Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
The statute of limitations for a criminal defendant's 42 U.S.C. 1983 action is not tolled under California Code of Civil Procedure 356 during the pendency of an appeal from a conviction, in light of the Supreme Court's rule in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994). In this case, plaintiff filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 after his convictions for possession of a controlled substance and a smoking device were overturned, because the Superior Court erred in denying plaintiff's suppression motion. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that plaintiff's claims for unlawful stop and detention, false arrest, and false imprisonment were time-barred because Heck did not legally prevent plaintiff from commencing those claims during his appeal. Therefore, tolling under section 356 was not triggered. The panel held that plaintiff's malicious prosecution and Monell actions were also barred, because reversal of his conviction was not a favorable termination. View "Mills v. City of Covina" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's order granting defendant's motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), in light of Sentencing Guidelines Amendment 782. The panel clarified that, without an explicit and explicit drug quantity finding by the original sentencing judge, drug quantities in an adopted presentencing report were not binding in section 3582(c)(2) proceedings. Therefore, the panel remanded to the district court for supplemental findings of drug quantity and, if appropriate, resentencing. View "United States v. Huaracha Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Ninth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's order finding petitioner removable under section 237(a)(2)(A)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The panel held that petitioner's prior conviction under Oregon Revised Statutes section 164.395 was a categorical theft offense and was therefore an aggravated felony under section 101(a)(43)(G) of the INA. The panel held that the record supported the BIA's denial of relief under the Convention Against Torture where the BIA agreed with the IJ's conclusion that petitioner failed to establish that he would more likely than not face a particularized risk of torture with the acquiescence of a public official in Guatemala. View "Lopez-Aguilar v. Barr" on Justia Law

by
In the wake of the 2014 amendments to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12, the good-cause standard in Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 12(c)(3), rather than plain error review, continues to apply when a defendant attempts to raise new theories on appeal in support of a motion to suppress. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress a gun and ammunition found during a traffic stop. The panel held that defendant did not show good cause for failing to present in his pretrial motion the new theory he raised for suppression in this appeal, nor has he challenged the district court's rejection of the one theory that he did raise. View "United States v. Guerrero" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of habeas relief as to the penalty phase, because petitioner's counsel rendered ineffective assistance by not investigating and presenting mitigating evidence at the penalty phase. Applying de novo review, the panel held that counsel did not properly investigate petitioner's background, and thus the trial court at the penalty phase was not presented with substantial mitigation evidence regarding petitioner's education and incarceration, his diffuse brain damage, and his history of substance abuse. The panel held that this raised a reasonable probability that, had the trial court been presented with the mitigation evidence in the first instance, the outcome would have been different. In this case, petitioner may have been spared the death penalty and been imprisoned for life instead. Accordingly, the panel remanded with instructions to grant relief against the death penalty. View "Washington v. Ryan" on Justia Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for knowingly engaging in sexual contact with another person without that other person's permission on an international flight. The panel rejected defendant's contention that the government was also required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he subjectively knew that his victim did not consent. The panel explained that unwanted sexual contact of the type defendant engaged in -- touching first, and arguing later that he "thought" the victim consented -- was precisely what 18 U.S.C. 2244(b) criminalizes. The panel also concluded that defendant was properly Mirandized and that the district court acted within its discretion in refusing to read back to the jury portions of the victim's testimony. View "United States v. Price" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Ninth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction for assaulting a fellow passenger on a commercial flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, holding that venue was not proper in the Central District of California. The court held that any erroneous application of the Speedy Trial Act would not have changed the outcome and that defendant did not waive her venue argument by failing to raise it until after the government's case-in-chief. Because the parties did not dispute that the assault ended before the flight entered the airspace of the Central District of California, the panel held that venue in the district court was improper. In this case, there was no doubt that the assault occurred before the flight entered the Central District's airspace. The panel held that the first paragraph of 18 U.S.C. 3237(a) and the second paragraph of section 3237(a) did not confer venue. Furthermore, 18 U.S.C. 3238 did not confer venue. Accordingly, the panel remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Lozoya" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The panel held that defendant's concessions in the district court foreclosed his newly minted argument that his underlying conviction for violation of California Penal Code 245(a)(1) was not actually a felony under California law; defendant failed to establish, in the alternative, that he received a misdemeanor sentence for his section 245(a)(1) conviction; Moncrieffe v. Holder, 569 U.S. 184 (2013), did not alter this court's longstanding precedents holding that a felony conviction under section 245(a)(1) is a crime of violence; a wobbler conviction is punishable as a felony, even if the court later exercises its discretion to reduce the offense to a misdemeanor; and the panel rejected defendant's challenges to the crime of violence enhancement to defendant's offense level. View "United States v. Johnson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
A conviction under North Carolina's breaking-or-entering statute, N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-54, qualifies as a predicate felony under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The Ninth Circuit affirmed petitioner's sentence imposed after defendant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The panel held that United States v. Stitt, 139 S. Ct. 399 (2018), which addressed a relevant question about the scope of generic burglary, foreclosed petitioner's argument that North Carolina's definition of "building" must be overbroad merely because it has been interpreted to encompass mobile homes. Because petitioner failed to demonstrate a "realistic probability" that North Carolina would apply section 14-54 to conduct outside the scope of generic burglary, the panel held that his conviction under that statute qualified as a predicate felony under the ACCA. View "Mutee v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Petitioner sought review of the BIA's decision dismissing his appeal of the IJ's denial of relief from removal. The BIA held that petitioner's conviction of robbery in the third degree in violation of Oregon Revised Statutes section 164.395 was a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) and petitioner failed to prove membership in a particular social group for the purpose of establishing refugee status. The Ninth Circuit held that section 164.395 is not categorically a CIMT, because the minimal force required for conviction was insufficient and the government waived the issue of divisibility. However, the panel held that petitioner failed to demonstrate membership in a particular social group, because "individuals returning to Mexico from the United States who are believed to be wealthy" was not a discrete class of persons recognized as a particular social group. Accordingly, the court granted the petition in part, denied it in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Barbosa v. Barr" on Justia Law