Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City

Vision: The Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO)—which is uncompromisingly committed to accountability, professionalism and transparency—is working 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 2017 Legislative Session, we will fight for laws in Annapolis that improve our ability to fight for victims of crime, identify and prosecute violent offenders, and restore trust in the community justice system.

Priority #1: Fighting for Victims of Crime

The SAO supports laws that help prosecutors deliver justice to the victims of violent crimes. We have successfully fought for longer prison sentences for criminals convicted of second degree murder and enhanced protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Admission of Evidence in Cases against Repeat Sexual Offenders

For the fourth year in a row, State’s Attorney Mosby will lobby for critical legislation to allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of a defendant’s other sex crimes and bring our state’s sexual assault laws closer to federal rules. In 2016, SB235 sponsored by Senator Jim Brochin passed the Senate unanimously, marking the legislation’s most significant progress to date. This legislation has never had a vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The 2016 bill had widespread support from service providers, prosecutors and concerned citizens throughout Maryland. State’s Attorney Matt Maciarello and the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office joined us in Annapolis to share the powerful story of 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell who was raped and murdered by a serial sex offender who had won multiple prior acquittals after relevant evidence was excluded under Maryland rules. Shatia Lansdowne also shared her powerful story of survival. Several advocacy groups including the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, Phynyx Ministries, the Women’s Law Center and the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Abuse lobbied for the bill. And over 3,300 people signed a petition urging legislators to pass it. The SAO worked with stakeholders throughout the summer to increase this legislation’s chances of passage in 2017. Governor Larry Hogan announced on January 12th that he will introduce this bill as an Administration bill.

Designating SAO Criminal Investigators as Peace Officers

An amendment to state law would allow Baltimore City SAO investigators to enjoy police powers and fully participate in criminal investigations. The ability to make arrests and to serve warrants and subpoenas would enhance the SAO’s ability to seek justice for crime victims. Currently three other State’s Attorneys’ Offices in Maryland enjoy this law enforcement tool.

Priority #2: Targeting Violent Repeat Offenders

Nothing is more important than the prosecution of individuals who repeatedly commit crimes of violence against our friends, family, and neighbors. The SAO will leverage every resource— legislative or otherwise— to remove violent repeat offenders from our communities.

Fighting Gun Violence

Possession of an illegal handgun is a misdemeanor in Maryland. State law provides for mandatory minimums that the court must impose on repeat offenders; however, these sentences are not true mandatory minimums and can be suspended. The goal of this proposed legislation - to be introduced by the Baltimore Police Department and supported by SAO - is to ensure that repeat gun offenders serve the mandatory minimum sentence without the option for parole or a suspended sentence.

Violent Juvenile Accountability

In 2016, the SAO opposed legislation to eliminate automatic adult jurisdiction for juveniles who commit violent crimes and murder. That legislation was defeated and never made it out of committee. This year, we anticipate similar legislation that we will oppose if the bill lacks sufficient safeguards to protect the public. We support juvenile rehabilitation with adult consequences, if warranted, in order to protect Baltimore City residents.

Priority #3: Community First Focus -- Restoring Faith in the Criminal Justice System

Protecting the community stretches beyond issues of crime and punishment. The SAO believes that permanent improvements to public safety will take hold when Baltimore City residents have stable employment; stable families and communities; and access to educational, mental health, and economic services when they need help.

Consequences for Law Enforcement Misconduct

The SAO will support state legislation that requires meaningful civilian membership on law enforcement trial boards.

How Can You Help?

Visit the SAO website and sign up for our community newsletter on the home page
www.stattorney.org

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Contact Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs Lisa Smith at Lsmith@stattorney.org or Policy and Legislative Analyst Shelley Spruill at Sspruill@stattorney.org for additional information about any of these issues or to find out how you can get involved in our legislative work.