Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Relying on Idaho Criminal Rule 47, Jane Doe filed a motion to modify disposition requesting that the juvenile court place her back on probation after sentence had been imposed, and modify its previous computation of credit for time served. The juvenile court held that Doe’s motion was actually a motion to reduce sentence under Idaho Criminal Rule 35 (a rule which has not been incorporated into the Idaho Juvenile Rules) and concluded that it did not have jurisdiction to consider Doe’s motion. Doe appealed the juvenile court’s decision to the district court. The district court affirmed the decision, holding that Rule 47 did not grant jurisdiction to reduce the sentence, but that jurisdiction existed under Idaho Code sections 20-505 and 20-507. The district court held that whether the sentence should be modified was a discretionary call and that the juvenile court did not abuse its discretion in declining to place Doe back on probation or incorrectly calculate Doe’s credit for time served. The Idaho Supreme Court agreed with the district court’s decision to affirm the magistrate court’s denial of Doe’s motion to modify disposition, but took the opportunity to explain there was no jurisdiction for the juvenile court to modify the juvenile’s sentence once it had been imposed and the time for appeal had run. View "Idaho v. Jane Doe (Juvenile)" on Justia Law

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Darryl Joe Albertson appealed his conviction for possession of a controlled substance. In August 2016, a police officer approached Albertson’s front door and observed through a window that he was smoking methamphetamine. Because he had a “no trespassing” sign posted near the opening to his property, Albertson argued the officer’s conduct constituted an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, section 17 of the Idaho Constitution. Consequently, he asked the Idaho Supreme Court to reverse the district court’s decision denying his motion to suppress the evidence. The State argued the "no trespassing" sign in question was insufficient to revoke the implied license for uninvited visitors to approach his home. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Albertson" on Justia Law

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Richard Wilson was convicted of two counts of aiding and abetting trafficking in methamphetamine. He appealed on grounds that the State failed to present sufficient evidence to support either conviction. Finding the State provided substantial evidence for the jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt Wilson aided or abetted in the trafficking of what was represented to be 28 grams or more of methamphetamine, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of conviction on both counts. View "Idaho v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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Mother Jane Doe appealed a magistrate court’s termination of her parental rights to her child T.G.E. At the time she gave birth, Mother had pending felony drug charges and an active warrant for her arrest; the child’s umbilical cord tested positive for methamphetamine at birth. Following a termination hearing, the magistrate court found termination proper based on neglect and entered an order to that effect on December 8, 2017 (the Order). However, in a subsequent decree (the Decree) issued on December 15, 2017, the magistrate court stated Mother’s parental rights were being terminated based on abandonment. The court also terminated Father’s parental rights however, Father had voluntarily relinquished his parental rights and was not a party to this appeal. On appeal, both Mother and the Department raised procedural issues relating to the conflicting Order and Decree. Subsequently, the Idaho Supreme Court remanded the case for entry of a new judgment terminating Mother and Father’s rights to Child, and stated the Order would constitute the findings of fact and conclusions of law. Mother appealed, contenting the magistrate court erred when it terminated Mother’s parental rights. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the ultimate termination. View "DHW v. Jane Doe" on Justia Law

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Jason Godwin, Sr. appealed after he was convicted for the second degree murder of Kyle Anderson in 2014. In his appeal, Godwin argued district court erred: (1) by denying his motion to suppress evidence of statements he made to police; (2) by requiring him to show personal knowledge of Anderson’s violent or aggressive character before allowing him to present evidence of that character; and (3) by failing to properly instruct the jury on justifiable homicide under section 18-4009 of the Idaho Code. Godwin also argued the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by impermissibly vouching for evidence and witnesses in closing arguments. Godwin asserted the complained-of errors in his case, even if harmless individually, amounted to a due process violation when viewed cumulatively. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed his conviction. View "Idaho v. Godwin, Sr." on Justia Law

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Jeffrey Jeske appealed his conviction of felony driving under the influence (DUI), contending the district court erred: (1) when it allowed the deputy prosecutor to comment on his refusal to consent to a blood draw to test it for alcohol; (2) when it allowed regarding testimony of uncharged misconduct; and (3) when it allowed the State to amend the charges against him the morning of the trial and in refusing to give a requested jury instruction. Jeske claimed the cumulative error doctrine required his conviction to be vacated. Rejecting these contentions, and finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed Jeske's conviction. View "Idaho v. Jeske" on Justia Law

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Matthew Abramowski was charged with, and ultimately pled guilty to, first degree arson when he was 15 years old. He was charged as an adult, but received a blended sentence which gave the Department of Juvenile Corrections jurisdiction over Abramowski while he was a juvenile. The district court withheld judgment and eventually dismissed the case. After the dismissal, Abramowski filed a motion to seal the case pursuant to Rule 32(i) of the Idaho Court Administrative Rules. At the motion hearing, the district court realized that Abramowski was not just asking that his record be sealed, but that all traces of the case on the court’s repository be erased from public view. The district court entered an order sealing Abramowski’s record up through the age of twenty-one but instructed Abramowski to file a motion to expunge the record to give the State an opportunity to respond to his request. Abramowski filed a motion to expunge and was given a hearing, but the district court denied his request for expungement, determining that the public interest in knowing of Abramowski’s serious charge predominated over his privacy interests. Abramowski then filed a motion to reconsider and presented witnesses at the reconsideration hearing, but the district court again determined the public interest predominated over his privacy interests. Abramowski appealed, arguing that the district court abused its discretion. Finding the district court did not abuse its discretion, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Idaho v. Abramowski" on Justia Law

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Gregg Miller appealed after he was convicted for injury to a child and felony eluding. As to the injury to a child conviction, Miller argued the jury instruction, combined with the prosecutor’s closing argument, created a fatal variance with the information. Miller also argued the prosecutor committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments by appealing to the emotions, passions, and prejudices of the jury, and by misstating the evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed, and Miller timely filed a petition for review to the Idaho Supreme Court. After careful consideration of his arguments, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s judgment of conviction, clarifying the fundamental error doctrine articulated in Idaho v. Perry, 245 P.3d 961 (2010). View "Idaho v. Miller" on Justia Law

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Phillip Smalley was convicted by jury on two counts of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult and one count of sexual penetration by a foreign object. On appeal, Smalley argued: (1) there was insufficient evidence to sustain his convictions for sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult because to qualify as a “vulnerable adult,” the victim must have mental deficits, not just physical infirmity; and (2) the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s preliminary hearing video deposition instead of live in-court testimony, because she was not “unavailable” as required by the Idaho Rules of Evidence. The Court of Appeals upheld Smalley’s convictions. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Smalley" on Justia Law

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In 2009, a jury convicted Vance Thumm of aggravated battery or aiding and abetting aggravated battery and of being a persistent violator of the law. In 2013, through counsel, Thumm petitioned for post-conviction relief to which the State responded by filing a motion for summary disposition. The district court eventually granted the State’s motion and dismissed the post-conviction petition. Thumm appealed alleging: (1) ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, sentencing, and on appeal; (2) a Brady violation; (3) prosecutorial misconduct; and (4) cumulative error. The Idaho Supreme Court found no reversible error, and affirmed the district court’s grant of summary disposition. View "Thumm v. Idaho" on Justia Law