Rape Conviction Overturned Because Evidence of an Uncharged Act Introduced?

Evidence Code § 1108 allows a judge to approve the introduction of evidence of defendant having committed a prior uncharged sex crime. The purpose of the evidence must be to prove that defendant had a propensity to commit such types of crimes.  This can be hotly fought over because, after all, the crime was not charged, so the evidence may be quite unreliable and thus, unduly prejudicial to defendant.  When does a judge go too far in letting in such evidence?  Click on the following link to find out.


Cash Seized from Suspected Drug Dealer Returned to Him

Imagine being in a shopping mall and your car alarm suddenly goes off.  Police come to the scene.  They think you are acting suspicious and search you.  Then find over $10,000 on you and in the car.  They continued searching, finding 0.42 grams of meth on a five dollar bill in your wallet.  They conclude you are selling meth and arrest you.  But the case is later dismissed.  Will you get your cash back?  Click on the following link to find out .


Is a Sentence of 50 Years in Prison Proper When a Teenager Commits Murder?

Cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. One convicted of murder, however, has committed perhaps the most damaging crime.  If just sixteen at the time of the crime, can a defendant be sentenced to fifty years in prison without the judge violating the Eighth Amendment?  After all, a sixteen year old is still developing his morals and ethics, so the conduct is perhaps not characteristic of him.  Click on the following link to read about a case that addressed this sentence.


When Can the Dismissal of Certain Jurors Be Illegal?

Imagine an African American man being tried for the rape of a white woman and the jury being composed of twelve white men.  How about if the jury was twelve African American men?  Would defendant receive a fair trial?  When can a prosecutor and when can a defense attorney dismiss jurors?  Are their limitations on the grounds for dismissal?  Click on the following link to read more about this issue.


Conviction for Refusing to Submit to DUI Test Reversed

While the following case summary concerns federal law on DUI (in Yosemite, a federal park), its holding applies equally to the state law, such as California’s, regarding the admonition a police officer must give to a suspect about submitting to a breath or blood test.  When the admonition is unclear or simply wrong, no conviction can result?  Click on the following link to read about such a case that addressed this threshold question.



No More Presumptive Life Term for Certain Juvenile Offenders

In the following summary, we trace the holding of a case that changed twenty years of California law concerning sentencing for juveniles convicted of certain serious crimes.  While the applicability of the case is limited, or narrow, the court’s approach reveals a broad reevaluation of how juveniles mature mentally and emotionally.  This recognition is something all criminal defense attorneys should employ in handling every disposition of a juvenile matter.  To read more about this case, click on the following link.



Is Double Jeopardy Violated in a 495 Year Sentence?

In sentencing, a judge can double sentences under the Three Strikes Law.  If the matter involves certain serious sex offenses, there can be a minimum sentence of twenty-five years to life.  If one has served a prior term of custody in prison within a certain number of years, there can be a five year sentence enhancement.  How can a court navigate all these applicable punishments without violating the constitutional bar against double jeopardy?  The following summary of a case appealed for this issue answers such questions.  Click on the following link to read about it.


Restitution Award of $3.4 Million Vacated in Child Porn Case

The damaging effects of child pornography have many layers and can run deep.  However, this does not mean that an order to pay restitution to a victim from a defendant convicted of possessing child pornography can be unfairly high.  After all, there must be certain limits.  How are such limits determined?  Click on the following case summary to read how.


Is Shackling a Defendant with Leg Restraints During Trial OK?

In the United States, a criminal defendant is presumed to be innocent. There are many safeguards in place to protect this right, one of which is a general rule (subject to exceptions) that prior convictions are inadmissible.  What about having a defendant in court in leg restraints? Does this suggest he has a criminal disposition, undercutting a presumption of innocence?  Click on the following link to read how one court evaluated this issue.


Probation Condition Vacated for Sex Offender Dating Liberty

Sex crimes, especially those involving victims age 15 and under, are generally terrible crimes that have lasting effects on the victims.  However, when sentencing a defendant, a judge must still be careful and fair.  In the following case, a judge imposed probation conditions that were well-meaning, but quite vague and over broad, so much so that it violated his freedom of association.  To read about these probation restrictions that were found illegal, click on the following link.