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Facing criminal charges in Maryland? Know the law

When Maryland became the sixth U.S. state in six years to abolish the death penalty, it was a landmark event reflecting a gradual trend across the nation to end capital punishment. For those individuals charged with serious crimes, this trend literally underscored the difference between life and death.

There were five inmates on death row in Maryland whose death sentences still have not been commuted. Maryland's Governor, Martin O'Malley, who signed the bill, said he would be determining their fate on a case-by-case basis.

The move was supported by many human rights advocacy groups. There is still a huge disparity in the racial makeup of the prison population, evidenced by a disproportionate number of African Americans in the prison populations.

Some researchers believe the death penalty is marked by ambiguity, political agendas, racial discrimination and more significantly, human error. In 1973, the first person in the country was freed on the basis of new DNA research.

The more recent botched execution in Oklahoma has brought renewed scrutiny of the death penalty. In theory, the condemned man should have been left unconscious through anesthesia, followed by various medications that cause the body to shut down. That did not happen in the case above, which is still under investigation.

Thirty-two states still allow capital punishment. While Connecticut and New Mexico outlawed the death penalty in 2012 and 2009, there are still prisoners on death row waiting for possible execution in both states. The state of Texas has executed more prisoners than all the states combined.

Reports indicate the death penalty does not decrease crime. Death row inmates face the predominant use of lethal injection, but some states prefer alternatives and in many cases, inmates can request a different method.

While some states can execute you for kidnapping, drug crimes, arson, hijacking an airplane or severe sexual battery, the majority favor a murder charge to determine the death penalty.

If you are faced with criminal charges in the state of Maryland, you could be facing an extended prison sentence. Seeking help from someone familiar with the latest legislation could dictate whether you have a life outside of prison ahead of you. If your freedom and future are at stake, you need the assistance of a skilled professional who can fight for you and aggressively protect your rights, even if you have been charged with a felony.

Source: Mashable.com, "7 Essential Questions About the Death Penalty, Answered" Colin Daileda, May. 01, 2014

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