FindLaw Opinion Summaries - Criminal

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

People v. Galindo

(California Court of Appeal) - Dismissed a criminal appeal. Held that a defendant who had agreed to a stipulated sentence prior to the passage of Senate Bill 1393 must obtain a certificate of probable cause before seeking resentencing under the new law.
Posted: May 22, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Astorga-Lider

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed an order declaring a deed of trust void, in a case where a woman pleaded guilty to grand theft for encumbering a married couple's real property with a fraudulent deed of trust.
Posted: May 22, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Randall

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Vacated a sentence for child pornography crimes, finding plain error in the offense level calculation. Remanded for resentencing.
Posted: May 22, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Tello

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed a man's conviction for transporting an illegal alien within the United States by means of a motor vehicle.
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Grandberry

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a man's conviction of unlawful possession of a dirk or dagger while confined in state prison. Rejected his assertion of instructional error.
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:00 am

Shalabi v. City of Fontana

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that the statute of limitations did not bar a son from suing over his father being fatally shot by a police officer. The issue here focused on when the son reached the age of majority. Reversed a dismissal.
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:00 am

Busby v. Davis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - In an amended opinion, affirmed that a man convicted of murdering an elderly woman was not entitled to federal habeas relief. He argued, among other things, that he was intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for execution.
Posted: May 20, 2019, 8:00 am

Gonzales v. Davis

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Denied a Texas inmate's request for a certificate of appealability to allege that he was incompetent to stand trial on capital sentencing.
Posted: May 17, 2019, 8:00 am

Molina v. Superior Court (the People)

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a defendant seeking to vacate his conviction pursuant to People v. Rodriguez (2012) 55 Cal.4th 1125 followed the wrong procedural avenue when he petitioned for a writ of mandate. Denied the petition without prejudice to pursuing a different form of relief.
Posted: May 17, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Reyes

(California Court of Appeal) - Reversed a defendant's conviction on firearms charges due to evidentiary error.
Posted: May 17, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Jones

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that the Confrontation Clause was violated when a law enforcement officer testified he knew that the defendant had received a large amount of methamphetamine because of what the officer was told by a confidential informant. Vacated the defendant's convictions.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

In re Robinson

(California Court of Appeal) - Addressed a question regarding Proposition 66's procedures for collateral review of capital convictions. The specific issue here involved the 2016 ballot measure's retroactivity.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Dalton

(Supreme Court of California) - Modified a sentence imposed in a capital murder case, on an automatic appeal.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Singh

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Largely affirmed two entrepreneurs' convictions for crimes stemming from illegal campaign contributions to local politicians in San Diego elections. As foreign nationals, they were prohibited by federal law from donating or contributing to American campaigns.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Montiel

(California Court of Appeal) - In a case where a man was convicted of molesting his niece, held that the trial court was authorized to award restitution to the victim's mother based on the mother's own psychological harm. Affirmed the decision below.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Jimenez

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a man's conviction for sexual molestation but remanded for resentencing. The trial court relied on sentencing enhancements that were never pleaded.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

Garcia v. US

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Denied a prison inmate's application for authorization to file a second or successive habeas petition. Held that the rule the Supreme Court recently established in Dean v. US was statutory, not constitutional, and the Court has not made it retroactive to cases on collateral review.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Smith

(California Court of Appeal) - Interpreted California Penal Code section 1381, which concerns the sentencing of defendants who are also subject to other pending criminal proceedings. Held that the provision was inapplicable here. Affirmed the trial court.
Posted: May 16, 2019, 8:00 am

Jensen v. Pollard

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Denied federal habeas relief to a Wisconsin prison inmate who had been convicted of murdering his wife. He contended that the state court failed to properly comply with a previous federal habeas ruling.
Posted: May 15, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Collins

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Affirmed a 10-year mandatory minimum prison sentence for a drug-trafficking offense. The defendant argued, unsuccessfully, that he qualified for the so-called safety valve.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

Gant v. Hartman

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a man who pleaded guilty to armed robbery may proceed with an excessive-force lawsuit against a police officer who shot him without allegedly giving him a chance to surrender. The question of whether the officer had qualified immunity could not be resolved on summary judgment because it depended on disputed issues of fact. Dismissed the officer's appeal from a denial of summary judgment.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Zamora

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that recent amendments to California's Penal Code that grant a trial court discretion to strike certain sentencing enhancements apply retroactively to cases not yet final at the time the amendments took effect.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Audette

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed a man's conviction of 81 counts of wire fraud. He argued, among other things, that he was not competent to represent himself and ought not have been permitted to do so.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

County of Orange v. Seneca Insurance Co.

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the trial court's order suspending a bail bond company's ability to act as a surety because a bail forfeiture remained unpaid.
Posted: May 14, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Sheth

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that the federal government miscalculated the value of certain bank account funds forfeited by a physician who was convicted of healthcare fraud. He was entitled to greater credit against a restitution judgment. Reversed in part and remanded.
Posted: May 13, 2019, 8:00 am

In re R.G.

(California Court of Appeal) - In a case involving California's felony murder rule, held that when a juvenile court has sustained a murder allegation on a natural and probable consequences theory, a juvenile may petition the court to have that conviction vacated. The court's ruling was based on recently enacted Senate Bill 1437.
Posted: May 13, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Richmond

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that police officers conducted a lawful Terry search when they seized a handgun from the threshold of a home's front door during an encounter with a man on his porch. Affirmed his conviction for possessing a firearm as a felon.
Posted: May 13, 2019, 8:00 am

Switzer v. Wood

(California Court of Appeal) - Plaintiff prevailed at trial on causes of action for fraud, conversion of property and violation of Penal Code 496. PC 496 provides enhanced civil penalties for knowingly selling stolen property. These penalties include treble damages and an award of attorney fees. The trial court declined to award treble damages on a civil suit and a portion of the attorney fees. Appellate court reversed the trial court judgment as to PC 496 and attorney fees stating that the statute was clear and unambiguous.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

US v Salcedo

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of using interstate commerce to attempt to coerce a minor into engaging in sexual activity and attempting to transfer obscene material to a minor. Defendant argued that material was not obscene and that there was no intention to transfer material to a minor. Fifth circuit affirmed the defendant's conviction.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

US v Ruvalcaba-Garcia

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant was convicted of illegally reentering the United States after having been removed. He alleged that his conviction was in error, because he was not the person removed. An expert witness was called to offer fingerprint analysis, but the trial court did not follow procedure for properly admitting the expert testimony. The Ninth circuit held that the trial court abused its discretion, but it was harmless error and that the record was sufficient to determine that the expert testimony was relevant and reliable.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

US v Fultz

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed. Defendant appealed sentencing for robbery alleging that his sentence was improperly enhanced as a violent crime. Defendant argued that robbery was not a crime of violence. The Ninth Circuit disagreed finding that robbery was a violent crime which satisfied the elements for an enhanced sentence.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

Prado v Barr

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Board of Immigration ruled that plaintiff's conviction for possession of marijuana made her removable even though a California Proposition reclassified the charge as a misdemeanor. The court held that partial expungement or reclassification of a crime does not eliminate the immigration consequences of a conviction.
Posted: May 10, 2019, 8:00 am

US v Cosby

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Seventh Circuit affirmed judgment of the district court finding no error to justify new trial. Seventh Circuit found that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying a motion for trial continuance, motion for mistrial and motion to suppress. Further, that there was sufficient evidence to convict and that the dual testimony of a witness as both a fact witness and an expert was harmless error.
Posted: May 9, 2019, 8:00 am

Santana-Felix v US Attorney Gen

(United States Second Circuit) - Court held that plaintiff's conviction for conspiracy to commit second-degree murder constitutes an aggravated an felony. Therefore, the court declined to review the decision by the Board of Immigration to remove plaintiff to his native Dominican Republic.
Posted: May 9, 2019, 8:00 am

US v Carpenter

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Defendant was convicted of conspiracy and kidnapping. Defendant tried to seal her pre-trial proffer of proof for a duress defense and sought to prevent introduction of evidence of trafficking of marijuana. The Ninth circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing public disclosure of pre-trial order nor was it an abuse of discretion to allow evidence of trafficking of marijuana in the kidnapping trial.
Posted: May 9, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Evans

(United States Second Circuit) - Affirmed an enhanced prison sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Held that the defendant's past convictions for federal bank robbery and North Carolina second‐degree burglary both qualified as Armed Career Criminal Act predicate felonies.
Posted: May 8, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Bates

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a man's conviction of voluntary manslaughter, rejecting his argument regarding certain jury instructions.
Posted: May 7, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Warner

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a conviction for attempted voluntary manslaughter in a case where the defendant fired gunshots in a crowded bar. Found no error in instructing the jury on a so-called kill zone theory.
Posted: May 7, 2019, 8:00 am

Bradford v. Davis

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Addressed a federal habeas corpus motion filed by a California death row inmate convicted of raping and murdering a woman. Affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded.
Posted: May 3, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Fox

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a defendant was not eligible to have a 10-year firearm enhancement stricken in a case where he had agreed to it as part of a negotiated plea. Declined to adopt the analysis of People v. Hurlic (2018) 25 Cal.App.5th 50. The defendant had entered his plea after Senate Bill No. 620 was passed but happened to be sentenced before it took effect.
Posted: May 3, 2019, 8:00 am

Pennewell v. Parish

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that the district court ought to have appointed counsel for a legally blind, indigent Wisconsin state prisoner who was suing over alleged deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Vacated a summary judgment ruling and remanded.
Posted: May 3, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Parrales-Guzman

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that an alien prosecuted for illegal re-entry could not collaterally attack the underlying removal order under the circumstances here. Affirmed the decision below, in a case that the U.S. Supreme Court had remanded in light of Sessions v. Dimaya, 138 S. Ct. 1204 (2018).
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

Reed v. Taylor

(United States Fifth Circuit) - Held that a civilly committed sexually violent predator could be required to pay for GPS monitoring or else face criminal prosecution, even though his sole income was Social Security. Affirmed a summary judgment ruling in a case involving a now-repealed Texas law.
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Salcido

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed the criminal convictions of a woman who ran an immigration consulting business without complying with statutory requirements such as passing a background check and filing a bond. Held that federal law did not preempt California's Immigration Consultant Act.
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Bell

(Supreme Court of California) - Affirmed a death judgment imposed on a man who robbed a convenience store and fatally shot the clerk.
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Gonzales

(California Court of Appeal) - Conditionally reversed a murder conviction and remanded with directions to determine whether a retrospective competency hearing would be feasible. Held that once a defense lawyer declares a doubt as to the defendant's mental competence, it may not be withdrawn.
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

Sotelo v. US

(United States Seventh Circuit) - Held that a federal prisoner's habeas motion was untimely. The Supreme Court's decision in Johnson v. US, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015) did not open the door to his claim.
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

US v. Anieze-Smith

(United States Ninth Circuit) - Affirmed a restitution order imposed against an owner of a medical supply company who was convicted of Medicare fraud. Held that she could be ordered to pay restitution even for losses resulting in part from conduct occurring outside the statute of limitations.
Posted: May 2, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Bolding

(California Court of Appeal) - Affirmed a defendant's conviction for money laundering. Held that the prosecution did not need to prove dollar-for-dollar tracing.
Posted: May 1, 2019, 8:00 am

People v. Cawkwell

(California Court of Appeal) - Held that a sex offender was ineligible for a diversion program for defendants with mental health disorders.
Posted: May 1, 2019, 8:00 am