Excited Utterance Exception; Admissibility of the 911 tapes; Recent Court of Appeals Decision:

  Oftentimes in the 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 Court of Appeals on August 17, 2017, in Pelzer v. U.S., highlighted and outlined the test of admissibility for the 911 tape
Read More

TREATMENT IN LIEU OF CRIMINAL PROSECUTION

The 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 hearing
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

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
Read More

DC RETROACTIVE CHILD SUPPORT: RECENT CASE LAW & APPLICABLE STATUTES

District of Columbia Child Support Guidelines provides the right to the custodial parent to receive retroactive child support payments for a period of 24 months preceding the filing of the petition for child support. The Court of Appeals in Ford v. Snowden decided on September 22, 2016, addressed specifically the issue of whether a custodial parent receiving government benefit (“TANF”) was entitled to child support payments in addition and above the “TANF” amount. Specifically, Fashon Ford challenges the trial court’s order denying her the opportunity to seek child support from Snowden for the period of time during which Ms. Ford
Read More

DC PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS AND ENFORCEABILITY

Premarital agreements can be extensive and can include many provision, however below are some of the main issues that can be legally addressed and enforced through premarital agreements. DC Code § 46–503 provides specific statutory content for the premarital agreements: (1) The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located; (2) The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property; (3) The disposition of property upon separation,
Read More

RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: EQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF MARITAL PROPERTY NOT NECESSARILY EQUITABLE

The Court of Appeals on April 20, 2017, in Fleet v. Fleet; reversed and remanded the trial Judge’s ruling on division of marital property and award of portion of a retirement account. Mr. Fleet specifically on appeal challenged the court‘s distribution of a portion of the marital home and Mr. Fleet‘s retirement account to his ex-wife, appellee Ericka Fleet. He contended the trial court applied improper legal   presumption of equal rather than equitable distribution of property in awarding 50 percent of the equity of the home to Ms. Fleet. Mr. Fleet also argued on appeal that the trial court did
Read More

RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY ELEMENTS; COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL

The Court of Appeals in Williams v. United States decided on March 23, 2017, reversed the conviction for receiving stolen property and remanded the case to the trial court. The underlying facts were that four men had approached a police office to borrow his phone to and to report a robbery. The next day the same officer detained and searched the defendant who was found in possession of four identification cards that matched the same four men who had approached the officer earlier. The trial court found the circumstantial evidence to be compelling enough to warrant the conviction. Specifically, the
Read More