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 2018 legislative session.
2018 Legislative Victories
The Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act (SB270/HB301) – VICTORY!
For the fifth consecutive year, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby lobbied for The Repeat Sexual Predator Prevention Act—critical bipartisan legislation that will allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of a defendant's other relevant sex crimes and bring Maryland's rules of evidence in line with the federal system and the majority of states. This law takes effect on July 1, 2018.
Thirty separate organizations and agencies supported HB301/SB270, which was sponsored by Senator Jim Brochin and Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary. Nearly 5,000 people signed a petition urging legislators to pass this critical legislation. The legislation also had the support of the Governor, Women Legislators of Maryland, Legislative Latino Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, and Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women.
Witness Relocation Funding (HB432) – VICTORY!
The State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) Victim Witness Services Unit coordinates with the Baltimore Police Department and the Housing Department to relocate witnesses and their families—particularly those who cooperate in homicide and shooting cases. This demand for emergency housing has increased significantly as a direct result of a violent crime increase. Demand for relocation has far outpaced funding. From FY2015 to FY2017, funding for victim/witness relocation increased just four percent. During the same time, the demand for relocation services increased 79 percent.
HB432, sponsored by Delegate Brooke Lierman, supplies critical support by providing four years of mandated State funding, totalling $360,000 per year from FY2020-2023.
Body Attachments for Adult Witnesses in Juvenile Cases (SB861/HB1023) – VICTORY!
Right now in the juvenile justice system, the defense can compel witnesses to appear in court. However, the prosecution is prohibited from requesting a body attachment. So if a victim or a witness fails to appear for court, there is no mechanism to secure their appearance. And when juveniles commit violent crimes and victims and witnesses fail to appear in court, the SAO is unable to secure justice.
This legislation, sponsored by Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegate Luke Clippinger, provides a critical tool to help break this cycle of violent juvenile crime in our City.
Penalty for Violating Pretrial Stay Away Orders (SB170/HB388) – VICTORY!
Unfortunately, Baltimore City is well known as the home of witness intimidation. The SAO supports protections for all victims and witnesses of crime. In addition to funding for witness relocation, these protections include specific orders from the court that prohibit the defendant from contacting the victim while a criminal case is pending.
The SAO joined House of Ruth and other stakeholders, including sponsors Senator Susan Lee and Delegate Aruna Miller, in advocating for penalties if a defendant violates a pretrial stay away order in cases involving sexual assault, domestic violence, and all other violent crimes.
Accountability for Obstruction of Justice (SB1137) – VICTORY!
The SAO supports increased penalties for witness intimidation and supported this legislation, sponsored by Senator Zirkin (SB122) and Senator Joan Carter Conway, to hold individuals accountable for obstructing justice by threatening victims, witnesses, and/or jurors.
Baltimore City Safe Streets Initiatives Funding (HB113) – VICTORY!
The SAO supports Safe Streets Initiatives in Baltimore City and joined Mayor Catherine Pugh in support of this legislation that allocates $3,600,000 of the annual State budget for Baltimore City to award grants to community-based organizations to implement Safe Streets. This bill was sponsored by Delegate Talmadge Branch in honor of his grandson, Tyrone Ray, whose life was tragically lost to gun violence.
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (HB432) – VICTORY!
The SAO is a partner in the Baltimore City Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which has been proven to reduce recidivism rates by addressing the individual needs that underlie criminal behavior. The SAO supported HB432, sponsored by Delegate Brooke Lierman, which provides for four years of mandated state funding to continue the existing program.
Firearms Transfer (SB1036/HB1646) – VICTORY!
The SAO joined Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America in support of closing a dangerous loophole allowing convicted domestic abusers to access guns. This law requires convicted domestic abusers to surrender guns to law enforcement or a firearms dealer. These dangerous abusers are already prohibited from possessing guns under Maryland law, but due to a dangerous gap in the law, they were not required to surrender the guns they already own once convicted.
This life-saving bill, sponsored by Senator Will Smith and Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, closes that loophole and requires surrender by all prohibited abusers. This law will help ensure the safety of Maryland families and communities and the law enforcement officers who help keep them safe.
Expanding Wiretap Statute (SB1137) – VICTORY!
The SAO supports the addition of felony gun trafficking laws to the wiretap statute. This legislation, sponsored by Senator Bobby Zirkin (SB125) and Senator Joan Carter Conway, provides a vital tool for law enforcement and prosecutors who work to investigate those selling guns on our City streets.
Limiting Sentence Modifications for Violent Repeat Offenders (SB101) – VICTORY!
The SAO supports clarifying sentence modifications so outpatient substance abuse treatment is available to those serving a sentence for a crime of violence only when they are eligible for parole. This legislation, sponsored by the Governor (SB199/HB100) and Senator Wayne Norman, ensures that individuals struggling with addiction are able to get the treatment that they need, while ensuring that citizens are protected from violent offenders who pose a danger to the community.
“Ban the Box” on College Applications – VICTORY!
Many people with a criminal background apply for college but do not earn acceptance because of a conviction history. The “box” refers to the question on college applications where prospective college students are asked to check “yes” or “no” if they have ever been convicted of a crime
State’s Attorney Mosby feels strongly that individuals with prior criminal convictions, who have successfully fulfilled the terms of their sentence, should be able to turn their lives around by pursuing further education. The SAO supported a successful veto override ensuring that this 2017 legislation is now law.
2017 Legislative Victories
Here are the bills we supported in 2017 that were passed and signed into law:
- 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: This bill 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.
Continuing the Legislative Fight in 2019
Police Powers for SAO Criminal Investigators (SB343/HB1169) – PASSED HOUSE IN 2018
This legislation would give the State's Attorney the authority to appoint investigators with the power to make arrests, carry a firearm, and serve warrants and writs. Four other counties in Maryland including Prince George’s County—and many urban jurisdictions across the United States including New York City and Los Angeles—already have similar legislation. SB343/HB1169, sponsored by Senator Joan Carter Conway and Delegate Curt Anderson, was supported unanimously by the Baltimore Delegations. While this legislation passed the House, it did not receive a vote in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
State Right of Appeal in Gun Cases (SB126/HB692) – PASSED SENATE IN 2018
Current Maryland law allows prosecutors to appeal court decisions suppressing evidence in all cases involving a crime of violence or drug trafficking. In firearms cases, however, the State does not have the same right of appeal. This legislation would expand the existing statute to include gun cases to help remove violent repeat offenders—and their guns—from City streets. While this measure sponsored by Senator Zirkin and Delegate Clippinger passed the Senate after being amended onto SB122, it did not receive a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.
Contact the Policy & Legislative Affairs Unit to learn how YOU can get involved in 2019!
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Tell the Maryland General Assembly to pass critical legislation that will close loopholes that allow serial predators to hide prior instances of rape and child molestation from juries. Sign the petition here.