The Howard County State's Attorney's Office realizes that every case is important to all the parties involved. The victim, naturally, feels wronged and abused, to whatever degree. If the penalty for the wrong provides for a possible loss of freedom, you can be sure the case is important to the person charged with a crime.
There are, however, some types of cases that require unique skills to interview victims and witnesses, properly prepare evidence to present to the court, and a knowledge of what are and are not appropriate sanctions to seek, if a conviction is obtained.
In addition to developing special skills and knowledge, members of our staff, including our victim and witness advocates as well as our attorneys, have established special relationships with the police department and others to develop this expertise.
Howard County’s Arson Unit relies upon the collaborative efforts of the state’s attorney’s office, the Howard County Police Department and the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue. These three agencies work together to investigate and prosecute all crimes related to fire and explosives. One prosecutor who has received training from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, is assigned to all cases involving arson. He works closely with detectives and fire investigators who have specialized training in the fields of arson detection and investigation.
The Burglary Unit is comprised of two experienced prosecutors in the state’s attorney’s office who work closely with detectives from the Howard County Police Department. The unit focuses on the prosecution of commercial and residential burglaries involving repeat offenders or significant loss. The unit uses the team approach to its caseload, working the cases as soon as they are reported, starting with the investigation through indictment and prosecution. Burglary is classified as a crime of violence and carries a 20 year penalty. Sentences typically range from 18 months in jail to 20 years and above, depending on the number of incidents charged and the value of the items stolen. The members of the Burglary Unit prosecute those who invade the sanctity of the home and take other people’s property. The goal is to hold offenders responsible for their actions, and if possible, to remunerate victims for the monetary value of their loss.
Felony drug cases are given high priority at the Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office. Every year dozens of violent felony cases come through the office involving offenders involved in the drug trade. These crimes include attempted murder, armed robbery, felony assault, and multiple varieties of weapons offenses. Additionally, the problems caused by the distribution of drugs include those crimes committed by the drug addicted customers including: burglary, theft, domestic violence and driving while under the influence. The state’s attorney’s office deals with drug users and the related offenses through prosecution outside the Felony Drug Unit, as well as through our Drug Court and our Diversion Program.
The prosecutors assigned to the Felony Drug Unit work closely with the Vice and Narcotics Section of the Howard County Police Department. The prosecutors act as legal advisors to the police on the long term investigations into drug trafficking in Howard County. This ensures that the investigation and prosecution of the most serious offenders in Howard County is conducted efficiently and effectively. Many of the offenders targeted in these investigations have histories of violence and/or drug distribution. The prosecutors also screen all new felony drug arrests and work with the police on the necessary follow up investigation to ensure a successful prosecution. All new felony drug cases involve a consultation with the police department’s designated expert in drug trafficking.
If felony drug charges are filed against an offender, the prosecutor begins to prepare the case for trial. This preparation involves meetings with the lead detective, requesting follow forensic investigation, and researching any legal issues. Maryland benefits from a variety of enhanced and/or mandatory penalties for drug trafficking offenses. These increased sentences are triggered by a variety of factors including: prior convictions, presence of a firearm, possession of large quantities of drugs, and the importation of drugs from out-of-state. The state’s attorney’s office regularly seeks the enhanced penalties in these situations.
As part of a collaborative effort with the police department, the state’s attorney’s office continues to aggressively prosecute drug trafficking in Howard County.
If you have specific information regarding drug activity in Howard County please contact the Howard County Police Department Drug Tip Line at 410-290-DRUG (410-290-3784).
ECONOMIC CRIMES UNIT
The Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) is comprised of two prosecutors and an investigator who work in conjunction with detectives from the Howard County Police Department. The cases they handle can be described as “white collar,” including the crimes of embezzlement, fraud, complicated identity thefts, high-dollar or complex employee thefts and credit card schemes. The ECU uses the team approach to its caseload, working the cases from the ground-up, starting with the investigation through indictment and prosecution. This results in convictions with significant jail sentences and large civil judgments in favor of the victims. In 2010 and 2011, the ECU prosecuted cases totaling in economic loss of over $500,000 each year, with combined jail time totaling over 70 years. The state’s attorney’s office, though the ECU, takes a hard line stance against thieves who steal from the very employers who pay them. The ECU aims toward holding criminals responsible and bringing justice to the small business owners and companies based in Howard County.
FIREARM CRIMES UNIT
The Firearm Crimes Unit (FCU) is comprised of three prosecutors who work closely with the Howard County Police Department’s firearms detective on firearm-related cases. Nearly all cases in Howard County involving the illegal possession of a firearm are indicted in the circuit court. Over the last three years, the FCU has indicted 166 cases involving the use or illegal possession of firearms. The FCU also works in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office in an effort to maximize the penalties for serious and repeat offenders of state and federal firearm laws.
The Gang Unit acts as an advisor to the Howard County Police Department in its efforts to identify and prosecute gang members in Howard County. Currently the police department has identified dozens of gangs and gang members within the county. Gang Unit members have participated in state-wide efforts to draft legislation that would provide police and prosecutors the necessary tools with which to attack the gang problems in their jurisdiction.
MOTOR VEHICLE MANSLAUGHTER UNIT
The Motor Vehicle Manslaughter Unit Prosecutes motor vehicle manslaughters cases This team works closely with motor vehicle accident investigators to determine whether or not vehicle accidents resulting in death meet the necessary elements to support a motor vehicle manslaughter charge and then prosecute the cases accordingly.