Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Circuit courts possess statutory competency to proceed in criminal matters when the adult defendant was charged for conduct he committed before his tenth birthday. Defendant was charged with four counts of criminal misconduct. Defendant was nine through twelve years old during the time period charged in count one and fourteen through eighteen years old during the time period charged in counts two through four. Defendant was nineteen years old when the charges were filed. The jury acquitted Defendant of count one but convicted him of counts two through four. Defendant brought a postconviction motion alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to bring a pre-trial motion to dismiss count one. The circuit court denied the motion, concluding that the defendant’s age at the time he is charged, not his age at the time the underlying conduct occurred, determines whether charges are properly brought as a criminal matter. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the circuit court possessed statutory competency to hear Defendant’s case as a criminal matter because he was an adult at the time he was charged; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s counsel did not perform deficiently by failing to raise a meritless motion. View "State v. Sanders" on Justia Law

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The intent-effects test is the proper test used to determine whether a sanction is “punishment” such that due process requires a defendant be informed of it before entering a plea of guilty. In the instant case, the circuit court failed to inform Defendant that his plea of guilty to second-degree sexual assault would subject him to lifetime GPS tracking pursuant to Wis. Stat. 301.48. The circuit court concluded that lifetime GPS tracking is not punishment and therefore denied Defendant’s motion to withdraw his plea. Applying the intent-effects test to the facts of this case, the Supreme Court affirmed, holding that neither the intent nor effect of lifetime GPS tracking is punitive. View "State v. Muldrow" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the order of the circuit court ruling that Defendant’s trial counsel’s failure to object to an exhibit sent to the jury during deliberations constituted ineffective assistance with respect to only one of the six counts for which Defendant was convicted. On appeal, Defendant argued that all six of his convictions should be vacated due to his trial counsel’s deficient performance and that the State forfeited its right to argue the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test at his Machner hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Court held (1) circuit courts reviewing claims of ineffective assistance of counsel following multiple-count trials may conclude that deficient performance prejudiced only one of the multiple convictions; and (2) the State did not forfeit its right to challenge the prejudice prong of the ineffective assistance test when it did not petition the Supreme Court for review following the court of appeals’ original decision remanding for a Machner hearing. View "State v. Sholar" on Justia Law

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In finding Appellant to be a sexually violent person under Wis. Stat. 980.02(1)(a) the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion when it admitted expert testimony based on the results of the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised (MnSOST-R) and the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism (RRASOR) tests, which are instruments designed to measure an offender’s risk of reoffending. The State filed a petition to commit Appellant as a sexually violent person. Prior to the commitment trial, Appellant filed motion in liming to exclude the expert testimony, arguing that the testimony as to the results produced by the MnSOST-R and the RRASOR was not admissible under Wis. Stat. 907.02 because it was not based on sufficient facts or data, was not the product of reliable principles and methods, and was not reliably applied to the facts of the case. The circuit court denied the motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court evaluated the relevant facts under the proper standard and articulated a reasonable basis for its decision and thus did not erroneously exercise its discretion. View "State v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was the proper interpretation of Wis. Stat. 980.09(2), as amended by 2013 Wis. Act 84, which establishes the discharge procedure for a person civilly committed as a sexually violent person pursuant to Wis. Stat. ch. 980. David Hager, Jr. and Howard Carter both filed petitions for discharge from commitment as sexually violent persons. Both petitions were denied. The court of appeals reversed in Hager but affirmed in Carter. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals as to Hager and affirmed as to Carter, holding (1) under Wis. Stat. 980.09(2), circuit courts are to carefully examine, but not weigh, those portions of the record they deem helpful to their consideration of a petition for discharge, which may include facts both favorable and unfavorable to the petitioner; (2) section 980.09(2) does not violate the constitutional right to due process of law as guaranteed by the United States and Wisconsin Constitutions; and (3) Carter’s counsel was not ineffective for failing to challenge retroactive application of Act 84 to Carter. View "State v. Hager" on Justia Law

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In this commitment-extension proceeding the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the circuit court’s order denying J.M.’s motion for post-disposition relief in which J.M. claimed ineffective assistance of counsel. The Court answered (1) J.M. had a statutory right to effective assistance of counsel in his Chapter 41 commitment-extension hearing, and the Strickland standard is the correct standard for evaluating a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel in a commitment-extension hearing; (2) J.M. did not show that a reasonable probability existed that the result of the proceeding would have been different had his trial counsel’s performance not been allegedly deficient regarding J.M.’s appearance in prison garb; and (3) J.M. did not establish that he was entitled to a new trial on the ground that his wearing of prison garb during the trial so distracted the jury that justice was miscarried, and the circuit court’s conflicting jury instructions did not entitle J.M. to a new trial in the interest of justice. View "Winnebago County v. J.M." on Justia Law

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The circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion for a new trial without an evidentiary hearing. Defendant was convicted of attempted armed robbery, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm by a felon. During trial, the State presented testimony from two men that Defendant was their accomplice in the robberies. Defendant later filed a motion for a new trial alleging that he had newly discovered evidence represented by the affidavits of three men alleging that the State’s witnesses lied when they testified that Defendant was involved in the subject crimes. The circuit court denied the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the affidavits were merely cumulative evidence and were insufficient to require the circuit court to hold a hearing on the motion for a new trial because they were supported by neither newly discovered corroborating evidence or circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. View "State v. McAlister" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The circuit court did not abuse its discretion when it denied Defendant’s motion for a new trial without an evidentiary hearing. Defendant was convicted of attempted armed robbery, armed robbery, and possession of a firearm by a felon. During trial, the State presented testimony from two men that Defendant was their accomplice in the robberies. Defendant later filed a motion for a new trial alleging that he had newly discovered evidence represented by the affidavits of three men alleging that the State’s witnesses lied when they testified that Defendant was involved in the subject crimes. The circuit court denied the motion without holding an evidentiary hearing. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the affidavits were merely cumulative evidence and were insufficient to require the circuit court to hold a hearing on the motion for a new trial because they were supported by neither newly discovered corroborating evidence or circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. View "State v. McAlister" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the trial court’s decision rejecting Defendant’s motion to vacate his judgments of conviction and requesting a new trial, holding that Defendant was not entitled to a new trial. In his motion, Defendant argued that his first trial, which resulted in convictions for the sexual assault of two victims, was unfair because the State shifted the burden of proof and distorted the jury’s credibility determinations and that the jury based its verdict in part on inadmissible evidence. The Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the motion, holding (1) the State’s trial commentary was not improper; and (2) there was no reasonable probability that redacting the challenged evidence would have changed the result of the trial. View "State v. Bell" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for carrying a concealed and dangerous weapon, in violation of the Concealed Carry Statute, Wis. Stat. 941.23(2). In convicting Defendant, the trial court rejected Defendant’s argument that because his conduct was in compliance with the Safe Transport Statute, Wis. Stat. 167.31(2)(b), his conviction was precluded under the Concealed Carry Statute. The court of appeals affirmed, ruling that compliance with the Safe Transport Statute does not preclude conviction for a violation of the Concealed Carry Statute. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Concealed Carry Statute and Safe Transport Statute are not in conflict; and (2) the Concealed Carry Statute is not unconstitutionally vague. View "State v. Grandberry" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law