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Articles Posted in Assault and Battery

In a recent opinion coming out of a Virginia court, the defendant’s arguments were partially successful in appealing her guilty convictions. Originally, the defendant was convicted of financially exploiting an incapacitated adult and of abusing or neglecting an incapacitated adult. As a result of the defendant’s arguments on appeal, the court reversed the financial exploitation conviction and affirmed the abuse or neglect conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant, a woman in her fifties, lived with her mother, who was in her eighties at the time of this case. In the years prior to this conviction, a social worker had visited the defendant and her mother several times, since it seemed the defendant was not adequately caring for her mother in the apartment. The mother relied on her daughter for financial support, sponge baths, and other personal hygiene matters. The social worker had reported on various occasions that the defendant’s mother often smelled of urine, that neither the defendant nor her mother had a bed to sleep on but instead slept on a couch and a chair, and that both parties had refused many of the social worker’s services when she had come to visit.

One day in 2020, the defendant’s mother fell. Two days later, a pest control worker found the defendant and her mother in their apartment and promptly called 911. The defendant’s mother was taken to the hospital, and the doctors reported that she was covered in feces, urine, and bed bugs at the time she was admitted. She had been lying on the floor for two days before she received care, and she was suffering from bedsores that showed the risk of infection. After being discharged, the defendant’s mother died in hospice care a couple of months later.

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In a recent opinion from a Virginia court, the defendant’s appeal in her assault and battery case was denied. The defendant was originally found guilty of acting violently towards a police officer when the officer came to investigate an emergency call at the defendant’s place of residence. On appeal, the defendant argued the officer was trespassing on her property and that it was thus her right to try and push him out of the home. The court disagreed, finding the defendant’s actions unreasonable and affirming her guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an officer in Virginia was dispatched to the defendant’s home one evening after 10:00 pm. At the time, the officer was not sure why the emergency call had been placed or what exactly was happening in the defendant’s place of residence. When the officer arrived, he found the defendant yelling at a man who was standing on the front porch. The man explained to the police officer that he lived at the home and wanted to get his belongings from inside. The defendant yelled towards the officer that the man had acted physically violent and that he was not welcome in her home.

The next few minutes, as depicted later on the officer’s body cam, were chaotic. While standing on the porch, the officer tried to calmly explain that he wanted to speak with one person at a time. The defendant tried to slam the door in the officer’s face, but the officer placed his foot in the way of the closing door to prevent the defendant from shutting him out. The officer forced himself into the residence and attempted to handcuff the defendant. Meanwhile, the defendant resisted, yelled at the officer and swung her arm at the officer to elbow him three different times.

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The Virginia criminal justice system is a complex institution that often leaves criminal defendants confused about their rights and remedies. In most Virginia criminal cases, a defendant can appeal a conviction after a court or jury finds them guilty. The United States Constitution and state laws govern what cases and issues a defendant may appeal. Many defendants unknowingly forfeit their rights to appeal because of the fundamental disparity in power during these proceedings. Appeals can take a significant amount of time, and it is essential that criminal defendants seek assistance to ensure that they present all relevant appeals to the court.

In some cases, a criminal defendant may appeal several issues based on various procedural or statutory errors. For instance, recently, a Virginia defendant appealed his conviction based on eight issues. The defendant appealed his drug possession with intent to distribute conviction and his revocation of a suspended sentence. His crux of the appeal was based on an alleged violation of his Fourth Amendment rights and his assertion that the Commonwealth made erroneous additions to his transcript.

In cases where a Virginia appellant contests their conviction, the court should address each assignment of error. Here, the appeals court addressed each issue in their opinion and ultimately affirmed the conviction. In some instances, a court may deny an otherwise meritorious appeal because of a procedural issue. These situations illustrate the importance of retaining a criminal defense attorney who has a comprehensive understanding of Virginia criminal procedure.

Recently a state appellate court issued a decision in a defendant’s appeal regarding statements he made to police prior to his arrest in a Virginia assault case. The case arose when police questioned the defendant about his involvement in a shooting while he was receiving treatment for a gunshot wound at a hospital. Hospital staff contacted police after admitting the man for a gunshot wound. Initially, detectives were unsure whether the defendant was a victim or a perpetrator. There were four detectives and a security guard present while two detectives questioned the defendant about his involvement. During questioning, the defendant’s family member arrived and remained in the room.

Additionally, hospital staff continued to provide medical treatment and collect identification and insurance information from the defendant. Following the questioning, the detective went to another hospital to interview two shooting victims who were believed to be involved in the incident. At that point, they discovered that the defendant was the perpetrator. After the defendant was discharged from the hospital, detectives escorted him to the police department, advised him of his Miranda rights, and arrested him. On appeal, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the statements he made to the detectives at the hospital. He argued that his statements were made in the absence of a Miranda warning.

Under Virginia law, police must advise anyone accused in a criminal case of their Miranda rights before conducting a police interrogation. However, Miranda warnings are unnecessary when the interviewee’s freedom has not been restricted in a way that amounts to being “in custody.” There are various factors that courts use to determine whether a suspect was in custody. These factors include, how the person was summoned to the police, the neutrality of the surroundings, the number of officers present, the degree of physical restraint, the duration and character of the interrogation, and the extent to which the interviewee believed the police found them culpable.

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Virginia assault case discussing whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain the defendant’s convictions. Ultimately, the court rejected the defendant’s arguments, affirming her convictions.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer received a call from the defendant’s home. Upon arriving, the officer parked in the driveway. As he got out of the car, the officer could hear screaming. Moments later, the officer noticed several people standing on the porch, with the defendant in the doorway.

A man on the porch addressed the officer, explaining that he had lived at the home and wanted to get inside to get his belongings. The defendant began shouting that the man had “put his hands on her.” The officer walked up the porch and began to talk to the man. The defendant continued to yell and argue with the man. When the officer told her to stop yelling, she tried to shut the door. The officer put his foot in the threshold to prevent the door from closing.

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