately, Masciandaro was convicted of bringing a loaded gun onto national parkland. The Supreme Court has yet to decide to hear the case, but if it rules in favor of Masciandaro, it could be a significant increase in Second Amendment rights that allows gun owners the right to carry a firearm in a vehicle. In addition, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill this November that would allow concealed carry permits to be valid across state lines - even in states that do not allow concealed carry permits. It remains to be seen whether that bill will ultimately pass the Senate.

    Questions? Facing a Firearm Possession Charge?

    As demonstrated by Williams' 3-year sentence, violating a gun law in Maryland carries severe penalties. If you are facing a gun possession charge, contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in protecting the constitutional rights of those accused of gun offense charges.

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