Thursday, February 28, 2013


In the last few weeks there have been at least two bank robberies on Maui.  Three people have been arrested in connection with one of the robberies but the suspect in the other has not been apprehended.  In light of recent events, it’s worth discussing definition of robbery.

In Hawaii, there are two elements to the crime of robbery:  1) theft and 2) the use of force or the threat of using force.  If there was a deadly instrument involved the robbery is typically charged as a first degree robbery which is a Class A felony.  If there was no deadly instrument the robbery is usually charged as second degree robbery which is a Class B felony. 

In many bank robberies, time is of the essence and a getaway driver and vehicle are used.  The driver is often charged with robbery as well and the question arises as to how a driver can be charged with robbery when he or she was not even in the bank. 

The answer lies in the theory of accomplice liability.  If a person aids another in committing a crime while intending to promote or facilitate it, he or she is an accomplice.  An accomplice can be charged with the underlying crime.  A reasonable defense to accomplice liability is based on the intent requirement.  Since an accomplice must intend to help commit the crime, if the prosecution can not show there was intent, a jury must acquit the defendant. 

Click on the links below for more information about first and second degree robbery. 

Robbery in the first degree.

Robbery in the second degree.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Misdemeanor Or Felony - How Bad Is It?

If you have been charged with a crime, one of the first questions you might have is how serious a penalty you might be facing.  On Maui, and in all of Hawaii, there are several different categories of crimes.

A felony is the most serious crime that you can be charged with.  Felonies have a maximum possible penalty of more than a year in prison.  Felonies are usually labeled as Class A, B or C with Class A being the most serious.  Examples of Class A felonies are kidnapping, arson and rape.  Class B and C felonies have lower maximum possible prison terms but are still considered to be serious crimes.  Murder and attempted murder are listed only as felonies and not placed in a particular class. 

A misdemeanor has a maximum jail sentence of one year.  Examples of misdemeanors in Hawaii are driving under the influence, disorderly conduct and third degree theft.  A crime can also be a petty misdemeanor which has a maximum possible jail sentence of 30 days.  An example of a petty misdemeanor is fourth degree theft, which is a theft of less than $300.

For more information on how crimes are classified click on the following link to the Hawaii statute listing different levels of crimes.  

On Maui there are also violations, which have even lower penalties.  Violations are not considered crimes and include motor vehicle violations such as speeding and improper parking. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Driving Under the Influence on Maui

Hawaii has strict laws for driving under the influence of alcohol.  If you have been charged with driving while under the influence, it can be upsetting and confusing.  

The legal limit for driving after you have consumed alcohol is a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08.  If your BAC is over .15 you may be charged as a “highly intoxicated” driver and face even greater penalties.  The standard for drivers under 21 years old is a legal limit of .02 BAC. 

If you are suspected of driving under the influence, a police officer will ask to take a measurement of your BAC.  If you refuse to allow a measurement, the officer must warn you that if you refuse your driver’s license will be suspended.  If you still refuse, you may be charged with DUI and refusal.  

A conviction of DUI can be costly.  Penalties include fines, license revocation, jail time and community service.  Your car will likely be impounded, you will be required to obtain expensive SR-22 insurance and you will also be required to complete a substance abuse treatment class. 

The next time you have had a couple of after-work drinks, do yourself a favor and have a friend who has not been drinking take you home.  

Monday, February 18, 2013

Restraining Orders

It can be overwhelming to be served with a restraining order and confusing to obtain one on your own.  

Restraining orders can be useful if a person is harassing, threatening or stalking you and you want the person to stay away from you.  A restraining order provides legal consequences to the person if he or she continues to harass or threaten you. 

In Hawaii, there are two types of restraining orders:  Family Court Protective Orders and District Court Protective Orders.   A Family Court Protective Order is appropriate if the harassing person is a family member, has lived with you or had a relationship with you.  If the person is not a family member, has not lived with you and has not been in a relationship with you, a District Court Protective Order may be appropriate. 

A restraining order is not difficult to obtain and requires going to the courthouse to fill out paperwork which explains to a judge why you need one.  After a restraining order is granted, the judge will usually set a court hearing within 15 days.  At the court hearing, the judge will hear both sides of the story and decide whether the restraining order should continue.  It may be helpful to have an attorney represent you at the court hearing and negotiate the terms of the restraining order, especially if the other person has an attorney.