Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Wyoming Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor, holding that Defendant was not denied his right to a speedy trial under Wyo. R. Crim. P. 48. Defendant was charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. On April 9, 2018, the district court arraigned Defendant, starting the 180-day speedy trial clock. Defendant's trial, however, was not held within 180 days of his arraignment. Instead, Defendant's trial commenced on October 15, 2018, 190 days later. At issue was whether the district court properly continued the trial beyond the 180-day mandate of Rule 48(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court properly granted a continuance under Wyo. R. Crim. P. 48(b)(4)(A) even though Defendant did not agree to a continuance and the motion was not supported by a written affidavit; and (2) therefore, the ten-day continuance did not count toward the 180-day limit, and Defendant was not denied his right to a speedy trial. View "Flores-Gomez v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's sentence imposed in connection with his conviction of domestic battery and failure to register as a sex offender, holding that the district court gave Defendant adequate credit for his presentence confinement. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to domestic battery and failure to register as a sex offender. The court sentenced Defendant to a prison term of two to three years for the failure to register and a term of 180 days for the domestic battery, to run concurrently with each other and the sentence Defendant was already serving. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant's requested credit; and (2) because Defendant was not promised credit in addition to that to which he was entitled by law, he was not impermissibly induced to plead guilty, and his protected interest in the credit was not affected. View "Petersen v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions of aggravated assault and battery, domestic battery, strangulation of a household member, violating a protective order, and witness intimidation, holding that there was one trial error in a single incident of prosecutorial misconduct, but Defendant suffered no prejudice from the comment. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial based on the State's alleged failure to disclose exculpatory evidence; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by vouching for the credibility of the victim, but the comment was not prejudicial; (4) the district court did not err in joining charges against Defendant for trial; (5) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion for a Daubert hearing on the testimony of the State's domestic violence expert; and (6) cumulative error did not warrant reversal of Defendant's conviction. View "Byerly v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant's conviction of third-degree sexual assault, holding that, on retrial, the district court inadequately instructed the jury. Defendant's first jury trial ended in not-guilty verdicts on two counts and a mistrial on the third count. On retrial, the jury found Defendant guilty of third-degree sexual assault. Defendant appealed, asserting that the second trial violated the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy. The Supreme Court reversed the conviction, holding (1) Defendant's second trial for third-degree sexual assault did not violate the prohibition against double jeopardy; but (2) the jury was not properly instructed on the law under which it could find Defendant guilty of third-degree sexual assault. View "Cercy v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) causing serious bodily injury but remanded for issuance of a corrected sentencing order, holding that Defendant's 211-day sentence on Count V, fleeing or attempting to elude police officers was illegal because it exceeded the statutory maximum and that the district court's written sentence failed to conform to its oral pronouncement with respect to credit for time served. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient for the jury to convict Defendant of DUI causing serious bodily injury; and (2) Defendant's sentence for fleeing or attempting to elude police officers was illegal because it clearly exceeded the statutory maximum, and the district court's written sentence failed clearly to conform to its oral pronouncement and the law with respect to credit for time served. View "Nesius v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained after a search of his camper, holding that the search warrant contained sufficient untainted evidence to establish probable cause to search the camper. Defendant was charged with possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, challenging the reasonableness of a search on September 8, 2017 and the probable cause for search warrants issued on September 9, 2017 and September 12, 2017. The district court denied the motion to suppress, and Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's guilty plea did not preserve a Franks argument; and (2) even assuming the law enforcement officer unconstitutionally searched the camper when he opened plastic covering to look through a window on September 8, the warrant affidavit established probable cause through evidence attributable to the officer's unchallenged look through another window. View "Workman v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court denying Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search of Defendant's vehicle, holding that the law enforcement officer did not violate Defendant's Fourth Amendment rights by detaining him for a drug-dog sniff of his vehicle. Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of more than three ounces of marijuana. Defendant verbally reserved the right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of Defendant's motion to suppress, holding (1) while conditional plea agreements are typically required, under the unique circumstances of this case this Court exercises its discretion to review the verbally-reserved issue; and (2) Defendant was not seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment when the officer stopped him for following another vehicle too closely, and Defendant had reasonable suspicion justifying detaining Defendant for a drug-dog sniff of the vehicle. View "Robinson v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed in part the district court's "Order on Petition for Revocation of Probation" and remanded the matter to the district court with instructions to award Appellant an additional 341 days of credit for time served, holding that Appellant should receive an additional 341 days of credit for time served. Appellant entered an unconditional guilty plea to one count of possession of a felony amount of methamphetamine. The district court revoked Appellant's initial probation and imposed a split sentence. Appellant subsequently spent time in jail and in residential treatment. After he completed residential treatment Appellant entered the probationary term of his split sentence. The probation was later revoked. The district court then entered the order at issue, revoking Appellant's probation and imposing a three to five-year sentence, with credit for 120 days served. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding that Appellant should receive an additional 341 days of credit for time served, from the time the split sentence was imposed through the time he was released from residential treatment/custody. View "Hoback v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of attempted sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, holding that errors in the jury instructions and any deficiencies in defense counsel's performance associated with the instructions were not prejudicial. Specifically, the Court held (1) the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to convict Defendant of attempted sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree; (2) the jury instructions on the elements of attempted sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree were incorrect; (3) it was unnecessary to discuss in detail whether defense counsel's performance in addressing the jury instructions was deficient; and (4) Defendant was not prejudiced by incorrect jury instructions and/or his counsel's deficient performance because the State presented overwhelming showing Defendant was guilty of the crime. View "Weston v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court revoking Defendant's probation and imposing sentence, holding that the district court had authority to revoke Defendant's probation and did not abuse its discretion when it revoked Defendant's probation. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court lacked the authority to revoke his probation because the probation violation did not occur during the probationary period, as required by Wyo. Stat. 7-13-305(c) and, even if the court had the authority, it abused its discretion because there was no evidence supporting a finding that Defendant violated the probation condition willfully. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the phrase "probation period" encompasses the time during which a sentence is suspended and the time during which probation is being served; and (2) the district court could reasonably infer from the facts that Defendant willfully violated the term of his probation. View "Sena v. State" on Justia Law