Criminal Defense

If you are you caught up in the criminal justice system, you should take immediate steps to ensure that you protect your rights and understand your options by hiring an attorney.   Navigating the legal process can be complex.  An attorney will help you understand what to expect during this stressful time.  An attorney can assist you by explaining the process you will face, negotiating with prosecutors, and defending you at trial using the rules of evidence.  Your freedom, interests, and rights are not something to chance.

Even if you believe that you are guilty of a crime, you have rights and interests that must be defended and protected.  It can be all too easy for the government to overstep their bounds and tread on your rights.

Attorney Morgan Leigh Blackledge is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how to protect your rights and your future. She will fight for you by negotiating the best possible result or challenging evidence at trial.  She brings the knowledge, skill and tenacity needed to secure results.

Call (301)547-1203 or Contact Us online to schedule your free initial consultation with Attorney Morgan Leigh Blackledge.


Maryland Assault

Assault may encompass three distinct situations:

  • a consummated battery or the combination of a battery and its antecedent assault;
  • an attempted battery; or
  • a placing of a person in reasonable apprehension of a battery

Under Maryland law, assault in the first degree is a felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.  Assault on a law enforcement officer is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $2,500.  Assault in the second degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $2,500.

District of Columbia Assault

In Washington, DC, the maximum term of imprisonment for assault ranges from 180 days to 15 years, depending upon the facts and circumstances of each case.  As in Maryland, assault may constitute a felony or misdemeanor.  The assault statute is codified in §§ 22-401 – 22-408 of the D.C. Code.

Collateral Consequences – Assault

An assault conviction can carry serious consequences.  In addition to jail time and a fine of up to $10,000, there can be collateral consequences.  For example, a conviction for first-degree assault in Maryland is a deportable offense for non-U.S. citizens.  A conviction for assault may also impact employment options and could put you at a disadvantage against other qualified applicants.

Assault Defenses

There are a number of assault defenses that may be available in your case.  Potential defenses to assault include but are not limited to: self-defense, defense of others, defense of property, and mutual affray.

Call (301)547-1203 or Contact Us online to schedule your free initial consultation with Attorney Morgan Leigh Blackledge, serving as a Washington, DC assault attorney and a Maryland assault attorney, to protect your rights and assert every defense available under the law.


Maryland Burglary

Burglary and its related crimes are codified in §§ 6-201 – 6-208 of the Maryland Code.  Burglary can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon your case.  For example, burglary in the second degree is a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment up to 20 years and/or a maximum fine of $10,000 while burglary in the fourth degree is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 3 years in prison.  “Rogue and vagabond” is considered a burglary-related crime in the automobile context and carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment if convicted.

District of Columbia Burglary

Unlike Maryland, which proscribes four degrees of burglary, there are only two degrees of burglary in the District: first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary.  Burglary in the first degree carries up to 30 years in jail while burglary in the second degree carries up to 15 years in jail.  First-degree burglary must occur in a “dwelling” or a room “used for sleeping” while second-degree burglary may occur in a “dwelling” or a “room” or a “building.”

Specific Intent Crime – Burglary

There are additional differences between the burglary statutes in Maryland and Washington, DC.  For example, burglary is always a specific intent crime in the District while Maryland’s fourth-degree burglary statute is a general intent crime.  This means that in DC, the Government must prove that the defendant entered the premises with the intent to commit a crime.  On the other hand, Maryland’s fourth-degree burglary statute does not require proof of intent to commit a crime because it is a general intent crime.

Discuss your defenses and protect your rights by contacting a Maryland burglary defense attorney or a Washington, DC burglary defense attorney.

Call (301) 547-1203 or Contact Us online to schedule your free initial consultation with Attorney Morgan Leigh Blackledge, serving as a Washington, DC burglary defense attorney and a Maryland burglary defense attorney, to discuss your defenses and protect your rights.


Maryland Drug Crimes

Drug crimes can have major consequences.  It is a crime to possess any drug on Maryland’s lists of controlled dangerous substances (“CDS”) without a valid prescription.  Maryland’s lists of proscribed drugs are found in Title V of the MD Code at §§ 5-401 – 5-406.  These lists are referred to as “schedules.”  Common drugs include cocaine, heroin, phencyclidine (“PCP”), oxycodone, morphine, MDMA (“ecstasy”), methamphetamine, fentanyl, methylphenidate, lorazepam, and clonazepam, but the list goes on.

While possession of a controlled dangerous substance is a misdemeanor with a maximum of four years in jail, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with the intent to distribute (“PWID”), distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, and manufacturing of a controlled dangerous substance are felonies.  The penalties range from 5 – 40 years.

District of Columbia Drug Crimes

There are many similarities between the drug-related crimes in Maryland and Washington, DC, but the penalties differ.  Unlike Maryland, the District’s maximum penalties are tied to the amount of the substance.  These penalties are described in Title 21 of the United States Code, § 841(b).  Both jurisdictions apply enhanced penalties for a person who has previously been convicted of a similar crime.

Drug crimes also have collateral consequences.  A conviction for a drug crime may pose immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens, prohibit you from owning a firearm, or exclude you from potential employment.

It is important to speak to a Maryland drug crime attorney or a Washington, DC drug crime attorney to discuss any defenses available to you.  For example, you may be able to get your case dismissed if the State fails to produce the chemist who tested the drugs at trial if a timely request for the chemist’s presence is made.

Call (301)547-1203 or Contact Us online to schedule your free initial consultation with Attorney Morgan Leigh Blackledge.

Traffic Law

Many traffic offenses in Maryland and the District of Columbia carry points and potential jail time.  Your license could be suspended or revoked as a result of any number of violations, including but not limited to:

  • Accumulation of points
  • DUI / DWI / OWI
  • Fleeing and eluding the police
  • Leaving the scene of an accident with property damage and/or personal injury
  • Driving while suspended
  • Driving while revoked
  • Driving without a license
  • Driving uninsured
  • Driving in violation of a license restriction
  • Reckless driving

If you are arrested, it is important to take immediate action to avoid suspension of your license pending the outcome of your case.  In Washington, DC, a demand for a hearing must be made within 5 days of the issuance of an order of suspension or revocation.  In Maryland, the demand for a hearing must be made within 30 days of the issuance of an order of suspension or revocation.

An experienced traffic law attorney will carefully review the evidence to analyze any and all defenses.  A traffic stop is a “seizure” that implicates the Fourth Amendment.  The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution forbids unlawful searches and seizures.  If a police officer violated your Fourth Amendment rights, you may be able to suppress evidence at trial that could end the State’s case against you.  This is but one example of any number of defenses that may be available upon careful review of your case.


Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a complicated area of law.  An experienced attorney will understand both the substantive and technical defenses that may be available.  For example, if a police officer fails to adequately advise a person of their right to refuse a breath test as well as the resulting penalties, the breath test may be inadmissible at trial.  In addition, in Maryland, a breath test must be obtained within 2 hours of the driver’s detention or the State cannot use this evidence against you at trial.  DUI convictions can carry serious consequences, such as the loss of employment resulting from a suspended license or even jail time.  This is why it is so important to protect yourself by hiring an attorney who will not hesitate to go to trial and fight for you.

Call (301)547-1203 or Contact Us online to schedule your free initial consultation with Attorney Morgan Leigh Blackledge, serving as a Washington, DC DUI defense attorney and a Maryland DUI defense attorney.

Driving While Suspended / Revoked

These offenses carry substantial penalties, including points and jail time.  A conviction for driving suspended and/or revoked carries up to 12 points.  Upon the accumulation of 12 points, the MVA or DMV will revoke your privilege to drive.  Given these serious consequences, it is vital that you review any potential defenses with an attorney prior to going to court.

Fleeing & Eluding the Police

It is a crime to knowingly refuse to stop for a police officer.  This offense carries substantial penalties, including enough points to suspend or revoke your license as well as up to 5 years in jail when coupled with reckless driving.  Defenses to this crime may include the following: the officer was not in uniform or in a marked police cruiser, the officer did not have a legal basis to stop the vehicle, or it would have been unsafe for the driver to stop his or her vehicle.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident with Property Damage and / or Injury

Traffic accidents can be traumatizing and cause a driver to behave out of character.  Even so, it is a crime to leave the scene of an accident without providing certain information to the other driver or calling the police if there is property damage or personal injury.  In DC, it is an affirmative defense if the driver can show by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she did not stop for reasonable fear of safety.  This offense carries the potential for 8-12 points depending on the jurisdiction (MD or DC) and the circumstances.

The Law Office of Morgan Leigh Blackledge defends clients in Maryland and Washington, D.C., including Bethesda, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Olney, Columbia, Baltimore City, Laurel, Bowie, Largo, Montgomery County, Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Prince Georges County, and the District of Columbia.