When a criminal case has been filed, an arrest warrant will often be issued by a judge. Obviously, no one wants to have active warrants out there pending in the system, since it means a person can be taken into custody at any time. It turns out that courts and law enforcement agencies don’t like active warrants, either. The more warrants that are out there, the greater the burden of work that is placed on agencies to process and clear them.
The marijuana law in Missouri, like much else in life, is constantly evolving. Around the country, significant shifts have occurred in recent years with regard to longstanding laws about marijuana possession and prosecutions. In 2018 Missouri legalized the use of medical marijuana for patients with certain medical conditions who get approved by their doctor.
After you’ve been doing criminal defense work for over 17 years, you start to notice patterns. You see certain things repeat themselves over and over. So I wanted to say a few words here about one of the most commonly encountered defense issues.
And that is: how to avoid getting violated on probation or diversion.
Let’s say you’ve already been placed on probation or diversion. You want to be successful. You want to complete it and be done with it. I get that.
Life can take unexpected twists and turns. We can have all sorts of problems. Some of them are medical problems. Some of them are accounting problems. Some of them are family or relationship problems.
And some of them are legal problems.
But we don’t often find many step-by-step guides on how to solve legal problems. Why is this? Well, there are a lot of reasons: not diagnosing the problem, being misled by the media, or not acting fast enough.
Cases involving law enforcement officers posing as juveniles online are common. A typical scenario is found in the recent case of State v. Anderson (WD77202) from the Western District of Missouri Court of Appeals, which was decided in May 2015. In the Anderson case, a law enforcement officer created a female online profile for a dating site, using a profile with the name Kaitlyn that alleged “she” was 19 years old. The profile was then posted to the site.
Many of these computer “decoy” cases involve scenarios where a law enforcement officer is purporting to be a minor. The issue then often becomes some version of this question: did the defendant actively participate in the exchange, or was he tricked into doing something that he might not have done otherwise?
When will a search warrant be supported by probable cause? What is the “exclusionary rule”? And what is the “good faith exception” to the exclusionary rule? These were some of the questions considered by the Missouri Court of Appeals last month (February 2015) in the case of State v. Gregory Robinson Sr, (WD 77664), which came out of Randolph County, Missouri.
The Defendant (Robinson) was charged with manufacturing drugs. At his trial, his attorney filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized in the case, claiming that the search warrant used by the police officers did not show sufficient “probable cause” to search the premises. He won his motion, and the evidence was suppressed. The State, however, appealed.
Does it matter how a jury is selected in a criminal case? Can the method used in seating a jury cause reversible error? According to the Kansas Court of Appeals, the answer is yes. A recent case discussed these issues and how they would be applied. The case was State v. Crabb, decided in February of this year (KS Court of Appeals No. 110,673).
In the Crabb case, defendant Christopher Crabb appealed his conviction of one count of interference with law enforcement. Crabb claims the district court committed reversible error by using the so-called “hot-box” method of jury selection over Crabb’s objection instead of using the statutory method of jury selection set forth in K.S.A. 22-3411a. He also argued that the district court erred in instructing the jury and that he was denied a fair trial based on prosecutorial misconduct and cumulative error.
In January of this year, the Kansas Supreme Court published an opinion that clarified its position on the type of proof needed to sustain a conviction for aggravated battery. The case was State v. Hobbs (Docket No. 107,667). To sustain an aggravated battery conviction, is the prosecutor required to prove that the defendant intended the consequences of his act, or just the act itself? It is a question that is constantly present in these cases.
Every now and then, a DUI decision comes along that sums up a very important point of law. One of these decisions came down in January 2015 from the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District.
If the police wish to stop a motorist for a suspected DUI, they must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Stops based on mere curiosity, or based on pretexts, are not legally valid. This was the rule that the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District recently (2014) reminded the legal community of. The case was State v. Cardwell (WD76791), on appeal from Cole County, Missouri. After a bench trial, Mr. Cardwell was convicted of driving while intoxicated under Section 577.010 of RSMo. On appeal he argued that the trial court should have granted his motion to suppress evidence. The Court of Appeals agreed with Cardwell and reversed the conviction.
Cardwell had filed a motion to suppress evidence during the case. He argued that, because the officer who stopped him did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to do so, all evidence obtained thereafter should be suppressed. His motion was denied, and he was convicted. When the officer initiated the stop, Cardwell argued, he did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that Cardwell’s behavior suggested that he may be involved in illegal activity. Thus the officer’s stop and seizure of Cardwell was unreasonable, and evidence obtained thereafter should have been suppressed.
The officer testified that when he first stopped Cardwell, he observed Cardwell to have watery, bloodshot eyes, could smell the odor of alcohol from his car, and Cardwell admitted to the officer that he had been drinking. But the real issue, the Court found, was whether Cardwell should have been stopped in the first place.
The testimony of the police officer was the heart of the case. The officer testified that on September 16, 2011, he was on his way to assist another officer, at approximately 1:00 in the morning, when he observed a vehicle in front of him traveling “very slow.” The road was gravel and “not a very wide road.” He testified that he quickly caught up with the vehicle, which was traveling in front of him and going in the same direction. The officer testified that the vehicle then stopped in the right hand lane and the driver motioned for him to go around and left him room to do so.
The officer said he instead chose to “check on the driver, make sure everything was okay[,]” and so he turned his lights on “so that he would know that it was a deputy behind him and that it wasn’t someone that was possibly a threat to him and also as a warning beacon to anyone else that would come up behind us or a beacon for other deputies should I need help.” At that point, the officer testified that he contacted the driver and had him show his driver’s license. The officer said although Cardwell then told him he was fine, he could smell alcohol coming from inside the vehicle.
The officer said he had not observed the vehicle commit any traffic offense. The officer testified that most people do not drive fifty-five miles per hour on a gravel road, indicating his perspective that driving slower than that was not “unusual conduct which [would] lead him reasonably to conclude in light of his experience that criminal activity may be afoot, as required for the existence of reasonable suspicion.
Cardwell was detained when the officer activated his emergency lights. At that moment, the Court noted, a reasonable person would have believed he was not free to leave. From looking at the entire circumstances, the Court found nothing to indicate that the detention of Cardwell was justified in the first place. In other words, the officer had no reason to believe that criminal activity was in progress or had occurred. The detention and the arrest never should have occurred.
The Court summed up its position with this brief but succinct expression of the law in this area. It is worth quoting here:
However, “whether an officer lacked reasonable suspicion ‘turns on an objective assessment of the officer’s actions in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him at the time and not on the officer’s actual state of mind at the time the challenged action was taken.’” Id. (quoting Maryland v. Macon, 472 U.S. 463, 470–71 (1985)) (emphasis added). An objective assessment of the events leading to Sergeant Huffman’s [the officer conducting the stop] stop of Cardwell fails to reveal any specific and articulable facts and rational inferences therefrom that would reasonably warrant the stop. Driving slowly on a rural gravel road in the early morning, coming to a stop when quickly approached from behind by another vehicle, and motioning the approaching vehicle to go around with adequate room to do so does not constitute “unusual conduct” leading reasonably to a conclusion that criminal activity is taking place. There was no indication Cardwell’s vehicle was in any way disabled or that Cardwell was in need of help. In fact, Cardwell waved the officer on.
Taking all of the circumstances into consideration, then, the Court was able to find that the officer never should have stopped Cardwell in the first place. Why? He had no reason to. There was no indication that anything of a criminal nature had happened or would happen. The law is clear on this point, and it is good for law enforcement to be reminded of it. For this reason, the Court reversed Caldwell’s conviction.
Read More: The Field Sobriety Test In A DUI Or DWI Case
“Sexting” is the term used to describe the sending or receiving of sexually explicit images, usually by means of a hand-held smart phone. The ready access to photographic technology, and the ease with which photos can now be taken, mean that users of cell phones are more likely to take advantage of the technology. Cell phones and smart phones are here to stay, and with this presence comes possible dangers. What may seem funny or amusing is most certainly not. When minors “sext” photos to others, even photos of themselves, serious criminal issues can be implicated.