RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: INEVITABLE DISCOVERY DOCTRINE

In NYIA GORE V. UNITED STATES, decided on August 18, 2016, the DC Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for destruction of property as the trial court should have granted the appellant’s motion to suppression evidence based on 4th Amendment violations. The facts of the case stemmed from a domestic dispute where the appellant’s boyfriend complained of the appellant destroying his property inside a motel room that they shared. Officers responded to the scene and upon questioning the appellant and without express consent of the appellant entered the room searched and recovered destroyed property and consequently charged the appellant. The
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INTERNATIONAL CHILD SUPPORT: FORUM NON CONVENIENS

Generally the DC Corporation Counsel will file and prosecute a child support action on behalf of a DC resident and when both the child and the principles are DC residents. However Under 42 U.S. Code ξ 654(4)(A)(ii), the District may bring a child support action on behalf of a non DC resident, a non US national and from a country which has not signed into Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (“UIFSA”) or any other treaty governing terms, that is, a non reciprocating and a non treaty nation. According to the statute, the DC government has the discretion to bring an
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COMPETING ADOPTION PETITIONS: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

IN RE M.V.H. decided on July 21, 2016, by the Court of Appeals, a relative grandmother adoption petition v. a non relative foster parent adoption petition was legally compared and analyzed with the trial court as well as the appellate review all ruling in favor of the foster parent petition. The case had initiated through a neglect petition against the biological mother who resided in the grandmother’s home (M.V.H.) at time, and alleged and proven neglect of physical injuries to the child (A.H.). The mother had given her consent to the adoption by the grandmother M.V.H., and although the trial
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CHILD CRUELTY REVERSAL; DOCTRINE OF INHERENT INCREDIBILITY

In DION M. SLATER-EL v. UNITED STATES, decided on July 7, 2016, the DC Court of Appeals reversed a second degree child cruelty case while applying a rather rare and archaic legal doctrine: the doctrine of inherent incredibility. The child cruelty statute specifically provides: A person commits the crime of cruelty to children in the second degree if that person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly . . . [m]altreats a child or engages in conduct which causes a grave risk of bodily injury to a child[.]‖ D.C. Code § 22-1101 (b)(1). The facts of the case gave rise to the doctrine
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DC DUI/DWI LAWS: LEAVING THE SCENE AFTER COLLIDING

The pertinent DC statute addressing driving a motor vehicle while under the influence also addresses leaving the scene of an accident after colliding because often drinking and driving results in accidents. Thus this blog addresses both of these offenses in detail enumerating the statutory/legal elements for both offenses separately. Specifically, the statute criminalizes damage to property as well as damage to an individual and also a domestic animal. That is, any person operating a vehicle that causes “substantial damage” to another property (vehicle) and leaves without either giving assistance or without leaving his name, place or residence, and identifying information
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COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL: PRIVATE V. PUBLIC: DC UNLAWFUL ENTRY STATUTE

The Court of Appeals in an opinion issued in JACQUELINE FREY v. UNITED STATES, compared and analyzed the legal difference between unlawful entry upon a “private” property versus a “public” property. In reversing the defendant’s conviction for unlawful entry on May 5, 2016 – the Court held that she had entered a public section of the Library of Congress and thus was entitled to a jury trial warranting reversal. The District of Columbia unlawful entry statute makes a legal distinction between entry upon a private v. public property. Specifically, subsection (a) of the code prohibits unlawful entry into “any private
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DC CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT LAWS

This blog focuses on the DC child and abuse laws and some of the procedural aspect of a court involved case. Generally a child neglect and abuse case commences with reporting of some kind to the CFSA (“Child and Family Services”). There are those who are according to the DC Neglect Statute are mandatory reporters. The school and all those involved and have contact with the child at school setting, doctor’s offices, social workers, hospitals, police officers, etc. Regardless, when a report to hotline has been made, an investigative social worker is assigned to conduct a preliminary investigation. That would
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DC ASSAULT LAWS/PENALTIES

This blog outlines and analyzes the statutory language of the three main DC assault provisions: simple assault, aggravated assault and assault on a police officer. The simple assault statute includes both elements and penalties for assault and stalking as they are consolidated under the same statutory language specifically that a person commits a misdemeanor assault punishable by not more than 180 days imprisonment and/or a $1000.00 fine — if he/she unlawfully assaults or threatens another in a menacing fashion. The felony assault which raises the penalties to 3 years and/or $3000.00 in fines has all the elements of the simple
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION REVERSAL

In VINCENT PANNELL v. UNITED STATES, decided on April 7, 2016, the Court of Appeals reversed a Possession of Control Substance (PCP) conviction and remanded for the conviction to be vacated as there was insufficient evidence to convict based on the theory of constructive possession. Here, the undercover Officer had pulled over a vehicle with two front seat occupants. Two PCP cigarettes were found in the middle console closer to the passenger side seat than the driver. Assuming based on that proximity that the cigarettes belonged to Pannell, he was arrested and charged while the driver without being searched was
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DC DIVORCE LAWS: HIGHLIGHTS

A divorce decree cannot be granted in the District unless the following separation criteria have been met: Parties have “mutually and voluntarily” lived separate and apart from one another without cohabitation for a period of six months prior to commencing of an action or that; parties have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year prior to commencing the action. In the second category most likely the separation has been court ordered as it would not have been “mutually and voluntary.” Thus the statute requires a legal separation before issuing a divorce decree and the legal
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