Felsen & Sargent Helps Client Get Charges Dropped

Since 2017, Catherine Hoggle has been in a maximum-security hospital for the murder of her children. She and her two children went missing in the fall of 2014, and of the three, only she resurfaced.

After Hoggle’s arrest, a judge found her mentally incompetent to stand trial. Since then, the prosecution has pushed back on this ruling. Ryan Wechsler, the Assistant State’s Attorney claims that Hoggle’s mental illness is an act and that, “She absolutely knows enough and is manipulative enough [to pretend and avoid trial.]”

Since then, our firm has worked tirelessly to prove that Hoggle is mentally unsound, and she should not stand trial. She was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2014, the same year that she and her children disappeared.

Psychiatrist Adam Brown testified that he didn’t believe Hoggle was “being manipulative.” According to him, “The symptoms she exhibited objectively matched with what I would expect for someone with a thought disorder.”

The judge in the case waited until almost the last minute to rule Hoggle as incompetent. He had until Dec. 1 to decide. If he had missed this deadline, Hoggle would have been released without any charges against her. The new ruling came down on November 30, 2022.

Why Do Mentally Unfit People Avoid Criminal Trials?

As attorney Felsen eloquently puts it:

“She is a profoundly ill woman. She has been an ill woman since 2012, 2013. She has taken medications of last resort for years, and she remains ill. And in the United States and in the state of Maryland, we don’t try people for anything, for any crime, if they can’t defend themselves.”

Maryland considers someone unfit for trial when:

  • They have a diagnosed mental condition.
  • They require inpatient care.
  • They are a danger to themselves or others.
  • They are mentally incapable to admit themselves for care, or they refuse to do so.
  • A mental institution is the best option for them.

What Does the Future Hold?

Our firm has helped free Ms. Hoggle from criminal charges, but she will not rejoin society. She will remain institutionalized, undergoing a standard review every six months.

The prosecution has expressed their intent to retry Hoggle. First, however, they must prove that she is fit to stand trial. We have worked closely with our client, and w know the psychological struggles she faces.

Our team will continue to defend Ms. Hoggle’s rights and protect her from an unjust trial, just as we have always done for our Rockville clients.

If you need help with a criminal charge, trust our winning team to be there for you. You can schedule time with us online or call us now at (301) 970-3811.