Courts don’t need a charging document for jurisdiction, but do need a pretty good reason to impose consecutive terms

  State v. Bautista (HSC September 13, 2023) Background. The prosecution filed a complaint in the district court alleging seven crimes of violence against Rommel Bautista, including attempted murder in the second degree. All of the charges stemmed from an incident that occurred between Bautista and his wife in their home in Kahului. The district court held a preliminary hearing and found probable cause supported every count. The district court confirmed bail and committed the case to the circuit court.   The prosecution did not file a complaint in the circuit court. At the arraignment, Bautista pleaded not guilty. Five months later, the parties reached an agreement. Bautista pleaded no contest to three class C felonies: assault in the second degree, terroristic threatening in the first degree, and abuse of a family or household member in the presence of a minor. All other counts—including the attempted murder and assault in the first degree—were dismissed. There were no agreemen

Prosecuting a true threat requires at least a reckless state of mind

Counterman v. Colorado (SCOTUS June 27, 2023) Background. Billy Counterman was charged by Colorado prosecutors for harassment and stalking. For two years, Billy Counterman sent a local musician hundreds of messages on Facebook. Messages started with “A fine display with your partner” and a “couple physical sightings” were sent to her. She never responded. The messages took a turn: “Fuck off permanently.” “Staying in cyber life is going to kill you.” “You’re not being good for human relations. Die.”   The musician got scared and believed her life was in danger. She went to the authorities. Colorado has a statute criminalizing repeated communications “that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person . . . to suffer serious emotional distress.” Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-602(1)(c). Counterman moved to dismiss on the grounds that it was not a true threat under the First Amendment. Counterman challenged the objective “reasonable person

Reimbursement of costs associated with prostitution are not “profits” under the promoting statute

  State v. Ibarra (HSC March 15, 2023) Background. Paola Ibarra was charged with sex trafficking and kidnapping with a male co-defendant Gustavo Ferreira. At trial, Ibarra and the complainant testified they flew from Oakland, California to Honolulu on Halloween. He paid for their airfare and hotel in Waikiki. The complainant testified that they were going there for her to “strip and dance” and that she was going to repay Ibarra for the airfare and hotel as she made money in Hawai'i. Ibarra called it a “paycation,” in which they were getting paid while being on vacation. The complainant’s friend, Samantha King, testified that the complainant was “fully” aware she was going to Hawai'i to engage in prostitution in addition to stripping and dancing.   They get to Hawai'i and Ibarra puts out prostitution advertisements for the complainant on the website Backpage. He posted photographs of the complainant. The complainant testified she brought two cell phones and set her ow

Five different and unrelated cases are still one “sentence” and credit for time served applies to all five, not each individual case

  State v. Vaden (HSC March 15, 2023) Background. Jonathan Vaden was on probation when he was prosecuted for five separate criminal cases alleging various drug and property offenses. After spending several months in jail, Vaden pleaded no contest to every offense except for a class A drug offense. The parties waived a presentence (PSI) report and the circuit court of the second circuit—with the Honorable Judge Richard T. Bissen, Jr. presiding—did not order one. Vaden was sentenced to four years probation in each case with the condition that he complete the Maui Drug Court Program. He petitioned into the program by having his probation revoked and resentenced to a new term of probation.   He was ultimately terminated from the program. His probation was revoked and he was resentenced to prison. He was sentenced to 5 years prison for the felonies, 1 year for the misdemeanors, and 30 days for the petty misdemeanors in the four unrelated cases. Those counts and cases ran concurrently

HSC overrules a nine-month-old case and goes back to the bright-line rule to determine “custody” in custodial interrogation

  State v. Hewitt (HSC March 15, 2023) Background. Hawai'i County Officer Chandler Nancio and another officer were called to the Kona Community Hospital in the middle of the night to see a possible victim of assault. An unknown man dropped Cyrina Hewitt off at the emergency room. He found Hewitt awake with contusions on her face, her eyes were swollen shut, a laceration was on her ear, and she had a broken breast plate. She was disoriented and “rambling incoherently.” She did not know where she was or why she as in the hospital.   Officer Nancio waited for the nurse to treat her and then asked for her name and birth date. He stayed at her bedside and asked her questions about how she got her injuries. Hewitt at first said she had pink-eye, but then said it was a stye. Then paramedics came by and asked what was going on. The paramedics said that they saw a truck’s taillights sticking out of the bushes on the side of the road.   Sgt. Mekia Rose followed up on the truck and