Years ago, back when I was a junior public defender in Philadelphia and believed almost everything clients told me, I interviewed a client charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. “I was walking down the street that day,” the client told me. “As I walked by this playground, I saw a gun in the bushes close to …
The brother of my court-appointed client takes me from the courtroom into the hallway to dress me down for a legal decision I just made on his brother’s behalf. The brother cites a legal platitude that, though true, had nothing to do with the decision I just made. “You and I both know I am right on this one,” he …
It is always painful to see a criminal defendant replace a good public defender or court-appointed lawyer with an inexperienced one. Because you don’t value what you don’t pay for. This is what happened in Timothy Dugger v. United States, 295 A.3d 1102 (D.C. 2023), an opinion issued recently by the D.C. Court of Appeals. A smart and seasoned criminal …
From the Latin for “elsewhere,” an alibi defense is based on the physical impossibility of a defendant’s guilt: the defendant could not have committed the crime because he or she was somewhere else at that same time.
The defendant “poked” the complainant somewhere on the body after having been specifically admonished not to do so. Such an “offensive touching” constituted a criminal assault.
According to the “Rule of Lenity,” a court should construe any ambiguity in the language of a criminal statute in favor of the defendant.
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.
Under the ‘forfeiture-by-wrongdoing doctrine, a defendant forfeits his Sixth Amendment right to be confronted by a witness against him, as well as his objection to the introduction of hearsay, if he wrongfully procured the unavailability of that witness with the purpose of preventing the witness from testifying.
Bias can be “a favorable or friendly feeling toward a party.” It can also be hostility toward someone, a motive to lie out of self-interest, and/or corruption.
Although a court may take “judicial notice” of commonly known facts, the government must still prove every element of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt.