Criminal Law

Criminal Law

Understanding the Different Types of Gun Crimes

- Lotze Mosley

Although the United States Constitution grants citizens the right to keep and bear arms, there are a number of legal regulations that govern when and how firearms may be used. Generally, these laws are established on a state-by-state basis, although there are a number of federal statutes specific to the sale or ownership of guns as well.

Because guns are considered to be deadly weapons, enforcement of gun laws in America is taken seriously. Even if an individual has lawful ownership and possession of a gun, they may still be charged with a gun-related crime. That’s why it’s important to understand the different types of gun crimes, and how to respond should you ever face criminal charges.

When considering crimes involving guns, they can be split into two categories – crimes that involve criminal possession of a gun, and other simple crimes that become more serious when a gun is involved in the crime.

What Crimes Involve Gun Possession?

Depending on the type of weapon and the laws existing in your state, it is possible to be charged with the unlawful possession of a firearm. Some examples of this type of criminal offense include:

  • Possessing an illegal firearm – certain guns are illegal to own, such as unregistered guns, guns only available to military personnel and guns that have unlawful alterations
  • Felon possessing a firearm – convicted felons are generally not allowed to own firearms
  • Convicted of domestic violence – like felons, those convicted of domestic violence and related offenses may not own a firearm under law
  • Violation of existing gun control laws – these laws are enforced on a state-by-state basis and may include restrictions on the types of firearms that can be owned, locations of legal gun sales and waiting periods to purchase guns

There are also age restrictions on the sale and possession of guns. Typically, the minimum age for lawful ownership is 18 years of age. Although minors are, for the most part, prohibited from owning a weapon, certain states may allow possession of firearms with the appropriate parental consent.

How Can Guns Make Crimes More Serious?

In addition to unlawful possession of a gun, it is also possible to face criminal charges for using a gun to commit other crimes, leading to stricter penalties. For example, simple misdemeanor assault may be elevated to assault with a deadly weapon, which carries a jail sentence and criminal fines, if a gun was used during the assault.

Other types of crimes that are elevated when involving a gun include:

  • Armed robbery
  • Carjacking using a deadly weapon
  • Battery using a deadly weapon
  • Other theft crimes that involve the use of a firearm

Depending on the state in which you reside, you may also face criminal penalties for crimes committed using a fake firearm that appears to be real.

If you, or someone you care about, are facing criminal charges related to a gun-related offense, it’s important that you know that there are legal resources available to you and your defense.

Defending Against Gun-Related Charges

That’s where the criminal defense team at Lotze Mosley, LLP comes in. Our attorneys have expertise in a wide range of criminal defense matters, including charges related to the ownership and possession of firearms. Our firm has handled many cases throughout the greater D.C. area and can bring the highest levels of experience and expertise to your legal defense.

To schedule an initial consultation to discuss your legal defense, call the attorneys at Lotze Mosley, LLP at (202) 393-0535.

Decriminalized Marijuana Possession Not Criminal Defense Against Search in Maryland

- Lotze Mosley

Maryland is one of the jurisdictions in the U.S. that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. This means that under Maryland law, possession of less than ten grams of marijuana is no longer punishable by imprisonment, but only by a fine.

Does decriminalization of marijuana possession in small amounts automatically make its possession legal? A recent court of appeal decision tackled this issue and ruled that decriminalization is not synonymous with legalization of marijuana in Maryland.

Smell of Marijuana as Probable Cause for Search

Sometime in October 2014, a defendant was charged with possession of at least ten grams of marijuana, possession of oxycodone, and of drug paraphernalia before a Maryland district court. The defendant then filed a motion to suppress all evidence that law enforcers had seized from the defendant’s vehicle. During the hearing on the motion to suppress evidence, the arresting officer testified that he had noticed the overpowering odor of fresh marijuana emanating from the defendant’s vehicle. This prompted the arresting officer to search the vehicle where sixteen small bags of marijuana and an oxycodone pill were found.

Criminal Defense of Accused

The defendant argued that since possession of marijuana had already been decriminalized in that jurisdiction, the alleged smell of fresh marijuana could not constitute probable cause for the police officer to search the defendant’s vehicle, making the search illegal and the results of the search, inadmissible in evidence.

The circuit court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress and eventually found the defendant guilty of possession of at least ten grams of marijuana. The court of special appeals confirmed the lower court’s decision, saying that the decriminalization of marijuana possession in small quantities does not make marijuana a legal substance. Further, it ruled that the marijuana odor can form the basis of probable cause for the law enforcer to search the defendant’s vehicle.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision and also ruled that a law enforcement officer has probable cause to search a vehicle where the law enforcement officer detects an odor of marijuana emanating from the vehicle. It said that decriminalization is not synonymous with legalization.

Court Ruling

That despite the decriminalization of possession of certain amounts of marijuana, the possession of marijuana in any amount still remains illegal in that jurisdiction. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization. Despite the decriminalization of possession of less than ten grams of marijuana, possession of marijuana in any amount remains illegal in Maryland.

If you or someone you know has been charged with possession of marijuana or other prohibited substances in Maryland or in Washington, D.C., call the offices of experienced criminal defense attorneys of Lotze Mosley, LLP. Our firm will aggressively advocate for you to help you obtain favorable outcomes in your case. Call us today at (202) 393-0535 to arrange for your free initial consultation.

Defective Search Warrant Can Be a Strong Fraud Defense

- Lotze Mosley

Fraud investigators often rely on evidence obtained through search warrants in order to establish fraud cases and other charges of white collar crimes. But a Manhattan court warns that not all evidence seized on the basis of a warrant is necessarily admissible in court, particularly when the search goes beyond the bounds of a reasonable search and seizure protected by the Fourth Amendment.

Under the Fourth Amendment, a search warrant must particularly describe the place to be searched and things to be seized. Thus, general warrants that effectively allow almost any item to be seized are prohibited. On proper motion made by the fraud defense attorneys, the judge excluded all evidence obtained during the massive search, dealing a huge blow on ongoing investigation of alleged fraudulent activites.

Why Court Excluded All Evidence Obtained from the Search

The judge’s ruling stemmed from a fraud case where the defendant was investigated for alleged stock manipulation and money laundering. Government agents obtained warrants which were used to search the defendant’s apartment and offices, where agents took personal items that had no clear connection to the investigation, such as divorce papers, passports, family pictures, and X-rays of family members.

Evidence in white collar crimes typically involve substantial volumes of records and documents stored in paper and electronic files. In obtaining a search warrant, investigators must be able to particularize the crimes under investigation so as to guide government agents in executing warrants, ensuring that items they seize have a reasonable connection to the crimes under investigation.

While the warrants in the fraud investigation already listed specific types of documents that may have some relevance to the fraud charges, the warrants failed to incorporate an affidavit providing a reasonable description of the crimes under investigation. Without clear limits to what items can be seized, the government agents who executed the warrants appeared to have taken almost anything that they came across in the defendant’s apartment.

When to Call a Fraud Defense Attorney

A government search in connection with fraud charges can be a frightful experience as agents comb through one’s premises and can take practically anything that they can get their hands on. As a person under investigation or facing fraud charges, you have rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. Call an experienced fraud defense attorney immediately about your situation.

In Washington, D.C., the criminal defense attorneys at Lotze Mosley, LLP are prepared to defend you against fraud charges, file the appropriate motions in court to suppress illegally obtained items from your home, and adopt an effective fraud defense strategy in your case. Contact us today at (202) 393-0535 to arrange for a free initial consultation with one of our dependable attorneys.

Drug-Related Driving Deaths Higher than Drunk Driving Deaths

- Lotze Mosley

When we hear about DUI charges – Driving Under the Influence – our minds often immediately go to the influence of alcohol. We might assume all DUI crimes involve alcohol, but the truth is that drugs can also cause a driver to be “under the influence.”

Higher Death Toll for Drugged Driving

The Governors Highway Safety Association recently conducted a study showing that drugs were more prevalent than alcohol found in the systems of drivers who were killed in motor vehicle accidents. Out of the drivers killed in car crashes, 44 percent were found to have had legal or illegal drugs in their systems. On the other hand, 37 percent of these drivers had consumed alcohol above the legal limit.

The drug most commonly found in these drivers’ systems was marijuana, but opioids were also frequently found.

A Dangerous Combination

The Governors Highway Safety Association is unsurprisingly concerned with this rise of driving under the influence of drugs. “The fact that we are finding drugs in these systems more than alcohol is really raising some alarm bells,” said spokesperson Kara Macek.

The Association seeks to spread the message that driving after drug use is dangerous.

DWI enforcement squads around the Washington D.C. area frequently pull over drivers who are later determined to be impaired due to drug use.

The Importance of Expert Advice

It is never a good idea to get behind a wheel if you are intoxicated from alcohol or drugs – whether legal or illegal. However, mistakes happen in life and people find themselves in unfortunate circumstances all the time. If you have been charged with a DUI in the Washington, D.C. area, it is important to contact an experienced local lawyer to represent you in your case as soon as possible.

It is vital to make this appointment as quickly as possible so your attorney can review your case, gather facts, and interview potential witnesses before memories of the incident might have lapsed. Your lawyer can also help you contest any DMV infractions you may be facing.

Our expert criminal defense team at Lotze Mosley, LLP have the skills and experience you need to help you fight for justice on your DUI charge. We will help you to understand your case, and work as a team to figure out the best plan of action. We invite you to call us today to schedule a free consultation to evaluate your case and start to build a strong defense. Contact Lotze Mosley, LLP at (202) 393-0535.

Corrupt Crime Lab Chemist Causes Erasing of Thousands of Convictions

- Lotze Mosley

A recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court has disavowed thousands of drug convictions dating back to 2003. This follows Annie Dookhan, a former Massachusetts lab chemist, admitting to falsifying drug test results and tampering with samples – corruption that sent tens of thousands of people to jail.

Her confession took place five years ago, but just last month Massachusetts prosecutors finally overturned a list of 21,587 tainted cases that were touched by Dookhan during this scandal. These prosecutors have agreed to overturn the flawed convictions but the highest court of the state still must formally dismiss them.

Illegitimate Convictions

Consequences for drug convictions range wider than simply prison time or legal fees – there are many collateral consequences that result from a drug conviction as well. These can include a loss of access to public housing and other government benefits, removal of driver’s licenses, loss of federal financial aid for college, and an increased risk of deportation.

Additionally, potential employers often deny a job applicant employment because of a drug conviction on their record.

Since Dookhan’s tainted cases date back to 2003, many people have been living with the collateral consequences of their flawed drug convictions for almost 15 years. Hopefully these thousands of people whose lives have been negatively impacted by corruption and incompetence can soon begin to receive the justice they were owed long ago.

Fighting for Justice

If you have been charged with a drug crime, you need an experienced legal team to fight for you. The type of gross misconduct exhibited by the lab technician in Massachusetts is somewhat rare, but it is not unheard of by any means for police and prosecutors to violate the rights of defendants.

Obviously, a tainted drug test cannot be used against you in a court of law, and your lawyer should be someone who is trained to spot police and prosecutor misconduct as they build your defense. It may not be something as flagrant as a lab technician making up fake test results, but, for example, if the police fail to follow the proper chain of custody for evidence, drug evidence can be thrown out.

In order to represent in you in court and to help fight for your rights, it is crucial for you to have skilled attorneys on your side. We welcome your call today at Lotze Mosley LLP at (202) 393-0535 for your free consultation in which we will help you evaluate your criminal case and make a strong plan together.

Security Guard Charged with Sexual Abuse

- Lotze Mosley

A security guard employed at a Maryland high school was arrested earlier this month on sexual abuse charges after he allegedly entered into a sexual relationship with a student.

The accused, who has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation, allegedly gave the student gifts that included a cell phone, which he used to communicate with her during and after school.

The victim, after allegedly being taken to a hotel by the accused, reported the incident to police.

Sex Crimes Defense

When someone is charged with a crime of a sexual nature, that can refer to misdemeanor or first-degree misconduct, including actions involving a deadly weapon. Such crimes have been known to include:

  • Pandering or pimping
  • Prostitution
  • Statutory Rape
  • Child pornography
  • Indecent exposure

Depending on where you are charged, the penalties for these crimes can be severe. The District of Columbia is one such jurisdiction. In cases where there are no aggravating circumstances, those charged and convicted of sex crimes in the first degree face a maximum penalty of no more than 30 years in prison. Unarmed second-degree abuse carries a maximum sentence of 20 years and those convicted of third and fourth degree charges face maximum sentences of 10 and five years, respectively.

There are also maximum sentences for misdemeanor sexual abuse in Washington, D.C. Depending on the severity of the charges, a maximum penalty of 180 days imprisonment may be ordered.

Those convicted of sex crimes are also required to register as sex offenders. The length of registration depends on the nature of the crime – though some may only be ordered to register for a few years, others may be required to register for life.

Because many cases involving these types of offenses often boil down to one party’s word against the other’s, it is important to retain legal representation that can thoroughly investigate your case and develop a strong legal defense.

Working with a Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal defense charges, the legal team at Lotze Mosley, LLP can provide the help you need. Our team of compassionate, dedicated attorneys specializes in defending against criminal charges, including those involving crimes of a sexual nature. Our attorneys have a wealth of experience in this legal arena and can work with you, regardless of the situation, to devise a legal strategy that yields the best possible results.

At Lotze Mosely we provide the legal wisdom and moral support that you are looking for during this difficult time. To get started, we invite you to call our law office today at (202) 393-0535 to schedule a free initial consultation to assess your case.

DC Police Pursuing Gun Crime Leads

- Lotze Mosley

With gun crimes reportedly on the rise in Washington and Baltimore, D.C.., the Metropolitan Police Department has stepped up their efforts to seize illegal guns and get them off the streets. Just recently, police said that they have recovered 17 illegal firearms, mostly handguns, in the District of Columbia.

The handguns were recovered through the concerted effort of the police department’s Gun Recovery Unit, Criminal Interdiction Unit, and Crime Suppression Teams. In its website, the police department said that they welcome any information regarding illegal firearms, including anonymous tips that may be submitted through the department’s test messaging line.

Gun Crime Laws in D.C.

D.C. has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S. Under DC laws, one must possess all the qualifications to possess a firearm and must register their firearm with the police department. The police department has determined the types of firearms that may be registered. DC Official Code §7-2502.08 further requires a registered owner to carry a copy of their gun registration with them and to present them upon demand by a law enforcer.

When transporting a registered firearm, the law also requires the owner to ensure that the gun is unloaded and kept inside a locked container.

Charged with Gun Crime in D.C.

The D.C. police department currently offers a monetary reward for information leading to the arrest of gun law violators. Apprehensions for alleged gun crime violations ordinarily result from searches, with or without a warrant. If you are caught in possession of an unregistered firearm, you can be arrested and charged with gun crime law violations that are punishable by jail time and hefty fines.

Considering the D.C. police’s aggressive pursuit of illegal firearms, it’s important to consult an experienced D.C. gun lawyer immediately to begin building your gun crime defense.

D.C. gun crime laws are circuitous and complicated. In D.C., a defendant may be eligible for a diversion of the gun charges which may be disposed without conviction. Another option is to negotiate for the reduction of a felony charge to a misdemeanor which can pave the way for a probationary sentence.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you through the complex legal process and obtain either a dismissal or a reduction of the gun charge against you.

At Lotze Mosley, LLP, our Maryland and Washington criminal trial lawyers will fight for your right to possess a firearm and defend you from gun charges. We invite you to call us today for advice with your gun crime charge at (202) 393-0535.

Importance of Criminal Defense for Immigrants in D.C.

- Lotze Mosley

U.S. immigrants face tougher regulations this year as the latest immigration regulations instruct immigration and customs agents to prioritize the deportation of illegal immigrants with criminal records or those accused of criminal offenses. The rules do not distinguish between a misdemeanor or felony conviction, making it possible for immigration officers to deport anyone convicted of minor infractions such as driving without a valid driver’s license.

Enforcement of Immigration Laws 2017

The Homeland Security memo entitled “Enforcement of the Immigration Laws to Serve the National Interest” was issued on February 20, 2017. It contains specific instructions to deport illegal aliens who:

  • Have been charged with any criminal offense
  • Have been convicted of any criminal offense
  • Have engaged in fraud or wilful misrepresentation before a government agency
  • Have committed any act that may be charged as a criminal offense

Reported ICE Arrests

Following the issuance of the new immigration regulations, hundreds of people allegedly criminal undocumented immigrants were arrested in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids throughout the country, including D.C. Thousands of arrests are expected to take place in the succeeding weeks as the government has already announced its plans to recruit and deploy thousands of agents who will aggressively implement the new immigration regulations.

What to Do If Arrested

If you are an immigrant under investigation for any offense in Washington, D.C., it’s important to know your rights as an accused and to get the best criminal defense for your case.

Pleading guilty even for a minor offense may not always be your best option in light of the new immigration regulations. Anyone accused of committing a crime is entitled to raise criminal defenses in their favor.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately and discuss all your legal options before entering a plea and signing any document in connection with your charge. Your lawyer can examine all the angles of your situation and fight for your rights before the prosecutor and if necessary, in court.

In Washington, D.C., the criminal defense attorneys at Lotze Mosley, LLP have been defending clients against criminal charges since 1993. We understand the life-changing consequences of a criminal charge and are prepared to provide competent aggressive legal representation to defeat a charge at the earliest possible time. We have helped clients who were suspected or facing charges for gun crimes, violent crimes, drug crimes, fraud, and traffic offenses. Call us today at (202) 393-0535 and let us help you.

Spike in Drug Arrests Points to Unlawful Searches

- Lotze Mosley

Over the last year, there has been a 12% spike in roadside drug arrests, with Virginia seeing a 6% increase. Many defense attorneys question why the numbers have increased. For instance, were more drugs being trafficked in this area or was something different occurring? In particular, were the police perhaps using illegal methods to stop vehicles and conduct drug searches?

According to law enforcement officials, there is a pattern to the movement of drugs throughout the Northeast, and police are relying upon this in searching for potential drug violations. Using K-9s, the officers are able to find small bags of drugs that would be undetectable to a human. Together, these practices are allowing the police to more efficiently locate drugs.

Officers Need a Legitimate Reason to Stop You

One of the interesting things about these stops is that officers are relying on information that was gathered from patterns of drug movements. The officers readily admit in news stories that they have identified patterns and they follow these patterns to make their drug enforcement more successful. This is interesting because an officer must have probable cause to stop any particular vehicle. If the officer only stopped the vehicle on a hunch or previous pattern, that stop will be found to be illegal.

Why Is This Important?

Because evidence found during an illegal search cannot be used against you in court. Only evidence from legal searches can be used against you. For example, if an officer wanted to search a vehicle, based on a hunch, but that person had not committed a crime, then the stop would be illegal. But if the officer stopped a person because he had committed a crime, such as speeding, then the stop would be lawful.

After determining whether the stop was lawful, the next question would be whether the person was detained unlawfully. If the stop turned into an arrest without probable cause, then the search could be found unlawful for this second reason.

As you can see, there are many areas where a drug defense can present itself when an officer stops a vehicle.

In the Washington DC area, police have admitted to using patterns of practice to stop vehicles. This is the first key in establishing a pretextual stop. The second would be the facts of the particular case. If your case indicates that the police did not have a valid reason to stop you, in particular, then you may have been the victim of a pretextual stop.

In order to identify whether you were the victim of a pretextual stop, you should call us at (202) 393-0535 so that we can talk to you about your case and whether you have a strong legal argument to use as a defense to a drug crime.

In Seafood Fraud Cases, It May Be the DA Who Is Committing the Crime

- Lotze Mosley

In the last few weeks, an agency of the federal government finalized a rule that would require fisheries to establish filing and record keeping procedures regarding fish importation and fish products to protect against fraud. The goal of this law is to ensure that fish that are sold in the United States were lawfully acquired. The rule additionally hopes to clarify the types of fish being sold by documenting information regarding fish species and the locations where they were harvested. The focus of the program is to prevent fraud by sellers who are mislabeling their fish or who substitute one type of fish for another.

Fish Industry Files Suit Over Rule Change

In response to the federal government’s rule change, the fish industry has filed a lawsuit stating that the rule makes it too costly for companies who are already doing the right thing to comply with the regulation. According to the lawsuit, the rule would change the way that seafood is caught around the world, forcing fishermen, who are subsistence workers in third-world countries, to keep track of each fish that they catch as well as the collection point. This rule would force the subsistence fishermen out of their jobs and make it impossible for seafood companies to comply with the regulation.

This rule and the response to it highlight the difficulties with investigating and defending fraud cases. It is common, in these types of cases, for prosecutors to speculate about the intent of the people who are accused of committing fraud. For instance, a prosecutor, in a seafood fraud case may state that the defendant intended to sell a substituted fish and use the evidence of a substituted fish as his proof. Though this is circumstantial evidence, it is hardly the type of evidence that establishes the company’s state of mind.

The DA Will Attempt to Bend Evidence in His Favor

What prosecutors may attempt to do in these types of cases is to misstate the truth of the company’s actions to establish that their version is true. In other words, the prosecutor may be committing fraud to try to convict someone of fraud.

An Experienced Attorney is Essential to Establish the Truth

As a result, it is imperative for defense attorneys to be prepared to take the high-ground by establishing what the business actually does and how its actions do not, in fact, amount to fraud. In most fraud cases, the prosecutor’s case will be built upon speculation and misrepresentations about documents in order to bend the truth to their goals when the truth is that the company is trying its best and following best practices.

It is important to have an attorney who can cast doubt on such speculations and misrepresentations to help an individual who is facing fraud charges to win his case.

If you are facing fraud charges, the attorneys at Lotze Mosley would be happy to talk to you. Please call (202) 393-0535 to schedule a free consultation today.