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Drew v. United States

    Brief Fact Summary. Appellant, Drew, brought an appeal from a District Court conviction on one count of robbery and one count of attempted robbery, based on the fact that the counts were improperly joined.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Joinder is only proper when there is such a close resemblance in the manner in which two crimes were committed to make them admissible against one another.

    Facts. On July 27, 1962, a robbery occurred at a neighborhood store after a black male, in sunglasses, entered the store and approached the clerk telling her that it was a holdup and he wanted all of the money. The robber was given the money and proceeded to leave the store as another customer entered. Two and a half weeks later, at another neighborhood store, another robbery was attempted when a black male, wearing a coat, a hat and sunglasses entered the store and asked for all the money. That time, the clerk declined and after a verbal exchange, the frustrated robber left the store.

    Issue. Whether two similar crimes can be joined for trial purposes.

    Held. The court held that the joinder prejudiced the defendant, and that separate trials should have been granted. Conviction reversed and case remanded.

    Discussion. This case offers a good discussion of joinder and the way in which it can prejudice a defendant. The argument against a liberal joinder policy is that a defendant can be prejudiced in a variety of ways:
    First, the defendant may become confused in attempting to present separate defenses;

    Second, the jury may confuse the evidence of one crime for another; and

    Third, the evidence of more than one crime may be cumulated.


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