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Parental alienation syndrome and child custody

There is a chance that a Maryland judge will award custody of your child to the other parent even if that person has a history of abuse. In many cases, the abusive parent will claim that he or she is the victim of parental alienation syndrome. Essentially, this person is saying that the abuse claims are falsehoods designed to turn your child against the other parent.

There are doubts as to whether PAS should be taken seriously

If it is not taken seriously, how will you prove that parental alienation exists in a case or whether or you are not alienating the other parent from the child.? In 2009, a professor from the University of Minnesota said that PAS was nothing more than a series of claims that had no scientific basis. According to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, claims of alienation are simply attempts by an abusive parent to divert attention from his or her own actions.

Gender bias may be at play

A study funded by the Department of Justice analyzed 4,438 child custody cases between 2005 and 2014. The study found that 44% of fathers who claimed that they were victims of PAS were able to take custody of their children from their mothers. However, only 28% of mothers who claimed that they were victims of PAS were able to take custody of their children from their fathers. Furthermore, mothers lost custody of their kids in 13% of cases in which they had proven that they were victims of abuse.

If you are seeking custody of your children, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney who can you obtain and organize evidence of abuse or other misconduct that might strengthen your argument to obtain sole physical custody. An attorney may also be able to cast doubt upon claims that you are attempting to engage in parental alienation.

Should I plead guilty to drug crimes to get a deal?

If you are facing drug charges in Maryland, you may be considering whether to accept a plea deal. This may be one way to avoid a harsh sentence, but there may be other viable options that can  avoid a conviction altogether with a strong defense.

Before pleading guilty, consider your defense options.

Not guilty

As FindLaw explains, just because authorities find drugs in your vicinity or in your possession does not mean that you committed a crime. There are many valid circumstances where you may still be innocent.

Officers often charge people with drug possession after misidentifying the substance or when the substance was lawfully in someone’s possession. People are also charged just because they are near drugs.  Regulated pharmaceuticals are legal to use with a prescription, for example, and officers may charge you with a crime for possessing medication that a doctor prescribed and this includes marijuana.

Also, many illegal drugs resemble legal substances. Law enforcement officers frequently mistake hemp for marijuana, for instance, or baking soda for cocaine.

You may also argue that the drugs belonged to another person or that you were unaware of their existence.   Oftentimes, people have constitutional defenses under the 4th Amendment that they are completely unaware.  That is why it is extremely important to seek legal counsel to evaluate your case.


Even if you are guilty of the offense, you may still have recourse. If officers deceptively convinced you to commit a crime you would not otherwise commit, they may be guilty of entrapment. They may lawfully use sting operations to catch you in the act of a crime, but they may not induce you to do something illegal.

If an  officer found drugs in your possession, this evidence may not be admissible in court if the officer obtained it through unlawful search and seizure. If the officer searched your vehicle or person without a warrant, without probable cause, and without your consent, you may have a good reason to ask that a court dismiss the evidence under the Fourth Amendment.

What are the penalties for marijuana possession in Maryland?

While marijuana is decriminalized in Maryland to some degree, there are still penalties for possession of even small amounts of the substance, and these can increase with subsequent offenses.

Whether you have a medical permit or not, you should understand the penalties that can be assessed for possession of different amounts. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization, the there is no legal recreational use anywhere in the state.

Possession for personal use

Under current Maryland law, if you are found with less than ten grams, you may be fined up to $100 and you could end up with a civil offense on your record.  Any amount of marijuana over ten grams is still punishable by incarceration and fines.

Possession with intent to distribute

Depending on the quantity of marijuana and/or how it is packaged can result in one being charged with possession with the intent to distribute.  This is a felony and does not require the actual giving or selling marihuana to another.  This charge carries a maximum fine of $15,000 and a prison sentence of up to five years.

Actual distribution of any quantity of marijuana is a felony and carries severe consequences including jail time.  If you have prior offenses for drug distribution, then the penalties can be significantly enhanced.


Divorce, your child’s emotions and depression

If you are preparing to file for a divorce, there are many different ways in which the process will affect your life. If you are a parent, it is also important to think about how your divorce will impact your child’s life as well. For example, some children develop depression and suffer in other ways as a result of their parents’ marriage ending.

Although divorce is often very hard for children, parents should not feel trapped in a marriage that is no longer working out. There are different ways you can help your child and reduce the emotional impact of your divorce.

Looking at the emotional toll of the divorce process for children

According to data published by the National Institutes of Health, many children can handle the divorce process well but some struggle with depression and stress. Children who are struggling with depression and other negative emotions due to divorce are also likely to experience problems in other aspects of their lives, from their performance at school to their interest in after-school activities. Sometimes, children behave irresponsibly because they are depressed, but parents can help prevent these complications by playing an active role in their child’s life.

Looking at strategies to make the transition easier for your child

If possible, you can discuss these major changes with your child and try to address some of their concerns. Make sure they feel loved and try to eliminate any invalid feelings of guilt that they have (children sometimes blame themselves for their parents’ divorce). Think about ways to help your child find happiness and a healthy outlet for their emotions, such as picking up a new hobby or participating in activities with them.

What are standardized field sobriety tests?

As a driver in Maryland, it is important to understand how Maryland’s DUI laws work. After all, getting one DUI conviction on record can have a lasting and large impact on your life. 

One of the first things you may run into when an officer suspects you of DUI is a field sobriety test. What are these tests? How do they work? And just how bad is it if you do not perform well?

Why are standardized tests more common?

FieldSobrietyTests.org defines both standardized and non-standardized field sobriety tests. Standardized field sobriety tests are more common due to the uniform rubric used to judge them. Non-standardized tests do not have these rubrics. As such, judgment relies entirely on the officer giving the test. This leaves a lot of room for author bias and limits its reliability in court.

 Types of standardized field sobriety tests

The most common  standardized field sobriety tests that police officers administer in Maryland  are the horizontal gaze and nystagmus, the walk-and-turn and the one-leg stand. The latter two tests focus on your balance, coordination and physical capabilities. The horizontal gaze and nystagmus test is used to determine the presence of alcohol by a series of tests with only your eyes. Nystagmus is the rapid involuntary movement of the eye  and is normal for many people.  However,  it becomes notably more pronounced  after consuming alcohol.

Standardized field sobriety tests are not a  pass/fail test  Rather, the police officer is trained to detect cues of impairment.  . As such, officers often use them to form the basis to make an arrest.   The most critical part to a good DUI defense is for an experienced attorney to determine if the police officer properly administered the standardized field sobriety tests.  If they were not, then it does not matter how someone performs.