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Tag Archives: Criminal Practice

Criminal Practice – Pre-Trial Statements – Jury & Jurors – Deliberations – Inadvertent Exposure (access required)

State v. Hill Where defendant’s pre-trial statements, which were not admitted into evidence, were inadvertently provided to the jury during deliberations, and where these statements contradicted defendant’s trial testimony in some respects, defendant was prejudiced by the provision of these statements to the jury, especially since the jury considered them to be important evidence. Defendant is entitled to a new trial.

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Criminal Practice – Accessory & Conspiracy – Evidence – Statements of Co-Conspirator (access required)

State v. Bixby Defendant Bixby’s family conspired to lie in wait to ambush unsuspecting officials. Given the familiar relationship among the Bixbys, witnesses Newton and Taylor, and certain deputy sheriffs, defendant’s son, Steven, could have told Newton and Taylor about the Bixbys’ plan in order to lure law enforcement personnel to the Bixbys’ trap. Since the statements of co-conspirators are not hearsay, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ruling that Steven’s conversations with Newton and Taylor were admissible and not hearsay.

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Criminal Practice – Evidence — Motion to Suppress – Handgun – Found in Jail – Expert Testimony — Reply (access required)

State v. Garris After defendant was arrested on an unrelated burglary charge, a gun was found on his food tray at the jail. That gun fired the bullets that injured the victim in this assault case; moreover, gunshot residue had been found on defendant’s hands when he was arrested. The trial court did not err in denying defendant’s motion to suppress the gun. We affirm defendant’s convictions of armed robbery, assault and battery with intent to kill, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime.

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Criminal Practice – Evidence – Hearsay – Officer’s Notes – No Prejudice (access required)

State v. Lindsey Where the state never established a proper foundation to admit into evidence the notes that Lieutenant David Creamer took during defendant’s confession, the notes should not have been admitted into evidence. However, Lt. Creamer was properly allowed to testify about the confession, and defendant’s statement was properly admitted into evidence. Since Lt. Creamer’s notes, his testimony and defendant’s statement were all virtually identical, the admission of Lt. Creamer’s notes was harmless. We affirm defendant’s convictions of armed robbery and assault and battery with intent to kill.

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Criminal Practice – Restaurant Robbery – Identification – Cell Phone Calls — DNA (access required)

U.S. v. Bonner The government’s circumstantial evidence linking defendant to a Subway restaurant robbery through cell phone calls and DNA on a Yankees cap is not sufficient to identify him as a perpetrator, as store employees’ only descriptions of the two robbers were that they were African-American and wore masks and bulky coats; the 4th Circuit affirms the district court decision that overturned defendant’s armed robbery conviction.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Plea Agreement – Crack Cocaine – 2007 Amendments – No Reduction (access required)

U.S. v. Brown A defendant whose Rule 11 plea agreement said his sentence for a crack cocaine offense would be between 180 and 240 months, cannot have his sentence reduced from 210 months to 180 months under the 2007 retroactive crack cocaine amendments; the 4th Circuit reverses the district court because defendant’s sentence was not “based on” a sentencing range that later was lowered; rather, it was based on his Rule 11 plea agreement.

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Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Car Search – Gant (access required)

U.S. v. Wilks A police officer who stopped defendant for an expired license plate, discovered he had a suspended license and then cuffed him and put him into the patrol car when defendant kept trying to reach under his seat, conducted a search that was legal and objectively reasonable at the time, and the district court should not have suppressed the gun and ammo found in the car by applying the subsequent decision in Arizona v. Gant, that outlawed such searches.

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Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Evidence Suppression – Traffic Stop – Oxycodone  (access required)

U.S. v. Digiovanni The 4th Circuit upholds suppression of 34,091 Oxycodone pills found in defendant’s rental car because the trooper who stopped defendant’s car on I-95 for tailgating violated defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights when the trooper spent the next 15 minutes asking defendant about drugs, and defendant involuntarily consented to a vehicle search.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Suspended Sentence – First-Degree Burglary – Unavailable (access required)

State v. Jacobs S.C. Code Ann. § 24-21-410 allows a trial court to suspend a sentence and impose probation “for any offense, except a crime punishable by death or life imprisonment....” Even though first-degree burglary carries a minimum sentence of 15 years, it is also punishable by life imprisonment; therefore, a sentence for a conviction of first-degree burglary may not be suspended.

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