In State v. Engen, the Court of Appeals held that while a defendant must knowingly possess a controlled substance, he didn't need to know the exact nature of the controlled substance. That is, a defendant charged with possession of cocaine couldn't get an acquittal by arguing he thought it was meth.
But back then, a defendant wouldn't have been charged with specifically possessing cocaine. He was charged with possessing a schedule II controlled substance. The statute didn't distinguish between cocaine and methamphetamine. Now, a defendant is usually charged with expressly possessing cocaine in most cases, though a separate general statute based on drug categories still exists.
The earlier failure to distinguish different controlled substances was part of the analysis in Engen:
- Given the historical context of the 1977 legislation—the lack of differentiation among types of controlled substances and the historic lack of an explicit mental state requirement pertaining to the specific type of controlled substance possessed—it seems unlikely that the 1977 legislature intended to impose such a requirement.
As I mentioned, at least some of the drug statutes make those distinction now. Let's assume the charge is possession of cocaine. The mental state is knowingly. The conduct -- using a Simonov analysis -- is possession of cocaine. I don't think a person can be guilty under that statute of possessing cocaine if they thought they possessed methamphetamine.
The story is here.
There is a larger point to be made about sloppy legislative drafting (as well as other points not suited to this blog) but I'll save those for another time.
If prisoner A is in custody, serving a prison sentence, because it is necessary to keep the community safe, then the fact that there is a job shortage would not impact that conclusion, would it?
But if a job shortage is a basis for releasing a prisoner, perhaps community safety isn't the issue. And if community safety isn't the issue, then aren't there a number of ways to punish a person that are more effective and cheaper than incarceration?
Drunk driving fatalities have fallen dramatically since the early '80s. They continued to fall since the mid-90s, but that drop is less significant because non-DUII auto fatalities have fallen the same amount, suggesting that improvements in auto safety (which protect the drunk and sober alike) account for most if not all of the drop in the last two decades.
Still, if you go back to the early '80s, the decline of drunk driving fatalities has been an extraordinary success story. Is it because of tougher laws? Social stigma? Demographics? Change is alcohol consumption patterns?
You might find an answer here.
The Tennessee Supreme Court, in a recent opinion, went over a large body of case law on whether a "No Trespassing" sign defeats the implicit license of police to walk up to your front door. A discussion of their opinion is here.
The Oregon Court of Appeals recently discussed the issue in St v. Wilson.
The US Supreme Court is considering whether to take cases where the issue is whether a search warrant or a mere subpoena is necessary to obtain historical cell-site data.
Links to the multiple petitions for cert can be found here.
And an argument for revisiting the third-party doctrine is here. As previously noted, the Oregon Constitution provides much greater protection to records held by third-parties, per State v. Ghim. Having said that, the exact parameters of that protection will continue to be unknown until defense attorneys start preserving the issues.
In State v. Simonov, the Oregon Supreme Court lays out the law on applying which mental states to which elements. The charge was UUV, but it's a great place to start if you ever have any questions about mental states and material elements.
In his opinion, Justice Brewer points out that the "knowing" mental state is the lowest applicable mental state that can be applied to conduct. When it comes to results and circumstances, the lowest applicable mental state is criminal negligence. He points out that if a crime is in the criminal code, and no mental state is explicitly applied to a particular element, then the lowest possible mental state applies, which, in the case of a conduct element, is "knowingly" and in the case of a circumstance element is "negligently."
He briefly uses theft to highlight the difference between conduct and circumstance, specifically the fact that value of an item is a circumstance.
- The theft statutes provide an example of the role of circumstance elements in a criminal offense. “Theft” in any degree is defined by ORS 164.015, which describes the prohibited conduct (the taking of property) and the applicable mental state (intent to deprive another of property). The prohibited conduct for theft in any degree is the taking of another’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of it. Id. A person commits first-degree theft when the person commits theft as defined in ORS 164.015, and the value of the property is $1,000 or more. ORS 164.055. If the value of the property is $100 or more and less than $1,000, the person commits second-degree theft, and if the value of the property is less than $100, the person commits third-degree theft. ORS 164.045 (second-degree theft); ORS 164.043 (third-degree theft).
But what he says next is what's most important. He cites St v Jones, a COA case (authored by then-Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, David Brewer) that specifically involves whether one should apply a knowing mental state to the value of items stolen. And he summarizes Jones as follows:
Kopf's list begins:
10. Criminal defense lawyers are at great risk of becoming drunken bastards—the stress is beyond description.
9. Being a good criminal defense lawyer requires sincerity whereas being a great criminal defense lawyer requires the ability to fake it.
8. When it comes to convincing a client to accept a guilty plea because it is in the manifest best interests of the client, a criminal defense lawyer must become a client whisperer.
7. When it comes to convincing a client to reject a plea offer and take the case to a jury, a criminal defense lawyer (regardless of gender) must possess balls of steel.
6. Real criminal defense lawyers don’t hate prosecutors, but they don’t trust them either.
The rest of the list gets more interesting.
Kevin Drum's post is here, highlighting two studies. Very interesting to show how leaded gasoline -- and the subsequent ban on leaded gasoline -- impacts incarceration and crime as categorized by the race of the defendant.
You may have thought this issue was dead, but apparently it has some life. Per SCOTUSblog, SCOTUS has invited the solicitor general to weigh in on the petition for cert in Snyder v. Doe, which raises the question whether retroactive application of sex-offender-registry laws violates ex post facto clause.
That doesn't mean the justices will take the case, but at least one justice is considering doing so. I wouldn't expect a decision on whether to grant cert until the fall.
I've been waiting to have a case -- almost certainly a vehicular manslaughter or similar -- in which to raise this issue. Hasn't happened yet. But here's an appellate opinion where it was raised. Key quote:
- The state challenges an order granting appellee Charles Worsham’s motion to suppress. Without a warrant, the police downloaded data from the “event data recorder” or “black box” located in Worsham’s impounded vehicle. We affirm, concluding there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information retained by an event data recorder and downloading that information without a warrant from an impounded car in the absence of exigent circumstances violated the Fourth Amendment.
Here is Orin Kerr's take on the issue.
I highly recommend you look at this chart via Kevin Drum.
Mr. Drum writes:
- Since 1996, arrests of juveniles have fallen by two-thirds. Arrests for violent crimes have fallen by more than two-thirds. Bottom line: Kids today are way better behaved and way less scary than they were in the 90s. One of these days we ought to start acting like we know this.
The Oregon Supreme Court has granted review to a case involving child porn sentencing. The issue is this: how many different criminal episodes are there when multiple images are found during a single search, but those images were obtained on different dates?
I won't reiterate the arguments here, but it's my case, so if anyone wants the briefs after they're filed, let me know.
If the defense wins, the impact could be that a defendant who is an "I" would stay an "I" for all counts. While much better than being an "A" after just a few counts, are there any other limitations that could dramatically shorten the sentence?
Yes. If the state can't prove separate victims, the 200% rule would kick in, and the defendant's likely sentence would be no more than 36 months.
But what if the images all involve separate children? My argument -- which I have written about before -- is that the burden is on the state to show that the people depicted in the images are still alive at the time of downloading by the defendant, because if they aren't, they are beyond all harm, and thus cannot be victims (in the same way you can't libel the dead).
The state's response, shared by some defense attorneys, is that when you download the images ten, twenty or even a hundred years later, you -- as a consumer of these images -- are the reason these images were created in the first place, thus you are complicit in the original abuse. Consequently, it is the harm from the original abuse that makes the children "victims" for all eternity, even if the porn people look at five hundred years from now is the same porn that exists today.
I think this is wrong because I don't think the law recognizes retroactivity in this type of culpability. Space/time certainly doesn't. But there is another key reason, and when I say it, you're going to be shocked, but read on, and you'll see I'm not promoting an argument that only a psychopath would make.
For US crime statistics, go to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. This is a good place to start. As Kevin Drum states, "Their data delivery tool provides a lot of flexibility, allowing you to get data for specific crimes, specific localities, and specific time periods. Unfortunately, it's usually two years behind the latest release, so you have to wade through the most recent PDF reports if you want current data. If you need a complete series, start with the data tool and then fill in the most recent couple of years by hand from the relevant reports."
. . . . unleaded gasoline. Or more precisely, the phasing out of leaded gasoline in the US in the 1970s. You can easily find previous articles and evidence of this around the internet. Perhaps the most compelling evidence is that the drop in violence is entirely predictable based on when and how quickly leaded gasoline was phased out, regardless of the country. Here is the evidence as it relates to Britain, which phased out leaded gasoline much later than occurred in the US but, once it did so, did so much more quickly.
This isn't rocket science. We know what lead does to the brain, in terms of intellectual development and impulse control. That getting it out of the environment would have long term benefits for the children who grew up after lead was reduced or eliminated in their neighborhoods is entirely predictable and born out by the evidence.
Today, the Oregon Supreme Court came out with an opinion in State v. Morgan. It's a good defense opinion but not a good one for this particular defendant.
The most significant holding is that in a robbery in the second degree based on "aided by another person actually present," the "other person" must actually intend to aid the principal in the commission of the robbery. It can't be inadvertent assistance.
But there are a few things from the opinion that are very much worth highlighting.