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Maryland Law Review

THE MARYLAND SURVEY: 1995-1996: Recent Decisions: The Maryland Court of Appeals


56 Md. L. Rev. 780


Lisa F. Orenstein


D. Sentencing Leniency May Be Denied to Criminal Offenders Who Fail to Express Remorse at Allocution
In Jennings v. State, 1 the Court of Appeals held that a sentencing judge may consider a criminal defendant's failure to show remorse at allocution for the crime for which he has been convicted. 2 The court concluded that a sentencing judge may consider lack of remorse on the issue of a defendant's prospects for rehabilitation. 3 Specifically, the court found that a remorseful defendant, having taken the first step toward rehabilitation by accepting responsibility for his crime, may receive a reduced sentence. 4 Conversely, the court determined that a sentencing judge may deny leniency to a defendant who has not exhibited contrition. 5 Thus, a defendant who remains silent at allocution may face a longer period of incarceration. 6 Although Jennings is consistent with Maryland precedent 7 and comports with rulings in other jurisdictions, 8 the question arises as to whether this practice compromises a defendant's Fifth Amendment right against self-in- crimination. 9 The Supreme Court has yet to resolve the issue. Thus, at least for now, criminal defendants in Maryland may spend more time in jail should they choose to exercise a fundamental constitutional right.

1. The Case. - On the evening of February 29, 1992, two men robbed a Baltimore area restaurant at gunpoint. 10 During the robbery, one of the men pointed a machine gun at the restaurant's owner. 11 The other pointed a handgun ...
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