Today, The Maryland Appellate Court decided Love v. State, a case that presents interesting issues of how courts deal with lesser included offenses.
Focus of the Appeal
The primary focus of this appeal is the legal concept of a lesser included offense. Everyone who has watched television or read about criminal trials in a newspaper understands the basic idea. But what does it really mean, and how does the law deal with this concept. In this case, the court pinpoints the two critical issues from the start: 1) “What exactly is a lesser included offense?” and 2) “Can a lesser included offense exist in a trial even if it has not been explicitly and independently charged?” A functional question also arises: “How should a trial judge handle a lesser included offense that has not been explicitly and independently charged when submitting issues to the jury for their determination?”