Legal Question in Criminal Law in Maryland

I live in a townhome in Maryland and I have been harassed for the last 2 years by my immediate neighbors. Over two years ago my house was burglarized and over $4,000 in property was taken from my home. Fast forward almost 1 year later my neighbors boyfriend turns in her son for the burglary. After the police searched the home they recovered my computer monitor that was taken during the burglary.

After a year of postponements and hearings my neighbor was given 5 years with 3.5 years suspended and was to serve 1.5 years in jail. My neighbor was also violating his probation which was issued for possession with the intent to distribute charges. So not only did he only get 1.5 years in jail but the judge recommended him for home detention!

Well It was May when he went to jail and he filed for a modification of sentence hearing in which he was given home detention. He received time served and 2 years probation once more. In addition to his probation he is under strict guidelines that include "no contact" with myself (victim).

One night home and he has already begun to verbally harass me with name calling. This is where it always begins and it escalates from there. I do not say a word and act as if I did not hear it.

Now my question is what can I do to protect myself from this harassment and how would I be able to prove it. I have video cameras on my home and audio capabilities but am told that it is illegal to record audio. How can I prove verbal contact when I can not record it? How can I make a case out of this if I have no proof? Is it against the law to record audio if I post signs saying that this property is being recorded by audio and video?

Please help.

Asked on 9/15/09, 4:23 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

William Welch William L. Welch, III Attorney

Contact the police department, if someone is breaking the law, or if you feel threatened. Contact the State's Attorney's Office for your city or county regarding violation of the no contact order. You can also discuss your concerns about proof with the SAO. In a violation of probation hearing a judge would decide whether it is more likely than not that a condition of probation was violated. If the defendant is on probation for theft and narcotics dealing, he is not credible. If it is your word against his, he would likely be found in violation.

It is a violation of the law to make an audio recording of another person's voice in Maryland without that person's consent.

Although it is not fair or right you should consider whether it would involve less aggravation to move. The defendant does not sound like someone who will necessarily change his ways, and he may blame you instead of himself if he goes to prison. Your peaceful enjoyment of your home is worth something.

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Answered on 9/20/09, 5:14 pm
Lawrence Holzman Holzman Law Firm, LLC

I agree that your safety in the long-run may be more important that other legal considerations. If you are renting your home you may consider moving. If you are not going to move, in addition to the options listed above, you may go to district court and seek a peace order against your neighbor. I understand he is already under a "no contact" condition in his probation, but violatio nof that requires a whole criminal process first. A peace order, if violated, will permit you to have the police pick him up if he violates it as a contempt of court issue. That would obviously feed right into a violation of probation hearing as well.

You may want to consult with counsel to determine how best to manage your strategies (including perhaps negotiating an early termination from your lease, if you decide to move).

Feel free to call if you'd like to chat about your options.

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Answered on 9/22/09, 7:28 am

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