Baltimore Criminal Defense Lawyer
If have been charged with a crime in Baltimore, you need dedicated, experienced legal representation to guide you through the complex, confusing, and stressful criminal justice process.
Since 1977, the Baltimore criminal defense lawyers at Cohen & Dwin, P.A., have helped clients in Baltimore fight and resolve criminal charges against them. We can help give you the fair shot you deserve when facing criminal charges and ensure that your rights are protected and enforced.
Facing criminal charges can make you feel anxious and uncertain. Let our attorneys use our more than 100 years of collective experience to help prepare a strong defense strategy aimed at getting the charges against your dropped or reduced.
Contact us now to get started.
What to Do If You’ve Been Arrested in Baltimore
If you are arrested for a crime in Baltimore, never discuss the matter with police before you consult with a lawyer. The only information they are entitled to is your name, address and date of birth. Anything you say, good or bad, can be misinterpreted against you. Tell them that you wish to speak to a lawyer first and say nothing else.
You should exercise your right to remain silent until you have had an opportunity to consult with a Baltimore criminal defense attorney. Any statements you voluntarily give to police may end up being used against you, either as evidence in a trial or to help police in their investigation to uncover other evidence that may be used at trial.
You also have the right to an attorney and to consult with an attorney prior to answering any questions from the police. It is critical that you exercise this right. You should be allowed to contact the attorney of your choice after you are placed under arrest.
You should contact an experienced Baltimore criminal defense attorney from Cohen & Dwin as soon as possible. Our attorneys can help you understand the criminal allegations against you, advise you on speaking to police or investigators, and launch an independent investigation into your case. We will identify any errors or mistakes made in following proper policies and procedures, and we will identify all possible opportunities to push to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed.
Finally, following your arrest, you should refrain from certain things as well, such as speaking about your case to others or on social media. These statements may later be used against you in a criminal prosecution. You should not tamper with, dispose of, or destroy any evidence that may be in your possession. You should also refrain from contacting any alleged victims or any witnesses in your case. Doing so may be seen as criminal witness tampering.
Why You Need a Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime in Baltimore, you should not face the criminal justice system alone. Police and prosecutors have dozens of people with extensive experience in criminal prosecution working to secure a conviction against you. An experienced Baltimore criminal defense attorney will advocate for your rights and fight to protect your freedom.
When you are arrested, or even prior to your arrest, the police will conduct an investigation into your alleged crime. As part of this investigation, the police may want to collect evidence or statements from you that they will later use as part of your prosecution. You need a Baltimore criminal defense attorney who will ensure that your constitutional and civil rights are protected and observed during the police’s investigation. If the police obtain evidence against you illegally or in violation of your rights, a Baltimore criminal defense attorney can ensure that evidence cannot be used against you in a trial.
A Baltimore criminal defense lawyer may be able to resolve your charges without having to go through the time and expense of a trial. A criminal defense attorney can sit down and negotiate with the prosecutors. After examining the state’s evidence, a defense attorney may be able to demonstrate to prosecutors that they do not have a viable case against you, leading to the dropping of the investigation or charges against you.
Conversely, if the state’s case against you is strong, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution to obtain a much less harsh punishment than you would likely receive if you were convicted at trial. A criminal defense attorney can help you evaluate the strength of the state’s case, the strength of any possible legal defenses you may have, and whether any potential plea deals are preferable to going to trial.
If you do decide to contest your charges at trial, a Baltimore criminal defense attorney can again ensure that your rights are protected and observed throughout the trial. An attorney can vigorously advocate on your behalf, persuasively arguing any defenses you may have to a jury or judge and forcing the prosecution to prove each element of your charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are convicted at trial, a criminal defense attorney can fight for a minimum sentence that allows you to get back to your family and your life as soon as possible.
Common Defenses Against Criminal Charges
In order to convict you of a criminal charge, the state is required to prove each element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. As a result, there are often many defenses against criminal charges that mean the state cannot prove one or more elements of your criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt. Some of the common defenses that our Baltimore criminal lawyers at Cohen & Dwin use include:
- Mistake – A mistake defense argues that a defendant made a reasonable, honest, fundamental misperception of fact or law that led the defendant to reasonably believe that his or her actions were lawful. For example, a defendant in a theft case may argue that he or she believed the victim had given the defendant the allegedly stolen property.
- Consent – For criminal offenses involving violation of person or property, the consent defense argues that the person or owner of the property consented to the defendant’s actions. For example, that the defendant in a criminal trespass charge had permission to be on the property, or that a defendant in a rape case had received consent to sexual intercourse from his or her partner.
- Self-defense – A self-defense argument claims that a defendant committed a violent act against another person to prevent violence to the defendant or a third person. Self-defense can either be perfect self-defense or imperfect self-defense – perfect self-defense means that a defendant was legally justified in his or her actions, while imperfect self-defense may negate specific criminal intent but not general intent. (For example, a defendant may not have been justified in using lethal force against an assailant and therefore lacked intent to murder, but may be found to have the intent to commit manslaughter or battery.)
- Duress – A duress defense argues that a defendant committed a crime because he or she was forced to. For example, a bank robbery defendant may allege that a co-defendant threatened to harm the defendant if he or she did not participate in the robbery.
- Necessity – The necessity defense argues that a defendant should not be held liable for a criminal offense because the offense was committed to prevent a greater harm. For example, a person may allege that he or she trespassed into someone’s backyard to rescue another person drowning in a pool.
- Entrapment – The entrapment defense argues that the government induced the defendant to commit a crime that he or she would not have committed but for the government’s actions.
- Abandonment – This defense argues that a defendant abandoned his or her pursuit of a crime. Although it is a defense to a completed crime, it effectively admits guilt to a charge of criminal attempt.
- Insanity – Although the “insanity” defense is considered one of the most difficult criminal defenses to successfully argue, the defense contends that a defendant lacked the criminal intent required by the charge or was unable to appreciate the significance or consequence of his or her actions due to some sort of mental disorder or defect that rendered him or her unable to understand right from wrong, controlling his or her actions, or resisting violent impulses. Although a successful insanity defense means that a defendant does not have to go to prison, he or she will usually be ordered held in a psychiatric facility for treatment.
- Intoxication – Similar to insanity, intoxication argues that a defendant could not form the necessary criminal intent or did not understand the significance or consequence of his or her actions. Intoxication defenses fall into two categories: involuntary intoxication defenses negate any criminal intent because the intoxication prevented the defendant from knowing right from wrong, while voluntary intoxication is usually only a defense to specific intent crimes, as the defendant is presumed to still have some basic intent.
In addition to the above criminal defense theories, many criminal defenses challenge the sufficiency of the state’s evidence.
Oftentimes, a defendant will seek to have evidence precluded because it was obtained by the prosecution in violation of the defendant’s rights. For example, police may have conducted an unconstitutional search of the defendant’s person, vehicle, or home, or may have obtained a confession from the defendant under duress or undue influence or without first informing the defendant of his or her rights.
Let our Maryland criminal defense attorneys here at Cohen & Dwin use our more than 100 years of collective experience to develop a thoughtful defense strategy for your case.
Types of Criminal Defense Cases We Handle
There are a wide variety of criminal offenses that are prohibited under Maryland law and the ordinances of municipalities throughout Maryland. Some of the common types of criminal cases that our attorneys most frequently handle include:
- Driving with a suspended license
- Murder and manslaughter
- Drug possession/trafficking
- Shoplifting/petty larceny
- Serious traffic offenses, including reckless driving, excessive speeding, or driving without a license
Regardless of whether you have been charged with a minor misdemeanor or a serious felony, the Baltimore criminal defense attorneys at Cohen & Dwin can help protect your rights in the criminal justice process and fight to preserve your freedom.
Penalties for Criminal Charges in Baltimore
If you are convicted of a crime in Baltimore, the penalties that you may face depend on the severity of the crime. Criminal offenses are categorized under Maryland into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors.
Misdemeanors are considered less severe crimes and, as a result, are typically punished less severely than felonies. Although most states include potential incarceration of up to one year for misdemeanors, Maryland is unique in that some misdemeanors carry a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years. However, sentences for most misdemeanors can be as little as 90 days in jail or less. In addition to or as an alternative to incarceration, courts can also impose fines for misdemeanor convictions, ranging from $500 to $5,000, depending on the specific offense.
The penalties for a felony conviction in Maryland often depend on the grade of felony. Most criminal offenses range from a third-degree felony (the lowest degree, or least severe crime) to a first-degree felony (the highest degree for the most severe crimes). Felony convictions carry a prison sentence of at least one year for the least severe offenses, up to life imprisonment or the death penalty for the most severe crimes, such as first-degree murder. As with misdemeanors, courts can impose fines in addition to or as an alternative to imprisonment for felony convictions, with fines ranging from $500 to in excess of $15,000.
Talk to a Baltimore Criminal Attorney Now
When you are arrested and charged with a crime in Baltimore, it can seem like things move so quickly. Before you know it, you may find yourself in a courtroom facing a judge, needing to make important decisions that can change your future. You don’t have to go through the criminal justice process alone.
Let the knowledgeable Baltimore criminal defense attorneys of Cohen & Dwin help you fight your criminal charges. Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options and to learn more about how our attorneys can help you build a strong defense against the charges you face.