Tougher Sentences for Violent Offenders, Tougher Penalties for Witness Intimidation, More Transparency to Hold Judges Accountable for Sentencing Decisions

News Release, Office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan’s legislative initiatives to address violent crime were introduced in the General Assembly this evening. His crime package, which he first announced last month at a press conference in Baltimore City, includes tougher sentences for violent offenders who commit crimes with guns, stronger penalties for those who intimidate witnesses, and more transparency to hold judges accountable for their sentencing decisions.

“The most important legislation of this entire session are our bills to hold violent criminals more accountable so that we can stop the shootings and the murders in Baltimore City,” said Governor Hogan. “Without these bills, the efforts to get these shooters and violent criminals off our streets simply cannot be successful.”

The administration introduced the following measures this evening:

  • (HB 356/SB 273) Violent Firearm Offenders Act 
    Significantly increases sentences for those who repeatedly illegally carry firearms and for convicted gang members who illegally possess guns; those who illegally transfer guns to people they know intend to use them in a crime; and those who steal firearms, possess stolen firearms, or engage in straw purchasing.
  • (HB 355/SB 272) Judicial Transparency Act
    Requires the Maryland State Commission on Criminal Sentencing Policy to publish sentencing records of judges in violent crime cases to hold the system more accountable to the public for sentencing decisions.
  • (HB 357/SB 271) Witness Intimidation Prevention Act
    Toughens penalties for witness intimidation resulting in serious physical injury or death, and expands the courts’ ability to admit statements made by intimidated witnesses under certain circumstances to all crimes.
  • (HB 358/SB 268) Victims’ Right to Restitution Act
    Makes victim restitution payments mandatory.

In addition, the governor’s FY21 Accountability Budget advances new resources and initiatives to fight violent crime, including nearly $2.6 million for 25 new prosecutors and support staff for the Attorney General to prosecute violent crime, $6.9 million for grants that support crime prevention, prosecution, and witness protection, $2.7 million for the Baltimore Regional Intelligence Center, and nearly $272 million for community and residential operations to provide direct care services to youth under the Department of Juvenile Services’ supervision.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...