Towson Criminal Defense Attorney
Modification of Sentence
If you have pled guilty or been found guilty of a criminal or serious traffic offense, you have the right to immediately ask the judge by filing the appropriate motion to review or modify your sentence within 90 days from the date that the sentence is imposed. However, while the appropriate motion may be filed immediately, a hearing on the motion does not necessarily have to be held immediately giving you and your attorney time to prepare and put your best argument forward as to why the judge should modify or reduce your sentence. In fact, if the appropriate motion is filed on time, the judge can generally reduce or modify your sentence up to five years after sentencing occurs. It is important to keep in mind that while the judge can refuse to reduce or modify your sentence, there is no risk to you in making such a request since the judge cannot increase your original sentence.
Bench Warrant Recall
A bench warrant or an arrest warrant authorizes the police to arrest you. A warrant can be issued if you fail to appear for court or if you are accused of a crime. By filing the appropriate motion, an experienced attorney may be able to get the warrant “recalled” or taken away and replaced with a simple summons, which is simply a notice sent to you in the mail advising you that you must appear in court on a certain date and at a certain time. If you have a warrant out for your arrest, then you should immediately contact The Law Office of Stephen P. Shepard for assistance. Read How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help with a Bench Warrant to find out more.
Maryland law provides for the possibility of a probation modification at any time during the term of probation. There are two general circumstances when this may happen.
If you have met the terms of your probation, you may request less-restrictive conditions and/or to shorten the duration of your probation. The purpose of probation is to help you become a productive member of society and make sure that you stay out of trouble with the law. A criminal defense attorney can help you show the judge that you are making good progress, including completing any required programs and maintaining stable employment, there is a strong possibility that the judge will agree that the terms of your probation can be relaxed.
If you are alleged to have violated your probation, the State may ask the judge to impose more restrictive conditions. Even if you accept that you technically violated your probation, a criminal defense attorney can challenge the proposed modification by showing why this misstep does not erase your overall progress.
Coram Nobis Relief
Coram nobis relief gives someone who is facing serious consequences due to a past conviction the chance to vacate or modify that conviction on the grounds that there was a legal or factual error. Coram nobis relief is commonly used in the following circumstances.
- You are facing deportation or other adverse impact on your immigration status.
- You are unable to obtain a professional license.
- Your sentence in a new case is increased due to the prior conviction.
- You are facing other serious collateral consequences.
Coram nobis relief is considered a last-resort measure and is not available if you have other alternatives. Such alternatives might include:
- Post-conviction relief.
- The regular appeals process.
- Other court proceedings where the matter was already addressed and decided.
In order to obtain coram nobis relief, you must show a serious error (often constitutional) in the previous proceedings. Because you are presumed to have already had a chance to assert your rights at trial, you must meet a high legal standard and should strongly consider working with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Post-conviction relief is available to those who are currently incarcerated, on probation or on parole. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to seek a new trial, a new sentence, or a reduced sentence.
Unlike appeals, which deal with whether the trial judge applied the law correctly, post-conviction relief provides an opportunity to challenge the fairness of the proceedings as a whole. Regardless of your actual guilt or innocence, an unfair conviction cannot legally stand. Most post-conviction relief petitions are based on constitutional claims such as:
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- The State illegally withheld evidence
- Insufficient guilty plea proceedings
- Newly discovered evidence
To succeed, you must either show that you did not previously have the opportunity to raise the issue or that you were prevented from doing so. It is important to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney when pursuing post-conviction relief because you are generally only allowed one post-conviction relief petition per conviction.
An expungement allows you to wipe your record clean if you have ever been arrested or charged with a crime. After an expungement, you can honestly state that you have never been arrested when you fill out employment or housing applications, and the charges will not show up on most background checks.
Expungements are generally available when you were arrested or charged, but not convicted. This generally includes the following situations or dispositions:
- Acquittal / Not Guilty
- Nolle Prosequi
- Probation Before Judgment
Only a small number of convictions can be expunged. The first category is public nuisance crimes such as public intoxication, public urination and loitering. In addition, you may have a single non-violent conviction expunged if you were granted a full and unconditional pardon by the Governor.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can assist you with an expungement by ensuring that you are indeed eligible for one, correctly preparing and filing the necessary paperwork, and confirming that your record was properly expunged.
Additional Information: A Guide to Maryland Expungement Law
8-505/8-507 Evaluations and Orders