At SCB our criminal defense lawyers include five former senior prosecutors. These attorneys now provide our clients with powerful defense representation against a wide range of offenses, from misdemeanors such as DUI/DWI to felonies including robbery and homicide. We represent clients in all levels of state and federal trial and appellate courts in Maryland.

We take professional pride in the strong résumés of our criminal defense lawyers.

Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher represents clients in all types of criminal defense cases in Maryland’s state and federal trial and appellate courts.

At SCB we support our clients through every stage of the criminal law process, from arraignment through federal and state appeals. We are prepared to provide a defense against a broad range of charges, including the following:

  • Drunk driving
  • Drug possession, possession with intent to distribute, and trafficking
  • Theft, burglary, robbery, shoplifting, auto theft, grand larceny
  • Weapons offenses
  • Homicide/murder
  • Vehicular manslaughter
  • Assault
  • Sexual assault, rape
  • Domestic violence
  • White collar crime

To discuss your concerns regarding criminal law, contact our Upper Marlboro criminal law Attorneys at 301-627-5500 or fill out our contact form, we are eager to help you!

The Right to Counsel

The right to legal counsel is a fundamental right of criminal defendants under the U.S. Constitution. Many state constitutions also include this right, and some states provide broader rights to counsel than the federal constitution does. However, state defendants are still entitled to lawyers in certain scenarios, even if their state constitutions do not provide such rights, under the federal constitution via the 14th Amendment.

The basic constitutional rights of the criminal defendant permeate almost every aspect of the criminal-justice process. If you have been accused of a crime, whether federal, state, tribal or local, a criminal defense attorney from Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, can explain these rights to you and help you to fight for them at every step of the way.

Fundamental Rights

Here are the main federal constitutional rights guaranteed to criminal defendants in the United States to promote fair trials. Remember that these rights have been refined and interpreted by the courts, and a lawyer can advise you about each right’s role in and application to your particular case.

  • The right to due process of law
  • The right to equal protection under the law
  • The right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure
  • The right against self-incrimination or being forced to testify against oneself
  • The right against double jeopardy or being tried more than once for the same offense
  • The right to legal counsel
  • The right to a speedy, public trial
  • The right to an impartial jury trial
  • The right to confront witnesses against you
  • The right to call supporting witnesses
  • The right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment
  • The prohibition against ex post facto laws or laws that retroactively criminalize certain acts or retroactively increase criminal sanctions
  • The right to be free from excessive fines or excessive bail
  • The right to clear notice of criminal charges
  • The right to a grand jury in federal felony proceedings

Finding a Job After a Criminal Conviction

If you have been convicted of a crime, you may wonder if you will be able to find employment. Employers are becoming increasingly concerned about knowing whether applicants have criminal records. Part of this fear stems from large jury verdicts that have been rendered against employers for negligently hiring people with criminal histories who subsequently caused harm to others while on the job. Another worry for employers relates to whether they will have to disclose employees’ criminal convictions to others. For example, if a company is trying to raise capital, it may need to make certain disclosures to a bank. Will the company have to disclose that an employee has a criminal conviction for embezzlement or money laundering?

The laws about which criminal records an employer must or may access, what an employer may ask a potential employee about his or her criminal record and what the job applicant must reveal vary widely from state to state. If you have a criminal record and are looking for a job, an attorney knowledgeable in criminal law at Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, can help ensure that you go into the job search fully informed of your rights.

Conflicting Public Policies

On the one hand, the public wants to reintegrate into society — rehabilitated and gainfully employed — people with criminal histories. A routine schedule and regular income lessen the likelihood that a person will commit another crime in the future, but a person with a criminal record may face prejudice in the hiring process. On the other hand, it is important to protect the public from prior offenders who may have propensities to commit crimes in the future. For example, convicted sex offenders should not be hired for jobs in which they will be in contact with children or vulnerable adults.

How Much To Reveal

Depending on the state, an applicant may not have to reveal any or only some types of potentially damaging information, such as arrests not resulting in convictions or convictions for minor matters. Some states have procedures to judicially “erase” a criminal record. A criminal defense attorney can help determine whether you may be eligible to get a conviction sealed, expunged or otherwise legally minimized.

Workplace Re-entry

  • Be honest. Employers are interested in employees they can trust, and almost all information on job applications can be checked and verified. Even if it may close the door to certain positions, telling the truth is the best way to get a job that the applicant can keep over the long haul. Remember, in some states not all convictions must be revealed nor can potential employers ask for certain information.
  • Seek employment with someone you already know. Start the job search with family, friends and acquaintances that may be more likely to take a chance on hiring someone they know, despite a criminal record.
  • Do not expect the first job after a conviction to be your ideal job. It is more important to get started somewhere and create a new track record, since employers know that a good indicator of future job performance is past job performance. Consider temporary or entry-level positions to build your resumé.
  • Understand where the employer is coming from. An employer has to balance its legal and ethical obligations to you, to its employees and to the public.
  • Investigate employment services. Most states have public agencies that administer programs to help people find employment, sometimes specifically designed for those with criminal histories.
  • Refrain from alcohol and drug use. Because some employers require employee drug testing, it is best to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
  • Consider the nature of your past offense. Apply for jobs where that kind of offense is less likely to be an issue of concern.

Criminal Defense - An Overview

The criminal justice system can be overwhelming and frightening. The incarceration rate in the United States is much higher than that of many other industrialized countries. Prison sentences are getting longer and more frequent. If you face the possibility of being accused of a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer as early in the process as possible, preferably even before questioning or investigation by the police. A criminal defense lawyer can fight to protect your legal and constitutional rights. Don’t delay. Contact Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, today to schedule a consultation with an attorney.

Constitutional Protections for the Criminal Defendant

The United States Constitution and its subsequent amendments define the scope of governmental power and reserve certain individual rights to the people. The first ten amendments, also called the Bill of Rights, contain basic, fundamental rights of individuals on which the government may not impinge. Many of these constitutional rights provide protection to criminal defendants in the criminal-justice system. The 14th Amendment extends substantive due-process rights beyond the federal system to criminal defendants in state courts, where the vast majority of criminal trials occur.

Classifications of Crimes

Because the negative behavior regulated by criminal laws varies from relatively minor to devastatingly violent, crimes are classified into levels or degrees. The classification of a crime reflects its seriousness. The actual classification of a particular offense varies depending on the jurisdiction.

Felonies

Under federal criminal law and the laws of about half of the states, a felony is a crime that is punishable by imprisonment of a year or more. Other states may define a felony as a crime that is punishable by death or a prison sentence served in a state penitentiary. Generally speaking, the most serious crimes such as those that are particularly heinous, involve dangerous weapons, or threaten relatively high amounts of financial damage or harm to property, are classified as felonies.

  • Examples of felonies include murder, treason, rape, arson, burglary and kidnapping.
  • For federal felonies, defendants have the right to be charged only by a grand jury. This right varies for state felonies.
  • Because of the seriousness of the offense and the punishment, maximum safeguards for the defendant’s rights are built into the prosecution and court procedures in a felony trial.
  • Indigent defendants who cannot afford to hire lawyers and are facing felony charges have the right to free state-appointed criminal defense attorneys.
  • In addition to social stigma, long-term consequences may include the loss of the right to vote; ineligibility for elected office or professional licenses; restrictions on the right to possess weapons; ineligibility for housing, public benefits, educational benefits or certain jobs; immigration problems up to and including removal; loss of the right to serve as a juror; negative impact on parental rights or divorce proceedings; or the requirement to register with certain criminal registries.
  • Persons accused of felonies have the right to jury trials.

A limited number of crimes, such as murder, can be punished by the death penalty in some jurisdictions. These crimes are often referred to as capital offenses.

Misdemeanors

Under federal criminal law and the criminal laws in about half of the states, a misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum possible punishment is incarceration for less than a year. In other states, a misdemeanor may be defined as a crime punishable only by a fine or by incarceration in a jail. Some states have different classes of misdemeanors; for example, “petty offenses” that are punishable by six months or less in jail, and “simple” or “minor” misdemeanors that have a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail.

Generally, misdemeanors are crimes that are less violent or involve lower levels of harm than felonies do. The legal procedures for misdemeanors are usually simpler than for felonies, the penalties less severe and the long-term consequences less harsh.

  • Penalties typically include fines, loss of property or incarceration in a jail for less than one year.
  • There is no federal right to a grand jury for a misdemeanor, and state grand-jury rights for misdemeanors vary.
  • Court procedures may be more relaxed than those for felonies.
  • Indigent defendants are generally only eligible for free state-appointed legal counsel when the misdemeanor charges can result in imprisonment upon conviction.
  • Long-term consequences are normally less severe than those of felonies, although some of the felony consequences listed above may still apply to misdemeanors, depending on the jurisdiction. However, those convicted of misdemeanors generally retain the right to vote.
  • Generally, if the potential punishment is imprisonment for less than six months, there is no right to a jury trial.

Minor Criminal Offenses

The least severe infractions are minor traffic offenses and the like. The terminology varies by state, but common terms for these offenses include petty offenses, infractions or violations of local law. Often the only penalty is a fine and sometimes the infraction may not even be considered a crime. Violations of local ordinances may be punishable by a fine or a short period of incarceration (maximum length of 90 days).