FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

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

P. v. Kaufman

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the conviction of a man for grand theft by larceny because substantial evidence supported the conviction, there was no basis for the use of the victim's attempted extortion as a valid defense to the crime, and even if it were a defense not enough evidence was provided to establish the extortion for it to warrant a jury instruction, but rejecting a claim by the People of sentencing error and concluding that the trial court classified the offense as a misdemeanor by operation of law in a factually complicated case involving the sale of office property between friends.
Posted: November 16, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. CVS Caremark Corporation

(United States Third Circuit) - Affirming the district court's dismissal of a suit relating to the False Claims Act because although the court mistakenly relied upon the government knowledge inference doctrine in dismissing claims, the misrepresentations underlying the suit were not material to the government's decision to pay the underlying claims.
Posted: November 16, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Solorio

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing and remanding a conviction for first degree murder because although the court denied his motion for a new trial on grounds of jury misconduct it had also made a factual finding that the jury discussed the defendant's decision not to testify several times despite repeatedly being told that it was not to be considered, which gives rise to the presumption that prejudice occurred that was not rebutted.
Posted: November 16, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Garcia

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the imposition of a statutorily mandated life sentence in the case of a man who, while a guest at his sister-in-law's house, raped his niece while in the course of a first degree burglary, because although he was a guest in the home his entry into rooms with the intent to commit a felony and without the authority to do so still constituted burglary, despite the fact that he didn't have to break into the home itself.
Posted: November 14, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Watts

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing the trial court's denial of a motion for a new trial with respect to the allegation that a man convicted of murder did so for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal street gang, which had been insufficiently established to support a gang enhancement allegation, but otherwise affirming.
Posted: November 14, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Concepcion Montijo

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the imposition of a sentence in the case of a man convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm because the court justified an upward variance from the guideline by referencing his long criminal record, so any error in calculation was harmless, and this decision was reasonable given the pattern of serious crimes shown by the court.
Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Burhoe

(United States First Circuit) - Denying the petition for panel rehearing in a case where the evidence was sufficient to show that appellants willfully violated the statute involving a man's improper service as a union representative and determining that the prior failure to address the district court's refusal to investigate a juror's post-verdict message would not have altered the decision's outcome.
Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Wall

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirming the judgment of death in the automatic appeal of the conviction of a man for two first-degree murders in which multiple special circumstances relating to the crimes were taken into consideration, but remanding for new findings relating to restitution since the trial court applied the wrong statute in imposing the prior restitution order.
Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Zabala

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the judgment in the case of a man convicted for transporting a controlled substance, possession for sale, and driving with a suspended license because although the removal of a car's dashboard console exceeded the scope of a permissible inventory search the search was supported by probable cause and therefore lawful under the automobile exception to the warrant requirement.
Posted: November 13, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Valdivia

(California Court of Appeal) - Rejecting a domestic abuse defendant's challenges to a condition of his probation authorizing warrantless searches of his electronic storage devices such as computers and phones because the condition was not unreasonable or unconstitutional, while complaints about the violation of the privacy interests of third parties were barred by forfeiture, but agreeing that the condition was overbroad and the court ordered the striking of the condition and asked the trial court to consider whether it could be narrowed to allow it to pass constitutional muster.
Posted: November 8, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Avignone

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing and remanding the case of a couple that defrauded five investors out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in a real estate scheme who pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud in connection with the offer, sale, and purchase of a security and two counts of grand theft of personal property because the trial court did not have the discretion to sentence them to county jail rather than prison and improperly calculated restitution, but rejecting the argument that the court abused its discretion in denying probation.
Posted: November 8, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Lopez Ortiz

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the judgment and sentence in the case of a criminal defendant whose supervised release was terminated and a statutorily authorized above-guideline term of imprisonment was imposed after he repeatedly violated the terms of his release just months into his commencement in the program because although he was made to proceed first in the presentation of evidence this error was harmless.
Posted: November 8, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Montalvo-Gerena

(United States First Circuit) - Summarily dismissing the appeal of a sentence that was the product of a plea agreement and squarely within the sentences contemplated in the agreement because the court upheld the waiver of appeal that was included within the plea agreement and there was no miscarriage of justice in the defendant's run-of-the-mill claims of sentencing error.
Posted: November 8, 2017, 8:00 am

Hoffman v. The Superior Court of Orange County

(California Court of Appeal) - Denying a writ petition filed by a criminal defendant in the case of a person who was the subject of a felony complaint alleging 121 counts of healthcare insurance fraud where each count related to a discrete act, each of which constituted the charged offense because any undue prejudice or complications resulting from the large number of counts can be adequately dealt with by a unanimity instruction at trial or by other tools at the court's disposal.
Posted: November 7, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Gordon

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's conviction of a man who tried to hire a hitman to kill his wife who turned out to be an undercover cop and then tried to hire a second killer to kill the first who also turned out to be an undercover officer, holding that the objection to the introduction of character evidence could not be pursued because a bald objection was not specific enough to preserve it for review and there was no indication that the admission influenced the outcome of the trial, but directing the district court to merge five multiplicitous counts into a single one for resentencing.
Posted: November 7, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Forest

(California Court of Appeal) - Denying the petition for a writ of coram vobis in the case of a man arrested and charged for felony assault after allegedly pointing a handgun at another man which was dismissed for insufficient evidence where the former defendant was seeking a court finding of factual innocence that was denied on the merits after an examination of the evidence presented.
Posted: November 7, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Hernandez-Quintania

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Conviction for unauthorized reentry to the United States by a previously deported alien is affirmed where: 1) there was substantial evidence presented at trial that defendant was in the country without the consent of the Attorney General or Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; and 2) the district court properly denied defendant's Batson challenge because he failed to make a prima facie case of discrimination.
Posted: November 3, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Johnson

(United States Ninth Circuit) - A custodial deputy's conviction for obstruction of justice, resulting from failure to include material information in several reports, is reversed under the federal nexus standard where there was insufficient evidence for any rational juror to find that defendant's reports would have reached federal officers.
Posted: November 2, 2017, 8:00 am

People v. Francis

(California Court of Appeal) - Sentence of twenty-five years for assault with a semiautomatic firearm is affirmed as modified. The court held that the gang enhancement for 'other felonies' cannot be appended to a serious or violent felony, and modified the sentence accordingly.
Posted: October 31, 2017, 8:00 am

People v. Lee

(California Court of Appeal) - Sentence of twenty-five years to life for four felonies after defendant was found driving a stolen car is vacated where the trial court erred in believing it lacked discretion to reduce the convictions to misdemeanors under Penal Code section 17(b).
Posted: October 31, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Palin

(United States Fourth Circuit) - Husband and wife's convictions for health care fraud and conspiracy to engage in health care fraud under 18 U.S.C. sections 1347 and 1349, arising from a scheme to give insured patients repeated, unnecessary urine tests, are affirmed where: 1) materiality constitutes an element of the convicted offenses; and 2) even if the district court failed to consider materiality, the error was harmless.
Posted: October 30, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Kelly

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Conviction and sentence for selling and possessing with intent to sell over 446 grams of ethylone is affirmed where the DEA's temporary listing of ethylone as a controlled substance was lawful and defendant's sentence was not improper.
Posted: October 30, 2017, 8:00 am

Serrano v. Superior Court

(California Court of Appeal) - In a criminal action, the defendant's writ of mandate is granted where the trial court erred in requiring allegations of specific officer misconduct supporting his motion to produce discovery regarding an officer's personnel file under People v. Superior Court (Johnson), 61 Cal.4th 696 (2015).
Posted: October 30, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Levin

(United States First Circuit) - In a criminal law action, the district court's grant of defendant's motion to suppress evidence retrieved from his computer using a network investigative technique, transmitted to his computer after downloading material from Playpen, a child pornography site taken over and operated by the FBI, is reversed where the a FBI's good faith reliance on the search warrant meets the exception of U.S. v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984).
Posted: October 27, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Harrison

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing the denial of a motion for a new trial in a criminal case where the prosecution failed to disclose a video recording of the appellant invoking his right to remain silent during a Miranda interrogation and the policeman testified that the appellant waived his Miranda rights and admitted to the crime because this violated the longstanding Brady rule relating to exculpatory evidence.
Posted: October 26, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Thompson

(United States Fourth Circuit) - Affirming the imposition of a sentence that included an enhancement for a prior conviction for assault inflicting serious bodily injury because the court correctly held that this constituted a crime of violence under the residual clause of the US Sentencing Guidelines authorizing such enhancements.
Posted: October 26, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Wallen

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Vacating the conviction of a man following a bench trial in a case involving the killing of three grizzly bears in violation of the Endangered Species Act because the magistrate judge misconceived the self-defense element of the offense, which is governed by a subjective rather than objective standard.
Posted: October 25, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Perez

(California Court of Appeal) - Partially affirming and partially reversing the conviction of a man involved in a scheme involving one cell of a drug cartel murdering and robbing members of another cell they owed money, holding that trial counsel forfeited any objection to expert testimony to case-specific hearsay by failing to raise it in the lower court and reversing two special circumstances imposed by the court, but also finding that this did not result in prejudicial error.
Posted: October 25, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Latorre-Cacho

(United States First Circuit) - Vacating a conviction for a single count of conspiracy in violation of the Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act because the district court's jury instructions incorrectly described what constitutes racketeering activity when it referred to firearms offenses as racketeering.
Posted: October 25, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Buell

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the revocation of mandatory supervision and sentence to a term in county jail for a man who was under supervision following a felony conviction for driving under the influence who had been wearing an alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet that reported his consumption of booze because the report indicating he consumed alcohol was hearsay bearing a substantial guarantee of trustworthiness, admissible in probation revocation proceedings, and provided substantial indicia of reliability.
Posted: October 25, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Luo

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the jury conviction of a man for involuntary manslaughter following the collapse of an unsupported excavation at a construction site that resulted in a worker's death because expert testimony was unnecessary to establish that the unsupported excavation presented a serious danger and this determination did not involve information beyond the average person's common experience.
Posted: October 25, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Mathews

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the admission of evidence gathered by police officers at a hospital from a man who robbed a victim at gunpoint and then accidentally shot himself, in which the collection of evidence was not a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights because a defendant who gives a false name to a police officer and a record check fails to reveal that they are subject to a probation search condition is estopped from challenging the legality of ensuing searches or seizures that would have been authorized had the officer been aware of the condition.
Posted: October 25, 2017, 8:00 am

Gholipour v. The Superior Court of San Diego County

(California Court of Appeal) - Denying the petition for writ of mandate challenging an order by the trial court relating to the amount of petitioner's restitution because although the case was transferred to the superior court of another county while her appeal from a workers' compensation fraud conviction was pending, the trial court retained jurisdiction over restitution.
Posted: October 24, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Malik

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming a conviction for assault with a deadly weapon and making a criminal threat because although the trial court abused its discretion and violated the defendant's confrontation rights by allowing a prosecutor to relate case-specific testimonial hearsay from police reports to a jury during cross-examination of an expert witness the error was harmless.
Posted: October 24, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Torres-Rivera

(United States First Circuit) - Vacating the denial of a motion to reduce sentence because it appeared from the record that the district court may have been led to believe that the defendant's conduct in prison was materially more problematic than it actually was when the government used the word sanctions, implying that he had been sanctioned multiple times, when he had only been sanctioned once for a single incident.
Posted: October 23, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Peake

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming the district court's decision not to grant a new trial based on new evidence following the conviction of a man for an antitrust conspiracy in a case involving freight carrier rate fixing because although a qui tam whistleblower action relating to the conspiracy was unsealed in the interim the court reasoned that the massive amount of independently incriminating evidence already introduced against the defendant meant that there was no reason to believe that the outcome would change on retrial.
Posted: October 23, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Gonzales, Jr.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming a judgment involving various counts relating to child molestation where the prosecution introduced evidence of uncharged sex offenses defendant committed against the victim through the victim's own testimony, and not through the testimony of third parties, because such testimony, while uncommon, is supported by established precedent.
Posted: October 23, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Rodriguez III

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirming the admission of a report about the GPS signals transmitted by an ankle monitor showing that a felony convict had left the county in violation of his terms of his supervised release on multiple occasions because this evidence was not hearsay, it was computer-generated evidence presumed to be authentic and was admissible under the Evidence Code.
Posted: October 19, 2017, 8:00 am

P. v. Hahn

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversing a court determination that it lacked jurisdiction to order a man to serve a jail sentence following years of repeated failures to appear on the part of the defendant, including a failure to appear to serve the jail sentence at issue, because the defendant had waived their right to object to the court's enforcement of the term when he requested a stay of its execution and then failed to appear as scheduled.
Posted: October 19, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Robles-Alvarez

(United States First Circuit) - Affirming convictions for drug trafficking but vacating the sentence in a case where the district court failed to address the appellant's potentially persuasive argument in favor of a sentence varying from the advisory guideline range because there was a significant sentence disparity between him and his co-defendants.
Posted: October 18, 2017, 8:00 am

People v. Warmington

(California Court of Appeal) - In a criminal action, seeking to reduce defendant's 2003 felony embezzlement conviction after he stole a TV from his employer, Walmart, and returned it for a gift card, the trial court's order denying his petition for redesignation to a misdemeanor is reversed where embezzlement under Penal Code section 503 is eligible for redesignation.
Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Preston

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Conviction on two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child is reversed where the cumulative effect of improper witness testimony, prejudicial propensity evidence, and prosecutorial misconduct in commenting on the defendant's decision not to testify, witness vouching, and misstating evidence in summation rendered defendant's trial fundamentally unfair and prejudiced the outcome.
Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:00 am

Ganek v. Leibowitz

(United States Second Circuit) - In a Bivens action, brought against defendant FBI agents and federal prosecutors for alleged constitutional violations in searching plaintiff investment fund owner's Manhattan offices, the district court's denial of qualified immunity is reversed where a corrected search warrant affidavit would have supported probable cause, the corrected warrant would have issued, and plaintiff cannot plead defendants' actions caused him preventable constitutional harm.
Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:00 am

People v. Lewelling

(California Court of Appeal) - Conviction of a San Francisco Sheriff's deputy under Penal Code section 149, after using physical force to remove a disabled patient from San Francisco General Hospital, is reversed. The court held that the trial court's instructions to the jury on section 149 were inaccurate and misleading and prejudiced defendant's conviction.
Posted: October 17, 2017, 8:00 am

Hunter v. US

(United States First Circuit) - Consecutive sentences arising out of bank robbery counts and use of a firearm during a crime of violence are affirmed where federal bank robbery is a crime of violence under the force clause of 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)(3).
Posted: October 16, 2017, 8:00 am

People v. Navarra

(California Court of Appeal) - Conviction and sentence for first-degree murder, burglary, and conspiracy to commit murder are affirmed. The court held: (1) that Proposition 57 does not apply retroactively to defendant; and (2) retroactivity to juvenile offenders sentenced to life without parole is not required under Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016).
Posted: October 16, 2017, 8:00 am

People v. T.F.

(California Court of Appeal) - The court reversed a thirteen year old's juvenile conviction for lewd and lascivious conduct against a four-year-old girl where the minor defendant did not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights, his confession was not voluntary and the error was not harmless.
Posted: October 16, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Ortiz-Torres

(United States First Circuit) - Forty-six year sentence for brandishing and discharging firearms during a crime of violence, resulting in the death of two Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources officers, is affirmed where: 1) the government did not breach the plea agreement in arguing that defendant had not accepted responsibility for the crime; and 2) the district court's sentence was not substantively unreasonable.
Posted: October 13, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Bain

(United States First Circuit) - Conviction for heroin distribution and possession, and possessing a firearm and ammunition, is affirmed where, despite the police officer's use of a key found in defendants pocket to check for a matching apartment lock in a building, the officers relied in good faith on the intervening warrant.
Posted: October 13, 2017, 8:00 am

US v. Orth

(United States First Circuit) - Conviction for possessing a firearm and possessing heroin with intent to distribute is affirmed where the officer's stop, extended detention, pat search, and search of the vehicle wherein defendant was a passenger were reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.
Posted: October 13, 2017, 8:00 am