Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions of Appellants, Michael Tibbets and Donna Gifford, each of three counts of child abuse in relation to injuries inflicted upon their children. The district court sentenced Appellants to terms of three to five years for each count, to be served consecutively, but suspended all but Appellants’ first year of confinement in favor of supervised probation. On appeal, Appellants argued that the Sate produced insufficient evidence to support the convictions. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the State produced sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Appellants recklessly caused mental injury to their children, which was sufficient to sustain their convictions for child abuse under Wyo. Stat. Ann. 6-2-503(b)(ii). View "Gifford v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of one count of first degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second degree sexual abuse of a minor but reversed and remanded for resentencing on Defendant’s first degree sexual abuse conviction. The court held (1) the district court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement because Defendant did not make an adequate request for counsel; (2) the district court violated a clear and unequivocal rule of law by allowing the police interview of Defendant to be played to the jury, but Defendant was not prejudiced; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion when it quashed a subpoena duces tecum without conducting an in camera review of the material; and (4) Defendant was entitled to be resentenced on Count II because it violated Wyo. Stat. 7-13-201. View "Hathaway v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant pled guilty to third-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The district court accepted the guilty plea and imposed five years of supervised probation. Appellant later filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel and was prejudiced because he would not have pled guilty were it not for counsel’s deficient performance. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that counsel’s performance was not deficient, and therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Appellant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. View "Berger v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of theft, rendered after a jury trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that the prosecutor committed misconduct when he mentioned Defendant’s race during rebuttal closing arguments. Specifically, Defendant argued that, in doing so, the prosecutor attempted to appeal to the racial bias of the jury. The Supreme Court held (1) when the prosecutor commented on Defendant’s race, he was doing so in response to defense counsel’s suggestion that race was an issue; and (2) therefore, there was no prosecutorial misconduct committed in this case and no plain error committed by the trial court. View "Cole v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for three counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion in denying his motion for new trial based on the admission of photographs depicting the child victim’s vagina, on the court’s refusal to play Defendant’s entire law enforcement interview, on improper opinion testimony from a nurse practitioner, and on the prosecutor’s comment during closing argument. The Supreme Court held (1) the district court properly denied Defendant’s motion for new trial; and (2) because Defendant failed to establish any underlying errors or prejudice from any alleged errors, his claim of cumulative error failed. View "Carrier v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the district court concluding that the probationary portion of a sentence imposed by the municipal court upon Respondent was illegal. Respondent entered a no contest plea to violating Casper Municipal Code 5.08.370(A) and (B). The municipal court sentenced Respondent to, in addition to a fine, six months of unsupervised probation. The district court reversed the municipal court’s sentence, concluding that it was illegal because the Casper ordinances governing the penalty for the possession of alcohol by a minor expressly limited that penalty to a fine and did not provide for a potential penalty of incarceration. The Supreme Court agreed, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that when no confinement is expressly authorized as a punishment for a particular offense, a sentencing court also lacks the authority to impose a period of probation upon a conviction for such an offense. View "City of Casper v. Simonson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s aggravated assault and battery conviction and reversed and remanded for acquittal on Defendant’s battery conviction, holding (1) the trial court did not commit plain error or deny Defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him when it allowed the emergency medical technician and the physician who treated the victim to testify regarding several statements the victim made to them because the statements were not testimonial; and (2) Defendant’s battery conviction was not supported by sufficient evidence because the jury could not have reasonably concluded that the victim suffered bodily injury when Defendant hit him. View "Villarreal 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 to suppress evidence collected pursuant to a search warrant, concluding that the police officer’s affidavit used to obtain the search warrant established probable cause sufficient to justify the issuance of the search warrant. Defendant entered a conditional guilty plea to charges of delivery of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance. On appeal, Defendant argued that the affidavit was deficient, that the circuit court improperly issued the warrant, and that the search violated Defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Wyo. Const. art. I, 4. The Supreme Court held that the affidavit established probable cause supporting the issuance of the search warrant. View "Fosen v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one count of aggravated robbery, holding that the district court did erred in ordering Defendant to make pretrial disclosure of information requested by the State pursuant to Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b) because a defendant is not required to make a pretrial disclosure of such information. In addition, the district court erred in limiting cross-examination by defense counsel as a sanction for Defendant’s failure to disclose such evidence. Ultimately, however, the limitation placed on Defendant’s cross-examination was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt given the strength of the State’s case against Defendant. View "Broussard v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of five counts of sexual assault and sexual abuse of a minor. Defendant appealed, arguing that he was denied his right to a fair trial due to the cumulative error of three instances of prosecutorial misconduct during the prosecutor’s closing argument. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the prosecutor committed misconduct by attempting to define reasonable doubt for the jury; (2) the prosecutor committed misconduct by suggesting that Defendant carried any burden of proof; but (3) Defendant was not cumulatively prejudiced by the prosecutor’s statements to such an extent that his trial was anything other than fair and impartial. View "Hamilton v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law