Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction of unlawful sexual contact, his sentence, and the trial court’s instruction that Defendant register as a Tier III registrant pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act of 2013 (SORNA 2013). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment and sentence but clarified that Defendant will be required to register pursuant to SORNA 1999 upon his release from incarceration, holding (1) the motion court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress his statements to a detective; (2) the court did not abuse its discretion by considering three instances of Defendant’s sexual contact with the victim when it set his basic sentence; and (3) Defendant should have been notified of his duty to register pursuant to SORNA 1999 - not SORNA 2013. View "State v. Seamon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of conviction finding Defendant guilty of one count each of gross sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, and sexual abuse of a minor following a jury trial. The court held (1) the trial court’s jury instructions as to the counts for gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact correctly informed the jury of the relevant law and the State’s burden of proof; (2) the temporal parameters for the conviction as established by the indictment were sufficient to avoid double jeopardy concerns; and (3) there was competent evidence in the record to support the jury’s guilt verdicts and thus the court’s entry of a judgment of conviction. View "State v. Hodgdon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer. On appeal, Defendant challenged the constitutionality of Me. Rev. Stat. 17-A, 361-A(2), which creates a permissible inference that a defendant engaged in the conduct that constitutes the crime of theft under certain circumstances. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) section 361-A(2) is sufficiently clear to give an ordinary person adequate notice of the type of conduct that gives rise to the permissible inference of the specified elements of theft; and (2) Defendant’s contention that section 361-A(2) is subject to, and fails to survive, strict scrutiny was not persuasive. View "State v. Flores-Montecinos" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed from a judgment of conviction after a jury found him guilty of operating under the influence and criminal mischief, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting an Intoxilyzer test result because the State failed to comply with technical requirements for the admission of the Intoxilyzer test result. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the State proved the requirements of paragraphs H and I of Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 29-A, 2431(2), and therefore, the court did not abue its discretion or clearly err in admitting the test result; and (2) Appellant’s right to due process was not violated by the State’s late disclosure regarding a State’s witness. View "State v. Williamson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of murder following a jury trial. Defendant argued that the trial court erred in admitting text messages found in the victim’s cell phone, erred in admitting three photographs of the crime scene in which the victim’s body was visible, and erred by giving the jury what he alleged was a confusing and legally flawed self-defense instruction. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial court (1) did not err in admitting the texts because they were relevant, and the State satisfied Me. R. Crim. P. 901’s threshold requirement; (2) informed the jury correctly and fairly in all necessary respects of the governing law, and the instructions were legally accurate; and (3) did not obviously err in admitting the three photographs depicting relevant evidence in this case. View "State v. Marquis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that resulted in a criminal complaint charging Defendant with operating under the influence, concluding that a police officer violated the Fourth Amendment when he ordered Defendant to leave his house in order to complete a traffic stop due to defective license plate lights. The district court concluded (1) the officer did not have probable cause to suspect any criminal activity, and no exigent circumstances existed when he ordered Defendant to exit his house; and (2) the officer’s verbal order to come outside amounted to an unlawful seizure of Defendant. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of suppression, holding (1) the police officer had probable cause to arrest Defendant for the crime of failure to stop his vehicle on request or signal of a uniformed law enforcement officer and pursued him immediately and continuously from the scene of the crime into the curtilage of his home; and (2) therefore, the seizure of Defendant did not amount to unlawful seizure or arrest. View "State v. Blier" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated an order entered by the trial court suppressing evidence seized from Defendant, his vehicle, and his residence after the court concluded that the warrant authorizing the search and seizure of the evidence was not supported by probable cause. On appeal, the State argued that the information presented in the warrant affidavit was sufficient for the warrant judge to find that there was probable cause that evidence of a crime would be found in Defendant’s car, in his home, and on his person. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding that the warrant affidavit provided the necessary substantial basis for the warrant judge’s finding of probable cause. View "State v. Mariner" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for one count of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder following a jury trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a new trial on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and error in admitting evidence of prior bad acts. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the prosecutor’s remarks during opening statements did not deprive Defendant of a fair trial; and (2) the trial court did not clearly err or abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior assault of the victim. View "State v. Pillsbury" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury during Defendant’s criminal trial that the jury needed to find that Defendant had acted intentionally or knowingly in order to find him guilty of possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle and unlawfully driving deer. The Court concluded (1) the firearm offense is a strict liability crime and, therefore, no mens rea instruction was necessary; and (2) the crime of driving deer is not a strict liability crime and contains a mens rea component, but because the trial court’s instructions adequately and correctly conveyed the elements of both crimes to the jury, the trial court did not err in refusing Defendant’s jury instruction request. View "State v. Siracusa" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the trial court did not err in excluding one of Defendant’s statements from a recorded interview with police that was admitted at Defendant’s jury trial, holding that the court’s exclusion of the statement that the victim “likes it rough” was not prejudicial to Defendant’s defense and did not violate his right to due process. In addition, the Court was unpersuaded by Defendant’s contention that the statement was admissible pursuant to Me. R. Crim. P. 412(b). The Court thus affirmed Defendant’s judgment of conviction for gross sexual assault, assault, domestic violence criminal threatening, and criminal restraint. View "State v. Grindle" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law