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Farrelly PC Blog & Case Results

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Farrelly PC Client Acquitted After Being Originally Found Guilty

On October 21, 2014, a DC Superior Court judge found a Farrelly PC client not guilty of misdemeanor threats.  The not guilty verdict came after the court had already found the client guilty of the alleged offense.

The case involved allegations of a threat made over the telephone.  The government presented testimony that the Farrelly PC client was speaking to a family friend by telephone when he made threats toward the family friend's sister.

At the conclusion of trial, the court delivered its verdict:  guilty.  However, before proceeding to sentencing, counsel for the client, Sean Farrelly, pointed out to the court a critical deficiency in the government’s evidence.  Specifically, Mr. Farrelly argued that the government failed to establish that the offense occurred in Washington, DC and, therefore, the government failed to establish jurisdiction over the alleged offense.

In order for an individual to be convicted of a criminal offense in DC, the court must have jurisdiction over the offense.  Generally, jurisdiction is established simply by the fact that the crime occurred in DC.   In this case, the government's witness never testified that either she, or the client, were physically in Washington, DC at the time the phone call took place.  Had the government witness testified that she was in DC when she received the phone call, or if the government could have proved that the Farrelly PC client was in DC at the time, the government would have established jurisdiction.   

After Mr. Farrelly made the court aware of the government’s deficiency, the court reviewed the audio recording of the trial to verify that Mr. Farrelly was correct.  With admirable commitment to holding the government to its burden to establish every element of the crime, including jurisdiction, the court reversed its original verdict and found the Farrelly PC client not guilty.  The judge stated that although she was convinced that the Farrelly PC client committed the offense of misdemeanor threats, because of the jurisdictional issue raised by Mr. Farrelly, she had no choice but to find the Farrelly PC client not guilty.

This case is an excellent example of why it is important to hire an experienced Washington, DC criminal defense lawyer.  Despite the fact that the court had originally found the Farrelly PC client guilty, Mr. Farrelly was able to obtain a rarely-seen reversal of a guilty verdict because of his familiarity with DC law.  Mr. Farrelly understood that the government failed to introduce a foundational element of the crime, the location of the crime, and he was able to utilize that failure to his client's advantage.  

If you or someone you know is in need of criminal defense representation in Washington, DC please contact Farrelly PC for a full and free consultation.   


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