Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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In 2014, petitioner-appellant Jeremy Wheeler was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine. Due to prior convictions of a similar nature, he was also charged with being a persistent violator. Wheeler filed a motion to suppress evidence that was denied by the district court. Consistent with Idaho Criminal Rule 11(e), Wheeler completed a written plea advisory form in 2015. There, he indicated that he was entering a conditional guilty plea, reserving his right to appeal the issue of his “motion to surpress [sic].” He appeared before the district court the next day and entered his guilty plea to the charge of possessing methamphetamine in exchange for dismissal of another criminal matter and the persistent violator allegation. Wheeler was sentenced to serve seven years, with three years fixed, and the district court retained jurisdiction for one year. On August 13, 2015, the district court relinquished jurisdiction at Wheeler’s request. Wheeler’s trial counsel filed a notice of appeal on September 14, 2015, purporting to challenge both the denial of Wheeler’s motion to suppress and his sentence. The State Appellate Public Defender (“SAPD”) was appointed to represent Wheeler on appeal. Wheeler’s SAPD attorney informed him that his appeal from the denial of the motion to suppress was untimely and recommended that Wheeler file a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel for failing to timely appeal from the denial of his motion to suppress. Wheeler filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The State moved for summary dismissal of the petition. The district court granted the motion, finding that Wheeler’s claim that trial counsel had failed to timely appeal the denial of the motion to suppress was groundless. Wheeler timely appealed. The State conceded that the district court erroneously dismissed Wheeler’s petition for post-conviction relief based upon his then-pending direct appeal, and because the Idaho Supreme Court found there was a genuine issue of material fact as to the alternative ground for affirmance posited by the State, the Court vacated the district court’s order dismissing Wheeler’s petition for post-conviction relief and remanded for further proceedings. View "Wheeler v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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In 1981, a jury found Randy McKinney guilty of first degree murder (both by premeditated killing and by felony murder), conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, and conspiracy to commit robbery for the April 1981 shooting death of Robert Bishop, Jr. In 1982, the district court sentenced McKinney to death for first degree murder, an indeterminate thirty years for conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery, and fixed life for robbery. In 1997, McKinney filed a petition for habeas corpus in federal district court, and in 2009, the court ruled that he was not entitled to any relief related to the guilt phase of his state case but that he was entitled to resentencing because of the ineffective assistance of his attorney at the capital sentencing hearing. Rather than appealing the court’s decision, the State and McKinney entered into a binding sentencing agreement titled “Rule 11 Sentencing Agreement” in which they agreed that McKinney would “be sentenced to a term of fixed life without the possibility of parole for the crime of first-degree murder, concurrent with his sentences for conspiracy to commit murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery.” McKinney was sentenced in accordance with the plea agreement. In 2010, McKinney filed a motion pursuant to Idaho Criminal Rule 35 to correct an illegal sentence, contending that being sentenced for both robbery and first-degree murder was barred by the state and federal double jeopardy clauses and a multiple-punishment statute that was in effect when he committed the crimes. This motion was denied. Then in 2013, McKinney moved for post-conviction relief; the State moved to dismiss this petition. The district court found no genuine issue of material fact alleged, and dismissed the petition. McKinney appealed that dismissal, but finding no error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "McKinney v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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In September 2012, the State charged Flores with one felony count of eluding a peace officer. Flores pled guilty to the charge. A judgment of conviction was entered, and Flores was sentenced to five years: a three-year determinate period of confinement followed by a two-year indeterminate period of confinement. The execution of the sentence was suspended and Flores was placed on probation for four years. The probation was revoked and the original sentence reinstated. However, execution of the sentence was again suspended and Flores was placed on probation again for two years. This probation was revoked and execution was suspended, during which time the district court retained jurisdiction over Flores. Roughly four months after the district court retained jurisdiction, the North Idaho Correctional Institution (NICI) filed an addendum to the presentence investigation report (NICI’s report), informing the district court that NICI had classified Flores as a security risk and removed him from the NICI facility. NICI’s report detailed Flores’s misconduct and gang-oriented behavior and recommended that the district court relinquish jurisdiction. The district court followed NICI’s recommendation and relinquished jurisdiction. Flores moved the district court to reinstate jurisdiction so that he could complete his retained jurisdiction program. The district court denied Flores’s motion. Flores appealed, but finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Flores" on Justia Law

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The State of Idaho appeals from the district court’s order suppressing evidence against Victor Garcia-Rodriguez. On April 10, 2014, Garcia-Rodriguez was pulled over after an Idaho State Police trooper witnessed Garcia-Rodriguez’s car briefly cross over the fog line while exiting Interstate 84. Approximately 75 minutes after the stop, police arrested Garcia-Rodriguez for failure to purchase a driver’s license. Otto conducted a search incident to arrest and found methamphetamine in Garcia-Rodriguez’s front pants pocket. This stop ultimately led to Garcia-Rodriguez’s arrest. Garcia-Rodriguez was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia. Garcia-Rodriguez filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the district court granted. The Idaho Supreme Court found based on the evidence and testimony presented, the district court concluded that police did not have reasonable grounds to arrest Garcia-Rodriguez pursuant to Idaho Code section 49-1407 for the misdemeanor charge of driving without a license. Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's suppression order. View "Idaho v. Garcia-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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Idaho Code section 18-309’s plain language mandates credit for “any period of incarceration” where “such incarceration was for the offense or an included offense for which the judgment was entered.” The statute “does not limit that credit in any way.” In this consolidated appeal, Sterling Brand and Joshua Nall each pled guilty to their respective charges while they were already incarcerated due to unrelated charges. Brand and Nall then moved for credit for time served under section 18-309, requesting credit for the time spent incarcerated after being served with the arrest warrants until judgments of conviction were entered, even though they were already incarcerated due to unrelated charges. The district court denied both motions, and the Idaho Court of Appeals affirmed. In Brand’s case, the district court stated that “if you are in custody on separate charges and then unrelated charges are filed and you’re in custody, you don’t get credit for that time because you’re not being held on the new charges, you’re being held on the original charges.” And in Nall’s case, the district court similarly stated “when [Nall] was served with the Ada County arrest warrant in this case, [Nall] was already being detained as a consequence of charges in the federal case. . . . [T]he Ada County warrant had no effect upon [Nall’s] liberty when he was already subject to confinement for the federal charges.” The Idaho Supreme Court found the district court erred in calculating Brand’s and Nall’s credit for time served, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Idaho v. Brand" on Justia Law

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Petitioner Jaimi Charboneau was granted a new trial, and the State appealed. Charboneau murdered his ex-wife, Marilyn Arbaugh, in 1984. Her two daughters, Tiffnie and Tira, witnessed the crime, and they both testified during his trial. The State moved for summary judgment to dismiss this petition for post-conviction relief on the ground that it was barred by Charboneau’s third petition for post-conviction relief, and the district court denied that motion. It ultimately granted Charboneau a new trial. It held that a letter written by Tira was admissible pursuant to Idaho Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3) as a statement against interest (she admitted testifying falsely at Charboneau’s trial) and pursuant to Idaho Rule of Evidence 803(24), the catch-all exception to the hearsay rule. The court also ruled that another statement was admissible. The State timely appealed, and Charboneau cross-appealed. The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in granting a new trial: the issues raised in this case were raised and rejected in Charboneau’s third petition for post-conviction relief, and he could not raise them in this subsequent petition in a different form. The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s judgment and remanded this case to the district court with directions to dismiss the petition with prejudice. View "Charboneau v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Sarah Johnson appealed the dismissal of successive petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, Johnson argued: (1) the district court erred in denying her request under Idaho Code section 19-4902 for additional DNA testing; (2) that in light of Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), the district court erred in dismissing her Eighth Amendment claim because as a minor, the imposition of two fixed life sentences was cruel and unusual punishment; and (3) the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision in Murphy v. Idaho, 327 P.3d 365 (2014) should have been overturned. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Johnson v. Idaho" on Justia Law

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Jesse Mann appealed his conviction for trafficking marijuana, driving without privileges, and possession of drug paraphernalia which were entered after a jury found him guilty of the charges. Prior to trial, Mann sought suppression of the evidence related to the marijuana and paraphernalia charges. The district court found that Mann did not have standing to challenge the search as the evidence was found in a rental car which he was not authorized to drive. Mann argued that he had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the rental car because he had permission from the lessee to drive the car. Mann also argued that the jury instruction regarding the paraphernalia charge was erroneous. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed. View "Idaho v. Mann" on Justia Law

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The State appealed the district court’s order suppressing evidence against Victor Garcia-Rodriguez. In 2014, Garcia-Rodriguez was pulled over after an Idaho State Police trooper witnessed Garcia-Rodriguez’s car briefly cross over the fog line while exiting Interstate 84. This stop ultimately led to Garcia-Rodriguez’s arrest. A search incident to arrest uncovered methamphetamine on his person, and Garcia-Rodriguez was charged with trafficking in methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia. Garcia-Rodriguez filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the district court granted. The State argued that the district court erred by suppressing the evidence because the stop was justified by reasonable suspicion, the arrest was justified by probable cause, and the search of Garcia-Rodriguez’s person was proper as a search incident to arrest. Because the Idaho Supreme Court decided this case on the issue of probable cause for the arrest and the subsequent search incident to arrest, it did not consider the issue of the initial stop. State consistently argued that Garcia-Rodriguez was arrested pursuant to Idaho Code section 49-301(1) for driving without a license and that the arresting officer reasonably concluded that Garcia-Rodriguez “would likely not appear in court, justifying [Garcia-Rodriguez’s] arrest pursuant to Idaho Code 49-301 and 49-1407(1).” That position was set forth in the State’s Affidavit in Support of Complaint or Warrant for Arrest, the State’s Memorandum Opposing Defendant’s Motion to Suppress under the heading “Basis for the Arrest,” and in the State’s Response to Defendant’s Reply to State’s Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Suppress, once again under the heading “Basis for the Arrest.” The State’s current argument that Idaho Code section 49-1407 was immaterial to the question of the constitutionality of the arrest was nowhere to be found. As such, the State’s argument that the arrest and search incident to arrest were constitutional based on probable cause regardless of state law statutory limitations was not properly before the Supreme Court. The State therefore waived its argument that Garcia-Rodriguez's arrest was justified pursuant to 49-1407(1). The Court therefore affirmed the district court. View "Idaho v. Garcia-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

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In May 2012, James Daly was charged with six felony counts of Lewd and Lascivious Conduct with a Minor Under Sixteen. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Daly pleaded guilty to one count. At the start of the sentencing hearing, Daly moved to substitute counsel. The district court denied the motion. Daly then moved to continue the hearing, so that new counsel could be present for sentencing. The district court also denied this motion, indicating “[w]e have already continued the sentencing in this case for a month to get an additional mental health evaluation, and I don’t think that would be a sensible course of action.” The district court then sentenced Daly to twenty years, with three years fixed, and retained jurisdiction. Daly appealed. The Court of Appeals reviewed the case and held that: (1) it had jurisdiction over Daly’s claims under the nunc pro tunc judgment because it related back to the original judgment and enabled Daly to appeal any issues in the original judgment; and (2) Daly did not receive the “full and fair” hearing he should have received on his motion to substitute counsel. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals remanded for a hearing on the motion to substitute counsel and the motion for a continuance. The State petitioned the Idaho Supreme Court for review of the Court of Appeals decision, specifically on the question of whether the duty to inquire into the reasons for requesting substitute counsel applies to retained counsel. The Supreme Court granted the State’s petition for review. Thereafter, Daly moved to dismiss his appeal and vacate the Court of Appeals decision because he had been granted parole. The State concurred in the motion, provided the Court of Appeals decision was vacated in the dismissal. The Supreme Court reviewed this matter on the issue of whether the district court erred in denying Daly’s motion to substitute counsel and to continue the sentencing hearing so he could retain different counsel. After review, the Supreme Court found no reversible error in the district court’s judgment, and affirmed Daly’s conviction and sentence. View "Idaho v. Daly" on Justia Law