MD Court of Special Appeals Affirms Mallik Conviction

FREDERICK- The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has upheld the conviction of Abe Arjun Mallik on 11 counts of possession of child pornography. The charges stemmed from an investigation launched in March of 2016 by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office acting on a “cyber tip” from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Detectives determined through IP providers and email accounts that the reported material came from Mallik’s home in Point of Rocks, Frederick County. Upon reviewing Google business records, detectives found communications with minor females and eight images of confirmed child pornography were identified as being uploaded to an attachment using the defendant’s e-mail address. A search warrant revealed more than 200 images of child erotica on the defendant’s laptop along with 3 confirmed images of child pornography. On June 2, 2017, a Frederick Circuit Court jury rendered a guilty verdict on all counts against Mallik. He was given a 10-year suspended sentence and ordered to register as a Tier-1 Sex Offender for 15 years.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals took up five questions for review. Mallik argued that a State expert witness should not have been allowed to testify. However, the Appeals Court found that an objection to the witness needed to happen immediately. Second, Mallik argued that the State should not have been allowed to admit evidence of a non-pornographic nature. This pertained to the images of child

erotica found on the defendant’s computer. The Appeals Court found that all “relevant evidence is admissible”. The State maintained that, “knowing possession of the illegal images because they established a pattern of prurient interest in children and negated the defense that he was hacked.” Mallik’s defense team wanted to include a question about if prospective jurors had “strong feelings” toward pornography in general. The Appeals Court found that the court maintains the right to considerable discretion during jury selection. On Day 3 of the trial, Mallik’s defense sought a mistrial on grounds that a prospective juror, who is an attorney, reported a judge talking to jurors about the probable trial duration and how the defendant had not shown up for court. The court found that “sufficient voir dire of the jury concerning the effect of the judge’s communication, the responses from the jury denying any influence by the communication, and appellant’s failure to thereafter challenge the court’s choice of remedies or its denial of the motion for mistrial, we can find no error in the court’s denial of the motion.” Finally, Mallik contended that the court erred when it permitted the State, on the first day of trial, to amend the date for three of the 11 charges in the charging document. He contended that the laptop on which the additional 3 images were found had not even been bought yet as of the earlier date. The Court of Appeals has held that “‘[a]n amendment that constitutes merely a ‘matter of form’ does not change the character of the offense.” Mallik does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions.

State’s Attorney Charlie Smith commented on the Appeals Court decision stating, “Mallik received a fair trial. He took his shot at an appeal and he lost. Now he has to deal with the consequences of his behavior, and that’s living as a Tier I sex offender.”