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Web of criminal charges tied to Maryland woman's testimony

In the fall of 2011, a 17-year-old boy was accused of committing a home invasion that involved a shooting. He was charged for attempted murder, aggravated assault and robbery based on the testimony of a Maryland woman. Months later, it was revealed that the woman had given a false account to police. As a result, the teenager needlessly spent nearly eight months behind bars.

After it was revealed that the Maryland woman provided inaccurate testimony to police, she was also struck with criminal charges for obstruction of the law. Recently, she stood trial on those charges, pled guilty and was sentenced to probation after. This sentence could have been stronger, but the woman is currently going through drug treatment, so a jail sentence could have hindered her progress.

According to the woman, she was under the influence of drugs at the time she provided the inaccurate account of the home invasion incident. As time went on, she said she "dug [herself] a hole and got deeper."

This complex case has a number of legal issues worth exploring. Namely, it calls into question the reliability of witnesses. The Maryland woman said she tried to recant her testimony regarding the teenager on several occasions, but authorities didn't believe her. Perhaps the police should have looked closer into the incident to determine that the teen wasn't involved.

Additionally, a teenager was locked in jail for nearly a year for something he didn't do. This may lead Baltimore readers to wonder: Other than the woman's testimony, what evidence did police have against the young man?

Several dimensions of this case show how critical it is to get to the bottom of serious criminal charges in order to determine what kind of evidence exists. If law enforcement is moving forward with charges based on unreliable evidence, it is likely in the interest of the defendant to have it scrutinized and challenged.

Source: York Daily Record, "Maryland woman pleads guilty in false accusation," Rick Lee, April 17, 2013

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