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Defendant Victor Pixley was charged with unlawful trespass after he was found in an unoccupied farmhouse. Defendant testified that he was homeless, and he and his friend entered the property looking for a place to sleep. He stated that he entered the property at night and did not see any signs noticing against trespass. Defendant stated that he does not read so he would not have understood the signs in any event. In closing arguments, defendant admitted to entering the land and going into the farmhouse, but he argued that he was not provided with meaningful notice against trespass. Defendant appealed his eventual conviction, arguing the trial court's instruction to the jury on the notice element of the trespass charge amounted to plain error. Finding no reversible error, the Vermont Supreme Court affirmed. View "Vermont v. Pixley" on Justia Law

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In October 2015, the State charged defendant Michael Tobin with aggravated sexual assault based on allegations that defendant had sexually abused his biological son while the child was under the age of thirteen. After a jury trial in December 2016, the jury found defendant guilty. Defendant, on his own and through counsel, made several arguments on appeal. The Vermont Supreme Court understood those arguments as: (1) there was insufficient evidence that the victim was under thirteen years old because the State provided no evidence of the victim’s date of birth; (2) defendant was not properly informed of the charge; (3) there was a Brady violation because the State withheld recordings of witnesses’ statements; (4) defendant’s counsel provided ineffective assistance; (5) the State violated 3 V.S.A. 129a; (6) the case was outside the statute of limitations; (7) his conviction violated the Double Jeopardy Clause and was untimely filed; and (8) the trial court committed plain error in correcting defendant’s sentence when he was not present. The Supreme Court found no reversible errors and affirmed defendant's convictions. View "Vermont v. Tobin" on Justia Law

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Defendant Christian Noll appealed his conviction for stalking, arguing that: (1) the criminal stalking statute, as it existed when he was charged, was facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; (2) application of the statute to his case was unconstitutional; (3) the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to convict him of stalking; (4) the jury instruction allowed the jury to convict based on time-barred acts; and (5) the jury instruction failed to adequately describe the parameters of the true-threat doctrine under the First Amendment. The Vermont Supreme Court concluded the criminal stalking statute at the time defendant was charged was facially valid because it included within the definition of stalking only constitutionally unprotected threatening speech. The statute was appropriately applied to defendant because, considering the evidence overall, a jury could conclude that the expression, which formed part of the stalking charge, was constitutionally unprotected threatening speech. However, the Court concluded the jury instruction allowed the jury to convict defendant based solely on acts that occurred outside of the applicable statute of limitations. On this basis, the Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. View "Vermont v. Noll" on Justia Law

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Defendant challenged his conviction for mayhem, contending that the trial court engaged in improper judicial factfinding to determine that his prior conviction of assault from 1991 under Penal Code section 245, subdivision (a)(1), was a serious felony and a strike under California's "Three Strikes" law, violating his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. The Court of Appeal held that the trial court erred in relying upon the preliminary hearing transcript to support the finding that the prior felony was a serious felony. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "People v. Hudson" on Justia Law

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After remand from the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal reaffirmed defendants' convictions and order modifications. The court directed the trial court on remand to hold a hearing on ability to pay. The court also remanded for resentencing. The court directed the trial court to consider, in light of People v. Contreras, (2018) 4 Cal.5th 349, any mitigating circumstances of Defendant Moreland's crimes and life, and the impact of any new legislation and regulations on appropriate sentencing. The court also directed the trial court to impose a time by which Moreland could seek parole. View "People v. Adams" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed upon Defendant, a convicted fraudster, particularly the restitution order entered pursuant to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, in the amount of $581,880, holding that the district court satisfied the requirements of the MVRA. Defendant pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail fraud and two counts of visa fraud. The government sought a total of $581,880 in restitution on behalf of 368 victims. The district court adopted the government’s calculations and ordered restitution accordingly. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) both the district court and the First Circuit had jurisdiction over the matter; and (2) there was no abuse of discretion in the order of restitution. View "United States v. Naphaeng" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 276 months in prison for conspiracy to commit kidnapping, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally flawed nor substantively unreasonable. After Defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit kidnapping, the district court imposed a below-guidelines sentence. On appeal, Defendant challenged the sentence’s procedural and substantive reasonableness. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the ransom-demand enhancement under section 2A4.1(b)(1) of the guidelines was not plain error; (2) Defendant’s arguments regarding the judge not expressly ruling on his objections to the presentence report’s inclusion of a two-level obstruction-of-justice enhancement and rejection of a two-level minor-role reduction did not amount to procedural unreasonableness; and (3) Defendant’s sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Romero" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit denied Petitioner’s application seeking permission to file a successive motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate her conviction and sentence for possessing a destructive device during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, holding that Petitioner’s application did not meet the requirements for certification of a successive section 2255 motion. Petitioner sought to file this successive motion in 2016 following the Supreme Court’s decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). Petitioner then supplemented her motion after Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018), was decided. Petitioner hoped to argue in the district court that the rule announced in Johnson and reiterated in Dimaya rendered the definition of “crime of violence” under which she was convicted unconstitutionally void for vagueness. The First Circuit denied the application, holding that Johnson’s rule, reaffirmed in Dimaya, did not extend to Petitioner’s conviction under 924(c)’s residual clause. View "Brown v. United States" on Justia Law

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Kevin Megown beat Michelle R., the mother of his child. After one incident where Michelle's mother, Maria R., came to aid her, Megown threatened to kill both of them as he held a gun. A jury convicted Megown of violating a domestic violence restraining order, possessing an assault weapon, and inflicting corporal injury on a cohabitant. It also found true allegations that he inflicted great bodily injury in circumstances involving domestic violence. The jury acquitted on some counts and could not reach a verdict on several others. Megown was retried on some of the unresolved counts. A second jury convicted Megown of inflicting corporal injury on a cohabitant, three counts each of criminal threats, and assault with a semiautomatic firearm. The trial court sentenced Megown to a total term of 17 years in prison. On appeal, Megown argued the trial court erred by: (1) admitting past uncharged acts of domestic violence under Evidence Code section 1109 with respect to the counts involving Maria; (2) admitting evidence of abuse that occurred more than 10 years before the charged crimes; (3) giving CALCRIM No. 875 (assault with a firearm) without modification; and (4) failing to stay the sentence on one of the criminal threats counts under Penal Code section 654. He also claimed the abstract of judgment should have been amended to accurately reflect the trial court's oral pronouncement and that the cumulative effect of the above errors require reversal. While the Court of Appeal agreed the trial court erred when it failed to stay the sentence on one of the criminal threats counts under Penal Code section 654 and that the abstract of judgment should be corrected, it rejected Megown's other arguments. The matter was remanded for the limited purpose of allowing the trial court to determine whether to strike the firearm enhancements. In all other respects, the convictions were affirmed. View "California v. Megown" on Justia Law

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A jury found defendant Andrey Yushchuk guilty of second degree "Watson" murder, misdemeanor drunk driving (DUI) and misdemeanor aggravated DUI (over 0.08 percent blood-alcohol content); it acquitted him of felony DUI-with-injury charges. The trial court sentenced defendant to prison for an unstayed term of 15 years to life. On appeal, defendant argued: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to acquit at the close of the State's case-in-chief; and (2) the court misinstructed the jury regarding permissive inferences. Finding no reversible error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "California v. Yushchuk" on Justia Law