WASHINGTON DC DIVORCE v. LEGAL SEPARATION; CRITERIA FOR ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE

The filing requirements for divorce and the legal separation are significantly and materially different. The divorce filing requires proof that: (1) parties have mutually and voluntarily lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of six months before filing of the action or (2) parties to the marriage have lived separate and apart without cohabitation for a period of one year prior to filing of the action. The filing requirement for the legal separation is less rigorous and it requires only that: (1) parties to the marriage have mutually and voluntarily lived separate and apart without cohabitation; or (2)
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: REVERSAL DUE TO ERRONEOUS JUROR DISQUALIFICATION

The DC Court of Appeals in Mason v. U.S., decided on September 28, 2017, drastically reversed a set of convictions based on trial error in disqualifying a potential juror. Appellant Mason challenged his convictions for tampering with evidence, destruction of property, obstruction of justice, and unlawful entry contending that the trial court committed a reversible error in disqualifying a potential juror. Juror 7575-B was at the center of this ruling and analysis. During the jury voir dire, juror 7575-B was asked if black men in DC are treated fairly or unfairly by the criminal justice system, and she had responded
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CRIMINAL INTENT REQUIRED FOR THREATS CONVICTION; RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The DC Court of Appeals in Lee Carroll v. U.S., decided on August 3rd, 2017; redefined the legal requisite for criminal conviction under the Threats’ Statute. Factually, the defendant was convicted for assaulting his girlfriend while also verbally threatening her physical harm. The DC misdemeanor as well as the Felony threats statutes do not enlist legal elements nor require facially mens rea or criminal intent. The misdemeanor threats statute (D.C. Code § 22-407) provides: Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or
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LEGAL DEFINITION OF ESCAPE FROM CUSTODY; RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals in Davis v. United States decided on August 10, 2017, reversed an Escape conviction and provided the legal definition for “Lawful Custody” in the applicable Statute. The section of the District of Columbia Code at issue is entitled “Escape from an Institution or Officer (D.C. Code § 22-2601 (a)) and it reads in the relevant part: (a) No person shall escape or attempt to escape from: (1) Any penal or correctional institution or facility in which that person is confined pursuant to an order issued by a court of the District of Columbia;
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Excited Utterance Exception; Admissibility of the 911 tapes; Recent DC Court of Appeals Decision

Oftentimes in the Washington DC domestic violence assault cases, the complainant does not actually testify for one reason or another. In such cases, the government attempts to introduce the 911 reporting/call of the complainant in lieu of the substantive evidence of assault. If the 911 tape recoding does meet the three prong test for admission; then the recording can and will be admitted and relied upon by the trier of the facts albeit the jury or the judge. The DC Court of Appeals on August 17, 2017, in Pelzer v. U.S., highlighted and outlined the test of admissibility for the
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TREATMENT IN LIEU OF DC CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

The DC Court of Appeals in Paz Cruz v. United States, decided on August 3, 2017, analyzed and highlighted the DC Statute that provides a legal basis for seeking alcohol treatment in lieu of criminal prosecution. Specifically, DC Code § 24-607 provides in pertinent sections that the Court may order a civil commitment for treatment up to a specified period of time a chronic alcoholic who is charged with any misdemeanor and prior to the trial voluntarily and via motion requests “treatment in lieu of criminal prosecution” for such misdemeanor. The Court in such circumstances must determine in a civil
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WASHINGTON DC STEP-PARENT/DOMESTIC PARTNER ADOPTION: LEGAL PARAMETERS

While the decision to adopt a child can be an exciting one, the complexities of adoption laws and the corresponding regulations can be potentially discouraging or overwhelming for the prospective families. Step-parent adoption is a type of adoption in which a step-parent endeavors to adopt a child of his/her current spouse or domestic partner. Generally, the adoption process for step-parent is less complex as it bypasses some of the requirements, such as the adoption study or required visits, licensing, or the adoption report or CFSA-Child & Family Services’ investigative final report and recommendations. Specifically the court may dispense with the
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TRI-PARENTING; LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS

The concept of multiple parents finds its support amongst many as the vocation of parental duties expands in families undergoing separation as well as homosexual families undertaking a journey to having a child. On March 8, 2017, the Supreme Court Judge of Suffolk County, NY, in the case of Dawn M. vs. Michael M., awarded a legal custody of a 10-year old boy to three parties. A married couple, Dawn and Michael, began a relationship with Dawn’s best friend, Audria. Dawn was unable to have a child, and under the circumstances, all three parties agreed that Michael and Audria would
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SIMPLE ASSAULT CONVICTION REVERSAL; SELF-DEFENSE CLAIM HELD VALID

The Court of Appeals in Tamika Parker v. U.S., decided on March 16, 2017, reversed a conviction for simple assault holding in short that the claim of self-defense was valid, credible, and supported by the evidence presented. One of the concurring opinions sums up the facts of the case perfectly: This is a strange case. A man shouts an ugly slur against his neighbor across the street as she is getting into a friend’s car. He then crosses the street with members of his family, calls her a “bitch” (and more), and spits in her face as his family surrounds
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Warrantless Use of Cell-Phone Tracking Surveillance Technology by Law Enforcement

Increasing number of cases involving the law enforcement agencies’ warrantless use of cell phone tracking devices has recently promulgated the need for regulations that would address escalating privacy concerns. Metropolitan Police Department has already signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) enabling the agents to keep all the cell-phone surveillance data private. Commonly known as a Stingray, these detection surveillance devices act as a wireless cell-phone tower broadcasting a strong signal allowing for the Stingray to connect to any cellular device in close vicinity. Consequently, the Department of Justice issued new guidelines preventing the federal agents
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