The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office — which is uncompromisingly committed to accountability, professionalism, and transparency — continues to work towards a future where community confidence in the criminal justice system is restored, violent repeat offenders are held accountable, and communities feel safe.
During the 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly, State’s Attorney Mosby and the Policy & Legislative Affairs Unit advocated for state laws that would restore trust in the criminal justice system, remove violent offenders from our communities, and improve prosecutors’ ability to serve victims of crime. Expand the sections below to read about successful legislation supported by State’s Attorney Mosby during the 2015, 2016, and 2017 legislative sessions.
2017 Legislative Victories
SB217/HB429: Removing Physical Resistance as a Requirement to Prove a Sex Crime
- Clarifies that evidence of physical resistance is not required to prove that a sex crime occurred.
- The State will no longer have to prove that a victim fought back against his or her rapist.
SB349/HB255:Retaining Rape Kit Evidence and Notifying Victims of Rape Kit Disposal
- Makes common sense improvements to the way rape kits are stored and destroyed in Maryland.
- Requires all Maryland jurisdictions to retain rape kits for at least 20 years so victims who initially wish to remain anonymous may decide at a later date to initiate a law enforcement investigation.
SB224/HB294: Prohibits Domestic Abusers from Possessing a Regulated Firearm, Rifle or Shotgun
- Closes a dangerous loophole in Maryland law by ensuring that individuals who received probation before judgement (PBJ) for a domestically related second degree assault are prohibited from possessing a firearm.
- Under current law, an individual who receives a PBJ for second degree assault would not be prohibited from owning a gun despite using it to threaten their partner.
SB207/HB166: Immediate Forwarding of All Charges Against Correctional Officers to State’s Attorney for Review
- Expands existing legislation which requires that any application for charges filed in District Court against certain individuals—educators, emergency services personnel and police officers— must be immediately forwarded to the State’s Attorney for review to include correctional officers.
- Review of these cases by State’s Attorneys prior to charging saves resources throughout the criminal justice system.
SB790: Clarifying Animal Cruelty Statutes to Effectively Prosecute and Convict Animal Abusers
- Clarifies Maryland’s animal cruelty statutes, enabling prosecutors to more effectively prosecute and convict animal abusers before they have the opportunity to redirect their violence towards humans.
- Dedicated animal cruelty prosecutor Wes Corning testified in support and worked with animal rights advocates prior to session to draft this legislation.
The SAO’s legislative successes also include preventing bills from becoming law that would have a detrimental impact on public safety in Baltimore City. In 2017, the SAO helped prevent the following bills from becoming law.
SB 983: Would Have Prevented the New Court of Appeals Bail Reform Rule from Taking Effect
- This bill would have reversed a new court rule that prioritizes non-financial conditions over money bail. This would have resulted in unnecessary incarceration and risks to public safety.
SB215/HB471: Eliminating Automatic Adult Jurisdiction for Juveniles
- This legislation would have eliminated automatic adult jurisdiction for juveniles charged with violent offenses such as homicide, rape, robbery, assault, and gun crimes. The SAO supports efforts to reform the juvenile justice system and seek rehabilitation over incarceration for youth offenders; however, we also support removal from the community if warranted in order to protect Baltimore City residents.
- Juvenile Division Chief Gavin Patashnick testified in opposition. The legislation died in committee.
2016 Legislative Victories
Here are the bills we supported in 2016 that were passed and signed into law:
- SB160/HB157: Enhanced Penalties for Repeat Drunk Drivers who Injure or Kill
- Increased the maximum penalties for repeat offenders who kill or seriously injure someone while driving under the influence or impaired by alcohol or drugs. The new penalties apply to offenders with prior drunk driving convictions. Legislators heard powerful testimony during the Legislative Session from Jim Wade -- family representative for Thomas Palermo who was killed tragically in North Baltimore in December 2014 by Heather Cook. She drove drunk and struck the cyclist and father of two. This legislation was sponsored by Delegate Valentino-Smith and Senator Cassilly and signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- SB603/HB374: Pretrial Release for Convicted Offenders
- This important bill introduced by the Baltimore City Police Department prohibits District Court Commissioners from authorizing the pretrial release of a defendant charged with certain firearm crimes if the defendant has previously been convicted of a crime of violence. Far too often, individuals are released on bail only to commit murder, assault or another violent crime just days or weeks after their release. For example, Randy Jones was arrested for first degree assault and several handgun charges in March 2015. Despite the state’s recommendation of no bail and several previous violent crime convictions including a 2007 robbery conviction, Jones was released on a $350,000 bail. Just a few months later, on July 7th, Jones murdered Antonio Anderson. While we were able to convict Jones of Anderson’s murder, his conviction does not replace the life he was able to take away while on pretrial release. The legislation was sponsored by Senator Pugh and Delegate Anderson and signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- Increased Maximum Penalty for Second Degree Murder
- Originally introduced as separate bills (SB159 and SB177 sponsored by Senators Cassilly and Brochin respectively and HB96 sponsored by Delegate B. Wilson), the final Justice Reinvestment Act bill (SB1005) passed by the General Assembly included a provision to increase the maximum penalty for second degree murder from 30 to 40 years. This bill will impact future second degree murder cases like that of Gabrielle Smith who was convicted in 2015 in the stabbing death of Latreisha Gowdy. She was sentenced to 33 years- the current maximum sentence for second degree murder and use of a deadly weapon during the commission of a crime of violence. The Court may now sentence second degree murder defendant up to 40 years upon conviction. The SAO lobbied for this increase for two years in a row with the help of prosecutors statewide. The Justice Reinvestment Act was signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. This provision took effect on October 1, 2017.
- SB278/HB155: Definition of Stalking and Harassment
- Maryland victims of abuse were unable to apply for a protective order based on harassment and malicious destruction of property. Harassment and malicious destruction of property are often precursors to heightened physical abuse and violence. This legislation allows the Court to treat harassment and destruction of property like other forms of abuse and protect victims from potentially escalating abusers. Sponsored by Senator Lee and Delegate Dumais and signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- SB864: Alicia’s Law (Internet Crimes Against Children)
- More than 10,000 computers have been identified as trading depictions of child sexual exploitation in Maryland. This bill creates a special fund to investigate and prosecute internet-based crimes & sexual exploitation of children. It will provide $2 million per year to law enforcement and child advocacy centers throughout the state drawn from unclaimed lottery prizes. Sponsored by Senator Lee and signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- HB72: Erin’s Law (Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention)
- Adopted in 26 other states, this bill requires the State Board of Education and certain nonpublic schools to develop and implement age-appropriate programs relating to sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention programs in public and nonpublic schools in the State. Schools and school boards can utilize existing federal education funding. Sponsored by Delegate Luedtke and signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- SB283: Animal Fighting Paraphernalia
- This bill prohibits the possession of an implement of dogfighting and is similar to the Baltimore City version of this legislation passed by the Mayor and City Council in 2015. ASA Wesley Corning, the SAO’s dedicated animal abuse prosecutor, testified in support of this legislation. Sponsored by Senator Lee and Delegate Lam and signed by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- SB545/HB290: Apprenticeship Training in Low-Income Neighborhoods
- Employment, especially employment that pays a living wage, has a direct and significant impact on crime in our communities. The Apprenticeship Career Training in Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) Program established by this legislation creates job opportunities in impoverished communities. The ACTION Program identifies and facilitates construction apprenticeships for hard-working men and women in underserved neighborhoods and facilitates employment by providing grants to employers who hire apprentices. The SAO looks forward to working with the ACTION Program as part of our holistic approach to driving down crime in Baltimore, which includes the SAO’s AIM to BMORE program that has educational, training, and employment components. Sponsored by Senator Pugh and Delegate McCray and signed by Governor Hogan on May 10, 2016. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
- SB508/HB190: Repeal of Civil Penalties for Shoplifting
- Prior to this legislation, Maryland law allowed private corporations to send extortionate letters demanding up to $1000 in compensation to people they suspected of shoplifting or theft (regardless of guilt). The original bill would have repealed the law. In its final form, it amended the law to provide safeguards for innocent consumers and required reporting by any company that engages in this practice. Sponsored by Senator Ramirez and Delegate Lierman. It took effect on October 1, 2016.
2015 Legislative Victories
Here are the bills we supported in 2015 that were passed and signed into law:
- HB225/SB269: Relief for Domestic Violence Victims
- The Office testified in support of expanding the types of relief that the Court can provide to victims when issuing protective orders. This legislation enables judges and court commissioners to tailor relief to each victim’s individual needs ensuring that we are doing everything possible to keep survivors safe. The Governor signed this legislation on May 12, 2015, and it took effect on October 1, 2015.
- SB172/HB618: Juvenile Transfer Determinations
- In Baltimore, juveniles charged as adults remained in the Juvenile Justice Center pending transfer determinations. This policy enables us to protect juveniles and make transfer decisions on a case-by-case basis. SB172 required courts statewide to hold juveniles charged as adults in juvenile facilities pending transfer determinations. The Governor signed this legislation on May 12, 2015, and it took effect on October 1, 2015.
- SB526/HB244: MD Second Chance Act
- Criminal records serve as both the cause and consequence of poverty for too many workers. Studies show that a criminal record can cut an applicant’s likelihood of a job callback or offer nearly in half. The Maryland Second Chance Act allows individuals to petition a court to shield certain nonviolent misdemeanor convictions enabling them to obtain jobs without their criminal record blocking their path. The Governor signed this legislation on May 12, 2015, and it took effect on October 1, 2015.
- SB602/HB388: Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council
- The Office teamed with public safety agencies statewide to support the creation of the Justice Reinvestment Coordinating Council. The Council is tasked with developing a statewide policy framework to reduce the state’s incarcerated population, reduce spending on corrections, and reinvest in strategies to increase public safety and reduce recidivism rates. The Governor signed this legislation on April 14, 2015, and it became effective immediately.