Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for operating a motor vehicle during a time of suspension, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Defendant was sentenced to a combined twenty-two to twenty-two months’ imprisonment with periods of postrelease supervision. The Supreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences as modified, holding (1) Defendant was not entitled to relief on her claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; and (2) the district court improperly imposed an indeterminate sentence where the applicable statutes for the convictions on three of the counts require determinate sentences. View "State v. Vanness" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court vacating Defendant’s conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) and granting him a new trial on the grounds that his warrantless blood draw was unlawful and inadmissible in light of Birchfield v. North Dakota, __ U.S. _ (2016). After Defendant’s issues on appeal to the district court had been briefed, the United States Supreme Court released its opinion in Birchfield. Based on Birchfield, the district court reversed the conviction and remanded the matter for a new trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court erred by vacating Defendant’s DUI conviction without considering whether his blood draw was voluntary or whether the good faith exception to the exclusionary rule applied; and (2) the good faith exception applied to the pre-Birchfield warrantless blood draw in this case, and therefore, the district court erred in reversing Defendant’s conviction and vacating his sentence. View "State v. Hatfield" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence of seventy years to life imprisonment imposed for a murder he committed at the age of fourteen. Defendant pled guilty to second degree murder. In 1988, the district court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment for the murder conviction. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to the decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). The district court vacated Defendant’s sentence. At the time of resentencing, Defendant was forty-four years old. The district court sentenced Defendant to seventy years’ to life imprisonment for first degree murder. Defendant’s primary complaint on appeal was that his sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sentence was not excessive, did not amount to a de facto life sentence, and was not disproportionate to the offense. Defendant’s remaining claims of error were similarly unavailing. View "State v. Thieszen" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s sentence of seventy years to life imprisonment imposed for a murder he committed at the age of fourteen. Defendant pled guilty to second degree murder. In 1988, the district court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment for the murder conviction. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for postconviction relief pursuant to the decision in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012). The district court vacated Defendant’s sentence. At the time of resentencing, Defendant was forty-four years old. The district court sentenced Defendant to seventy years’ to life imprisonment for first degree murder. Defendant’s primary complaint on appeal was that his sentence was excessive. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sentence was not excessive, did not amount to a de facto life sentence, and was not disproportionate to the offense. Defendant’s remaining claims of error were similarly unavailing. View "State v. Thieszen" on Justia Law

by
The district court did not err when it used Defendant’s Missouri conviction as a prior conviction to enhance his sentences for his present driving under the influence (DUI) convictions. In each of these separate cases, Defendant pled guilty to three DUI charges. With regard to each conviction, Defendant was found to have had two prior convictions as defined by Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,197.02(1)(a). On appeal, Defendant argued that a prior conviction in Missouri should not have been used for purposes of enhancing his sentences. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s use of the Missouri conviction as a prior conviction in these cases was not in error; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant in these cases. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The stop of Defendant’s vehicle for the purpose of gathering information about the presence of stolen firearms and other criminal activity at the residence Defendant drove from, for which a search warrant was being sought, did not violate Defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 1, section 7 of the Nebraska Constitution. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of felony possession of a controlled substance, holding (1) the application of the balancing test set forth in Brown v. Texas, 443 U.S. 47 (1979), which recognizes that warrantless seizures without reasonable suspicion may be reasonable under certain circumstances, was appropriate under the facts of this case; and (2) the stop was reasonable under Brown. View "State v. Sievers" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to transfer his case to juvenile court. Defendant was seventeen years old when he was charged with multiple felonies. The district court sustained Defendant’s motion to transfer the case to juvenile court. The State appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in transferring the matter to juvenile court because (1) the State failed to meet its burden to show that a sound basis existed for retaining the matter in district court; (2) district the court sufficiently made the required findings pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 435-276; and (3) any error in the court’s deciding of the motion to transfer without first reading and considering police reports related to the investigation of the crimes charged was harmless. View "State v. Tyler P." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for first degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, thus rejecting Defendant’s assignments of error. Specifically, the Court held that the district court did not err in (1) admitting the video of Defendant’s interview with law enforcement officials because, where there was no police coercion and Defendant did not unequivocally invoke the right to remain silent, Defendant’s confession was voluntary; (2) not redacting various statements made in an interview pursuant to Neb. R. Evid. 401 to 403; and (3) overruling Defendant’s motion for mistrial based on statements made by the prosecution in closing arguments because, while the prosecuting attorney made several inappropriate statements, Defendant’s right to a fair trial was not prejudiced. View "State v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

by
A determination that a defendant is subject to the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) must be reviewed on direct appeal from the underlying conviction and sentence, and such a determination is not subject to an impermissible collateral attack in subsequent proceedings. Defendant was convicted of violating SORA’s registration requirement. On appeal, Defendant argued that the State failed to prove he was subject to SORA’s requirements because it failed to present evidence that, during the proceedings for a previous conviction and sentence, the county court had made a factual finding pursuant to Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4003(1)(b)(i)(B). The court of appeals affirmed Defendant’s conviction, determining that the determination in the previous proceedings that Defendant was subject to SORA was valid because it was based on an implied factual finding pursuant to section 29-4003(1)(b)(i)(B). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the court of appeals erred in analyzing whether the determination in the previous proceedings was valid; but (2) this Court’s ultimate conclusion on the judgment was the same as that of the court of appeals. View "State v. Ratumaimuri" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court reinstated Defendant conviction and related sentence for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, holding that the district court improperly vacated Defendant’s conviction and sentence based on a police officer’s mistake of law regarding a driving statute and on one of this Court’s decisions, State v. Au, Neb. Rev. Stat. 60-6,224(2) (2010). The Supreme Court held (1) notwithstanding the officer’s incorrect view of the law, when probable cause exists for a stop based on an objective view of the facts known to the officer, the stop does not offend the Constitution; and (2) because Defendant was not placed legally in jeopardy by the district court sitting as an appellate court, Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2316 does not prevent this Court from reversing the district court’s decision with directions to reinstate Defendant’s conviction. View "State v. Thalken" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law