Defenses to Criminal Charges

Saidi v. U.S.: No Special Findings in Defense-of-Property Case

March 3, 2015 Defenses to Criminal Charges

You are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to protect property.  This is true “regardless of any actual or threatened injury to the property by the trespasser.”  Moreover, upon timely request with sufficient clarity for special findings under D.C. Rule of Criminal Procedure 23(c), “the trial judge must articulate findings specific to all […]

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I Thought You Might Try Harder If You Thought I Was Innocent

February 7, 2015 Defenses to Criminal Charges

When you go to a doctor for treatment, do you omit a critical piece of information about what is ailing you? Of course not.  The doctor’s diagnosis will only be as good as the information it is based on.  So why would you ever lie to your criminal defense lawyer?  Why would you tell her […]

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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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