The difference between “concurrent” and “consecutive” sentences in D.C.

February 12, 2019
concurrent sentences

Concurrent sentences are served simultaneously.  Consecutive sentences are served in sequence (i.e., back-to-back).  One sentence does not begin until the other sentence has concluded. 

“The man who represents himself has a fool for a client”

February 7, 2019
fool for a client

The man standing at the bar of the court is a nicely dressed, middle-aged white guy.  He looks like a lawyer.  That’s because, as it turns out, he IS a lawyer.  He is seeking the court’s permission to represent himself. 

Should I enter into a “CPO without admissions” in D.C.?

February 5, 2019
CPO without admission in D.C.

A person who has been served with a CPO petition in D.C. can enter into a “consent CPO without admissions.” The CPO is granted to the petitioner without a hearing. In exchange, there is no adverse finding of facts against the respondent.

“Nobody read me my rights”

February 1, 2019

When are police required to read you your rights? The answer actually is never.  That is, not unless the suspect is in custody and is being subjected to interrogation (hence the term “custodial interrogation”) and only then if police want to use the statements against him in court.

Can a witness’s own statement be hearsay?

January 27, 2019

Yes.  If a witness testifying at trial made a prior statement that a party would like to introduce and that statement was intended as an assertion and is now being offered as substantive evidence to prove the truth of the matter, then the statement would still be hearsay.  It is immaterial whether or not the witness is present in court to be cross-examined with respect to the earlier statement.

Can hearsay be used to impeach?

January 26, 2019
hearsay graffiti

Whether or not an out-of-court statement is hearsay depends on the purpose for which it is offered.  If it is offered to prove the truth of the matter, it is hearsay.  If offered only to impeach (i.e., discredit) a witness, then it is by definition not hearsay. 

Are depositions hearsay?

graffiti hearsay

A deposition is a witness’s out-of-court testimony that is reduced to writing (usually by a court reporter) for discovery purposes or for later use in court. As such, it would appear to be quintessential hearsay (i.e., an out-of-court declaration that is asserted for the truth of the matter) and would only be admissible if (1) it were offered for a non-hearsay purpose or (2) it satisfied the “prior recorded testimony” or some other exception to the hearsay rule. 

Is a receipt hearsay?

Whether a receipt constitutes hearsay would depend on the purpose for which it is being offered.  If it is being used to prove the value of an item, it would be hearsay.

Court-Appointed Lawyers Don’t Get Paid More for a Plea

January 25, 2019

I have worked with this particular court-appointed client now on a number of cases, and I guess he is beginning to feel more comfortable with me.  “Give it to me straight, Mr. Koehler,” he says to me over the phone.  “You get paid more money if I cop to a plea on this case, don’t you?”

Can Silence Be Hearsay?

January 24, 2019

There might circumstances in which a person’s silence could be interpreted to communicate something.  For example, silence in response to the traditional challenge “speak now or forever hold your peace” during a wedding ceremony could be interpreted to communicate assent. If offered to prove that the “declarant” endorsed the union, it could constitute hearsay, thereby requiring the proponent of the evidence to introduce it through an exception to the hearsay rule.