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August 2011 Archives

Testimony is Sufficient Evidence Where Video is Inconclusive

It is common in DUI cases to review patrol car video of the initial stop to help determine whether that stop was legally justified (something to be considered in any DUI case where a police officer has initiated a stop of the Defendant's vehicle). Though the video can in some cases be very helpful in determining the question one way or another, it is not the only evidence available. Witness testimony, including testimony of the police officer initiating the stop, is also important. DUI stops often occur after dark, when lighting conditions are poor. Camera sensors are not nearly as good at seeing in the dark as is the human eye. In the case of a video that is inconclusive, witness testimony can still be conclusive. That was the case in the recent Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals opinion in State v. Patterson, M2010-02360-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-22-2011).

Testimony is Sufficient Evidence Where Video is Inconclusive

It is common in DUI cases to review patrol car video of the initial stop to help determine whether that stop was legally justified (something to be considered in any DUI case where a police officer has initiated a stop of the Defendant's vehicle). Though the video can in some cases be very helpful in determining the question one way or another, it is not the only evidence available. Witness testimony, including testimony of the police officer initiating the stop, is also important. DUI stops often occur after dark, when lighting conditions are poor. Camera sensors are not nearly as good at seeing in the dark as is the human eye. In the case of a video that is inconclusive, witness testimony can still be conclusive. That was the case in the recent Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals opinion in State v. Patterson, M2010-02360-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-22-2011).

Testimony is Sufficient Evidence Where Video is Inconclusive

It is common in DUI cases to review patrol car video of the initial stop to help determine whether that stop was legally justified (something to be considered in any DUI case where a police officer has initiated a stop of the Defendant's vehicle). Though the video can in some cases be very helpful in determining the question one way or another, it is not the only evidence available. Witness testimony, including testimony of the police officer initiating the stop, is also important. DUI stops often occur after dark, when lighting conditions are poor. Camera sensors are not nearly as good at seeing in the dark as is the human eye. In the case of a video that is inconclusive, witness testimony can still be conclusive. That was the case in the recent Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals opinion in State v. Patterson, M2010-02360-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 8-22-2011).

Consecutive Sentencing Upheld in a Vehicular Homicide Case

In criminal sentencing for multiple convictions where the convictions are not required by law to run consecutive to each other, the trial court can, in the court's discretion, impose the convictions consecutively if the court finds one of several specific statutory conditions apply. The conditions are listed in Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-115(b). One of those conditions is if the defendant "is a dangerous offender whose behavior indicates little or no regard for human life, and no hesitation about committing a crime in which the risk to human life is high." This condition can be found with intentionally violent crime. It can also apply to a defendant whose reckless conduct shows little or no regard for human life. The Court of Criminal Appeals found this to be the case in the recent opinion in State v. Boldus, M2011-0036-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. crim. App. 8-11-2011).

Consecutive Sentencing Upheld in a Vehicular Homicide Case

In criminal sentencing for multiple convictions where the convictions are not required by law to run consecutive to each other, the trial court can, in the court's discretion, impose the convictions consecutively if the court finds one of several specific statutory conditions apply. The conditions are listed in Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-115(b). One of those conditions is if the defendant "is a dangerous offender whose behavior indicates little or no regard for human life, and no hesitation about committing a crime in which the risk to human life is high." This condition can be found with intentionally violent crime. It can also apply to a defendant whose reckless conduct shows little or no regard for human life. The Court of Criminal Appeals found this to be the case in the recent opinion in State v. Boldus, M2011-0036-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. crim. App. 8-11-2011).

Consecutive Sentencing Upheld in a Vehicular Homicide Case

In criminal sentencing for multiple convictions where the convictions are not required by law to run consecutive to each other, the trial court can, in the court's discretion, impose the convictions consecutively if the court finds one of several specific statutory conditions apply. The conditions are listed in Tennessee Code Annotated 40-35-115(b). One of those conditions is if the defendant "is a dangerous offender whose behavior indicates little or no regard for human life, and no hesitation about committing a crime in which the risk to human life is high." This condition can be found with intentionally violent crime. It can also apply to a defendant whose reckless conduct shows little or no regard for human life. The Court of Criminal Appeals found this to be the case in the recent opinion in State v. Boldus, M2011-0036-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. crim. App. 8-11-2011).

Sixth Circuit Addresses Retroactive Application of SORNA

In July 2006, Congress passed the Sex-Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), which provides federal criminal penalties for sex offenders who move across state lines and fail to comply with sex offender registration requirements. The act indicated that the Attorney General would have the authority to specify how and to what extent the act would apply to sex offenders convicted before enactment of SORNA or before implementation of SORNA in a particular jurisdiction. Subsequently, the Attorney General has indeed ruled that the provisions of SORNA are to apply to all sex offenders, regardless of when the convictions occurred and regardless of when implemented in particular jurisdictions. Federal courts are still trying to sort out which offenders are subject to SORNA and which are not.

Sixth Circuit Addresses Retroactive Application of SORNA

In July 2006, Congress passed the Sex-Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), which provides federal criminal penalties for sex offenders who move across state lines and fail to comply with sex offender registration requirements. The act indicated that the Attorney General would have the authority to specify how and to what extent the act would apply to sex offenders convicted before enactment of SORNA or before implementation of SORNA in a particular jurisdiction. Subsequently, the Attorney General has indeed ruled that the provisions of SORNA are to apply to all sex offenders, regardless of when the convictions occurred and regardless of when implemented in particular jurisdictions. Federal courts are still trying to sort out which offenders are subject to SORNA and which are not.

Sixth Circuit Addresses Retroactive Application of SORNA

In July 2006, Congress passed the Sex-Offender Registration and Notification Act ("SORNA"), which provides federal criminal penalties for sex offenders who move across state lines and fail to comply with sex offender registration requirements. The act indicated that the Attorney General would have the authority to specify how and to what extent the act would apply to sex offenders convicted before enactment of SORNA or before implementation of SORNA in a particular jurisdiction. Subsequently, the Attorney General has indeed ruled that the provisions of SORNA are to apply to all sex offenders, regardless of when the convictions occurred and regardless of when implemented in particular jurisdictions. Federal courts are still trying to sort out which offenders are subject to SORNA and which are not.

Defense Win in a Search and Seizure Case

Appellate challenges to trial court rulings on admissibility of evidence in criminal cases, including questions of whether a particular search and seizure was reasonable, do not often result in reversals. Appellate courts must rely on a trial court's findings of fact and determine whether the trial court's application of law to those facts was reversible error. The recent case of of State v. Mejia, E2010-00745-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-27- 2011) did result in the reversal of the trial court ruling and dismissal of charges against the Defendant in that case.

Defense Win in a Search and Seizure Case

Appellate challenges to trial court rulings on admissibility of evidence in criminal cases, including questions of whether a particular search and seizure was reasonable, do not often result in reversals. Appellate courts must rely on a trial court's findings of fact and determine whether the trial court's application of law to those facts was reversible error. The recent case of of State v. Mejia, E2010-00745-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-27- 2011) did result in the reversal of the trial court ruling and dismissal of charges against the Defendant in that case.

Defense Win in a Search and Seizure Case

Appellate challenges to trial court rulings on admissibility of evidence in criminal cases, including questions of whether a particular search and seizure was reasonable, do not often result in reversals. Appellate courts must rely on a trial court's findings of fact and determine whether the trial court's application of law to those facts was reversible error. The recent case of of State v. Mejia, E2010-00745-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 7-27- 2011) did result in the reversal of the trial court ruling and dismissal of charges against the Defendant in that case.

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