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Simms entered Vega’s tire store and asked for a used tire. Vega heard the cash drawer close as he walked away and returned to find Simms with his hand near the drawer. Simms denied stealing money and walked to his car. Vega tried to stop him but Simms sprayed Vega with pepper spray and drove away. Vega then inspected surveillance footage from the previous day and saw Simms entering the store and taking money out of the register that day. Vega was unclear about how much money was taken. After being sentenced to 23 years in prison, Simms filed a Penal Code section 1170.181 petition to have four prior felonies reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47, failing to obtain reductions as to convictions for grand theft from the person and for burglary. During eligibility proceedings at which Simms was not present, the court found Simms was not eligible to have either conviction reduced to a misdemeanor because he failed to show that the dollar amount of the stolen property in either instance was $950 or less. The court of appeal vacated, finding that Simms was denied his constitutional and statutory rights to be present during the eligibility proceedings. The court did not reach his claim of ineffective assistance but rejected an argument that the trial court “misunderstood” the evidence presented to it concerning the amounts of money taken. View "People v. Simms" on Justia Law

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An officer observed defendant cross a street with no regard for traffic and then drink from a bottle of whiskey. Defendant smelled strongly of alcohol and had slurred speech. He was arrested for misdemeanor public intoxication. When defendant was searched in the Monterey County Jail almost two days after his arrest, a deputy noticed plastic wrapping in between defendant’s buttocks--later found to contain methamphetamine. Defendant was charged with knowingly possessing methamphetamine in jail. In that felony case, the prosecution moved to exclude testimony about defendant’s intoxication at the time of his arrest for the underlying misdemeanor, citing Evidence Code sections 350 and 352 and arguing that defendant had “sufficient time to be aware of what [was] going on” such that defendant’s intoxication when he entered the jail was irrelevant. The court agreed. Defendant requested a special jury instruction: “The Defendant knew of the substance’s presence and had the opportunity to voluntar[il]y relinquish it before it was located by law enforcement.” The court denied the request, stating that the issue was “not an element” of section 4573.6. The court of appeal affirmed his conviction under Pen. Code 4753.6(a). Because evidence of voluntary intoxication is inadmissible to negate the presence of general criminal intent (Pen. Code 29.4(a)), there was no prejudicial error. View "People v. Berg" on Justia Law

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Under Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act, a petitioner has the initial burden of showing the value of the stolen property did not exceed $950. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's denial of a petition for reclassification under Proposition 47, asking that defendant's second degree burglary conviction be reclassified as a misdemeanor. The court held that petitioner's statement that the value of the stolen property did not exceed $950 was sufficient to meet his prima facie burden under Proposition 47 with respect to the value of the stolen goods in question. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "People v. Washington" on Justia Law

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In 1987, Miller was convicted of transportation or sale of marijuana, a felony. He was placed on probation for two years plus 60 days in county jail. In 2008, he obtained relief under section 1203.4: dismissal of the felony charge, but not in complete restoration of civil rights, such as holding certain jobs and possessing a firearm. In 2015, while living in Montana, Miller sought a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon. The court denied the petition because Miller lived out of state. The court of appeal affirmed. The current version of Penal Code 4852.06 states: “A person convicted of a felony … the accusatory pleading of which has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, may file a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon ... if the petitioner has not been incarcerated in a prison, jail, detention facility, or other penal institution or agency since the dismissal of the accusatory pleading, is not on probation for the commission of any other felony, and ... presents satisfactory evidence of five years’ residence in this state prior to the filing of the petition.” The court rejected his argument that the Legislature did not intend for the “immediately preceding” requirement to apply to probationers, but rather to felons sentenced to jail in lieu of prison and noted that out of state residency does not prevent him from being pardoned directly by the Governor. View "People v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Brooks was charged with first-degree residential burglary; the court granted a motion in limine to admit evidence of Brooks’s prior uncharged burglaries, Evid. Code, 1101(b). After his conviction, the court sentenced Brooks to prison for the two-year low term, imposed mandatory fines and fees, and ordered him to pay $2,351.34 in direct victim restitution that included reimbursement for a burglar alarm and new door locks. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Brooks an argument that Penal Code section 1202.4. does not permit restitution for security improvements against a defendant not convicted of a “violent felony,” as defined in section 667.5(c). the statute permits restitution for security costs incurred by the victim of a nonviolent felony, notwithstanding the more specific provisions in section 1202.4(f)(3)(J) requiring the court to award such restitution to the victim of a violent felony. The court’s erroneous admission of Brooks’s uncharged prior acts to establish intent, common plan and identity and the prosecutor’s misconduct in closing argument, by mischaracterizing the nature of the fingerprint evidence and overstating its strength caused Brooks to suffer little, if any, prejudice because other evidence independently and definitively linked him to the crime. View "People v. Brooks" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision denying petitioner's application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and order of removal. The court held that petitioner's prior violations of two municipal ordinances were misdemeanors that disqualified him from TPS status under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(48)(A). The court also held that petitioner suffered no due process prejudice. View "Rubio v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's reduced 262 month sentence on remand after he was convicted of two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in reopening the sentencing record to permit the government to supplement the record with state court judicial records which were relevant to the force clause issue; the district court did not err in determining defendant's convictions for Arkansas third degree domestic battery and first degree battery were violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act's force clause; and the district court did not plainly err by applying a sentencing enhancement for using or possessing an unlawfully possessed weapon in connection with a crime of violence under USSG 4B1.4(b)(3)(A). View "United States v. Eason" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of possession of a firearm, possession with intent to distribute cocaine, and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense. The DC Circuit held that any error in admitting prior crimes evidence was harmless. However, the court remanded trial issues regarding the ineffective assistance of counsel to the trial judge because the record was quite sketchy regarding plea discussions. The court remanded for resentencing because defendant received ineffective assistance at sentencing and his sentence as a career criminal was improper. View "United States v. Winstead" on Justia Law

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Sweeney’s parental rights over his daughter, T.R., were terminated after he was convicted of raping his niece. He had no contact with T.R. during his 10-year imprisonment. Upon his release from prison in 2013, Sweeney began contacting T.R. via Facebook and text message. By 2015, when T.R. was 14, their communications had turned sexual and included the mutual sending of explicit pictures, detailed discussion of sex acts, and plans to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts. T.R. alerted her adoptive parents, who contacted DHS, which alerted Sweeney’s parole officer. During a meeting with his parole officer, Sweeney indicated that he owned a cellular telephone that he had left at a homeless shelter. A parole officer and DHS officers went to the homeless shelter and secured the phone’s media-storage card, which DHS later searched pursuant to a warrant. Sweeney was convicted of production and receipt of child pornography, attempted enticement of a minor to engage in sexual conduct, and commission of a sex offense against a minor while required to register as a sex offender, and received a sentence of 55 years. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the court erred: in admitting evidence derived from the media-storage card; by applying a two-level enhancement (USSG 2G2.1(b)(5)), which applies when the defendant is the victim's “parent” because his parental rights were terminated; and in imposing a sentence that was procedurally unreasonable for failure to address mitigation arguments. View "United States v. Sweeney" on Justia Law

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Sweeney’s parental rights over his daughter, T.R., were terminated after he was convicted of raping his niece. He had no contact with T.R. during his 10-year imprisonment. Upon his release from prison in 2013, Sweeney began contacting T.R. via Facebook and text message. By 2015, when T.R. was 14, their communications had turned sexual and included the mutual sending of explicit pictures, detailed discussion of sex acts, and plans to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts. T.R. alerted her adoptive parents, who contacted DHS, which alerted Sweeney’s parole officer. During a meeting with his parole officer, Sweeney indicated that he owned a cellular telephone that he had left at a homeless shelter. A parole officer and DHS officers went to the homeless shelter and secured the phone’s media-storage card, which DHS later searched pursuant to a warrant. Sweeney was convicted of production and receipt of child pornography, attempted enticement of a minor to engage in sexual conduct, and commission of a sex offense against a minor while required to register as a sex offender, and received a sentence of 55 years. The Sixth Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the court erred: in admitting evidence derived from the media-storage card; by applying a two-level enhancement (USSG 2G2.1(b)(5)), which applies when the defendant is the victim's “parent” because his parental rights were terminated; and in imposing a sentence that was procedurally unreasonable for failure to address mitigation arguments. View "United States v. Sweeney" on Justia Law