Defenses to Criminal Charges

When it Comes To Self-Defense, it is the Immediacy of the Response Needed, Not the Immediacy of the Threat

December 7, 2014 Defenses to Criminal Charges

Words in the law do not always mean what their dictionary definitions say they mean. With respect to a prior consistent statement, for example, it is not really, as suggested by the rule, that such a statement must be offered to rebut a charge of “recent fabrication.”  Instead, it is “only that the alleged contrivance […]

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Lee v. United States: Mistaken Jury Instructions on the “Defense of Others”

March 2, 2013 Defenses to Criminal Charges

The D.C. Court of Appeals was apparently feeling charitable. In Adrian Lee v. United States, 61 A.3d 655 (D.C. 2013), a decision issued last week, the Court bent over backwards to justify and explain mistaken jury instructions issued by the trial judge. Even as it reversed him. Adrian Lee was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and […]

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Entrapment in D.C.: The Legality of Recent Decoy Operations

March 11, 2012 Criminal Procedure

Your client is heading home, minding his own business, when he comes across what appears to be a homeless man sleeping on a bench at the metro station. Sticking out of the man’s coat pocket is a shiny new I-Phone. In a moment of weakness, your client grabs the I-Phone and is immediately taken to […]

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Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle: Applying the Notion of a “Grace Period”

February 25, 2012 Defenses to Criminal Charges

The judge doesn’t like my idea of a “grace period.”  In fact, he chuckles when I propose it:  “I have never seen any case law on that,” he says. I was not trying to be funny. My client has been charged with both unlawful entry and unauthorized use of a stolen car in which he […]

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On the Criminal Defenses of “Justification” and “Excuse”

February 21, 2012 Criminal Procedure

How can you not love the criminal defenses? With the government burdened with proving every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt, one criminal defense strategy is to challenge the identity of the perpetrator. Yes, says the defense lawyer in an alibi defense. I am sure the crime was committed, and wasn’t it a […]

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The Criminal Defense of “Mere Presence”

February 13, 2012 Defenses to Criminal Charges

Assuming you did nothing to encourage or instigate the activity, there is nothing illegal about being present during the commission of a crime. There is also no duty, upon coming across a crime in progress, to prevent that crime from occurring. This is true even if you are with people who are actually committing the […]

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Innocent Possession of a Firearm in D.C.

August 9, 2011 Defenses to Criminal Charges

It is a story I have heard many times, or at least some version of it:  The defendant is walking through a playground when he notices a firearm lying by the jungle gym.  The defendant picks up the weapon to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.  He is headed to the police station […]

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On Ashe v. Swenson: Double Jeopardy and Collateral Estoppel

June 18, 2011 Criminal Procedure

Many laypersons suffer from misconceptions about the protections offered by the Double Jeopardy Clause contained in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. As Blonde Justice pointed out in one of her funnier posts, for example, double jeopardy does not cover the situation in which the defendant is forced to show up twice for court appearances on […]

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On the Concept of Estoppel

May 3, 2011 Defenses to Criminal Charges

We are having trouble with the sliding door on our mini-van. I take it back to the Toyota dealership shop a couple of times and spend a fortune to get it fixed but there still seems to be a problem with it. Finally, when I complain about having to fix it once again, the mechanic […]

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“Defense of Others” in D.C.

February 13, 2011 Criminal Procedure

Most people are familiar with the concept of self defense. They know, for example, that if someone attacks you, you are justified in using a reasonable amount of force to protect yourself.  People may be less familiar with the concept of “defense of others” which applies the principles of self-defense to the protection of third […]

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