Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences for first degree sexual assault of a child, incest with a person under eighteen years of age, and third degree sexual assault of a child, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his claims raised on appeal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the age classifications defining sexual assault of a child in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319.01(1)(a) and associated mandatory sentence in Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-319.01(2) are not unconstitutional; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in its challenged evidentiary rulings; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; and (4) Defendant did not receive ineffective assistance of counsel. View "State v. Hibler" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s imposition of an eight-month jail term upon revoking Defendant’s post-release supervision, holding that the district court’s order imposing a term of eight months’ imprisonment was not an abuse of discretion. After pleading guilty to a Class IV felony, Defendant was sentenced to twenty months’ imprisonment followed by twelve months’ post-release supervision. After the period of post-release supervision began, Defendant admitted to violating several conditions. The district court then revoked the post-release supervision and imposed a term of eight months’ imprisonment in county jail. On appeal, Defendant argued that the imposition of an eight-month jail term resulted in his imprisonment for a total of twenty-eight months for a Class IV felony, which exceeded the maximum sentence of twenty-four months’ imprisonment authorized by Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-105. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) when a court has revoked post-release supervision the maximum term of imprisonment that can be imposed is governed exclusively by Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-2268(2) and does not depend on the maximum sentence of initial imprisonment authorized under section 28-105; and (2) Defendant's term of eight months’ imprisonment was within the maximum term authorized by section 29-2268(2) an was not an abuse of discretion. View "State v. Wal" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of driving under the influence, fifth offense, and aggravated driving under the influence (DUI), fifth offense, holding that Defendant’s trial counsel provided effective assistance and that Defendant’s sentence was not excessive. The primary issue on appeal was whether Defendant’s trial counsel was ineffective by failing to offer at an enhancement hearing available evidence that purportedly would have established that the State was precluded from relitigating a Wisconsin court’s determination that a prior conviction was invalid for enhancement purposes. The Supreme Court held (1) issue preclusion does not apply to sentence enhancement proceedings, and therefore, Defendant was not prejudiced by his trial counsel’s failure to offer into evidence at the enhancement hearing the Wisconsin motion to preclude; and (2) the district court did not err by imposing excessive sentences. View "State v. Spang" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the decision of the district court convicting Defendant of three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person, holding that the trial court did not err in overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant was arrested after law enforcement stopped and searched his person and belongings. In their search, the officers found illegal drugs and brass knuckles. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s decision overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress after applying the community caretaking exception to the Fourth Amendment to justify Defendant’s continued detention after officers completed their initial investigation related to a reported altercation. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the initial detention and investigation were reasonable and did not amount to a de facto arrest; (2) Defendant’s continued detention following the initial investigation was reasonable; and (3) the warrantless search of Defendant’s person did not violate the Fourth Amendment. View "State v. Shiffermiller" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court dismissing Appellant’s petition seeking damages under the Nebraska Claims for Wrongful Conviction and Imprisonment Act, holding that Appellant insufficiently alleged that she was innocent under Neb. Rev. Stat. 29-4603(3). Appellant was convicted for use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony and terroristic threats. After she served part of her sentence, Appellant was later pardoned by the Nebraska Board of Pardons. Appellant then filed a petition seeking damages under the Act, alleging that she was actually innocent of the crimes for which she was wrongfully convicted. The district court concluded that Appellant could not prove that she was actually innocent and dismissed her complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in finding that Appellant could not prove “actual innocence” under the Act. View "Marie v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court denying Appellant’s motion for postconviction relief, holding that there was no merit to Appellant’s claims that his counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to preserve objections to certain evidence introduced at trial. Appellant was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to fifty years to life imprisonment. Appellant filed a motion for postconviction relief, which was denied without an evidentiary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed with respect to certain ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims and remanded for an evidentiary hearing. Thereafter, the district court held an evidentiary hearing and denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in denying Appellant postconviction relief. View "State v. Huston" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences for first degree sexual assault of a child and felony child abuse, holding that the trial court did not violate Defendant’s constitutional right of confrontation and that Defendant’s remaining claims of error were without merit. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court erred in hearing the alleged victim’s testimony outside Defendant’s presence without adequately safeguarding Defendant’s confrontation rights, but the error was harmless; (2) the record was not sufficient to review Defendant’s claims of ineffective assistance of counsel; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed the State’s appeal from the district court’s order overruling the State’s motion to seal the grand jury documents in this case, holding that the order was not a final, appealable order. After the district court impaneled a grand jury to investigate an in-custody death and at the close of the evidence, the grand jury returned indictments against two police officers. Thereafter, the court issued an order sua sponte to make the grand jury transcript publicly available. The State then filed its motion to seal the grand jury documents. The district court overruled the motion, and the State appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the order was made during a special proceeding but was not final and appealable because it did not affect a substantial right under the circumstances of this case. View "In re Grand Jury of Douglas County" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal from the district court’s imposition of a fifteen-day custodial sanction after testing positive for drug and alcohol while serving a sentence of probation, holding that the order imposing a custodial sanction did not affect a substantial right and was not final. Appellant was convicted of possessing a controlled substance. While serving probation, Appellant’s probation officer sought the imposition of a custodial sanction. After a hearing, the district court imposed a custodial sanction of fifteen days’ imprisonment. The Supreme Court dismissed Appellant’s appeal, holding that the order from which Appellant was attempting to appeal was not a final order. View "State v. Thalmann" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of second-degree degree murder and other offenses, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and that Defendant’s other assignments of error lacked merit. On appeal from his convictions and sentences, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress cell site location information (CSLI) in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Carpenter v. United States, __ U.S. __ (2018). The Supreme Court disagreed, holding (1) even though the acquisition of CSLI violated Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, the district court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress because the exclusionary rule did not apply; (2) suppression is not an available remedy for violation of the Stored Communications Act; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing certain testimony; and (4) the district court id not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. View "State v. Brown" on Justia Law