Archives for Criminal Defense

ADMISSIBILITY OF PRIOR BAD ACT: DC COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL

The Court of Appeals in Jackson v. U.S., decided on June 27, 2019, determined whether the trial court had erred in admitting evidence of prior PCP use by the defendant before committing assault with a deadly weapon. (“ADW”). Factually, appellant was convicted of assaulting his roommate with a knife and prior to the trial, the government moved to admit evidence of recent use of PCP to bolster a case for erratic behavior by the defendant prior to the assault. The court admitted the evidence justifying that such would provide context and serve to explain the defendant’s observations, beliefs, and behaviors in
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SEARCH WARRANT BASED ON YOUTUBE VIDEO HELD INVALID

The Court of Appeals in Andrews v. D.C., decided on August 5, 2019, reversed convictions for possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition based on invalidity of underlying search warrant. Factually, the police officer in support of the issuing warrant had stated that in a reviewing a YouTube video, individuals were depicted displaying handguns that appeared to be functional and operable. The officer further had stated that location of the video was recognized as a parking lot at the 3500 block of 6th Street, S.E. and moreover, one of the individuals in the video was recognized to
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: UNLAWFUL ENTRY REVERSED

The Court of Appeals in Foster v. U.S., decided on November 7, 2019, reversed and vacated the defendant’s conviction for unlawful entry. Foster who was according to his rental lease part of a housing complex consisting of two distinct units — Hopkins I&II was barred by a security guard from the Hopkins I complex for violating the housing rules and two days thereafter was arrested for an unlawful entry into the complex. Foster argued on appeal that the trial record showed insufficient evidence that Hopkins Apartments consisted of more than one legally distinct DCHA property, especially when considering the lease
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DOUBLE JEOPARDY CLAUSE OF THE 5TH AMENDMENT: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in Andre v. U.S., decided on August 19, 2019, determined the scope and implications of the Double Jeopardy Clause. At trial, Andre was convicted of two counts of simple assault and sentenced and served seven days on each count while his case was on appeal.  Due to conflict of interest of his trial counsel, his convictions were overturned on appeal and case was remanded at which time the government moved to prosecute him again on the same changes one more time. Andre argued on appeal that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment barred his
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MPD USE OF PROBATION GPS TRACKING SYSTEM CONSTITUTIONAL: RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Jackson decided on August 22, 2019, reversed and remanded to the trial court granting of Jackson’s suppression motion for 4th amendment violations. Jackson who was on probation for Robbery was placed by Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency  (“CSOSA”) on GPS tracking system.  The GPS tracking system accessed by MPD revealed and placed him at a scene of another robbery which resulted in him being arrested and charged with that crime. Jackson argued at trial that CSOSA violated his Fourth Amendment rights first by placing him on GPS monitoring without judicial approval and
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COMMUNITY CARETAKING DOCTRINE: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

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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