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Kush Arora on Hiring an Attorney for a Misdemeanor in Maryland

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Maryland criminal defense attorney Kush Arora.

Why is hiring an attorney important, even for misdemeanor offenses?

Kush Arora: What people often forget is that police officers are not always perfect. Police officers are human, just like any other person, and they make mistakes. Identifying their mistakes is probably the most important reason why somebody needs to hire an attorney; somebody who understands constitutional principles; somebody who understands that the officers don’t have a right to search you any time that they want or stop you any time that they want. Having someone who can litigate these issues in court successfully is an important reason to hire an attorney. Suppression of evidence is the number one way that a defense attorney can assist a defendant in winning a criminal case, even a misdemeanor. Beyond that, attorneys are very important in assisting a defendant in mitigating what may be a solid case for the state. Prosecutors who are able to prove the criminal charges against a defendant are going to seek some kind of a penalty or a punishment, and a defendant doesn’t necessarily know what a fair and appropriate punishment is for a particular offense. For example, somebody who is charged with a simple possession of marijuana can face up to a year of jail time. If that person has no criminal background, it’s their first offense, and this is their first misdemeanor on their criminal record, it’s not fair for a prosecutor to ask for a year in jail in that situation. That’s not something that a person who isn’t familiar with the court system would know.

A criminal attorney can assist a person in making sure that they get a fair punishment based on what is reasonable, based on what other people in similar situations have gotten, and based on what the views of that kind of offense are in the community. The attitude towards marijuana in the last 10 years in the criminal courts system has changed significantly, for example. Judges are far more lenient with it, prosecutors are far more lenient with it, and police officers are far more lenient with it. It’s important that a criminal attorney is hired to help you navigate those kinds of changes in court.