Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney | Drug Crime Charges | Cale Law Office
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The DA charged the defendant with trafficking in illegal drugs, unlawful possession of controlled dangerous substances with intent to distribute, acquiring proceeds from drug activity, and possession of a firearm. There was a bench trial without the defendant being present. She argued on appeal that this procedure was illegal. Here are the facts of the case.
The nonjury trial began on Wednesday. Defense counsel was present at the judge called case for trial. The defendant was not present. When the court asked about her whereabouts, her defense attorney said that he expected her to be there. He said that had spoken to her several days earlier for trial preparation.
Defense counsel and courthouse personnel look for the defendant. No one found her. The court held the trial in her absence. The defense attorney objected requested a continuance. The court overruled this objection and denied the continuance.
The defendant eventually turned yourself in about four months later. She appeared for sentencing another five days later. She told the court that she got nervous and left town before the trial started. She said that you want to see a friend how the state but decided to come back and turn yourself in.
Under law, a defendant must be personally present at trial if he’s been prosecuted for felony, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale. The defendant also must be present for sentencing. The right to be present is rooted in the sixth amendment right to confront the witness against him. Proceeding with the trial without the defendant being present violates his due process right if it impairs his ability to defend himself.
However, the right of the defendant to attend a felony trial is time absolute right. The defendant can waive the right. The defendant’s right to be present up court during a felony trial is waived by his voluntary absence or disruptive conduct. The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will review the trial court’s decision to proceed with trial in the absence of the defendant for an abuse of discretion.
Majority of cases concerning the defendant who left trial after Artie began. One case concerns a defendant who failed to appear the secondary trial. Another deals with a defendant who left during the final David, see trial. In 1998 case concerns a defendant who left during jury selection and the sentencing phase of the trial. One of the case from 1973 concerns defendant screaming to the point that officers forcibly removed him from the courtroom.
However, the 1971 case the defendant left the courtroom by the time trial started. The court said that it was wrong for the judge to hold the trial without the defendant when he did not waive his presence. The U. S. Supreme Court addressed this issue in 1933. In that case the defendant knew of his trial date but failed to appear. Trauma can was scheduled to continue in the defendant’s absence. About six months later, the defendant returned for sentencing.
The court will not presume that the defendant waived his constitutional right when the record is silent. The court must advise the defendant of the right to be present at trial. The court does not have to recite an extensive list of the consequences for not being present. In the case at hand, the defendant clearly left voluntarily. However, the record did not reflect that she received information of a right to be present at trial. The court also did not inform her that she knowingly waived her right. There absence from the start of the trial is not sufficient to support a voluntary waiver of the right to be present at trial, said Tulsa criminal defense attorney Stephen Cale.
The court also determined what the start of the trial means. For purposes of determining whether trial can proceeding the defendant’s absence, the trial begins when jury selection begins. Jury selection is a critical stage of criminal proceedings. It’s at this point that the defendant has a constitutional right to be present. There’s no way to assess the extent the defendant might suffer by not being able to revise his attorney during jury selection. The defendant does not be present in court at trial except from the beginning of jury selection until a verdict is recorded.
The defendant is not present at the start of jury selection, a voluntary waiver of his right to be present at trial must be in the record or the trials be held in abeyance pending the defendant’s appearance before the court. In the present case was no record of defendant voluntary waving her right to be present trial. Therefore, the trial court should not have held the hearing.
The Oakland Court of Criminal Appeals next decided whether not this error was harmless. In order for a constitutional error to be deemed harmless, the court must find be unoriginal doubt that it did not contribute to the verdict. The standard for constitutional violations is well known. The court must be reversed conviction was taken a show that the error was harmless be unoriginal doubt.
The facts show that officers executed a no-knock search warrant at the motel room where the defendant was staying. She and her boyfriend were the only people a room. As officers entered the room, the defendant said that everything in the room was hers. Officers found a large amount of money bubbled up through the bands, scales, rolling papers and again. After arrest, the defendant voluntarily gave a written statement claiming ownership of all the contraband.
At sentencing, defendant challenges the reliability of statements to police. She claimed they were made while she was under the influence of drugs. Before she could further explain, the judge told her that information was not relevant. At the core her the defendant stamens during the trial, the court could possibly determine that she had no ability to control the contraband in the hotel room. Therefore holding the hearing without her present was illegal.