Criminal Defense

Attorney Shahnam Yazdani has handled hundreds of criminal defense cases and has conducted over 30 criminal trials to verdict, obtaining favorable outcomes for her clients. To ensure that you receive the best defense, Attorney Shahnam Yazdani conducts a thorough investigation of the facts of your case to determine all possible theories of defense and outline a case strategy.

 

Attorney Shahnam Yazdani has handled a variety of criminal charges ranging from traffic citations to serious felonies including: domestic violence charges, juvenile charges, assault charges, rogue and vagabond, burglary, fraud, credit card charges, drug possession, drug sales, narcotics trafficking, violations of protective orders, insurance fraud, and more. Below you will find information on a few of the most common criminal charges. To obtain the most accurate information, schedule a free consultation to discuss the specific charges and facts of your case. 

Maryland Criminal Defense 

District of Columbia (D.C.) Criminal Defense 

Maryland Theft Charges  

Theft charges can involve accusations from individuals, stores, companies, and employers. Depending on the nature of the items alleged to have been stolen and the value of the items, the theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. These distinctions are important because it affects the potential penalties that you face. 

What is Considered Theft in Maryland?

 

The theft laws in Maryland include the taking of another person’s property, control another person’s property by deception, and possessing stolen property that you knew was stolen.

 

Value of Item in Maryland

 

The value of the stolen item is determined by the “market value” of the item at the time of the taking or the time of the crime. If the market value cannot be determined, then the replacement cost is used. The value of the item (or service) is what determines if the theft will be charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. If the value of the item is above $1,000 you can be charged with a felony and will face maximum jail sentences ranging from 10 years to 25 years depending on the specific charge. If the value of the item is below $1,000 you can be charged with a misdemeanor and will face a maximum jail sentence ranging from 90 days to 18 months depending on the specific charge. 

Shoplifting

 

Big box retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Target and the like typically employ Loss Prevention Officers (“LPOs”) to catch people stealing items from their stores. Sometimes these LPOs are in an office and watching customers on camera. Other times, they are on the floor of the store walking among the customers either in plain clothes or in marked LPO uniforms. Some stores provide incentives to LPOs that generate the most number of cases. This sort of incentive system provides a motive and bias for the LPO who is the main witness to the prosecutor’s case. In order to attack the prosecutor’s case you will need an experienced attorney that can effectively expose the motives and biases of the prosecutor’s witnesses and the overall weaknesses of their case against you.

 

Further, many times these types of theft cases involve video surveillance footage that the prosecutor will rely on as incriminating evidence. An experienced attorney will file the appropriate pre-trial motions and make the proper in trial objections to try to keep the video surveillance from being presented by the prosecutors in your trial. The same goes for any photo evidence or other physical evidence (like receipts or the stolen items) that the prosecutor will try to present in your trial.

 

Maryland Assault Charges  

Assault charges typically arise when you have been accused of physically harming or threatening another person. The level of the charge (felony vs. misdemeanor) and the maximum penalties depend on who was harmed or threatened and the seriousness of the injury (if any).  These laws differ from state to state and it’s important to understand your specific charges

What are the Possible Penalties for Assault in Maryland?

 

In Maryland, there are two classifications of assault. First degree assault is a felony and carries up to 25 years in prison if convicted. Second degree assault is a misdemeanor and carries up to 10 years in prison and and $2,500 fine, or both. The difference between these charges is that the felony assault charge requires serious physical injury to the alleged victim.

 

What are Defenses to Assault Charges?

 

The main two defenses to assault are: self-defense and fabrication. Fabrication means the person made it up - it never happened. In this defense you would be asserting that you are not guilty of the charge because you never committed the acts you are being accused of and the alleged victim is lying.  

 

For self-defense you would be asserting that the alleged victim was actually the aggressor either towards you, another person you were protecting or your property. The facts of the case would determine if you are entitled to using deadly or non-deadly force in self-defense. When pursuing a self-defense theory, you are also able to introduce evidence of the “alleged victims” past violent behavior that caused you to fear them in the case at hand and warrant your use of self-defense. There are many different types of evidence that can be introduced through different legal means when pursuing a self-defense theory. A self-defense theory may not be the right choice in every assault case and an experienced attorney will look at many different aspects of the case including injuries, motives, past violent behavior of the “alleged victim” and the overall viability of the self-defense claim. There is no clear cut rule on when to move forward with a self-defense theory. For example, in some circumstances if you (the defendant) have no injuries and the alleged victim has injuries, your attorney may determine that a self-defense claim is plausible. In other scenarios it may come off as not credible. Your attorney’s ability to make these determinations comes from experience with judges, juries, and trials. Make sure to ask your attorney about their previous trials where they have been successful with a self-defense case.

What Kind of Evidence is Presented in Assault Cases? 


In assault cases, evidence collecting can be key. If an alleged victim is lying or exaggerating the facts of the incident, it can be exposed through diligent evidence collection. For example, if the alleged victim is claiming they suffered injuries then there may be photographs to confirm the injuries or photographs that show a lack of injuries and attack the victim’s credibility. Many times, an alleged victim will claim they suffered physical injuries yet the police note that there were no injuries on their police reports and did not take photos of injuries. In this circumstance it would be crucial to note these inconsistencies to the judge and or jury. While the defendant in a criminal trial does not have the burden of presenting evidence, the defense attorney must be able to attack the state’s evidence effectively.

 

Your case may also involve a 911 call which can be critical to the case. A 911 call often times takes place right after a crime. It is important to know what the alleged victim initially reported as happening. We have had many cases where the alleged victim has made statements or omitted things in the 911 call that have greatly strengthened the defenses cases.

 

Posting on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., may often times reveal information such as the alleged victim changing their story, bragging about being the aggressor or victorious in the altercation, or expose motives, biases and inconsistencies. For example, in a domestic violence case, a partner may fabricate an assault because they have found out about infidelity or other issues in the relationship and want to use the criminal justice system to see revenge on their (former) partner. Sometimes, the alleged victim may make posts on social media that would expose this backstory.

 

Police officers may request that the alleged victim make a written or verbal statement to the police about what transpired that led to the charges. It’s important to investigate these statements and to find any and all points that could be used in cross-examination of the alleged victim during trial.

 

Physical evidence, such as knives, guns, broken phones, broken dishes, bloody clothes, may also be a part of your case. It is important to examine these physical items prior to trial to determine if the condition of the physical evidence correlates with the alleged facts of the case.

 

Maryland Drug Charges  

Drug charges can have a devastating impact on your life and career. It’s important to understand what specifically you have been charged with; whether its simple possession or a charge that includes an intent to sell. It’s also important to understand the classification of the drug you were accused of possessing. These factors can have a major impact on the penalties and consequences you face.

 

Drug charges can often present complexities with how the officer found the drugs, where the drugs were found, your interaction with the officers and other issues that can impact your constitutional rights. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, your attorney may need to file pretrial motions based on a violation of your constitutional rights and the law. At times, these motions can ruin the prosecutor’s case entirely and result in a dismissal.

Possession of a Controlled Substance 

Possession of a Controlled Substance covers drugs such as opioids, benzos, depressants, prescription drugs and a long list of other substances that are either banned or require a prescription. Possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor in Maryland. In addition to the penalties in the chart below, the court may order a substance abuse assessment and treatment.

Possession of Marijuana 

Possession of marijuana under 10 grams is now a civil offense and only carries fines. First conviction carries a fine of $100, second conviction carries a fine of $250, and a third conviction carries a fine of $500. If you are under 21 years of age, you may be referred to substance abuse assessment and treatment.

 

D.C. Theft Charges  

Theft charges can involve accusations from individuals, stores, companies, and employers. Depending on the nature of the items alleged to have been stolen and the value of the items, the theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. These distinctions are important because it affects the potential penalties that you face. 

What is Considered Theft in D.C.?

 

Theft is when you obtain or use someone else’s property with the intent of depriving that person of their use of the property. This applies to shoplifting, theft from an individual and other scenarios.

 

Penalties for Theft in D.C.

 

In D.C. there are two levels of theft offenses: 1st degree and 2nd degree. Theft in the 1st degree is a felony and applies to thefts where the value of the stolen item is over $1,000. Theft in the 2nd degree is a misdemeanor and applies to thefts where the value of the stolen item is under $1,000.

Shoplifting

 

Big box retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, Target and the like typically employ Loss Prevention Officers (“LPOs”) to catch people stealing items from their stores. Sometimes these LPOs are in an office and watching customers on camera. Other times, they are on the floor of the store walking among the customers either in plain clothes or in marked LPO uniforms. Some stores provide incentives to LPOs that generate the most number of cases. This sort of incentive system provides a motive and bias for the LPO who is the main witness to the prosecutor’s case. In order to attack the prosecutor’s case you will need an experienced attorney that can effectively expose the motives and biases of the prosecutor’s witnesses and the overall weaknesses of their case against you.

 

Further, many times these types of theft cases involve video surveillance footage that the prosecutor will rely on as incriminating evidence. An experienced attorney will file the appropriate pre-trial motions and make the proper in trial objections to try to keep the video surveillance from being presented by the prosecutors in your trial. The same goes for any photo evidence or other physical evidence (like receipts or the stolen items) that the prosecutor will try to present in your trial.

 

D.C. Assault Charges  

Assault charges typically arise when you have been accused of physically harming or threatening another person. The level of the charge (felony vs. misdemeanor) and the maximum penalties depend on who was harmed or threatened and the seriousness of the injury (if any).  These laws differ from state to state and it’s important to understand your specific charges

What are the Penalties for Assault in D.C.? 

The D.C. Criminal Code distinguishes several types of acts that fall under the Assault statute. The following list breaks down the maximum jail sentences and fines associated with each charge.  

Threats to do Bodily Harm

  • 6 months and $1,000

Resisting Arrest

  • 6 months and $1,000

Assault on Police Officer

  • 6 months and $1,000

Assault on Police Officer Causing Serious Bodily Injury

  • 10 years and $25,000

Aggravated Assault (Involves Serious Bodily Injury

  • 10 years and $25,000

Attempted Aggravated Assault

  • 5 years and $12,500

Assault with Intent to Commit Any Other Offense 

  • 5 years and $12,500

Assault with Dangerous Weapon

  • 10 years and $25,000

What are Defenses to Assault Charges?

 

The main two defenses to assault are: self-defense and fabrication. Fabrication means the person made it up - it never happened. In this defense you would be asserting that you are not guilty of the charge because you never committed the acts you are being accused of and the alleged victim is lying.  

 

For self-defense you would be asserting that the alleged victim was actually the aggressor either towards you, another person you were protecting or your property. The facts of the case would determine if you are entitled to using deadly or non-deadly force in self-defense. When pursuing a self-defense theory, you are also able to introduce evidence of the “alleged victims” past violent behavior that caused you to fear them in the case at hand and warrant your use of self-defense. There are many different types of evidence that can be introduced through different legal means when pursuing a self-defense theory. A self-defense theory may not be the right choice in every assault case and an experienced attorney will look at many different aspects of the case including injuries, motives, past violent behavior of the “alleged victim” and the overall viability of the self-defense claim. There is no clear cut rule on when to move forward with a self-defense theory. For example, in some circumstances if you (the defendant) have no injuries and the alleged victim has injuries, your attorney may determine that a self-defense claim is plausible. In other scenarios it may come off as not credible. Your attorney’s ability to make these determinations comes from experience with judges, juries, and trials. Make sure to ask your attorney about their previous trials where they have been successful with a self-defense case.

What Kind of Evidence is Presented in Assault Cases? 


In assault cases, evidence collecting can be key. If an alleged victim is lying or exaggerating the facts of the incident, it can be exposed through diligent evidence collection. For example, if the alleged victim is claiming they suffered injuries then there may be photographs to confirm the injuries or photographs that show a lack of injuries and attack the victim’s credibility. Many times, an alleged victim will claim they suffered physical injuries yet the police note that there were no injuries on their police reports and did not take photos of injuries. In this circumstance it would be crucial to note these inconsistencies to the judge and or jury. While the defendant in a criminal trial does not have the burden of presenting evidence, the defense attorney must be able to attack the state’s evidence effectively.

 

Your case may also involve a 911 call which can be critical to the case. A 911 call often times takes place right after a crime. It is important to know what the alleged victim initially reported as happening. We have had many cases where the alleged victim has made statements or omitted things in the 911 call that have greatly strengthened the defenses cases.

 

Posting on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., may often times reveal information such as the alleged victim changing their story, bragging about being the aggressor or victorious in the altercation, or expose motives, biases and inconsistencies. For example, in a domestic violence case, a partner may fabricate an assault because they have found out about infidelity or other issues in the relationship and want to use the criminal justice system to see revenge on their (former) partner. Sometimes, the alleged victim may make posts on social media that would expose this backstory.

 

Police officers may request that the alleged victim make a written or verbal statement to the police about what transpired that led to the charges. It’s important to investigate these statements and to find any and all points that could be used in cross-examination of the alleged victim during trial.

 

Physical evidence, such as knives, guns, broken phones, broken dishes, bloody clothes, may also be a part of your case. It is important to examine these physical items prior to trial to determine if the condition of the physical evidence correlates with the alleged facts of the case.

 

D.C. Drug Charges  

Drug charges can have a devastating impact on your life and career. It’s important to understand what specifically you have been charged with; whether its simple possession or a charge that includes an intent to sell. It’s also important to understand the classification of the drug you were accused of possessing. These factors can have a major impact on the penalties and consequences you face.

 

Drug charges can often present complexities with how the officer found the drugs, where the drugs were found, your interaction with the officers and other issues that can impact your constitutional rights. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, your attorney may need to file pretrial motions based on a violation of your constitutional rights and the law. At times, these motions can ruin the prosecutor’s case entirely and result in a dismissal.

Penalties for Drug Charges in D.C. 

Penalties for possession of a controlled substance in D.C. differ based on the schedule classification of the drug or substance. Possession of Schedule I, II, and II, drugs, which include cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, oxycodone and others, carries a maximum penalty of 5 years of jail time and a maximum fine of $12,500. Manufacturing, distributing, or possession of these drugs with an intent to sell, however, carries a maximum jail time of 30 years and a maximum fine of $75,000. In order to learn the maximum penalty for your arrest, you would need to know the classification of the drug within the criminal code and if you were charged with simple possession or if you were charged with a charge that includes an intent to sell.

 

(301) 699 - 0764 Office 

(301) 363 - 2870 Fax

6801 Kenilworth Ave.

Suite 202

Riverdale, MD 20737

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© 2018 by Yazdani Law Group, LLC.

Criminal defense attorney, DUI attorney, personal injury attorney representing clients in Maryland (MD),  and Washington, DC including: Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Beltsville, Bethesda, Bowie, Chevy Chase, Clarksburg, College Park, Columbia, Damascus, Ellicott City, Forestville, Frederick County, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Greenbelt, Howard County, Hyattsville, Kensington, Lanham, Montgomery County, Montgomery Village, North Bethesda, Prince Georges County, Potomac, Rockville, Silver Spring, Towson, Waldorf, Wheaton, Upper Marlboro.