Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Res judicata barred Appellant from bringing this claim challenging the district court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Appellant pled guilty to burglary, felony larceny, and other crimes. Appellant later filed a motion for sentence reduction. The motion was denied. Appellant then filed a motion for sentence modification, which was also denied. Thereafter, Appellant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the sentences he received for two crimes should have merged under double jeopardy principles because “the exact same conduct perpetrated against the same officer” was used to prove both crimes. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant failed to present any facts or circumstances demonstrating good cause for not raising his double jeopardy claim in earlier proceedings and, therefore, Appellant’s claim was barred by res judicata. View "Goetzel v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Appellant of attempted second-degree murder. The court held (1) there was no plain error or cumulative error in the district court’s instructions to the jury regarding sudden heat of passion, the definition of “malice” in the context of first-degree murder, the definition of “malice” in the context of second-degree murder, an aggressor’s right to use self-defense, and the duty to retreat before asserting the right of self-defense; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by instructing the jury on the definitions of both “malice” and “maliciously.” View "Schmuck v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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For the reasons outlined in Barrera v. State, 403 P.3d 105 (Wyo. 2017) and those set forth in this opinion, the Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s felony conviction for taking a controlled substance into a jail. The court held (1) the district court did not err in concluding that Defendant’s violated Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-5-208 when he took a controlled substance into the county jail after being arrested; and (2) given the absence of citation to any pertinent authority, the court declined to reach the merits of Defendant’s argument that the district court and the State violated the Fifth Amendment prohibition against self-incrimination. View "Farnsworth v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Appellant’s conviction for aggravated assault entered after a jury trial. The district court sentence Appellant to life in prison. The Supreme Court held (1) the prosecutor’s failure to comply with the court’s discovery order constituted misconduct; (2) the district court abused its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to restrict witness testimony; (3) the prosecutor committed misconduct during closing argument; (4) Appellant was denied due process of law because he was required to wear a leg brace in the presence of the jury; and (5) because of the cumulative effect of these errors, Appellant was denied a fair trial. View "Black v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court revoking Appellant’s probation and reinstating his original prison sentence. Appellant entered a no contest plea to one count of kidnapping and was sentenced to three to six years’ imprisonment, suspended in favor of three years’ probation. The State later filed a petition to revoke Appellant’s probation, asserting that Appellant had violated a probation condition by failing to obtain a required psychiatric evaluation. After finding that Appellant had violated a condition of his probation, the district court revoked Appellant’s probation and reimposed the original prison sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in revoking Appellant’s probation and reinstating the original prison sentence; and (2) did not rely on improper information to reach its decision. View "Crouse v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion requesting that the criminal case against him be dismissed based upon the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy. A jury convicted Defendant of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, and domestic battery. Defendant’s first trial resulted in a mistrial at Defendant’s request after the district court concluded that the prosecutor asked Defendant improper questions during cross-examination. Before the second trial commenced, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him based on the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against double jeopardy. The district court denied the motion, explaining that there was no evidence that suggested the State had intentionally goaded Defendant into requesting a mistrial. Defendant was subsequently found guilty of felonious restraint, strangulation of a household member, and domestic battery. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court’s finding that the prosecutor did not goad Defendant into requesting a mistrial was not clearly erroneous. View "King v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s felony conviction for taking a controlled substance into a jail under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-5-208. That statute provides, in pertinent part, that “[e]xcept as authorized by a person in charge, a person commits a felony…if that person takes or passes any controlled substance or intoxicating liquor into a jail[.]” The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an arrestee can voluntarily take controlled substances into a jail; (2) the booking area is part of the jail; and (3) the prosecutor’s closing argument did not violate Defendant’s rights under the Fifth Amendment. View "Barrera v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for interfering with a peace officer, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-5-204(b). The statute provides that “[a] person who intentionally and knowingly causes or attempts to cause bodily injury to a peace officer engaged in the lawful performance of his duties is guilty of a felony[.]” On appeal, Defendant argued that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction because there was insufficient evidence that he intentionally kicked the peace officer and that he caused bodily injury to the officer. In affirming Defendant’s conviction, the Supreme Court held that the State provided sufficient evidence to support its charge that Defendant intentionally and knowingly caused bodily injury to the officer. View "Flores v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions on one charge of domestic battery and one charge of strangulation of a household member. On appeal, Defendant argued that his convictions and sentences for both crimes violated his constitutional protections against double jeopardy because domestic battery is a lesser included offense of strangulation of a household member. The Supreme Court held that the district court did not commit plain error when it convicted and sentenced Defendant for the crimes of domestic battery and strangulation of a household member because Defendant’s two convictions arose from separate and distinct conduct, and therefore, Defendant failed to establish a double jeopardy violation. View "Drakeford v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree and one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree for Defendant’s sexual abuse of the daughter of his girlfriend. Defendant appealed, arguing that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in multiple ways and that the district court committed reversible error. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) Defendant’s trial counsel was not ineffective in her representation of Defendant; and (2) there was no reversible error on the part of the district court. View "Woods v. State" on Justia Law