On the “Claim of Right” Defense in D.C.

U.S. Capitol building

Although “claim of right” is a valid defense to robbery and other theft offenses, the defense fails when the defendant takes more than the property whose ownership is in question.

On the “buyer’s agent” defense in Simms

DC Court of Appeals

There is a “buyer’s agent” defense in D.C. after all – at least with respect to drug distribution charges involving marijuana.

Excessive force is still the standard for self-defense in an APO case

Expunge records on grounds of innocence

The standard for asserting self-defense in an assault case involving a police officer is still whether or not the police officer used excessive force during the arrest.

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

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… Read More

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

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… Read More

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

D.C. skyline

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… Read More

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

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… Read More

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

Jefferson Memorial

  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… Read More

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

U.S. Capitol building

  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… Read More

The Criminal Defense of “Mere Presence”

  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… Read More