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Right to Confront and Cross-Examine Witnesses in Domestic Violence Cases – Contesting the Forfeiture by Wrongdoing Exception

Under Crawford v. Washington, ((2004) 541 US 36), out of court statements by witnesses that are testimonial are barred under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment, unless witnesses are unavailable and the defendant had prior opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. (Id. at 54). “Testimonial” statements are those that are made in circumstances that reasonably suggest…

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Prior Domestic Violence Reports as Evidence in Trial: The Exception to the Rule against Using Past Allegations to Show Present Guilt

Domestic violence allegations are complex cases for a number of reasons. One of the areas that such cases differ from average criminal cases is that ordinary rules that govern the admission of evidence related to reports, arrests, or convictions suffered by a defendant can be admitted to show that the defendant is guilty of present…

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Statutes as the “Black Letter” Law in California

Almost all states, as well as the Federal Government, have codified their criminal laws into statutes that one can refer to in text form. The Courts interpret the statutes and determine the intent of the Legislature, and, when the statutes are challenged as unconstitutional, rule as to their validity. When the Courts interpret a statute,…

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Appearance without client’s presence – Felony v. Misdemeanors

Generally, a criminal defendant must be personally present in felony cases. Cal. Penal Code § 977(b). However, this general rule does not apply in most misdemeanor cases, and the defense attorney may appear on their client’s behalf. See Cal. Penal Code § 977(a) . A defendant who chooses not to personally appear pursuant to Section…

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Fourth Amendment Rights, the “Emergency Aid” Doctrine, and Violations of Privacy by Police

The Fourth Amendment: Warrant Required Unless Lawfully Recognized Exception The Fourth Amendment dictates that warrantless searches inside a home without warrant “are presumptively unreasonable.” Payton v. New York (1980) 445 U.S. 573, 586. In order to justify a warrantless search, the government’s interest in conducting the search must be rise to a level greater than…

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