Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and remanded the cause to the circuit court with instructions to suppress the challenged evidence and vacate Defendant’s convictions, holding that the searches at issue violated the United States and Wisconsin constitutions. Defendant was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and bail jumping. In the circuit court, Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the law enforcement officer’s warrantless entry into her apartment was not justified under any of the exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement, and therefore, the evidence obtained during the searches of her apartment and person should be suppressed. The circuit court denied the motion to suppress, concluding that the officer had consent to enter Defendant’s apartment and that exigent circumstances justified the officer’s pushing open the apartment door. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the officer did not have consent to enter Defendant’s apartment; and (2) exigent circumstances did not justify the officer’s opening Defendant’s apartment door. View "State v. Reed" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and convicting Defendant of burglary and possession of burglarious tools, holding that a search warrant issued for the placement and use of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking evidence on a motor vehicle, but not executed within five days after the date of issuance under Wis. Stat. 968.15 or timely returned under Wis. Stat. 968.17(1), is not void if the search was otherwise reasonably conducted. At issue on appeal was whether the warrant in this case was governed by Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 968 and whether the warrant complied with the Fourth Amendment to the United State Constitution and Article I, Section 11 of the Wisconsin Constitution’s guarantees against unreasonable searches. The Court held (1) the GPS warrant in this case was not subject to the statutory limitations and requirements of Chapter 968; and (2) the GPS warrant complied with Fourth Amendment principles. View "State v. Pinder" on Justia Law

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The circuit court erred in granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence discovered during a search incident to arrest on the basis that “‘judicial integrity’ was vital enough to justify exclusion of evidence when the issuing court’s arrest warrant was invalid ab initio.” Defendant was charged with one count of possession of methamphetamine. Defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that, while a warrant had been issued and law enforcement did not engage in misconduct in executing the warrant, his constitutional rights were violated because the warrant violated his due process rights. The reviewing court agreed and granted the motion to suppress. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) suppression of evidence discovered during the search incident to arrest was not appropriate because the sole purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter police misconduct, and there was no police misconduct in this case; and (2) neither judicial integrity nor judicial error is a standalone basis for suppression under the exclusionary rule. View "State v. Kerr" on Justia Law

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Defendant voluntarily consented to a blood draw by his conduct of driving on Wisconsin’s roads and drinking to a point evidencing probable cause of intoxication and forfeited the statutory opportunity under Wis. Stat. 343.305(4) to withdraw his consent previously given by drinking to the point of unconsciousness. Defendant was convicted of operating while intoxicated and with a prohibited alcohol concentration. The conviction was based on the test of Defendant's blood that was drawn without a warrant while he was unconscious, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 343.305(3)(b). Defendant moved to suppress the results of the blood test, asserting that the warrantless blood draw violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. The circuit court denied the suppression motion in reliance on section 343.305(3)(b). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 343.305(3)(b) applied, which, under the totality of the circumstances, reasonably permitted drawing Defendant’s blood. View "State v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s judgment of conviction and sentence and upholding the circuit court’s order denying his postconviction motion, holding that Defendant was entitled to resentencing because the circuit court relied on an improper sentencing factor. Defendant argued that he was entitled to withdraw his no contest pleas because his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress blood evidence collected without a warrant and that he was entitled to resentencing. The Supreme Court held (1) a motion to suppress the blood evidence would have been meritless because exigent circumstances existed permitting police to draw Defendant’s blood absent a warrant, and therefore, counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress did not constitute deficient performance; and (2) the circuit court impermissibly lengthened Defendant’s sentence because he refused a warrantless blood draw, in violation of Birchfield v. North Dakota, 579 U.S. __ (2016). View "State v. Dalton" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, holding that the erroneous exclusion of data from a portable GPS unit was harmless. Defendant was involved in a single-vehicle crash in which Defendant was seriously injured and his girlfriend, R.C., was killed. The only factual dispute at trial was whether it was Defendant or R.C. who was driving at the time of the crash. R.C. owned a portable GPS unit that she kept in the vehicle, from which officers recreated the vehicle’s movements and calculated its speed on the date of the accident. Defendant moved for the admission of GPS data before the accident to show that R.C. was likely driving the vehicle at the time of the accident. The circuit court excluded the GPS data. The court of appeals accepted for purposes of appeal that the circuit court’s exclusion of the GPS data was erroneous but that the error was harmless. The Supreme Court affirmed. View "State v. Monahan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon and denying Defendant’s postconviction motions. Post-conviction, Defendant filed two motions challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and the jury instructions relating to Defendant’s defenses of accident and self-defense. The circuit court denied the motions. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the jury instructions, taken as a whole, accurately stated the law, and therefore, there was no basis for Defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and no due process violation; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict. View "State v. Langlois" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the order of the circuit court ordering Defendant to be involuntarily medicated to competency for purposes of participating in postconviction proceedings. Several years after being convicted of several crimes, Defendant sought to pursue postconviction relief. Defendant’s counsel asked for a competency evaluation. After a competency evaluation, the circuit court found that Defendant was not competent to proceed with his postconviction motion for relief and was not competent to refuse medication and treatment. The court then ordered Defendant to be involuntarily medicated to competency for purposes of participating in postconviction proceedings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that because the circuit court did not follow the mandatory procedure set forth in State v. Debra A.E., 523 N.W.2d 727 (Wis. 1994), the involuntary medication order was issued prematurely and was invalid. View "State v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals reinstating Defendant’s conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl after the circuit court set the conviction aside on the grounds that Defendant received constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court held (1) the court of appeals properly conducted the analysis required under Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984), and found that Defendant’s counsel performed as required by the Constitution; (2) expert testimony at a Machner hearing regarding the reasonableness of trial counsel’s performance is not admissible; and (3) the circuit court did not improperly rely on Defendant’s lack of remorse when it fashioned his sentence. View "State v. Pico" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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2013 Wis. Act 20 (Act 20) eliminated a circuit court’s discretion to waive imposition of the $250 DNA analysis surcharge for felony convictions. Before the legislature adopted Act 20, the relevant statute said that the court “may” impose the $250 DNA surcharge on a defendant convicted of a felony. Act 20 changed the language of the statue, saying that the court “shall” impose the surcharge. Defendant in this case filed a postconviction motion requesting vacation of the DNA surcharge. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that “shall” as used in Wis. Stat. 973.046(1r) is mandatory, and therefore, the circuit court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to remove the DNA surcharge from his judgment of conviction. View "State v. Cox" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law