Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirming Defendant’s conviction for the offense of operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. On appeal, Defendant argued that the ICA erred in concluding that the State laid a sufficient foundation to introduce the results of Defendant’s blood alcohol test results. The Supreme Court held that the trial court did not err in admitting Defendant’s blood test results because the State met the burden laid out in State v. Werle, 218 P.3d 762 (Haw. 2009) and State v. Montalbo, 828 P.2d 1274 (Haw. 1992) to establish a sufficient foundation to introduce the blood test results. View "State v. Villena" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The circuit court erred when it restricted Defendant during his criminal trial in deciding whether and when in the course of presenting his defense he should take the stand, in violation of his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination, his constitutional right to the assistance of counsel, and his right to due process of law. Although the trial was anticipated to last up to six days, the State rested its case-in-chief in the early afternoon on the first day of the evidentiary portion of the trial. Over defense counsel’s objection, the circuit court ordered Defendant to take the stand that day or forfeit his right to testify entirely. Consequently, Defendant took the stand and testified before the other witnesses in the defense’s case. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s judgment and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the circuit court erred and that the error was not subject to harmless error review. View "State v. Loher" on Justia Law

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A defendant’s failure to take prescription medication does not constitute self-induced intoxication under Haw. Rev. Stat. 702-230, which precludes the defendant from relying on the defense of lack of penal responsibility due to a physical or mental disease, disorder or defect. Defendant, who was charged with assault in the second degree, presented the defense of lack of criminal responsibility as a result of disease, disorder, or defect. The circuit court found Defendant guilty, concluding that any disease, disorder, or defect Defendant was experiencing at the time of the assault was self-induced and the product of Defendant’s refusal to take his prescribed medication and his use of marijuana. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and the circuit court’s judgment of conviction, holding that the circuit court’s holding that Defendant’s failure to take his medication caused his psychotic behavior was inconsistent with the plain language of section 702-230, which requires the introduction of substances into the body. View "State v. Eager" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of criminal trespassing in the first degree, terroristic threatening in the second degree, and assault in the third degree. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court influenced his decision not to testify by intimidating him through the trial. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that the circuit court adequately advised Defendant of his rights and obtained a valid waiver of his right to testify. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record was insufficient to support a conclusion that Defendant’s waiver of the right to testify was voluntarily, intelligently, and knowingly made. View "State v. Kim" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacating Defendant’s conviction for operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant (OVUII) in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(1), reversing Defendant’s conviction for OVUII in violation of Haw. Rev. Stat. 291E-61(a)(3), and remanding the case for a new trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that his conviction under section 291E-61(a)(1) should be reversed rather than vacated and remanded for a new trial. The Supreme Court disagreed and held (1) the ICA did not err in concluding that the charge was not fatally defective for failing to include the statutory definition of the term “alcohol” and in concluding that there was substantial evidence to support Defendant’s conviction under section 291E-61(a)(1); and (2) the district court’s admonishment of Defendant for his decision to pursue trial may have violated his constitutional rights to due process and against self-incrimination. View "State v. Nakamitsu" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s conviction of committing the offense of terroristic threatening in the second degree, rendered after a bench trial. On appeal, Defendant argued that his substantial rights were violated when, during closing argument, the prosecutor read a portion of the complainant’s prior statement to the police where its contents had not been admitted into evidence. The Supreme Court agreed that error occurred, holding that the error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the prior statement was clearly relevant to proving the terroristic threatening offense, the State’s case was enhanced by the statement, and the defense’s case was significantly prejudiced. The court remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. View "State v. McGhee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In eight separate criminal cases, International Fidelity Insurance Company issued eight separate powers of attorney (POAs) to either Ida Peppers of Freedom Bail Bond or Charles Fisher of AAA Local Bail Bonds to execute a bail bond on behalf of the defendants in each case. In each case, the bonded defendant failed to appear, and the circuit court entered a judgment and order of forfeiture of bail bond. The court provided notice of those judgments to the surety listed on the bonds. International Fidelity moved to set aside each of the forfeiture judgments, arguing that it did not receive notice of the judgments as required under Haw. Rev. Stat. 804-51. The circuit court denied the motions. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) affirmed, concluding that due process and the requirements of section 804-51 were satisfied when notice of the forfeiture judgments were issued to Peppers or Fisher. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ICA did not err (1) in determining that notice to International Fidelity of the forfeiture judgments was not required by due process or under section 804-51; and (2) to the extent the forfeiture judgments were ambiguous, they were entered against the sureties on the bond - Peppers or Fisher. View "State v. Nelson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The circuit court deprived Defendant of his right to confront and cross-examine the complaining witness (CW) as to her bias and motive by limiting the CW’s testimony on the subject of Defendant’s immigration status and whether the CW knew that Defendant could face deportation if he was arrested. Defendant was found guilty of terroristic threatening in the first degree. The offense arose from a domestic dispute between Defendant and his ex-girlfriend, the CW. The intermediate court of appeals affirmed the judgment of conviction. Defendant filed an application for writ of certiorari, challenging the circuit court’s decision to limit the CW’s testimony on cross-examination. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of conviction and probation sentence and remanded the case to the circuit court for a new trial. View "State v. Acacio" on Justia Law

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The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) erred in concluding that a challenge to the erroneous inclusion of prior convictions in a PSI cannot be brought on a Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 35 motion for post-conviction relief; The circuit court sentenced Stanley Kong to consecutive terms of imprisonment based on a presentence investigation report (PSI) that erroneously included two prior convictions that had been previously vacated and dismissed. Kong’s counsel did not, however, bring this fact to the circuit court’s attention. The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence in Kong I. Thereafter, Kong filed a motion under Rule 35(b) to reconsider or reduce sentence challenging the erroneous inclusion of the two prior convictions in his PSI. The circuit court denied the motion. The ICA affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the ICA’s judgment on appeal and remanded, holding (1) the ICA erred in concluding that Defendant could not challenge, via a Rule 35 motion, the erroneous inclusion of the two prior convictions in his PSI; and (2) the circuit court erred by concluding that Kong I precluded its reevaluation of Kong’s sentence and by failing to address Kong’s challenge to the inclusion of the two vacated and dismissed prior convictions in his PSI. View "State v. Kong" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue in this case was the question that the Supreme Court left open in State v. Mainaaupo, 178 P.3d 1 (Haw. 2008): whether the right to remain silent attaches rearrest and, if so, in what manner and to what extent may prearrest silence be used by the State in a criminal trial. The Supreme Court held (1) the right to remain silent under Haw. Const. art. I, section 10 attaches at least at the point at which a person has been seized; (2) evidence regarding a defendant’s exercise of the right to remain silent may not be used as substantive evidence of guilt, and the State may not elicit evidence of prearrest silence to imply Defendant’s guilt or introduce evidence whose character suggests to the fact-finder that the defendant’s prearrest silence is inferential evidence of the defendant’s guilt. Because Defendant’s prearrest silence in this case was introduced into evidence as substantive proof of Defendant’s guilt and the error was not harmless, the case must be remanded for a new trial. View "State v. Tsujimura" on Justia Law