Criminal Defense Lawyers Located in Westminster, MD
When you are facing criminal charges, it is essential that you have a dedicated and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer by your side. At McFadden Law Offices, located in Westminster, MD, we are passionate about serving our clients and ensuring their rights are upheld throughout the entirety of the legal process, from the arrest, to trial and sentencing, to post-conviction matters.
We have experience handling bail reviews, criminal jury trials, bench trials, plea hearings, sentencing hearings, and post-conviction matters, both at the District and Circuit Court levels, in Carroll County, Baltimore County, Howard County, Frederick County, Harford County, and Baltimore City. Our firm provides representation in all areas of criminal law, from misdemeanors, such as minor theft charges, drug possession, and 2nd-degree assault, to felonies, such as 1st degree assault, robbery, burglary, drug distribution, use of a weapon with intent to injure, use of a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence and other serious firearms charges. Each case is unique, and we make it our priority to ensure that we give each case the close attention that it deserves.
Criminal charges can be daunting, and it is essential to treat them seriously. Do not delay in contacting an attorney to represent you and protect your rights. During your free initial consultation, we listen to the details surrounding your case and help you to explore your legal options. We understand the long-term ramifications that a criminal record can have on our clients’ livelihoods, and the impact it can have on their family, children, loved ones, and job. We are knowledgeable, tenacious, and diligent, and determined to achieve the best outcome for you. Contact us today to discuss your case.
ARREST AND BAIL PROCESS
A person can be charged with a crime in two main ways: by being placed under arrest by a police officer, or by being mailed a summons to appear in court or to appear before a commissioner. This section deals primarily with the former; if you have been sent a summons asking you to appear before a commissioner or the court, you should contact an attorney to discuss your case before reporting for the summons.
When a police officer arrests you for a crime, either at the scene or by serving a warrant for your arrest, he or she may attempt to ask questions of you, relating to the offense that you have been charged with. You should never speak to a police officer without an attorney present, even if you are innocent. It is your constitutional right to have an attorney with you at all significant stages of a trial, including the police interrogation stage. If a police officer or another agent of the state asks you to make a verbal or written statement or begins asking you questions related to the case, be polite and tell the officer, clearly and unequivocally, that you would like to speak to a lawyer.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in court if it in any way contradicts itself or anything you say at a later date. It is always better to remain silent than to attempt to defend yourself or your actions in front of a police officer who already believes there is probable cause that you have committed the crime you are being charged with. An otherwise-weak case against you could be made much stronger for the state by your statements to police officers while in custody.
After you are booked and processed, you should be brought before a commissioner in the county in which you were arrested. A commissioner is an officer of the court but is not a judge. He or she has the authority to determine whether bail will be set and what amount bail will be. A commissioner can also set conditions on bail; for example, if you were charged with an assault, the commissioner might require that you have no contact with the alleged victim for the period that you are out on bail. If you are dissatisfied with the commissioner’s bail determination, you may request a bail review.
If you request a bail review, you will have a hearing in front of a judge, usually within 24 hours; if you are arrested on a weekend, you will have to wait until the next business day that the courts are open. You are constitutionally entitled to have an attorney with you at your bail review. The McFadden Law Offices is well versed in bail review hearings and has handled many such cases in Carroll and surrounding counties. Our office would be happy to assist you in this critical stage of the legal process. We understand that your freedom, pending trial, is important not only to you, your family, and your employer but to your defense as well. Our goal is to ensure that bail is reasonable and affordable for you so that you can get back to your life as quickly as possible.
TRIAL AND PLEA PROCESS
Waiting for your scheduled hearing date can be very stressful. It is important that you hire an attorney as soon as possible so that he or she has enough time to prepare for your hearing. The hearing may be an actual trial, or it may simply be a matter of placing a plea agreement on the record in open court.
There are two types of criminal trials: bench trials and jury trials. Bench trials are trials in which a judge determines the facts of the case based on the evidence presented; they are available in both the district and circuit courts. Jury trials are trials in which 12 members of the community determine the facts of the case; they are available only in the circuit courts.
Anyone charged with a crime that carries a potential sentence of 90 days or more in jail is constitutionally entitled to a jury trial. At trial, the burden is on the state to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; you are not required to prove your innocence, because you are presumed to be innocent. The state must present evidence to prove their case, which may include physical evidence and testimony from witnesses, police officers, and experts. If the state is unable to prove its case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, you must either be acquitted or found not guilty of the charges. We have handled many criminal trials, and have had excellent results for our clients.
In some cases, a trial might not be appropriate, and the best outcome is achieved by entering into a plea agreement with the state. In cases such as those, we work to build a comprehensive mitigation argument that includes discussion of your family and work history, testimony from character witnesses, and any actions you have taken since the alleged criminal act to better yourself, if applicable. We have negotiated many plea deals for our clients and always try to think outside of the box for sentencing alternatives so that our clients can avoid jail time if possible. We are firm believers in rehabilitation over retribution and believe that society is best served when people are given an opportunity to learn from their mistakes, rather than punished harshly and stigmatized for their past misdeeds.
If you retain the services of our criminal defense law firm, we will work diligently behind the scenes to prepare for your case, by carefully reviewing the facts of the case and the state’s case against you, preparing our trial strategy, subpoenaing potential witnesses, and discussing possible plea deals with the state, if applicable. We keep you involved every step of the way; your participation is vital to a successful defense. We make sure to keep you informed about the status of your case, and in addition to our regular business hours, we make ourselves available during nights and weekends to answer any questions you might have.
Once your case has gone to trial, or you have accepted a plea deal, the legal process is not necessarily finished. Generally speaking, you have three post-trial rights: the right to a new trial, the right to an appeal, and the right to a modification of any sentence imposed by the judge. Exercising any of these rights requires you to submit a request to the court in writing. Contact our office for more information about, and assistance with, the post-trial process.
In some instances, your record is eligible to be expunged. This means that your criminal record may be eligible to be removed from public inspection so that it will not show up on most criminal background checks and will no longer appear in Maryland Judiciary Case Search, the database of all Maryland cases.
Expunging your current record can also be helpful down the road if you are ever charged with another crime. Certain requirements must be met for a person to be eligible for expungement. Our office can help advise you of your potential right to expunge your criminal record. If eligible, an expungement can open up doors to job opportunities which were previously unavailable due to prior convictions. If you think you might qualify for an expungement or have any questions about the expungement process, contact our offices. We can help advise you of your eligibility and the next steps to take.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE – ALTERNATIVE SENTENCING OPTIONS
Often, criminal legal problems go hand-in-hand with drug and alcohol abuse. Many people charged with a crime have underlying substance abuse issues and need treatment, rather than jail time. Our criminal defense attorneys have helped many clients struggling with substance abuse issues and facing serious jail time get into the treatment programs they desperately need, while still earning credit toward their sentence. Even if a person has already been sentenced to a period of incarceration, he or she may still be able to get into a long-term treatment program outside of jail, with what is known as an 8-505 Evaluation and an 8-507 Transport Order.
Our goal is always rehabilitation over retribution, and we believe that most addicts and alcoholics can become contributing members of society, if only they are given the tools to do so. When drug and alcohol treatment is appropriate, we strive to ensure that our clients get the help that they need in a way that also satisfies the courts. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges related to drug and alcohol abuse, contact our offices regarding possible options for treatment to address those issues and get your life back.
Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with our criminal defense lawyer. We proudly represent clients in Westminster, Maryland, and surrounding communities.