Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

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Defendant was convicted of attempting to knowingly induce or entice a minor to engage in sexual activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2422(b), solicitation of another to commit the crime of federal kidnapping under 18 U.S.C. 1201(a) in violation of 18 U.S.C. 373, and knowingly transmitting a communication containing a threat to kidnap in violation of 18 U.S.C. 875(c). The Eleventh Circuit held that sufficient evidence supported defendant's conviction for Count 1, and the district court did not err in rejecting the testimony of two proposed experts. However, because section 1201(a) can be violated without the "use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property or against the person of another" as required by section 373(a)'s force clause, and because the court knows from Curtis Johnson v. United States and its progeny that "physical force" does not include "intellectual force or emotional force," defendant's 373 conviction must be reversed. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part. View "United States v. Gillis" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court affirming Defendant's conviction of misdemeanor driving under the influence (DUI), holding that Defendant's allegations of error were without merit. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in affirming the county court's admission of evidence offered at trial that was not disclosed to him and erred in sentencing him because the prior conviction the court relied upon for a second offense was not disclosed to Defendant prior to sentencing. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's arguments regarding discovery violations were rejected due to Defendant's failure to seek a continuance, and there was no prejudice owing to any belated disclosures on the State's part. View "State v. Hatfield" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant's convictions for first degree murder, use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that there was no merit to Defendant's assignments of error. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in overruling Defendant's motion to suppress the search of his cell phone; (2) the district court did not err in admitting eight photographic exhibits over Defendant's objections and in concluding that multiple photographs of the same wounds on the victim were not unfairly prejudicial; and (3) eight of Defendant's eighteen claims of ineffective assistance of counsel were either without merit or not alleged with sufficient particularity, and the Court was unable to resolve Defendant's remaining claims of ineffective assistance. View "State v. Stelly" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the magistrate's dismissal of three pending misdemeanor charges against Defendant based on the legal proposition that Iowa courts lack jurisdiction over crimes committed on the Meskwaki Settlement, holding that the State may assert jurisdiction involving crimes committed on tribal lands by non-Indians involving either victimless crimes or non-Indian victims. An officer of the Meskwaki Nation Police Department filed two cases in district court alleging that Defendant committed the misdemeanor crimes of trespass, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of a no-contact order while on the Meskwaki Settlement. The magistrate dismissed the charges, concluding that recent federal legislation removed state jurisdiction for crimes committed on the Settlement. The Supreme Court reversed the dismissal of the charges and vacated the remaining portions of the district court's order, holding that the recent legislation left undisturbed state court criminal jurisdiction involving criminal acts involving non-Indians. View "State v. Stanton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant's sentence in connection with her Alford plea to four counts of child endangerment entered pursuant to a plea agreement, holding that the State breached the plea agreement with Defendant and that Defendant's original counsel was ineffective for failing to object. On appeal, Defendant argued that, pursuant to the plea agreement between the parties, the State was obligated to jointly recommend a deferred judgment. Instead, at the sentencing hearing, the State recommended, and the court imposed, a two-year suspended prison sentence without objection from defense counsel. The court of appeals affirmed Defendant's conviction and sentence. Thereafter, amendments to Iowa Code 814.6 and 814.7, enacted in Senate File 589, were signed into law and became effective. The State argued before the Supreme Court that Senate File 589 foreclosed relief in this appeal. The Supreme Court held (1) sections 814.6 and 814.7, as amended, do not apply to a direct appeal from a judgment and sentence entered before July 1, 2019; and (2) the State breached the plea agreement and Defendant's counsel was ineffective. The Supreme Court remanded the case for the State's specific performance of the plea agreement and resentencing by a different judge. View "State v. Macke" on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit held that petitioner's prior Texas conviction for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver was a violation of a state law "relating to a controlled substance" as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Therefore, the court held that petitioner failed to show that the BIA erred in finding that his Texas drug delivery conviction rendered him removable. The court also held that it lacked jurisdiction to review the BIA's discretionary decision to deny cancellation of removal. Accordingly, the court denied the petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding of removability and discretionary denial of petitioner's application for cancellation of removal. View "Padilla v. Bar" on Justia Law

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A.W. committed five counts of felony vandalism. The court declared minor a ward of the state and ordered him to serve 37 days in juvenile hall. The sole question on appeal was whether the evidence supported a finding that, for each count, “the amount of defacement, damage, or destruction [was] four hundred dollars ($400) or more,” as required to elevate the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. The Court of Appeal determined the only competent testimony on that issue came from an employee of the City of Palmdale who helped prepare an analysis of the average cost to clean up an instance of graffiti. The Court determined: (1) use of an average, by itself, was not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the amount of damage inflicted by minor was equal to the average cleanup cost, rather than some other number; (2) the calculation included the cost of law enforcement, which, though proper in certain restitution settings, was not a proper consideration in assessing the damage minor inflicted under the applicable statute; and (3) Palmdale’s methodology for calculating the average cost is flawed. The Court reversed adjudication in part with direction to reduce the felony counts to misdemeanors. View "In re A.W." on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed the superior court's order denying defendant's petition for recall of his sentence pursuant to Penal Code, section 1170.126. The court held that the trial court's determination that defendant intended to inflict great bodily injury was supported by substantial evidence. In this case, the trial court properly inferred defendant's intent from the circumstances surrounding the battery, and actual infliction of great bodily injury is not a prerequisite to finding intent to cause such injury. View "People v. Thomas" on Justia Law

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In 2001, Greco threatened to put a pipe bomb in his ex-girlfriend’s car. She obtained a protective order. He put the bomb in her car. It exploded, injuring her and destroying her car. Greco pleaded guilty to manufacturing and possessing an unregistered pipe bomb. 26 U.S.C. 5861(d) and 5861(f). The government informed the court that this was the third time in 10 years Greco had detonated a pipe bomb. Greco's 180-month prison sentence ended in 2015. Greco was to remain on supervised release until April 2018. One condition of that release was that he would “not commit another federal, state or local crime.” He violated that condition when he posted threatening Facebook messages about another ex-girlfriend despite a court order not to contact her. A federal judge approved a warrant for Greco’s arrest in March 2018. Seven months later another judge revoked his supervised release and ordered a new term of imprisonment, with a new term of supervised release. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that the court lacked jurisdiction to revoke Greco's supervised release because the warrant was not supported by probable cause. The judge received a report explaining how Greco had broken the terms of his release by violating state law, which was enough to establish probable cause. The court remanded for clarification of the conditions the court imposed for his second term of supervised release. View "United States v. Greco" on Justia Law

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The Court of Appeal affirmed defendant's conviction for criminal threats against the mother of his daughter. The court held that defendant's threats against his child's mother constitute domestic violence under Family Code section 6211, a statutory section expressly cross-referenced in Penal Code section 136.2, subdivision (i)(1), and therefore the trial court properly issued the protective order. The court also held that the due process analysis in People v. Dueñas (2019) 30 Cal.App.5th 1157, did not support its broad holding and was distinguishable on its facts from this case. View "People v. Caceres" on Justia Law