Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
After a joint trial, the jury found Lawrence Bruce guilty of promoting prostitution in the second degree and found Justin McKinley guilty of promoting prostitution in the first degree. The intermediate court of appeals (ICA) vacated Bruce’s and McKinley’s convictions and remanded their cases for new trials, concluding that one of the prosecutor’s comments during rebuttal closing argument constituted misconduct and that the misconduct was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The Supreme Court reversed the ICA’s judgment, holding that the prosecutor’s comments, when properly analyzed in context, were not improper because they were relevant to the fundamental issues at trial. View "State v. Bruce" on Justia Law

by
At issue in this appeal were appropriate procedures for cases in which a trial court provides a “sentencing inclination.” In this opinion, the Supreme Court discussed procedures trial judges should follow before providing sentencing inclinations. Further, the court prospectively held that if a defendant pleads guilty or no contest in response to a court’s sentencing inclination and the court subsequently decides not to follow the inclination, the court must provide the defendant with the opportunity to affirm or withdraw the plea of guilty or no contest. Here, the Supreme Court affirmed the intermediate court of appeals’ judgment affirming the circuit court’s decision to deny Defendant’s motion to reconsider his sentence, holding that because Defendant voluntarily and knowingly entered his plea after acknowledging the non-binding nature of the circuit court’s sentencing inclination, and because the circuit court provided sufficient reasons for its deviation from the original sentencing inclination, Defendant was not entitled to be resentenced pursuant to the court’s original sentencing inclination. View "State v. Sanney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Under Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) 641-11, a defendant may appeal from an order of the circuit court dismissing the proceedings without prejudice. After the circuit court dismissed defendant's case without prejudice due to pretrial delay pursuant to Hawai'i Rules of Penal Procedure Rule 48, defendant appealed. Defendant argued that the circuit court erred in dismissing the case without prejudice, thereby permitting reprosecution of the charges. In light of HRS 641-11, the Supreme Court of Hawai'i remanded to the ICA for resolution of defendant's appellate claim. View "Hawai'i v. Nicol" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Court of Hawaii affirmed defendant's conviction for sexually assaulting his minor daughter. The court held that the family court did not abuse its discretion in admitting most of the testimony of the State's expert witness because the testimony helped explain the interaction between the minor and defendant, and its probative value outweighed its prejudicial effect. The court also held that, although the statistical evidence should not have been admitted, that error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "State v. McDonnell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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