Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the motion court’s judgment overruling Appellant’s Mo. R. Crim. P. 24.035 motion without an evidentiary hearing, holding that the record conclusively refuted the claims made in the motion. Appellant pled guilty to second-degree drug trafficking and was sentenced to fifteen years’ imprisonment. After Appellant violated the conditions of his release, the court revoked Appellant’s probation. Appellant filed a rule 24.035 motion challenging his drug manufacturing conviction and asserting that his plea counsel was ineffective for inducing an involuntary guilt plea. The motion court overruled the motion on the ground that the record conclusively refuted Appellant’s claims. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, when looking at the totality of the circumstances, the record conclusively refuted the claims in the amended motion. View "Ryan v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Article I, section 18(c), which voters added to the Missouri Constitution in 2014, does not violate due process. Defendant was convicted of three counts of first-degree statutory sodomy. On appeal, Defendant challenged the constitutionality of article I, section 18(c), arguing that it violates due process because it allows admission of evidence of prior criminal acts in the prosecution’s case-in-chief to prove a defendant has the propensity to commit the charged crime. The Supreme Court held (1) article I, section 18(c) does not violate federal due process on its face; (2) the circuit court is not required to make an express finding of legal relevance before admitting evidence under article I, section 18(c), provided the record reflects a sound basis for the balancing the amendment requires; and (3) the circuit court did not err in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior criminal act because the danger of unfair prejudice from that evidence did not substantially outweigh its probative value. View "State v. Williams" on Justia Law

by
At issue was whether the relief ordered by the trial court for the Columbia Police Department’s infringement of Shayne Healea’s attorney-client privilege and violation of his Sixth Amendment rights was adequate. The Department surreptitiously recorded a conversation between Healea and his attorney at the police department. All parties agreed that the recording violated Healea's Sixth Amendment rights and infringed on his attorney-client privilege. After reviewed the recording, a special master found no discussion of trial strategy, but paragraph ten of the master’s report specifically described the substance of questions Healea posed to his attorney. The trial court directed the circuit clerk to unseal the entire report. Healea then sought a writ of prohibition or mandamus to prevent the trial court from unsealing the master’s report. The court of appeals issued a preliminary writ. The Supreme Court made the preliminary writ permanent in part and quashed it in part. The Court ordered that paragraph ten of the report shall be sealed but that the remainder of the report shall remain unsealed, as it contained no confidential statements by Healea. View "State ex rel. Healea v. Honorable Frederick P. Tucker" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of unlawful possession of a firearm, holding that, by pleading guilty, Defendant waived his argument that the amended complaint and indictment charging him with unlawful possession of a firearm failed to allege the essential element of a prior “conviction.” Defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The circuit court found Defendant’s plea was voluntary, there was a factual basis for the plea, and Defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On appeal, Defendant argued that his Oklahoma deferred judgment did not qualify as a “conviction” pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 571.070, and that this argument challenged the sufficiency of the charging documents and, therefore, was not barred by his guilty plea. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that Defendant’s unconditional guilty plea waived his argument on appeal. View "State v. Rohra" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of the charge of resisting arrest, holding that the evidence did not support the submission of resisting arrest. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant’s arrest had already been effected when he was restrained by law enforcement officers and under their control when Defendant’s alleged resistance occurred; and (2) because Defendant’s arrest and custody were chronologically and legally separate events under the statutory and common law framework, if Defendant committed any crime it would have been attempt to escape from custody, not resisting arrest. View "State v. Ajak" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court made permanent its preliminary writ of prohibition, holding that the circuit court exceeded its authority in refusing to transfer venue of Defendant’s petition for writ of habeas corpus. While detained in the Jackson County Detention Center, Defendant filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his judgment of conviction and sentences for first-degree murder. Defendant was later returned to the Crossroads Correctional Center. The Director of the Jackson County Detention Center, who had been named as the respondent in Defendant’s petition, filed a motion to transfer the habeas corpus case to the proper venue in DeKalb County, where Defendant was located, and to substitute the Warden of the Correctional Center as the proper respondent. The Jackson County circuit court overruled the motion. Relator Joshua Hawley then filed a motion to transfer venue to DeKalb County and to substitute the proper respondent. The Jackson County circuit court overruled this motion. Relator sought a writ of prohibition from this Court. The Court granted relief, holding that the Jackson County circuit court exceeded its authority in refusing to transfer venue of Defendant’s petition because the Warden was the proper named respondent and DeKalb County was the proper venue for the habeas petition. View "State ex rel. Hawley v. Honorable Sandra Midkiff" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the motion court’s judgment denying Appellant postconviction relief on his twelve claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel, two claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, and claims challenging the constitutional validity of Mo. Rev. Stat. 562.076 regarding voluntary intoxication and the time limits. Appellant filed his motion under Mo. R. Crim. P. 29.15. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) the motion court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were not clearly erroneous; and (2) the motion court’s judgment regarding an unpreserved claim of error was not plainly erroneous. View "Collings v. State" on Justia Law

by
The circuit court did not err in sustaining Defendants’ motions to suppress all evidence seized pursuant to warrant authorizing search of a residence for stolen items. On appeal, the State argued that, while no probable cause existed for a provision of the search warrant form authorizing a search for any deceased human fetus or corpse, the circuit court should have applied the severance doctrine to redact the invalid portion of the warrant and suppress only the evidence seized pursuant to the invalid portion. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in refusing to apply the severance doctrine and in suppressing all evidence seized because the invalid portions of the search warrant so contaminated the whole warrant that they could not be redacted pursuant to the severance doctrine. View "State v. Gaulter" on Justia Law

by
The circuit court did not err in sustaining Defendants’ motions to suppress all evidence seized pursuant to warrant authorizing search of a residence for stolen items. On appeal, the State argued that, while no probable cause existed for a provision of the search warrant form authorizing a search for any deceased human fetus or corpse, the circuit court should have applied the severance doctrine to redact the invalid portion of the warrant and suppress only the evidence seized pursuant to the invalid portion. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the circuit court did not err in refusing to apply the severance doctrine and in suppressing all evidence seized because the invalid portions of the search warrant so contaminated the whole warrant that they could not be redacted pursuant to the severance doctrine. View "State v. Gaulter" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court convicting Defendant of two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense as to felony murder because, for felony murder, Defendant was not prosecuted for his use of force; and (2) as to Defendant’s argument that the circuit court erred in submitting instructions on the felony murder for the second-degree murder counts, Defendant failed to establish plain error and, furthermore, was not prejudiced. View "State v. Oates" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law