The “Rule of Lenity” in D.C.

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According to the “Rule of Lenity,” a court should construe any ambiguity in the language of a criminal statute in favor of the defendant.

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

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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.

The “forfeiture-by-wrongdoing” doctrine in Hairston

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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 and corruption in Jones v. US

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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.

On reasonable suspicion in Funderburk

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Police had the requisite legal basis – reasonable suspicion – to assume that one of four people present after gunshots were heard was the shooter.

On Judicial Notice and Mejia-Cortez

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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.

Criminal threat requires ability to follow through

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Telling someone that you will “slap” his/her “bitch ass” is threatening on its face. But criminal threats require the ability to follow through.

On the right to testify in Graves v. U.S.

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It is reversible error for the trial judge to prohibit the defendant from testifying that he was acting in self-defense when the court had already concluded that the arresting officer had not used excessive force.

Withdrawing consent for a search

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Although a person can always revoke consent to a warrantless search, such a withdrawal of permission must be clearly and unequivocally communicated. So held the D.C. Court of Appeals in Ford v. United States.

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.