Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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A criminal defendant’s request to represent himself was properly denied as “untimely” when the request was made twenty-four hours prior to the scheduled trial date. Defendant was convicted of burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon, first degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, and coercion. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions but vacated his deadly weapon sentencing enhancements, holding (1) under Lyons v. State, 796 P.2d 210 (Nev. 1990), which is consistent with United States Supreme Court precedent, a defendant’s request to represent himself may be denied as untimely if granting it will delay trial; (2) the State produced sufficient evidence to sustain Defendant’s convictions for robbery and kidnapping even when both convictions stemmed from Defendant’s actions over the course of a single incident; and (3) there was insufficient evidence that Defendant’s “weapon” satisfied an applicable definition of deadly weapon. View "Guerrina v. State" on Justia Law

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A party waives the right to challenge on appeal a juror’s presence on the jury where the party’s appellate argument is based on facts known to the party during voir dire, the party consciously elected not to pursue - or abandoned - a challenge for cause on that basis, and the party accepted the juror’s presence on the jury. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of thirteen counts of possession of credit or debit card without cardholder’s consent. The Court held (1) Defendant waived his appellate argument of juror bias as to two jurors he passed for cause below; and (2) the district court erred by denying one of Defendant’s challenges for cause as to a certain juror, but the error was harmless and did not warrant reversal. View "Sayedzada v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus as procedurally barred without conducting an evidentiary hearing. Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. More than one year after remittitur issued from his direct appeal, Appellant filed the postconviction petition at issue in this case. The petition was both untimely filed and successive and, thus, procedurally barred absent a demonstration of good cause and prejudice. Further, Appellant was required to overcome the presumption of prejudice to the State. To overcome the procedural bars, Appellant argued that the State committed a Brady violation, that his attorneys were ineffective during the litigation of his prior postconviction petition, and that he was actually innocent of the death penalty. The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of the petition without an evidentiary hearing, holding that Appellant failed to demonstrate that the district court erred. View "Moore v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Striking a prospective juror based on sexual orientation is impermissible under the United States and Nevada Constitutions. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for robbery and misdemeanor battery, holding that the district court did not commit any error from the time it held a competency hearing for Defendant to when it entered the judgment of conviction. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err with respect to Defendant’s competency hearing; (2) the delay in Defendant’s subsequent transfer to a psychiatric facility for the purpose of restoring competency to stand trial did not warrant dismissal of the charges; (3) the district court did not err with respect to jury selection and closing arguments; and (4) there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction. View "Morgan v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 200.604, which prohibits a person from knowingly and intentionally capturing an image of another person’s private area without her consent under circumstances in which she has a reasonable expectation of privacy, does not prohibit a person from copying, without permission, a consensually recorded video depicting sexual acts. Defendant, a police officer, was charged and convicted of violating section 200.604 for copying sexual videos of an arrestee and her boyfriend on the arrestee’s cell phone. On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to convict him because he did not take a video of the arrestee’s physical body directly. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed, holding that section 200.604 does not criminalize copying a consensually recorded image of a sexual act. View "Coleman v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The district court erred in invalidating a search warrant for an evidentiary blood draw and suppressing the blood draw evidence because there was probable cause to support the search warrant. After failing a preliminary breath test (PBT) Respondent was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. The results of the PBT were used to obtain a search warrant for an evidentiary blood draw. The district court suppressed the PBT results, determining that they were obtained in violation of Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The court then suppressed the evidentiary blood draw, concluding that it was the fruit of an illegal search. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the district court did not err in finding that the PBT results were obtained in violation of Defendant’s constitutional rights; but (2) there was probable cause to support the search warrant even without the PBT evidence, and therefore, the district court erroneously invalidated the search warrant and suppressed the subsequent blood draw evidence. View "State v. Sample" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of one count each of conspiracy to commit robbery and burglary while in possession of a deadly weapon and two counts each of robbery with the use of a deadly weapon and murder with the use of a deadly weapon. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court violated right to a public trial by closing the courtroom to members of the public during jury selection without making sufficient findings to warrant the closure. The Supreme Court held that, under Presley v. Georgia, 558 U.S. 209 (2010), this violation constituted structural error, but because Defendant did not preserve the error for appellate review, under Nevada law, Defendant must demonstrate plain error that affected his substantial rights. Following the United States Supreme Court’s guidance in Weaver v. Massachusetts, 582 U.S. __ (2017), the Supreme Court held that Defendant failed to satisfy plain error review. Further, Defendant was not entitled to relief on his other claims, and Defendant’s death sentences were supported by review of the record under Nev. Rev. Stat. 177.055(2). View "Jeremias v. State" on Justia Law

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Nev. Rev. Stat. 453.3385 creates a separate offense for each schedule I controlled substance. The State charged Defendant with trafficking in a controlled substance after discovering two bags of heroin totaling 9.445 grams and three bags of methamphetamine totaling 9.532 grams in Defendant’s apartment. Specifically, the State charged Defendant with possessing 14 grams or more, but less than 28 grams, of a schedule I controlled substance in violation of section 453.3385(2). Defendant moved to strike the trafficking counts, arguing that the State could not charge him with “an aggregate of completely separate controlled substances” and that the State could not charge him for having a mixture of heroin and meth because the drugs were not mixed into one bag. The district court denied the motion, concluding that the weight of different schedule I drugs simultaneously possessed by a defendant may be aggregated under section 453.3385. A jury convicted Defendant of the charge. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) in section 453.3385, the Legislature intended to create a separate offense for each controlled substance simultaneously possessed by a person; and (2) the weights of different controlled substances may not be aggregated together to form a single offense under section 453.3385. View "Andrews v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant in this case had “an adequate opportunity” (see Chavez v. State, 213 P.3d 476, 482 (Nev. 2009)) to cross-examine a witness when, immediately after the State’s direct examination at the preliminary hearing, Defendant waived his right to continue the preliminary hearing. Jeffrey Baker was charged with sexually motivated coercion and eight counts of lewdness with a child under the age of fourteen. At the preliminary hearing, C.J. testified regarding two instances in which Baker attempted to engage her in sexual activity. When C.J. finished testifying, Defendant waived his right to continue the preliminary hearing and plead guilty to one count of attempted lewdness with a minor. The court rejected Baker’s plea. C.J. subsequently committed suicide. The State moved to admit at trial the transcript of C.J.’s testimony at the preliminary hearing. The district court denied the motion on the grounds that Baker did not have an adequate opportunity cross-examine C.J. at the preliminary hearing. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Confrontation Clause guarantees an opportunity to cross-examine and does not give defendants a sword to strike adverse testimony that the defendant chose not to contest. View "State v. Eighth Judicial District Court" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's postconviction petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The court held that the filing of a bar complaint does not create a per se conflict of interest that rises to the level of a violation of the Sixth Amendment, and defendant did not assert that the filing of the bar complaint adversely affected his counsel's behavior or caused his counsel to defend him less diligently, and thus he did not present a conflict-of-interest claim that would entitle him to relief. Therefore, the district court did not err by denying defendant's claim without conducting an evidentiary hearing. View "Jefferson v. Nevada" on Justia Law