Archives for Criminal Defense

COMMUNITY CARETAKING DOCTRINE: WASHINGTON DC CRIMINAL LAWYER

The Court of Appeals in McGlenn v. U.S., decided on July 19, 2019, expanded and defined “community caretaking doctrine” in holding that an arrest and seizure of the defendant was justified. A 911 call reported assault in progress and upon arriving at the scene the Officers came in contact with the defendant outside a housing complex.  Defendant appeared intoxicated and under the influence of illegal substances mainly PCP. It was determined quickly by the Officers that McGlenn had not assaulted anyone inside the complex and was only acting erratically.  Defendant’s mother residing there had originated the 911 call. The trial
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ADMISSIBILITY OF AN OUT OF COURT STATEMENT IN TRIAL: HEARSAY EXCEPTIONS

In both criminal trials as well as the civil cases often the outcome hinges on a witness statement that is hearsay (out of court statement) but admissible under one of the exceptions. The Court of Appeals in Sims v. U.S., decided on August 15, 2019, expanded and explained in details the admissibility of the “present sense impression” exception to the hearsay rule. Sims was convicted of murder at trial and a significant corroborating evidence was introduced through the present sense impression statement/exception to the hearsay rule. One of witnesses at trial testified that he arrived to the scene shortly after
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DC DUI RECENT CASELAW: WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA

The Court of Appeals in Maddux v. D.C, decided on July 25, 2019, considered whether the defendant should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to DUI after sentencing. Before sentencing the burden on the defendant is “a fair and just reason” while after sentencing the burden elevated to “to correct manifest injustice, that is, justice demands withdrawal in the circumstances of the individual case. Maddux’s central argument was that the Magistrate Judge pushed and coerced plea bargaining by threatening to detain him pending trial and pre-trial while making clear he would be treated as a first-time offender with a
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BALLISTIC IMAGING EVIDENCE — DISPOSITIVE? NOT EXACTLY …

The Court of in Williams v. U.S., decided on June 27, 2019, reiterated the legal standard for admissibility and reliability of the ballistic scientific evidence. Williams was convicted of felony murder and one of key pieces of evidence against him was a testimony of the ballistic expert who had matched the toolmarks of a weapon found in the defendant’s home against the bullet shells found at the crime scene.  The expert at trial had testified with certainty that the ballistic imaging was a 100 percent match. The Court of Appeals held that there was a lack of scientific data to
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ASSAULT CHARGE REVERSED DUE TO 6TH AMENDMENT VIOLATION

The Court of Appeal in Green v. U.S., decided on June 13, 2019, reversed a simple assault conviction due to defendant’s 6th Amendment violation. Green was arrested after allegations of assault by his girlfriend, there was a contemporaneous 911 tape shortly after the assault reporting such. Green alleged at trial self-defense and that the complainant was the first aggressor. Defense counsel used portions of the 911 tape recording to challenge the credibility of the complainant.  The government in turn admitted the entire 911 tape into the record and defense counsel requested re-direct of the witness based on the entire 911
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REVERSAL OF CONVICTIONS DUE TO CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATIONS

The Court of Appeals in Hooks v. U.S., decided on May 30, 2019 reversed weapons and drug charges due to the defendant’s constitutional violations mainly the 4th Amendment. Hooks and few friends were in a barbeque gathering and an unmarked narcotics police car with was surveying the neighborhood and pulled in front the group.  The officers zeroed on Hooks and one of them ordered Hooks to stand up from his lawn chair where a bag of marijuana exceeding a legal limit was protruding from his pocket and search incident to the arrest recovered a handgun. The Court expounded that the
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS: ASSAULT CONVICTION REVERSED

The Court of Appeals in White v. U.S., decided on May 9, 2019, reversed an aggravated assault conviction while defining and expanding on the elements needed for conviction. There are three levels of assault charges in the District: Simple Assault: the lowest level requires minimal or no injury punishable by 180 days in jail. Assault with “significant bodily injury”: the intermediate assault level requiring by definition an injury that requires hospitalization or immediate medical attention, punishable by three years of jail time. Aggravated assault, serious bodily injury generally defined as: bodily injury that involves a substantial risk of death, unconsciousness,
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DC COURT OF APPEALS: MERE TOUCH NOT AN ASSAULT

The DC Court of Appeals in Hernandez v. U.S., in overturning an assault conviction provided much needed clarity and definition to the current DC Assault Statute. Section 22-404 of the statute provides two forms of assault: (a)(1) Whoever unlawfully assaults, or threatens another in a menacing manner, shall be fined and or be imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both. (2) Whoever unlawfully assaults, or threatens another in a menacing manner, and intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes significant bodily injury to another shall be fined or be imprisoned not more than 3 years, or both. Significant bodily injury means: an injury
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REVERSAL DUE TO JURY SELECTION RACIAL DISCRIMINATION

The Court of Appeals in Haney v. U.S., decided on April 25, 2019, reversed and remanded the defendant’s weapons’ conviction based on the government’s peremptory jury strikes disproportionately excluded black jurors and black male from the jury pool. It is well established according to Batson rule that purposeful and intentional discrimination based on race or gender in the exercise of peremptory challenges is strictly prohibited. The Supreme Court had articulated in Batson a three-step process for analyzing discriminatory claims: There must be a prima facie showing that a peremptory challenge has been exercised due to race or gender; The prosecution
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LEGAL ELEMENTS FOR DC PERJURY & OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE

The Court of Appeals in Wilson v. U.S., decided on October 11, 2018, reversed and remanded Wilson’s conviction for Perjury as well as the Obstruction of Justice. In the District a person if guilty of obstruction of justice if that person: (1)Knowingly uses intimidation or physical force, threatens or corruption to persuade another person, or by means of a threatening letter or communication endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede a juror in the discharge of the juror’s official duties; or an officer in any official proceeding, with intent to: Influence, delay, or prevent the truthful testimony of the person in
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