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What’s New With Raquin Mercer – June 2020

Courts are beginning to reopen. However, given the manner COVID-19 transmits, and the nature of in-person court proceedings, especially jury trials, there remains a severe public health risk to participants. The measures proposed to address these concerns include virtual hearings, social distancing, masks, and shields. The “new normal” for a criminal jury trial threatens the right to confront witnesses, the right to have the effective assistance of counsel at trial, the right to a public trial, and ultimately, the right to a fair trial. Yet the length of delay to mitigate the need for these measures creates tension with an accused’s speedy trial rights. During these unusual times, our objective remains steadfast in advocating for each client zealously.

Governor Hogan Orders Expedited Release and Parole Consideration of Certain Inmates in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in State Prisons and Local Jails.

On April 18, 2020, Governor Hogan issued an Order “Implementing Alternative Correctional Detention and Supervision” related to the COVID-19 crisis in the Department of Corrections. The Governor’s Order provides certain inmates with (1) expedited release; (2) expedited home detention; and (3) accelerated parole consideration. The Order establishes the following criteria for each category.

Expedited release:  The Governor’s order is good news for all inmates (e.g., does not exclude inmates convicted of crimes of violence, but DOES exclude inmates whose term of confinement includes a sentence for a sexual offense) with a mandatory release date on or before August 16, 2020. For these inmates, the Commissioner of Correction is authorized to suspend the cap on diminution credits and award additional diminution credits that are “necessary and appropriate for expedited release on mandatory supervision.”

Expedited Home Detention:  It is good news for inmates “[w]ho are eligible for home detention under CS § 3-404” (and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a sexual offense). As written, the Order could cover a large segment of the inmate population convicted of nonviolent crimes, regardless of their projected mandatory release date.  CS § 3-404 is written in the negative, i.e., an inmate is eligible for home detention unless convicted of physical or sexual child abuse or escape, serving a life sentence, or convicted of a crime of violence under CR § 14-101 UNLESS the inmate is within 90 days of release on mandatory supervision, OR if the inmate’s term of confinement includes stacked sentences for violent and nonviolent crimes, more than 5 years has elapsed since expiration of the sentence for the crime(s) of violence.

Accelerated Parole consideration:  Limited to inmates who are at least 60 years old, have a good institutional record, an approved home plan, are not convicted of a crime of violence under CR § 14-101, and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a sexual offense.

Inmates eligible for relief under the Governor’s Order may want to submit a release and reentry plan that addresses the factors identified by the Governor, including the inmate’s age, medical conditions, pregnancy, special needs, and how the inmate will be able to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days following release. The objective is to demonstrate that early release will reduce the client’s risk of exposure to COVID and will not compromise the public health.

FAQs

For an inmate over 60 years old to be considered for “accelerated parole,” must he already be eligible for parole? Yes – to benefit from “accelerated parole” consideration under the Order, the inmate must already meet the parole eligibility criteria under Correctional Services Art., sec. 7-301 that generally require a nonviolent offender to serve one quarter the term of confinement to be eligible for release on parole. The Order defines “accelerated parole” to cover “otherwise eligible” inmates who are at least 60 years old, have a good institutional record, an approved home plan, have not been convicted of a crime of violence under CR 14-101, and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a “sexual offense.” Section 10(c) of the Order further states “except as expressly provided herein, all other laws regarding an inmate’s … parole remain in effect.” The Order does not expressly conflict with CS sec. 7-301 (eligibility). Note that nonviolent offenders may be released at “any time” to undergo mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, or to participate in a residential program for the best interest of an expected or newborn baby. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3). There are exceptions for repeat drug offenders, volume dealers, and similar crimes. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3)(ii).

Does the Governor’s Order apply to inmates in local correctional facilities?  Only the accelerated parole program applies to inmates in local correctional facilities who have served at least six months of their term of confinement and are otherwise eligible for parole. The Order further limits “otherwise eligible” inmates to those who are at least 60 years old, have a good institutional record, an approved home plan, have not been convicted of a crime of violence under CR 14-101, and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a “sexual offense.” To be “otherwise eligible” for parole, Correctional Services Art., sec. 7-301 generally requires a nonviolent offender to serve one quarter the term of confinement. Note that a nonviolent offender may be released at “any time” to undergo mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, or to participate in a residential program for the best interest of an expected or newborn baby. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3). There are exceptions for repeat drug offenders, volume dealers, and similar crimes. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3)(ii). Inmates serving a term of confinement that includes a sentence for a crime of violence under the Crim. Law Art., sec. 14-101, must generally serve at least one-half their term of confinement to be eligible for early release on parole and are not eligible for “accelerated parole” under the Governor’s Order.

Contact RaquinMercer LLC for more information.

Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In this unprecedented time, we know the stress and uncertainty of a criminal case is suddenly much greater.

Although we have to adapt and accept our public health recommendations for phone contacts over face-to-face interactions, one thing remains clear and certain for us: RaquinMercer is open, we are working on our clients’ cases, and we are always on and by the side of our clients.If you have a new matter, our office remains open for phone consultations. For our clients, we are filing all required written motions or briefs on your cases during this time. Also, courts remain open for emergency matters like bail reviews and initial appearances.

We are concerned about the health and safety of incarcerated persons and we are closely monitoring the situation in the jails and prisons. Follow us on Twitter @raquinmercerlaw for news stories about how jails, prisons, and the criminal justice system are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

When we accept a client, we commit to competition.

It’s our DNA.

Your choice of an attorney can make the difference between winning or losing your freedom, or winning or losing your case, whether it is at trial, an appeal or a post-conviction. When your future hangs in the balance, your legal team must understand DNA/forensic science and the law. The vision of RaquinMercer is to be the premier law firm for criminal trials, appeals, and post-conviction proceedings. Choose your attorney wisely. Choose RaquinMercer.
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RaquinMercer—Best Defense Attorneys in Maryland, DC & More

Providing Excellent Law Services to Rockville, Potomac, Silver Spring & Beyond

Isabelle Raquin and Steve Mercer share a life-long commitment to securing freedom for wrongfully charged and convicted people. Isabelle and Steve share the same passion for criminal defense work. They enjoy the fight inherent to criminal cases and love to challenge every aspect of their clients’ cases, every step of the way. They thrive on the complexity of cases involving forensic science. No case, no science is too difficult for them to comprehend or too hard to contest. Their ethic is to litigate to win. Their ambition is to be a leader in the field of criminal defense work and forensic science. Isabelle and Steve compete together to achieve the best outcome for their clients. They use a collective and collaborative approach, work on cases together, and always consult each other. Clients in our firm are our clients.

Learn more about our team of qualified lawyers here. If you have a case for our defense attorneys in Rockville, MD, contact us today.

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