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IPhone 6 Warrant Further Complicates Ex-Navy Commander Sex Crimes Case
Navy Commander John Neuhart may have effectively dodged a bullet when the jurisdiction of his alleged attempted rape of another officer and other crimes were left to the San Diego Police Department as opposed to the military courts. A new potential mistake in his case can have a significant impact as his attorney challenges the constitutionality of the procedure and requests suppression of the evidence. The issue in question stems from evidence obtained via an iPhone 6 after the defendant was ordered to unlock the device via a warrant.
According to San Diego’s NBC 7, a judge had issued a warrant that effectively demanded the password of Neuhart’s iPhone 6. While Neuhart initially refused, he eventually relented after more pressure. The phone in question had been recording for a prolonged period, as well as during his original arrest. His attorney’s charge of the unconstitutional nature of this warrant likely stems from the 5th amendments safeguards against self-incrimination. Clearly, if you were forced to unlock your phone and provide incriminating evidence against yourself, this could be construed as a violation. The outcome of the situation remains to be seen as Judge Kenneth K. has requested legal opinions from both sides on the issue of the warrant. As this is relatively new territory both nationally and for the state of California, one can expect a small degree of basic precedence in the Judge’s ultimate decision.
The advanced security measures of the iPhone 5 and 6 came into national spotlight due to Apple’s refusal to assist in unlocking the devices when ordered by multiple courts around the country. This came to a head when Apple also challenged the FBI’s request for an unlocking tool to use for the iPhone of the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist. In both this and other related court requests, the cases have been dropped before a ruling could be made. As such, the legal issues surrounding the incrimination aspect largely remains uncharted territory. The Judge’s request for briefs on the matter during a continuance shows an understanding of the seriousness of the ultimate decision in this high-profile case. A mistake could potentially lead a clear path to an appeal if Neuhart is ultimately convicted after unlocking the phone as required.
Regardless of the outcome of the iPhone 6 controversy, John Neuhart is facing a slew of serious charges which unsurprisingly resulted in the removal of his command duty. At the time of his arrest, Neuhart only faced two felony charges related to the sexual assault. Additional charges have been recently added increasing the total list of charges to four including:
- “Hot Prowl” Burglary
- Resisting arrest
- Attempted forcible rape
- Assault with intent to rape
Hot Prowl Burglary
The differing factor that separates a hot prowl burglary from a standard burglary is the presence of another person inside the home at the time of the crime. Provided the additional individual is not an accomplice to the alleged crime, the burglary will be considered hot prowl. The potential for a violent or fatal interaction between the burglar and resident is very high, lending hot prowl burglaries to be bumped up in levels of seriousness. In Neuhart’s case, the alleged burglary was to commit rape of the victim inside, thereby obviously obtaining the hot prowl tag. Due to the burglary taking place at the victim’s home as opposed to a non-dwelling, this is classified as a first degree burglary.
Assault with intent to rape and attempted forcible rape
Penal Code section 220 establishes that assaults to commit rape, or other specified offenses, are punishable by two to six years of imprisonment. As a general rule attempts to commit a crime that fails usually carry penalties equal to half of resulting penalties if the attempted crime would have been a success. There are always exceptions to this rule, but they typically relate to cases involving murder.
Resisting arrest is generally a misdemeanor, carrying low-level penalties. The standard penalties are up to 1,000 in fines or up to one year in county jail. Penalties can be combined, or the convicted party may receive only one. Compared to the other charges in the above case, this is the least serious aspect.
Despite the seriousness of his charges, the total original penalty if convicted on all charges would have been seven years and four months at maximum, according to the media representative for the District Attorney’s office. However, prosecutors amended the original complaint to assault with the intent to commit rape during a commission of a first-degree burglary. The maximum penalty he now faces is up to life in prison as stated by CBS8.
Despite being relieved of his command post, Neuhart is still actively working for the U.S. Navy. In his case, a conviction for his crimes will probably impact his military career as well as his freedom. Sex offender registration and parole requirements will further limit opportunities. Securing an acquittal from the jury is of the utmost importance for more than simply the risk of time spent in jail or prison.
It is likely that the case will continue for some time, particularly with the lengthy continuance as well as high-profile and complicated nature of the case. The judge’s decision on the warrant and reasoning behind it will set the stage for future actions surrounding this issue. The prosecution has reported confidence in conviction whether the iPhone’s content is suppressed or not, based on the circumstances of the case. While it is possible, it may well be improbable as few criminal cases are as open and shut as prosecutors would have you believe, unless you fail to hire an attorney. Neuhart reportedly fled the scene of the alleged crime after a concerned neighbor responding to the screams stated they were calling the police. Fleeing in and of itself is not proof of guilt; however, it provides a very compelling argument for the prosecution to present to the jury.
The penalties imposed by military courts would certainly have been much more severe than the maximum eligible under the civilian criminal court system. Even within the civilian system, seven years in a state prison is a lengthy sentence. It is in these cases that a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney is an asset to any defendant. Burglary and attempted forcible rape are serious offenses that will have a significant impact on your freedom and future employment opportunities. With the hefty penalties that are attached to such crimes, risking it all on a subpar attorney is a mistake.
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder has the experience necessary to help you when you are charged with serious criminal offenses. With a lengthy history of victories in burglary, sexual assault, and rape cases, he provides the representation you need to succeed. He has provided his services in several high-profile and multiple felony cases, securing the continued freedom of his clients. If you are in need of a skilled attorney for charges of burglary or sex offenses, contact the Monder Law Group today. Vik Monder provides free consultations to all potential clients. Schedule yours today by calling 619-405-0063 or visiting San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer