One of our own, Robin Freeman, has made headlines yet again with her winning argument at the Alabama Supreme Court. Mrs. Freeman exemplified dedication, making sure that the law was upheld for Natasha Cunningham. We are proud of Mrs. Freeman’s perseverance to fight for what is just and we want to do the same thing for you! Shealy, Pike, & Hornsby’s core values are commitment, teamwork, preparation and perseverance. Our team of lawyers give the aggressive legal representation that our clients deserve by delivering favorable resolution in any stage of the litigation process.
Please read below to learn more about Robin Freeman’s win at the Alabama Supreme Court.
Supreme Court reverses Court of Criminal Appeals and holds that trial court erred by instructing jury on lesser included offense of possession of a controlled substance noting that the indictment did not contain sufficient language to alert the defendant that she would be called upon to answer for such a charge.
CRIMINAL PROCEDURE: Indictment.
The Houston County grand jury returned an indictment charging Natasha Cunningham with distribution of a controlled substance. The indictment alleged that Cunningham did unlawfully sell, furnish, give away, deliver or distribute a controlled substance. Following a trial, the circuit court granted Cunningham’s motion of acquittal as to the distribution of a controlled substance charge because the evidence did not support it. The court instructed the jury on possession of a controlled substance as a lesser included offense of distribution of a controlled substance. The jury returned a guilty verdict and Cunningham appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals held that the circuit court properly instructed the jury on the offense of possession as a lesser included offense of distribution. Cunningham petitioned for a writ of certiorari. Reversed. The Court explained that in order to be a lesser included offense of the one charged in the indictment, the lesser offense must be one that is necessarily included, in all of its essential elements, in the greater offense charged. Further, the potential relationship of the two offenses must be considered not only in the abstract, but must also be considered in light of the particular facts. The “particular facts” of each case are those facts alleged in the indictment. In other words, an indictment must clearly inform the criminal defendant of the offense with which she is charged and is expected to defend. “The indictment charging Cunningham with distribution of a controlled substance, however, does not include that statutory element of possession, nor does it allege any facts essential to the offense of possession of a controlled substance. Thus, under the facts of this case, because the indictment enumerated only the statutory language for the offense of distribution of a controlled substance, Cunningham was not given sufficient notice that she would have to defend against the offense of possession of a controlled substance.” The Court finally stressed that the statutory elements of the offense and the facts alleged in an indictment- not the evidence presented at trial- are the factors that determine whether one offense is included in another.
Please fill out the form below for further assistance.
Disclaimer: By using the internet as a form of communication with the firm or its members, it does not establish an attorney-client privilege. Any confidential information should not be sent to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.