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
Read More

BAIL REFORM ACT CONVICTION REVERSED — RECENT COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in STERLING P. EVANS v. UNITED STATES, decided on March 17, 2016, reversed a Bail Reform Act violation conviction and remanded the matter for further consideration by the trial court. Evans was arrested and charged with possession and failed to appear for his hearing because he did not correctly remember or recollect the date of his scheduled court appearance. He believed he was due in court two days after the actual day due in court. Bench warrant was issued he was picked up on BRA charge and conviction subject of this appeal. Specifically, Evans testified and
Read More

DC PROSTITUTION-SOLICITATION LAWS

This blog expands and highlights some of the statutory penalties as well as definitions relating to prostitution, solicitation, procuring and pandering for prostitution. Prostitution is generally defined as exchange of sexual act or contact in return for money. The elements of the crime require meeting of minds. That is there must be some basic agreement offering money for sex. Often times the solicitation or prostitution charges are brought via under cover sting operation. In these operations, the decoy (police officer) entices solicitation and as soon as an agreement in principle is made to exchange money for sex, the back up
Read More

DC CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT LAWS

This blog focuses on the DC child neglect 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
Read More

DC CHILD SUPPORT LAWS — HIGHLIGHTS

This blog highlights some of the basic DC Child Support Guidelines and the related child support calculation and obligation. Along with divorce, separation, and filing of child custody papers, invariably and eventually the child support aspect of separation has to be addressed. If the matter is court involved, that is – parties have not reached a global agreement addressing divorce, alimony, custody and support – then the court will most likely apply the Child Support Guidelines (hereafter “guidelines”) to determine each parent’s portion of support. The guidelines enumerate and provide an equitable formula to calculate support for each parent principally
Read More

RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: REVERSAL OF BURGLARY CHARGE

The Court of Appeals in SYDNOR v. UNITED STATES decided on January 14, 2016, reversed the lower court’s burglary conviction and issued an order for the trial court to enter a judgment for unlawful entry instead. The evidence revealed that the appellant had entered a fenced construction site and had removed steal pipes from the yard. The burglary statute in part states: “whoever shall, either in the night or in the daytime, break and enter, or enter without breaking, . . . any yard where any lumber, coal, or other goods or chattels are deposited and kept for the purpose
Read More

DC CHILD CUSTODY LITIGATION: WHAT IS THE BEST INTEREST CRITERIA

This blog highlights specifically the legal definition of the “best interest of the child” as relates to DC child custody litigation: All cases involving and relating to the children in family matters; termination of parental rights/adoption, guardianship and child custody and neglect – all invariably use the “best interest of the child” criteria as a paramount factor in the reaching the final order and the legal analysis substantiating that order. The court looks at different but similar legal elements in each family matter to define the “best interest of the child” criteria. For the DC child custody litigation in awarding
Read More

RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: DISCLOSURE OF JENCKS/DISCOVERY

In Hernandez v. U.S. decided on January 14, 2016, the DC Court of Appeals affirmed the assault charge but remanded for further review by the trial court on the issue of non-disclosure of the Jencks material and whether a new trial would be warranted. Factually, Hernandez was charged with domestic violence assault against his girlfriend. Although she had technically denied the assault, due to some language barriers and other significant independent evidence — the trial court’s findings were affirmed on that issue alone. Specifically, an independent witness had seen the defendant choke Ms. Argueta-Avila/the complainant and then saw her fall
Read More

DC ADOPTION LAWS: LEGAL PARAMETERS

DC adoptions can be categorized as Child and Family Services (“CFSA”) involved or private adoptions. The legal paradigm remains the same. However CFSA involvement could and generally does complicate the process as there are additional requirements to make the child eligible for the federal subsidy. Such requirements are adoption licensing, home study/visits, Interstate Compact (“ICPC”) when applicable, adoption final report, adoption subsidy agreement, federal and state police as well as Child Protection Registry (“CPS” ) clearances just to name a few. Once the CFSA procedural requirements are met, there still remains the legal threshold to completing the adoption and entering
Read More

RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: ATTEMPTED THREATS REVERSAL

In Milton v. U.S., decided by the DC Court of Appeals on December 24, 2015, the Court reversed Milton’s conviction for attempted threats against the arresting police officer. Officers had responded to an unlawful entry call on July 5, 2015, and Milton having been identified as one of the culprits was placed under arrest, but while on the curbside and cuffed, uttered to one of the arresting officers that “take that gun and badge off and I’ll fuck you up,” and moreover, that “too bad it’s not like the old days where fucking up an officer is a misdemeanor.” These
Read More