Policy Limits Offer- Motor Cycle Collision

Some of the most difficult claims to resolve can be Motorcycle accident claims in Maryland. Our firm recently represented a victim of a motorcycle accident, and achieved a policy limits result from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Like with many serious claims where we are able to achieve such a result for our client, our focus now shifts to finding other avenues of recovery for the client, and negotiating outstanding expenses on our client’s behalf.

 

Policy Limits Offer- Rear End Motor Vehicle Accident

We’re proud to discuss a recent case result for one of our Cecil County Automobile Accident Clients. In a rear end loss from earlier in the year, our client suffered a variety of injuries as a result of the accident. We have presented the claim to the insurance company for the at fault driver, who has agreed that they owe the claim, and will be offering the limits of their auto insurance policy.

The next step in the process is to seek additional coverage, and negotiate the outstanding obligations to our client, mainly through the subrogation of the health insurance company.

We hope to have this case entirely resolved within the next two months, but the heavy lifting is over for now! Another great success for our firm and our clients!

Gun and drug possession charges reduced to open container citation

A recent traffic stop in Perryville, Maryland resulted in citations and charges being filed against a client of ours for possession of a handgun in a vehicle, possession of an unregistered handgun, among other drug related charges for suspected contraband found following a search of the vehicle.

Working with the State’s Attorney regarding a number of defenses to some of these charges, as well as some other issues with the stop, we resolve this matter down from what could have been some substantial jail time for for my client to a simple payable non-criminal citation for an open alcohol container in the passenger compartment of a vehicle.

If you’re facing similar charges, or anything that arises out of a Cecil County vehicle stop or search subsequent a stop, contact our office at 410-885-6200 to discuss possible defenses that may be available to you.

NOT GUITLY- Jury verdict- Baltimore City- Second Degree assault

Midday Tuesday, August 11, 2015 a Baltimore City jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY for our client in a trial handled by our associate attorney Elisabeth Hellwig. This isn’t one of those cases that will be found in any newspaper article, or even any online blogs, but it’s a great victory and justice for a client of ours who we believe was facing charges of assault in the second degree that were fabricated to further a custody dispute over a child that the alleged victim and our client have together.

These are often difficult cases to handle, as are many cases that we handle when we feel that the complaining party is attempting to further some other interest, in this case a custody/visitation dispute, through the Maryland Criminal Court system. We’re happy for our client, Attorney Hellwig, and the system as a whole, allowing for proper justice to be done.

 

State drops murder cases in Port Deposit area shooting

A case that I have been working as second chair on with a good colleague of mine here in Elkton, Maryland has finally been closed! This has been a case I’ve been working on with Edward Richitelli since opening my practice last year. It’s been one of the more difficult cases to handle, as it’s one where there has from the onset been a true belief that our client had nothing to do with the incident that brought rise to the charges.

When you believe your client is actually innocent, the stakes are much higher with less room for error.

After a number of successful hearings to suppress evidence unlawfully and unconstitutionally gathered by the State, as well as an unsuccessful attempt for the State to appeal one of those rulings, this past week the State finally opted to drop the charges against our client.

The local newspaper has provided their take on the state’s dropping of these charges. See the Cecil Whig article here.

Painting the picture out of puzzle pieces

In a previous post I mentioned the work that my office and I do to assist clients who were recently charged with crimes was like painting a picture for the State when previously all that exists otherwise are puzzle pieces. When the State is assigned a case, and when that specific Assistant State’s Attorney assigned to a case gets it, they’re also getting a large pile of other cases. With this obligation comes somewhat limited resources in their ability to track down all of the evidence and investigation for each case.

In many cases that my office handles, the charges were levied based on limited information at the time. The police have an obligation to protect the community against danger and potential danger. Sometimes this obligates them to charge someone with a crime on suspicion or mere probable cause. There is nothing improper about this practice. The lower burden of proof to arrest and/or charge someone helps prevent future instances of crime or potential crime. There is a much higher burden of proof to actually convict someone of the crime. If the higher burden existed to arrest, there really wouldn’t be a need for the judicial system we know today. It wouldn’t be so trial focused, it would be far more appeal focused. The stoppage of an alleged action by charging serves the community to discontinue that act, in most instances.

What I do in my office for my clients is break down the situations that upon charging either don’t make sense, or do not actually rise to the level of a crime committed.

In a recent case, my client was charged with TA 16-303(c) for driving on a suspended license. At the time my client was pulled over, the MVA here in Maryland showed his license as being suspended. The officer did not have access to the back story or the details of how my client got to where he was at that point. That isn’t the officer’s job. The officer was proper, given the information available to him at the time, in issuing my client such a citation.

The story, however, was quite different once all of the details were filled in. In Maryland, charges such as the 16-303(c) citation require a degree of notice on the part of the driver with suspended privileges. In this case, there was a mix up with one of those fun speeding camera/traffic light tickets in another state. That citation was paid, but the notice that it was satisfied was not sent to Maryland’s record division, but to the issuing state. My client received notice that his license “would be suspended by a certain date” to which he promptly responded to the issuing state, and was under the impression that everything was resolved.

Then he got pulled over, and cited for a jail able offense, when as far as he knew he was in full compliance with the law. He was in full compliance, the error causing his suspension was merely clerical and administrative.

Painting a picture out of puzzle pieces

At the trial date my job became to paint the picture for the prosecutor handling the docket that day. The groundwork that had been done ahead of time, putting into place the proper timeline for how my client had followed the law, and had done everything properly, caused the State to drop all charges against my client. Other than the turmoil of having to deal with the process, me, and the system generally, my client is back where he was supposed to be from square one, without charges against him, and no fines, court costs or jail time.

 

Am I a “real lawyer” and what does that even mean?

In my practice of criminal law I often have clients ask me if I am a “real lawyer” or other similar questions that are aimed at determining whether or not I am a private lawyer or a public defender. These conversations usually happen in the hallways of the court, or in an actual courtroom by individuals who I do not represent. Clearly, if you’re sitting in my office you know I’m a private lawyer. I have a tremendous amount of respect for our public defenders, and often find myself defending the public defender’s office and its lawyers to clients who make disparaging remarks. I often do so by attempting to shift the focus that these prospective clients have on who they should be comparing someone like me to.

While comparison shopping is important, and when trying to make a decision between various options for counsel, it is certainly important to find out what each possible lawyer can and will do for you, but it’s also important to know who you are really up against. In conversations I have with clients and potential clients who attempt to compare me or other private lawyers to the public defender, I immediately correct them. The adversary in the equation of someone facing criminal charges in Maryland isn’t the public defender. At the point in which you’re looking into hiring counsel, it doesn’t matter any more how overworked the public defender’s office is, how new some of their lawyers might be, or anything like that.

The lawyer trying to put you in jail is in the State’s Attorney’s office.

The scenario I describe for these clients is somewhat simple. At the beginning of the day, on an imaginary morning two months from now, when your case is scheduled into trial, there are 2 stacks of files. There are the file’s on the prosecutor’s trial table, and the corresponding files on the defender’s table. Assume that on day one the public defender has all of those files. Eventually, and leading up to the trial date, private lawyers will be hired in lieu of the public defender. This practice makes the pile of files on the defender’s table decrease. This not only helps the accused who has opted for private counsel, but it also helps out the public defender and his or her clients who cannot afford private counsel. Less cases for the Public Defender creates more time to spend on each. What many of my clients lose sight of, and I work to refocus on, is the pile on the prosecutor’s table. This pile remains untouched. In Maryland there are no private prosecutors. No attorney like me or those in my office who will scoop up cases from the State and decrease their work load.

The advantage you get in hiring private counsel isn’t necessarily the comparison between us and the Public Defender. The real advantage is the fact that on an incredibly busy day, where I’ve worked with the court clerk to consolidate my dockets for efficiency, I will walk into court with 2 or 3 clients on a given docket. The prosecutor working for the State on that particular docket has my 2 or 3 cases, and likely has 15 or 20 more. In some jurisdictions as many as 60 cases in one docket!

Even on days in which I have worked with the clerk to consolidate some of my cases onto one docket, it is important to mention that the practice of consolidating dockets provides me more time in my office to work up, investigate, and research the cases that I do have.

Connecting the dots in your case

I often find myself driving significant results from putting the facts and law of my cases onto a platter for the State, in a way that benefits my client. If I have a case where the charging document is deficient for one reason or another, in which my client should “win” and otherwise get a great result, I work hard to bring this to the attention of the prosecutor as early as reasonable, and work out an agreement ahead of time. In most cases in which I successfully get the state to drop all charges against my client, I do so by painting a clear picture out of the puzzle that is most of these cases. I value the ability that I have to “do all the work” on a case for my client and at the same time for the State, when that work results in the case being dropped. My clients usually appreciate it, too!

Jobeth R. Bowers is the managing founder of Bowers Law, LLC, a Maryland Trial Practice focusing primarily on Maryland Criminal Defense matters and Automobile accident claims in Maryland. Offices are located in Elkton, Maryland and Baltimore City, Maryland. The office services clients throughout the state of Maryland in these matters as well as others.

 

A “grand deal” falls apart, benefits our client!

I recently represented a client who quite frankly did not have the best driving record here in Maryland. Through most of his adult life, he had a license that was on again off again suspended, revoked or expired for one reason or another. Client came to me to help represent him with two separate sets of charges related to driving without his license and/or driving while suspended. Typically, when I decide to take on one of these cases I stress to the client the importance of obtaining a valid Maryland license before the scheduled trial date. Unlike many lawyers I know, I offer to do the footwork for my clients in determining what they need to do in order to obtain a valid license. I won’t pay their tickets, or their child support, or take their driver improvement course, but I can help them navigate the often tricky system that is the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. Often times, there are also suspensions arising out of out of state issues on the National Driving Registry. I once assisted another client in finding counsel in North Carolina to resolve some outstanding tickets and failure to appear warrants that were tying up her ability to renew her license here in Maryland.

Overall, in Maryland, most courts will have a degree of leniency if you are able to have a valid license by your court date. This by no means indicates that everything will just “go away” but what most prosecutors and judges are looking for regarding disposition and sentencing is much less if you have a valid license, than if you don’t. This leniency is quite a bit less if you’re a repeat offender, as is with most situations.

My client mentioned above had quite a storied history with the driving system here in Maryland, and had previously done time for these types of charges. An odd scheduling and rescheduling fluke had these 2 separate sets of charges scheduled for court at the same day, at the same time, but at two different Baltimore City Court houses (Patapsco Ave and Wabash Ave.)

I was working with two different prosecutors on 2 different situations, all for the same client. Our efforts were to work out some sort of “grand deal” which would have my client offer a guilty plea to the charges in one court, and be sentenced in such a way to reflect this deal, then the other charges would be dropped entirely.

By the time we arrived at court for the first set of charges, my client was eligible to get his license back. He had to go take the driving test, and we all know how those lines can be at the DMV. When discussing this with the prosecutor, we learned that the State had witness issues on this case, and that we likely would not be able to proceed as arranged. I ultimately convinced the State to drop the first set of charges completely, which rarely happens in situations like this. I had been in on this case at a previous appearance and the prosecutor was once seeking a straight term of 30 days for these same charges.

So, the deal fell apart. Client is still facing the other set of charges, which we go to court on this week. Client has a valid license now, and is poised for an overall much better result, and most importantly should be putting all of this behind him soon!

If you’re charged with driving without a license, driving on a suspended or revoked license, or any other similar charges, call our office at (410) 885-6200. We can not only help handle those charges, but guide you in getting your license back so that this is hopefully the last time you ever have to face charges like this again!

A valid Maryland driver's license is the key to not getting a driving without a license or driving on suspended charge.
A valid Maryland driver’s license is the key to not getting a driving without a license or driving on suspended charge.

Second Degree Assault- State Drops All Charges

Today I represented an individual accused of having committed assault in the second degree (CR 3-203) in two separate cases with two separate complainant. Second Degree Assault in Maryland carries a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in jail and a fine of $2,500.00. Given 2 separate and technically unrelated charges, my client was potentially facing 20 years in jail for these charges. Originally, the State presented a desire to proceed to trial, and there was a possibility that we would have had trial today, or possibly elect to have a jury trial in the Circuit Court. Through some negotiation, and some investigation into one of the alleged victims, the State was convinced to drop all charges in both cases. A very happy client!

State drops all charges- Assault Second Degree

In a less serious, but equally important case, I recently represented a client in the District Court for Cecil County, facing accusations of Assault in the Second Degree(CR 3-203) as well as Disorderly Conduct(CR 10-201(c)(2)). These were serious charges, facing the potential maximum sentence of 10 years in jail  and/or a $2,500 fine for the Second Degree Assault, and 60 days in jail  and/or a $500 fine for the Disorderly Conduct. Through ongoing discussions with the State’s Attorney’s office here, issues presented with the veracity and credibility of the alleged victim and witnesses against my client ultimately allowed me to convince the state to drop all charges against my client.

 

There was no known media coverage of this case.