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In D.C., attempted escape requires specific intent to do so. Judge may not use jury instructions to broaden the indictment

Sep 04, 2009 In D.C., attempted escape requires specific intent to do so. Judge may not use jury instructions to broaden the indictment

Photo from website of U.S. District Court (W.D. Mi.).

Praised be the D.C. Court of Appeals yesterday for reversing a conviction for attempted jail escape, due to the trial judge’s refusal of the defendant’s requested jury instruction that specific intent to escape is an essential element of the crime of attempted escape from jail. Brawner v. U.S., ___ A.2d ___ (D.C., Sept. 3, 2009), The appellate court also called the trial judge for wrongfully instructing the jury that it could convict for attempting to escape D.C. jail authorities, seeing that the indictment only alleged escape or attempted escape from the jail, not from authorities.  

If this case is retried, it will be interesting to see if Mr. Brawner will prevail if the prosecution again presents testimony that he was trying to leave the jail behind lawyers, and told the guard that he worked in the jail infirmary and forgot his identification. If liberty were not at stake here, the whole scenario would be a bellyaching farce.  Jon Katz.

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