Criminal Law

Daily criminal law and procedure case summaries, brought to you by
  1. (United States Third Circuit) - In a motion for a sentencing reduction under 18 U.S.C. section 3582(c)(2), the district court's denial is affirmed, over defendant's claim that the denial is substantive unreasonable and the government's novel challenge to the court's appellate jurisdiction under , where: 1) jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. section 1291; and 2) the district court did not impose a substantively unreasonable sentence based upon the 18 U.S.C. section 3553(a) factors, the threat to public safety and defendant's post-sentencing conduct.
  2. (California Court of Appeal) - Sentence and conviction of possession of cocaine for sale, Health and Safety Code section 11352, and possession of ecstasy for sale, Health and Safety Code section 11378, are affirmed, over defendant's challenge to the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of a warrantless entry and search of his home by law enforcement officers, where the officers' initial entry and search was justified under the emergency aid exception to the warrant requirement.
  3. (California Court of Appeal) - Conviction on two counts of lewd and lascivious acts upon a child under 14 years old is affirmed over defendant's claims that the trial court erred in admitting a recorded telephone conversation between a defense witness and the mother of one of the victims, in violation of the exclusionary rule in Penal Code section 632(d) which bars the admission of evidence obtained as a result of recording a confidential communication without the consent of all parties, where the 'Right to Truth-in-Evidence' provision of the California Constitution, Cal. Const., art. I, section 28(f)(2), as enacted by the passage of Proposition 8 in 1982, abrogated that exclusionary rule to the extent it is invoked to suppress relevant evidence in a criminal proceeding.
  4. (United States Fourth Circuit) - In actions under 28 U.S.C. sections 2241, brought by petitioners seeking post-conviction relief in state court pursuant to North Carolina's Racial Justice Act (RJA), N.C. Gen. Stat. sections 15A-2010 to 2012 (2009) (repealed 2013),.each maintaining that a second RJA proceeding would violate their rights under the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the district court's decision to abstain from intervening in petitioners’ ongoing state court proceedings is affirmed pursuant to Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971), under the precept that a federal court 'should not act to restrain a [state] criminal prosecution, when the moving party has an adequate remedy at law and will not suffer irreparable injury if denied equitable relief.'
  5. (California Court of Appeal) - Sentence and conviction of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, Pen. Code section 191.5(a), driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, Veh. Code section 23153(a), and driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08% or greater causing injury, Veh. Code section 23153(b), with true findings that defendant inflicted great bodily injury, Pen. Code section 12022.7(a), and inflicted bodily injury to multiple victims, Veh. Code section 23558, are: 1) affirmed as to conviction where there is no reversible error; but 2) reversed and remanded for resentencing where the trial court erred in imposing a consecutive two-year term for the Vehicle Code section 23558 enhancement.
  6. (California Court of Appeal) - Sentence for guilty plea to drug and firearm offenses is affirmed where, although an amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines retroactively lowered the offense levels associated with two of the offenses to which defendant pleaded guilty, defendant's sentence was not based on the Guidelines.
  7. (United States Fourth Circuit) - The district court's denial of petitioner's motion under 28 U.S.C. section 2255 judgment is affirmed where: 1) the Johnson v. US, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) vagueness holding does not apply to the residual clause in section 4B1.2(a)(2); and thus 2) the court not err by determining that petitioner's unlawful wounding conviction qualified as a crime of violence under the residual clause.
  8. (United States Fourth Circuit) - Conviction of carjacking, 18 U.S.C. section 2119, is affirmed over defendant's meritless claims that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction and that the indictment was duplicitous.
  9. (United States Fourth Circuit) - In a petition for writ of habeas corpus relief from conviction by guilty to trafficking counterfeit merchandise,18 U.S.C. section 2320(a)(1), and deportation as an aggravated felon, the district court's denial of relief is reversed where petitioner's Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel was violated because he has demonstrated a reasonable likelihood that, but for his counsel's erroneous advice, he could have negotiated a different plea agreement.
  10. (California Court of Appeal) - Conviction of second degree robbery is reversed where insufficient evidence supports the conviction where the crucial inference that defendant was necessarily at the scene of the robbery because he was in the car when it was stopped is speculative without physical evidence linking him to the robbery, witnesses that were able to identify him, and other uncontroverted evidence which indicated that at least one of the car's occupants had changed between the time of the robbery and the location of the car by the police.
  11. (Supreme Court of California) - In a petition for writ of habeas corpus relief from a life sentence without parole, brought by a petitioner who was 16 when he committed murder, the Court of Appeals' denial of the petition on grounds that the existence of a statutory mechanism, Penal Code section 1170(d)(2), through which petitioner could seek recall of his sentence and resentencing to a term of life with the opportunity for parole, remedied any constitutional defect in petitioner's sentence, is reversed where section 1170(d)(2) does not provide an adequate remedy at law for a Miller v. Alabama error, and that petitioner may obtain a Miller resentencing as a form of habeas corpus relief.
  12. (United States Ninth Circuit) - Conviction for possession of a firearm by a prohibited person in violation of 18 U.S.C. section 922(g)(8) is affirmed where: 1) a return of service that the Government used to prove that the defendant had been served with notice of a hearing on a domestic violence protection order was admissible under the public record exception to hearsay in Fed. R. Evid. 803(8)(A)(ii); and 2) that admission of the return of service did not violate the defendant's rights under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.
  13. (California Court of Appeal) - Sentence and conviction of second degree murder, Pen. Code section 187(a), and arson of forest land, section 451(c), with findings that defendant personally discharged a firearm and caused the death of his victim, section 12022.53(d), are: 1) affirmed as to conviction where substantial evidence demonstrated the land in question was brush covered and thus constituted forest land under the statute; and 2) remanded as to sentence pursuant to People v. Franklin (2016) 63 Cal.4th 261, so that the parties may make a record in anticipation of defendant's youth offender parole hearing during the 25th year of his sentence.
  14. (United States Ninth Circuit) - In a habeas corpus petition challenging petitioner's California felony-murder conviction for her role in a bungled robbery that occurred when she was fourteen, the district court's denial of the petition is reversed where: 1) had counsel presented to the jury the opinion of a psychologist who evaluated petitioner after the verdict, the probability of a different result is sufficient to undermine confidence in the outcome; and 2) counsel's deficient performance therefore requires issuance of the writ.
  15. (United States Ninth Circuit) - A restitution order on a government appeal in a case in which the defendant was convicted of wire fraud, is affirmed where under 18 U.S.C. section 3663A and Ninth Circuit precedent, the district court could properly order restitution for all victims harmed by the defendant’s scheme to defraud, including those harmed by conduct beyond the count of conviction, and the district court’s conclusion to the contrary constituted an abuse of discretion.