Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of second degree sexual assault, holding that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of prior bad acts absent notice from the State of its intent to offer such evidence and without conducting a hearing pursuant to Gleason v. State, 57 P.3d 332 (Wyo. 2002), but the error did not prejudice Defendant. The State in this case failed to disclose its intent to use Wyo. R. Evid. 404(b) evidence and failed to provide the purpose for admission of such evidence prior to trial, and the State’s omissions prevented the district court from holding the required Gleason hearing prior to admission of the evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) the evidence falling within the purview of Rule 404(b) was erroneously admitted, without the required Gleason analysis; but (2) there was no reasonable possibility the verdict would have been different without the evidence, and therefore, the error was not prejudicial. View "Broberg v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Appellant Steven Mitchell was held in contempt of court for violating a custody order. The district court ordered confinement until Mitchell purged himself of contempt by relinquishing custody of the minor child. While confined for contempt, Mitchell pled no contest to one count of felony interference with custody, for which he received a sentence of three and one-half years to five years of imprisonment, with no credit for presentence incarceration. The district court also ordered the criminal sentence to commence on termination of Mitchell’s confinement for contempt. Mitchell appeals his criminal sentence contending it was illegal. Finding no reversible error or illegality, the Wyoming Supreme Court affirmed. View "Mitchell v. Wyoming" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion filed under Wyo. R. App. P. 21 to withdraw his no contest pleas based on ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that the advice from Defendant’s fourth trial counsel as to whether Defendant could challenge his convictions after pleas of no contest did not render Defendant’s pleas involuntary. Defendant plead no contest to one count of possession with intent to deliver marijuana and one count of felony possession of marijuana. In his Rule 21 motion, Defendant claimed that his counsel incorrectly advised him he could pursue claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and violation of his right to a speedy trial in an appeal if he entered a no contest plea, rendering his plea involuntary. The district court denied the motion, finding that Defendant did not meet his burden of showing that, but for his counsel’s erroneous advice, Defendant would have insisted on going to trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in determining that Defendant failed to establish he was prejudiced by the erroneous advice of his trial counsel. View "Miller v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of two counts of strangulation of a household member, holding that the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during closing argument. On appeal, Defendant argued (1) the prosecutor’s repeated use of the “golden rule” argument subverted the objectivity of the jury and materially prejudiced him, and (2) the prosecutor’s repeated reference to the complaining witness as the “victim,” referring to the defense theory as “victim blaming,” and referring to what the defendant did not say to police resulted in cumulative error, materially prejudicing him. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the prosecutor did not make improper golden rule arguments during her closing argument and did not otherwise commit misconduct. Therefore, there was no cumulative error. View "Buszkiewic v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of delivery of a controlled substance, methamphetamine, holding that Defendant was not denied his right to a fair trial due to prosecutorial misconduct. On appeal, Defendant argued that his right to a fair trial was violated and he was materially prejudiced because the prosecutor committed impermissible misconduct during closing argument by misquoting certain testimony and by attributing a statement to a witness that had not been introduced at trial. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that there was no reasonable probability that the outcome of the trial would have been different absent the prosecutor’s statements challenged on appeal. View "Osterling v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for aggravated assault and other misdemeanor offenses, holding that the district court did not err in instructing the jury and that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Defendant’s convictions stemmed from an incident in which he led law enforcement on a high-speed chase, crossed the median of I-25, and drove against oncoming traffic. The Supreme Court affirmed and conviction but remanded for entry of judgment corrected to properly reflect the offense on which Defendant was convicted, holding that the district court (1) deviated from the jury verdict both in its oral ruling on sentencing and in its written judgment and sentence; (2) did not err in instructing the jury regarding the crime of attempted battery; and (3) did not err in denying Defendant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal because the jury’s verdict finding Defendant guilty of aggravated assault and battery was supported by sufficient evidence. View "Kite v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision denying Defendant’s motion for sentence reduction, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion. Defendant pled guilty to five felonies involving child sexual abuse. The district court accepted Defendant’s plea and the sentence to which the parties agreed. The court then entered its judgment and sentenced Defendant to an aggregate term of forty-five to fifty years in prison. Defendant later filed a pro se motion for sentence reduction, citing his good behavior in prison and attaching a letter from his mother and a certificate of completion of a victim impact course. The district court denied the motion, determining that Defendant failed make a showing that justified or required a modification or reduction of his sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that none of the grounds Defendant raised on appeal provided a basis for reversal of the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion for sentence reduction. View "Hall v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence, in which Defendant claimed that he had not received adequate credit for time spent in confinement, holding that there was an eleven-day shortfall in the total presentencing confinement credit due Defendant. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant credit for the nonresidential portion of his participation in a Volunteers of America program; but (2) the district court erred in failing to grant Defendant a total of 933 days of presentencing confinement credit. View "Hutton v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed all of Defendant’s convictions except for his conviction for obtaining property by false pretenses, which the Court reversed, holding that the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for obtaining property by false pretenses. The Court further held (1) sufficient evidence supported Defendant’s convictions for performing the duties of a sheriff prior to qualifying and for submitting false claims with intent to defraud; and (2) as regards Defendant’s convictions for acting as a public officer prior to qualifying, submitting false claims, and wrongfully taking or disposing of property, Defendant did not demonstrate any cumulative error that could have constituted prejudice or rendered his trial unfair. View "Haskell v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Appellant’s conviction of driving under the influence of alcohol (fourth or subsequent offense within ten years), holding that the State presented sufficient evidence to support Appellant’s conviction. The State charged Appellant with driving under the influence, Appellant’s fourth offense within ten years, in violation of Wyo. Stat. Ann. 31-5-233(b)(i). A jury returned a guilt verdict on the charge of driving under the influence and made a supplemental finding that Appellant had three previous convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol within ten years. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the conviction. View "Hyatt v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law