FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

Daily criminal law and procedure case summaries, brought to you by FindLaw.com.

US v. Pervis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. A Texas bank robbery was properly considered a crime of violence and it was a second or subsequent offense in relation to an attempt made two days earlier.
Posted: August 30, 2019, 8:00 am

In re Sagin

(California Court of Appeal) - Vacated conviction. Defendant was sentenced to life without parole for the conviction of a murder in 1986. He petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus asserting that newly available DNA evidence shows that he was not at the scene of the crime.
Posted: August 30, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Kuma

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of vehicular manslaughter. Defendant challenged the judgment contending that the jury received confusing and conflicting instructions. The appeals court held that if any error occurred it was harmless.
Posted: August 30, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Kalu

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. The application of two sentencing enhancements in the case of a person who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud was not a procedural error.
Posted: August 30, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Heon-Ceol Chi

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Finding the crime described in Article 129 of South Korea’s Criminal Code fits squarely within the definition of “bribing a public official” from 18 U.S.C. Section 1956, the indictment was sufficient and there was no instructional error.
Posted: August 30, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Barrett

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed in part, vacated in part. Defendant challenged his conviction for using firearms in the commission of violent crimes. Because categorizing crimes of violence cannot be done on a case-by-case basis, the defendant’s charge for using firearms in the commission of a robbery is vacated.
Posted: August 30, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Force

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed and remand for new trial. Defendant is a sexually violent predator who is currently receiving treatment at a state mental hospital. He challenged the court order denying his petition to be placed in a conditional release program on the grounds that he was denied a fair trial. The appeals court agreed stating that the prosecutor interfered with Defendant’s right to testify and the trial court erroneously refused to admit his release plan into evidence. The appeals court held that a fair trial is a fundamental right.
Posted: August 29, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. London, Jr.

(United States First Circuit) - Affirmed. A motion to correct a 1996 sentence as a career offender was not timely because the motion asserts a right not recognized in caselaw.
Posted: August 29, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Hall

(California Court of Appeal) - Appeal dismissed. Defendant pled no contest to identity theft. She was sentenced to county jail and the court imposed various fees and assessments. Defendant challenged the fees and assessments but claimed no error at trial or at the time of sentencing as required by Penal Code 1237.2. Therefore, the appeal must be dismissed
Posted: August 29, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Haynes

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Different charges involved in a nested set of charges were divisible and a jury could find the accused guilty of the underlying Hobbs Act robberies.
Posted: August 29, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Pugh

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed, remanded for resentencing. Because defendant’s letter describing his allegiance to the Islamic State was never translated or otherwise communicated to his wife, the marital communication privilege does not apply.
Posted: August 29, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Lillard

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversed. The panel held that, in the context of the restitution statute, “period of incarceration” does not include pretrial detention. The district court’s order to seize funds in the defendant’s inmate trust account is reversed.
Posted: August 28, 2019, 8:00 am

Sanchez v. Davis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. Even if an attorney's failure to object to a question about his immigration status during a murder trial had been ineffectual assistance it was not prejudicial.
Posted: August 28, 2019, 8:00 am

In re R.C.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Juvenile defendant, R.C., a high school student, used his cellphone to record a video while he was having consensual sex with a female high school student. She did not give permission. She requested that it be deleted. R.C. agreed to delete it if she would have sex with his friend. The Juvenile Court found that R.C. had committed an unauthorized invasion of privacy. R.C. argues that there was insufficient evidence that the cellphone was concealed as required by Penal Code 647. The appeals court offered an interpretation of “concealed” that include not telling about the intention to video record and keeping the cellphone hidden from sight, even though he later announced he was recording.
Posted: August 28, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Buchanan

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed conviction. Remanded for sentencing. Defendant was convicted of several crimes including kidnapping with intent to commit a sex offense. The trial court found certain sentence enhancement applied. The appeals court affirmed the judgment, but found several sentencing errors.
Posted: August 28, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Aguilar-Alonzo

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. A two-level enhancement of the sentence in the case of a man convicted on marijuana charges was not supported by the evidence.
Posted: August 27, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Cadena

(California Court of Appeal) - Vacated in part. Defendant was convicted of multiple lewd acts upon a child. Defendant argued that the evidence did not support part of the conviction and his sentence is unconstitutional. The appeals court agreed that the evidence supported only two lewd acts on each victim and that his sentence was unconstitutionally excessive.
Posted: August 27, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Barber

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Facebook evidence and cellphone data were properly admitted in the conviction of a man for stealing firearms from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
Posted: August 27, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Fontenot

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed. Defendant was charged with completed kidnapping but was convicted of attempted kidnapping. Defendant argued that a conviction for a crime he was not charged with violates the Sixth Amendment. The court held that a criminal defendant can be convicted of an attempted crime despite being charged with a completed crime because being charged with a completed crime is sufficient notice that he could be charged with an attempted crime.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Fitzgerald

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. The defendant’s prior Nevada conviction for attempted battery with substantial bodily harm in violation of Nev. Rev. Stat. Section 200.481(2)(b) and 193.330 qualifies as a felony conviction for a crime of violence under U.S.S.G. Section 2K2.1.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Fuentes-Rodriguez

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. A sentence following a guilty plea for illegal reentry was proper because assault-family violence qualifies as a crime of violence and is therefore an aggravated felony.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

In re N.C.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Juvenile defendant appealed from order of confinement of nine years for sexual battery upon intoxicated 17-year-old female. Appeals court found no abuse of discretion. Affirmed order denying attorney’s fees. Appeals court held that Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 fees are not recoverable in a dependency proceeding.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Montellano

(California Court of Appeal) - Appeal dismissed. The trial court’s order was a preliminary eligibility determination and was not appealable under Penal Code section 1238.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Aledamat

(Supreme Court of California) - Reversed court of appeal ruling that found prejudicial error. Defendant was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, specifically a box cutter. The Supreme Court concluded as a matter of law that a box cutter is not inherently deadly, but that the Defendant used the box cutter in a deadly way. The Court went on to say that the trial court’s determination that the box cutter was an inherently deadly weapon was harmless error.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Gonzalez

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Appeals court concluded that Defendant was property sentenced to consecutive sentences and should be remanded solely for resentencing in light of Penal Code section 1385.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

Crutsinger v. Davis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Denied. A man on death row could not show that a reasonable jurist would debate whether the district court abused its discretion denying a motion to reopen his final judgment and for stay of execution and did not establish circumstances justifying the exercise of equitable discretion.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

Assn. for L.A. Deputy Sheriffs v. Superior Court

(Supreme Court of California) - A prosecutor in a criminal case has a duty to disclose to the defense information that they personally know and information that they can learn about that is favorable to the accused. This obligation to disclose even includes restricted information about law enforcement officers. A law enforcement agency may disclose to the prosecution identifying information about an office and relevant exonerating or impeaching material in a confidential personnel file.
Posted: August 26, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Foster

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed. A mentally disordered offender’s commitment may continue after the offender’s term has expired if their condition is not in remission and they represent a substantial danger of physical harm.
Posted: August 22, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Grundfor

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed. Defendant pled no contest to driving under the influence and injuring another person. He was ordered to pay restitution. Defendant’s insurance carrier settled a civil lawsuit for the injuries and then the injured party sought attorney’s fees as restitution through the court. The trial court ordered the payment of attorney’s fees in restitution.
Posted: August 22, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Kelerchian

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The conviction of a man involved in defrauding arms manufacturers into selling machinegun and laser sights restricted by law for law enforcement and military use was affirmed.
Posted: August 22, 2019, 8:00 am

Janusiak v. Cooper

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. The state court determination that the long questioning and reference to access to her children were not coercion was affirmed, where a woman convicted of first degree homicide of an infant argued that statements made during an interrogation were involuntary and should have been suppressed.
Posted: August 22, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Green

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. The panel held that the district court erred by concluding it could not listen to the defendant’s allocution before determining whether a reduction of acceptance of responsibility was warranted under the Sentencing Guidelines, affecting the defendant’s substantial rights and fairness of the proceedings.
Posted: August 21, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Torfason

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed. Defendant was judged a mentally disordered offender (MDO) for bipolar disorder. With his bipolar disorder in remission, a re-commitment order was sought for Defendant’s pedophilia. The appeals court held that a re-commitment order must be based on the same mental disorder that was the basis of the original commitment.
Posted: August 21, 2019, 8:00 am

USA v. Simon

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant, a prior felon, was pulled over for a traffic stop. A drug-sniffing dog alerted on Defendants car. A search of the vehicle did not find drugs but did find a gun. Defendant was charged with felon-in-possession. Defendant was sentenced to 15 years. Defendant appealed on grounds that search was improper and error by trial court. Appellate court found no reversible error.
Posted: August 21, 2019, 8:00 am

Castillo v. Superior Court

(California Court of Appeal) - Writ issued and trial court directed to grant Defendant's motion. Defendant sought to have the complaint against him dismissed for failure to conduct a preliminary examination within 60 days. Trial court denied the motion, but Appeals court held the 60-day rule is absolute and there was no evidence that supported tolling the rule.
Posted: August 21, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Lee

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant was charged with executing a scheme to defraud local governments by falsely representing that his industrial fans were assembled in the United States. Appeals court found no error in the judgment or the sentence.
Posted: August 21, 2019, 8:00 am

Scrimo v. Lee

(United States Second Circuit) - Reversed. Finding the trial court’s exclusion of three defense witnesses violated defendant’s constitutional right to present a complete defense, the panel reverses and remands the judgement of the district court with direction to grant the writ.
Posted: August 20, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Burden

(United States DC Circuit) - Vacated and remanded. The district court erred in admitting deposition testimony by a witness who was deported before trial because they failed to make reasonable efforts to procure his presence.
Posted: August 20, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Johnson

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. An unconstitutional conviction did not occur when an attorney confirmed he no longer disputed restitution while in chambers but repeated this withdrawal in open court.
Posted: August 20, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Adams

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. Probable cause supported the search of a man's home and even if it hadn't the officers could rely on the warrant in good faith. Sentencing was properly calculated.
Posted: August 20, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Hopper

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Partially affirmed, partially vacated. A man was properly convicted on drug charges and was subject to a sentence enhancement for maintaining drug premises, but the court plainly erred in calculating his relevant conduct and the case was remanded for resentencing.
Posted: August 20, 2019, 8:00 am

In Re: Larry Swearingen

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Denied. The fourth federal habeas corpus petition and fifth motion to stay execution of a man convicted as a minor of capital murder were denied because they failed to meet the strict requirements imposed on successive petitions.
Posted: August 19, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Shayota

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. Concluding a witness was unavailable due to invocation of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the district court admitted prior civil deposition testimony. The panel affirms, finding any error was harmless because excluding the depositions would not have changed the outcome of the trial.
Posted: August 19, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Begay

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed in part, reversed in part. Defendant’s conviction for second-degree murder affirmed. However, because second-degree murder can be committed recklessly, it does not categorically constitute a “crime of violence.” Therefore, the conviction of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence is reversed.
Posted: August 19, 2019, 8:00 am

People v McDaniel

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed. Defendant appealed from multiple convictions for robbery. He challenged the trial court’s admission of police interrogation statements, text exchange with his mother, and books and documents found in his car. The appeals court found that the police interrogation was properly admitted, but the text messages and the books and documents were not. This error by the trial court was prejudicial and therefore required reversal and remand.
Posted: August 16, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Cano

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Reversed. Because forensic cell phone searches require reasonable suspicion, the district court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from warrantless searches of his cell phone.
Posted: August 16, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Rodriguez

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed order denying motion to vacate conviction. Defendant pled guilty to unlawful intercourse with a person under age 16 for which he received probation. He was then taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service and ordered removed. He admitted to violating his probation because he was in the custody of the INS and deported. He also married the victim and had two children by her. Defendant filed a petition to vacate his conviction under Penal Code 1473.7 which was denied by the trial court. The appeals court held that the trials court’s order must be reversed because the motion was denied based on untimeliness and without the presence of the defendant or his counsel.
Posted: August 16, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Giles

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed. A confession taken after prolonged solitary confinement did not violate Fifth Amendment rights.
Posted: August 15, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Glenn

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. There was no error in proceedings leading to the conviction of a man for transporting, shipping, and accessing child pornography.
Posted: August 15, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Clark

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Vacated conviction, otherwise affirmed. A hearing should have been held on the issue of a search warrant where the criminal informant was potentially not credible.
Posted: August 15, 2019, 8:00 am