Archives for Criminal Defense

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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CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: DC CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER

The Court of Appeals in Toler v. U.S., decided recently determined whether revealing of a social security number during a custodial interrogation was in violation of Miranda rights. Appellant Toler had argued that his firearm convictions must be reversed because he was required to reveal his social security number without a prior  Miranda warning, and also that his convictions for possession of unregistered firearms must be reversed because the government failed to prove an element of the offense, namely that the firearms were not “antique” firearms. In general, routine questions related to the booking process are not considered interrogation under
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DC COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL: DC STALKING STATUTE INTERPRETATION: DC CRIMINAL LAWYER

The DC Court of Appeals in Coleman v. U.S., decided on March 7, 2019, reversed an attempted stalking conviction as it analyzed further and defined the DC Stalking Statute and the requisite sufficiency of evidence to withstand a conviction. Coleman essentially argued on appeal that the government failed to prove that he possessed the requisite mental state in that he should have known a reasonable person in the complainant’s circumstances would fear for her or another’s safety, or feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened.  Or suffer emotional distress in at least two of the occasions that allegedly comprised his course
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REVERSAL DUE TO ERRONEOUS SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE: DC COURT OF APPEALS RECENT DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Jones v. U.S., decided on March 7, 2019 reversed a conviction for armed robbery and assault due to unreliability of the microscopic hair analysis evidence. Factually, defendant was tried in 1996 and convicted of armed robbery and other offenses. The appeal is from the court’s denial of his motions to vacate his convictions pursuant to D.C. Code § 23-110 and for post-conviction DNA testing pursuant to the Innocence Protection Act (IPA). Predominantly at trial the forensic evidence of microscopic hair samples testified to by an FBI agent clinched a conviction. Since 1996, and specifically in a
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CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER (CPO) VIOLATION THROUGH HEARSAY EVIDENCE: CELL PHONE CALL LOG

The Court of Appeals in Holmon v. D.C., decided on February 28, 2019, determined whether a Civil Protection Order violation resulting in conviction based on hearsay evidence at trial should be reversed. First to establish the elements of a CPO violation, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant had engaged in: (1) Willful disobedience (2) Of a protective court order. It is not a willful violation if: Petitioner approached the respondent without his encouragement or consent, The contact was necessitated by an emergency, or There also existed some other compelling reason. Even in the enumerated exceptions listed
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ILLEGAL SEARCH AND SEIZURE: RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Posey v. US, decided on February 21, 2019, reversed the trial’s court denial of the suppression motion and thus vacated the conviction. Posey was arrested after the Officer responded to a look out for Robbery suspects.  The look out was vague and nondescript and essentially depicting “a black male wearing black clothes.” Because Posey had fled upon observing the approaching police officer and subsequently searched and a weapon found – the trial court determined that the fleeing from the scene by itself added to the reasonable suspicion criteria for Terry stop and thus search and
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