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Category Archives: Criminal Defense

What Is “Harmless Error” in a Criminal Trial?

Even fair criminal trials are usually not perfect. In Chapman v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that the state has the burden of proving that a constitutional error was harmless. In Chapman, the court explained the standard appellate courts must apply when addressing claims that the criminal trial court made an error. For… Read More »

Protecting Students in the Information Age

Information travels at the speed of light in an era where everyone is connected through Internet, social media, text messages and smartphones. Yet legislation lags behind. Many cases of student harassment have emerged in recent months, demonstrating the need for added protections for both the accused harasser and the accusing victim. The law needs to… Read More »

California Builds More Prisons to Resolve Prison Overcrowding

Court orders requiring the state of California to deal with the problem of prison overcrowding have forced Governor Jerry Brown to be proactive about raising taxes and moving prisoners to county prisons and privately held prisons across the United States. From a criminal justice perspective, these tactics are aimed at punishing criminals rather than rehabilitation. … Read More »

Sentence Enhancements: Who Should Decide?

Elements of a crime that trigger sentence enhancements — such as use of a firearm or endangering the public — are findings of fact that could affect the maximum sentence a person could receive if convicted. Many criminal defendants have questioned whether a judge should be allowed to make this finding based on a “preponderance… Read More »

Losing the Right to Cross-Examine: Anonymous Tips and Trials

Serious controversy surrounds a police officer’s right to stop, question and search a suspect based on an anonymous tip. Unless the officer observes dangerous and disruptive behavior that warrants detention, a criminal defendant may have a valid appeal of a conviction based on an anonymous tip — especially since the informant is unknown and therefore… Read More »

Understanding the Writ of Habeas Corpus

Strong legal counsel is essential to try and avoid conviction on criminal charges. It is just as important to get good legal advice if you are convicted. Given the unique facts of each case, and the possibility of errors at the trial level, there are avenues open to you for appeal. One path of appeal… Read More »

When Dog Mauling Means Murder

After being mauled by four unrestrained pit bulls on an isolated Littlerock road, 63-year old jogger Pamela Devitt died in an ambulance from blood loss resulting from approximately 150 to 200 dog bites. Genetic tests from tissue found on the muzzles and coats of the dogs matched Ms. Devitt. The owner of the dogs, 29-year… Read More »

Two Deaths, Two Systems of Justice

Two events: In February of this year, 26-year old Olympian Oscar Pistorius was charged with premeditated murder of his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp in Pretoria, South Africa. Sketchy facts of the case tell us Mr. Pistorius was awoken during the night and mistook Ms. Steenkamp for an intruder and shot at her behind a closed… Read More »

Jury Trials: When Opinion Counts

Justice may be blind, but juries are not. If you face a criminal trial in California, the clearest legal argument may not help if the jury is offended by your behavior in the courtroom. Understanding trial etiquette is important. If your case is set for a jury trial, understand this is not reality television, it… Read More »

Who is on the Witness Stand?

The testimony of witnesses is essential to any court case. Whether a bench or jury trial, witness testimony provides details and describes the environment of alleged wrongdoing in either a civil or criminal matter. Because your liberty and sometimes your life may be at issue in a criminal matter, understanding the witnesses who may testify… Read More »

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The Law Offices of E. Thomas Dunn, Jr.
1432 Edinger Avenue, Suite 240
Tustin, CA, 92780-6293 USA
714.258.8829