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Tag Archives: Criminal Practice

Criminal Practice – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – Passenger Pat-Down – Reasonable Suspicion (access required)

U.S. v. Powell Although a radio call alerted an officer to a passenger’s “priors” for armed robbery, that “caution” and the passenger’s misrepresentation about his driver’s license did not provide a reasonable suspicion the passenger was armed and dangerous and allow a pat down, a 4th Circuit panel majority holds; saying it has made the same point in three recent cases, the appellate court vacates defendant’s crack cocaine conviction.

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Criminal Practice – Jury & Jurors – Spanish-Speaking Jurors – Court Translator (access required)

U.S. v. Cabrera-Beltran Spanish-speaking jurors who express doubt about abiding strictly by translations provided by official court translator during this drug conspiracy trial can be struck for cause, the 4th Circuit says; striking three jurors did not violate defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights, and defendant’s convictions for conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and heroin are affirmed.

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Criminal Practice – Constitutional – Search & Seizure – Traffic Stop – DWI – Weaving Within Lane – Reasonable Suspicion (access required)

State v. Otto Where the arresting officer merely observed defendant weaving within her own lane at 11:00 p.m. near an establishment that sometimes served alcohol, the officer did not have a reasonable articulable suspicion for stopping defendant. We reverse the trial court’s denial of defendant’s motion to suppress.

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Constitutional – First Amendment – Freedom of Religion – Criminal Practice – Church-Affiliated College – Campus Police — DWI (access required)

State v. Yencer The Campus Police Act’s provision of secular police protection for the benefit of the students, faculty, and staff of Davidson College, as applied to defendant’s conviction for driving while impaired, does not offend the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Defendant has failed to demonstrate that her arrest and conviction for driving while impaired were influenced by any consideration other than secular enforcement of a criminal statute, G.S. § 20-138.1.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Enhancement – Perjury – Insufficient Findings (access required)

U.S. v. Perez In order to enhance a defendant’s sentence for obstruction of justice based on perjury, the sentencing court must make findings to clearly establish that a defendant gave false testimony on a material matter with willful intent to deceive. Because the trial court here failed to make the necessary findings, defendant’s enhanced sentence is reversed.

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Criminal Practice – Sex Offense – Aiding & Abetting – Child’s Duress — SBM (access required)

State v. Stokes Defendant forced his 12-year-old son to perform sexual acts upon defendant’s young daughter. Even though the son was acting under duress, defendant is still guilty of aiding and abetting a sex offense. We find no error in defendant’s convictions of aiding and abetting first-degree sex offense, two counts of felony child abuse – sexual act, and first-degree sex offense with a child. We reverse and remand the order for satellite-based monitoring (SBM) for a new hearing.

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Criminal Practice – Possession of Stolen Goods – Defendant’s Knowledge – Sentencing – On Probation – Counsel’s Stipulation (access required)

State v. Cannon Where the state showed only that (1) the stolen four-wheeler had undergone cosmetic changes, its decals and stickers having been pulled off and a different decal having been affixed to it; (2) defendant twice drove to his cousin’s house on the four-wheeler, which a deputy had towed away after defendant’s arrest; and (3) the sheriff’s department later learned that the four-wheeler had been stolen from Halifax County, and where there is no evidence in the record as to how defendant gained possession of the four-wheeler, the state failed to prove that defendant knew or should reasonably have known that the four-wheeler was stolen. The trial court should have granted defendant’s motion to dismiss the charge of possession of stolen goods.

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Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Firearm Possession – Prior Assault Conviction (access required)

U.S. v. Donell In sentencing defendant for possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, a district court could not use an unincorporated “statement of probable cause” to establish a prior assault conviction as a “crime of violence” in order to enhance defendant’s firearm sentence, and the 4th Circuit vacates the 78-month sentence and remands for resentencing.

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Criminal Practice – Armed Robbery – Dangerous Weapon – Stun Gun (access required)

State v. Rivera Even though a police corporal testified that a stun gun is “less than lethal,” given the serious nature of the injury suffered by the victim, the question of whether the stun gun was a dangerous weapon that threatened or endangered the victim’s life was properly placed before the jury. We find no error in defendant’s conviction of robbery with a dangerous weapon.

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