Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s imposition of a seven and one-half year parole restriction on Defendant’s sentence for obstructing justice but remanded for the purpose of striking the condition that Defendant register as a violent offender. Defendant was convicted of criminal endangerment and obstructing justice. Defendant was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, parole restricted for the entire term, on her criminal endangerment conviction and ten years imprisonment, parole restricted for seven and one-half years, on her conviction for obstructing justice, to be served consecutively to her criminal endangerment sentence. The Supreme Court held that the district court (1) did not err by imposing a parole eligibility restriction on Defendant’s sentence for obstructing justice; but (2) erred in requiring Defendant to register as a violent offender where neither of the crimes of which Defendant was convicted are included among the crimes requiring violent offender registration. View "State v. Old Bull" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court erred by concluding that particularized suspicion did not exist for the investigatory stop of Defendant. The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court reversing the municipal court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence related to his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). The district court concluded that the trial court’s finding that Defendant was apprehended for a technical violation was clearly erroneous. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) the district court erred in finding from the evidence that Defendant was stopped for “alleged behavior,” which required its own assessment and speculation about the record; and (2) there was substantial evidence in the record to support the municipal court’s findings of fact about the reasons that Defendant’s vehicle was stopped. View "City of Helena v. Brown" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of a traffic stop based on the law enforcement officer’s lack of particularized suspicion. After an evidentiary hearing, the district court concluded that that particularized suspicion existed and denied the motion. Defendant then entered a nolo contendere plea to driving under the influence. Defendant appealed, challenging the denial of his motion to suppress. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the district court’s determination that particularized suspicion existed was not clearly erroneous. View "State v. Nelson" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court affirming the justice court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained subsequent to an investigative law enforcement stop. On appeal, the district court concluded that sufficient particularized suspicion of criminal activity existed to temporarily detain Defendant for questioning prior to arrest. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the justice court erred in concluding that the officers had an objectively reasonable particularized suspicion that Defendant had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a criminal offense. Therefore, the justice court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained subsequent to his seizure. View "State v. Hoover" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the city court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to dismiss the charges of reckless driving, criminal mischief, DUI-second offense, and negligent endangerment. In his motion, Defendant argued that the arresting officer failed to read the Montana implied consent advisory and that the failure violated Defendant’s due process rights. After the city court denied the motion, Defendant pleaded guilty to reckless driving, criminal mischief, and DUI-first offense. The district court upheld the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, ruling that the appropriate remedy for the failure of an officer to advise an accused of the right to an independent test is the suppression of any blood or breath tests the State may have undertaken. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) because there was no test result in this case, there was nothing to suppress; and (2) the officer’s failure to notify Defendant of his right to obtain an independent blood test did not impede Defendant’s right to obtain such a test, nor did it not violate Defendant’s due process rights. View "State v. Berger" on Justia Law

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The district court correctly denied Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence based on an alleged lack of particularized suspicion to seize his vehicle. A trooper stopped Defendant for expired North Dakota vehicle registration. The trooper informed Defendant that he had a particularized suspicion of criminal activity within the vehicle and therefore would deploy a drug canine. After the dog alerted near the driver’s side door, the trooper applied for and received a warrant to search the vehicle. The State later charged Defendant with multiple drug counts. The district court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress, and Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of dangerous drugs. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in concluding that the canine search of Defendant’s vehicle was lawfully conducted pursuant to a particularized suspicion of narcotics activity; and (2) the search of Defendant’s vehicle was lawfully carried out pursuant to a valid search warrant. View "State v. Estes" on Justia Law

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The district court did not err in concluding that the statute of limitations had run on Miles Kingman’s claim for conversion of property. Kingman was convicted of aggravated assault and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment. Thereafter, Thomas Weightman, the senior evidence technician for the Bozeman Police Department, informed Kingman that his personal property, including a watch, was authorized to be released. Weightman, however, later advised Kingman that the watch was not his. Kingman initiated this action alleging that Weightman failed to return Kingman’s wristwatch and seeking damages for theft and malicious intent. The district court deemed the theft claim as one for conversion of property. The court then entered judgment in favor of Weightman, concluding that the two-year limitation period on the conversion claim had expired prior to the filing of the suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Kingman’s conversion claim was time barred. View "Kingman v. Weightman" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction by jury verdict of sexual intercourse without consent, holding that the district court did not err in admitting evidence of a portion of Defendant’s testimony from his first trial on the same charge. After Defendant was first convicted of sexual intercourse without consent the Supreme Court reversed the conviction and remanded. During the retrial on the same charge the district court admitted a limited portion of Defendant’s testimony from his prior trial. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, holding that Defendant failed to demonstrate that admission of the evidence of his statement from the first trial violated his substantial rights. View "State v. Franks" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of two counts of assault with a weapon and one count of aggravated assault. On appeal, Defendant primarily challenged the effectiveness of his counsel regarding the jury instructions. The Supreme Court held (1) defense counsel did not provide ineffective assistance by failing to request a bystander justifiable use of force jury instruction; and (2) the district court did not impose illegal parole conditions by employing the language “for any period of community supervision” because that language was qualified by the statement that followed applying “conditions of probation.” View "State v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the jury court convicting Defendant of abuse or exploitation of an older person for whom Defendant was appointed a guardian and a conservator in a separate case. The court held (1) Defendant was not entitled to a hearing on his request to disqualify the presiding trial judge because the judge entered orders against Defendant’s interest in the guardianship and conservatorship case; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it allowed the State to present certain documents and witness testimony that the prosecutor disclosed shortly before trial; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it determined that alleged juror misconduct did not warrant a new trial. View "State v. Strang" on Justia Law