Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for eight offenses, rendered after a jury trial. The court held (1) the circuit court did not err in admitting certain out-of-court statements as res gestate evidence; (2) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm; (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of simple assault on a law enforcement officer while armed with a firearm; and (4) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of possession of a controlled substance. View "State v. Kiir" on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of several offenses charged in two indictments. The circuit court granted the State’s motion to join both indictments for trial. After a trial, Defendant was convicted of all offenses. Defendant appealed, arguing that the circuit court erred in joining the indictments and in admitting evidence of an unknown bystander’s report that Defendant may have possessed a gun. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in joining the indictments because the joinder was proper and Defendant failed to make a sufficient showing of prejudice; and (2) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of the bystander’s report. View "State v. Goodshot" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted of one count of first-degree manslaughter and received a sentence of life imprisonment. Defendant appealed his sentence, arguing that the circuit court abused its discretion in light of other sentences imposed for manslaughter in Minnehaha County, as well as his lack of criminal history. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion by sentencing Defendant to life imprisonment where (1) the sentencing court could reasonably conclude that Defendant’s offense was among the most serious commissions of first-degree manslaughter, and (2) the court’s finding that rehabilitation was speculative was not clearly erroneous. View "State v. Talla" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted of possessing cocaine and sentenced to imprisonment for five years, fully suspended on conditions. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the trial court refused to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress and permitted an officer to testify that Defendant refused to provide a urine sample after her arrest; (2) the circuit court did not err by refusing to permit Defendant to offer evidence that the State did not obtain a warrant for a urine sample, and an officer’s testimony regarding Defendant’s statements was not inadmissible hearsay; and (3) the prosecutor did not commit misconduct during the State’s closing argument. View "State v. Stanley" on Justia Law

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Appellant appealed his conviction of five counts of possessing child pornography. Appellant argued (1) there was insufficient evidence to prove that he knowingly possessed child pornography; (2) S.D. Codified Laws 22-24A-3, the statute defining possession of child pornography, is unconstitutionally vague; and (3) he was convicted multiple times for a single act or course of conduct in violation of double jeopardy protections. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence for the jury to find that Appellant knowingly possessed the five images of child pornography for which he was charged; (2) there was no plain error for the court to notice with regard to the constitutionality of section 22-24A-3; and (3) there was no plain error for the court to notice with regard to double jeopardy. View "State v. Linson" on Justia Law

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A law enforcement officer need not have independent authority to make an arrest under S.D. Codified Laws 23A-3-2 before taking a person placed under a citizen’s arrest into custody and performing a search incident to that arrest. Defendant in this case was validly placed under citizen’s arrest for theft by an asset protection associate at Walmart. The associate contacted law enforcement, who took Defendant into custody and searched her purse. Law enforcement found a pipe with methamphetamine residue. The circuit court granted Defendant's motion to suppress all evidence obtained from the search. The Supreme Court reversed based on South Dakota’s statutes concerning a citizen’s arrest and court precedent, holding that Defendant was validly placed under citizen’s arrest, and the responding law enforcement officer who took her into custody properly performed a search incident to that arrest. View "State v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction for driving under the influence and following too closely, rendered after a jury trial. Defendant argued that the circuit court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss for the State’s failure to bring him to trial within 180 days under S.D. Codified Laws 23A-44-5.1. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not err when it denied Defendant’s motion to dismiss because (1) a constructive appearance before a judicial officer does not constitute a first appearance under the statute; and (2) under the facts of this case, the State did not violate the 180-day rule. View "State v. Duncan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his convictions, entered after a jury trial, of three counts of first-degree rape and one count of sexual contact with a child under sixteen years of age. The child was Defendant’s four-year-old daughter, who had autism. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court (1) did not abuse its discretion by finding the child, who was six years old at the time of trial, competent to testify despite her young age and developmental delays; (2) did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to have the child declared unavailable as a witness for the purposes of cross-examination because of her lack of memory; (3) did not err by denying Defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement; and (4) did not abuse its discretion by giving Instruction 11 to the jury. View "State v. Spaniol" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed Defendant’s convictions of simple assault and intentional damage to property, holding that the circuit court erred as a matter of law in admitting purported business records - Verizon’s log of Defendant’s tex messages sent and received during the time of the alleged conduct underlying the convictions - because the State did not lay the required foundation for the evidence, and there was a reasonable probability that admission of the cell-phone log contributed to the jury’s decision. Because the error was prejudicial, the Court remanded for a new trial on Defendant’s convictions for simple assault and intentional damage to property. View "State v. Stokes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree murder and kidnapping. Defendant received concurrent, mandatory life sentences for the convictions. Defendant was fourteen years old when he committed the offenses. After the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Miller v. Alabama, Defendant filed a motion in circuit court to correct an illegal sentence. The circuit court granted the motion. Following a resentencing hearing, the sentencing court resentenced Defendant to concurrent, 200-year sentences for first-degree murder and kidnapping. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Defendant failed to establish that his sentence is cruel and unusual in violation of the Eighth Amendment; and (2) the sentencing court did not abuse its discretion when it imposed concurrent, 200-year sentences. View "State v. Jensen" on Justia Law