In a recent case before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, the defendant argued that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct jury members on the possibility that she was acting in self-defense. The defendant was convicted of the following offenses: leaving the scene of a fatal accident, theft of means of transportation, aggravated assault, and negligent homicide. Following her appeal, the higher court vacated the two latter convictions and sentences, sending the case back to the trial court for a new trial on those counts.

The Incident in Question

The charges and convictions in this case stemmed from an incident involving several friends and a stolen vehicle. The defendant in this case went to a casino with a friend, and she borrowed a car from her roommate to get to and from the casino. Apparently, the defendant’s roommate had taken the car from an acquaintance, although the acquaintance had never filed a police report indicating that the car was stolen.
Before the defendant and her friend went home, they stopped by a gas station. At that point, the roommate’s acquaintance, who owned the car, approached the vehicle by quickly running up to it. He started yelling at the defendant, demanding that she return the car. The defendant became afraid, and she started to drive away. As she drove, she hit the friend that had accompanied her to the casino. The friend ultimately suffered a head injury and died from the incident.

The defendant was criminally charged, and her case went to trial. After being found guilty, the defendant promptly appealed.

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At the beginning of February 2024, the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, issued an order vacating in part a defendant’s sentences that resulted from the murder of his wife. The defendant originally faced charges for second-degree murder, abandonment of a dead body, and tampering with physical evidence. He appealed his convictions and sentences, partially on grounds that the trial court incorrectly calculated how much time he should serve given his guilty verdict. The higher court agreed with the defendant’s argument, ordering the court to resentence him according to its instructions.

Background of the Case

The opinion details the case’s history. One evening in October 2019, the defendant and his wife began arguing. Sometime between the hours of 7:15pm and 9:00pm, neighbors heard a gunshot, and investigators later learned that the bullet came from one of the defendant’s guns. The defendant’s wife was later found dead by the same bullet. The defendant had attempted to clean the bloodied carpet, the furniture, and the padding under the nearby turf, but stains remained that revealed what had occurred. Following the clean-up attempts, the defendant dumped his wife’s body by a ditch nearby.

Despite these attempts to hide the murder, investigators found enough evidence to link the defendant to the crime. He was criminally charged, and after a ten-day trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts. The court sentenced the defendant to the maximum amount of time for all three convictions. The defendant promptly appealed.

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In a January 2024 case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant requested that his conviction be overturned because of potential issues with the chain of custody leading up to his trial. In criminal court, the “chain of custody” is the process through which evidence moves from collection to analysis to presentation before the court. Here, the defendant argued that there were important questions about how the evidence ended up before the trial court. On appeal, the higher court reviewed the record and concluded that there were no chain of custody issues, denying the defendant’s request in the process.

Factual and Procedural History

The defendant in this case was working as an informant for the government in Arizona. Under special instructions, he was supposed to engage in drug deals when directed by his handler, and he was otherwise supposed to refrain from engaging in any drug activity. One day, when the defendant’s handler was driving by the home of a known drug dealer, he noticed the defendant’s car in the driveway. He later pulled the defendant over for a traffic stop and found methamphetamine on his person.

The handler arrested the defendant, and the State charged the defendant with possession of a dangerous drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. The case went to trial, and the jury found the defendant guilty. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. The defendant promptly appealed the decision.

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Facing criminal charges can be an arduous journey, and the prospect of a successful appeal post-conviction can be even more challenging. In a recent Arizona case, the defendant appealed his convictions for aggravated assault and related charges. This blog post explores the difficulties encountered in pursuing a criminal appeal after a conviction.

According to the facts discussed in the recently decided appellate opinion, the defendant was charged with aggravated assault, endangerment, disorderly conduct with a weapon, and misconduct involving weapons after an incident in June 2021 when he allegedly fired shots inside a crowded bar, injuring two patrons. The defendant was convicted after a seven-day jury trial. Despite raising several issues in his appellate brief, the court, after careful review, found no error in the proceedings.

Forensic Testing:

The defendant argued that insufficient forensic testing and a potential misidentification warranted a reversal of his conviction. However, the court emphasized the sufficiency of evidence presented during the trial, including eyewitness accounts and video surveillance, corroborating the bouncers’ testimony.

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Facing criminal charges is a daunting experience, and the legal complexities that accompany such cases can be overwhelming. In this blog post, we delve into a recent Arizona judicial opinion involving a child pornography case, shedding light on the difficulties presented by hearsay and the challenges of calling witnesses who invoke the Fifth Amendment. The recently decided case provides valuable insights into the importance of retaining a qualified criminal defense attorney to assist with lodging a robust defense.

Background

On November 17, 2016, the State of Arizona charged the defendant with ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, primarily based on materials found on a computer in his home. The defendant asserted a third-party culpability defense, alleging that an acquaintance who was frequently present in his home, had used his computer to download the incriminating material. As part of the defendant’s defense preparation, an investigator was hired by the defendant to interview a former housemate of the defendant, who could potentially corroborate the third-party culpability defense.

The Challenge of Hearsay

One of the significant hurdles in the defendant’s defense was the admissibility of his former housemate’s statements, which were considered hearsay. Hearsay is generally not admissible in court unless specific exceptions apply. In this case, the court focused on the hearsay rule, particularly Rule 804(b)(3), which allows for the admission of hearsay if the declarant is unavailable and the statement is against their interest, supported by corroborating circumstances indicating trustworthiness.

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Facing criminal charges can be a daunting experience, especially when evidence is obtained through search warrants. There are several difficulties associated with challenging search warrants in Arizona criminal cases. A recently decided appellate case sheds light on the complexities involved in suppressing evidence obtained through GPS tracking devices, and helps demonstrate the importance of a comprehensive defense strategy when defending against Arizona criminal charges.

The defendant in the recently decided case appealed his conviction for the sale or transportation of dangerous drugs and possession of paraphernalia. The case revolves around the use of an anticipatory search warrant obtained by detectives to place a GPS tracking device on the defendant’s vehicle, suspected of transporting narcotics. The warrant was based on information from a confidential informant about an older male, matching the description of the defendant who would be delivering narcotics to a specific address in Chino Valley.

The Challenge of Specificity

The defendant’s defense centered on challenging the validity of the search warrant, arguing that it lacked the necessary specificity and failed to establish probable cause. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires search warrants to particularly describe the places to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The crucial question here is whether the warrant provided enough specific details to prevent mistaken searches and seizures.

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In a recent matter before a court of appeals in Arizona, the State asked the court to reconsider a lower court’s dismissal of a case involving possible sexual exploitation. The trial court had originally dismissed the case for several reasons, one of which was that the significant delays caused the defendant emotional and financial harm. On appeal, the higher court ultimately agreed with the State that the case was incorrectly dismissed. The court therefore vacated the trial court’s order.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, based on alleged incidents with her adopted son. The defendant pled not guilty, and her case was set for trial in the summer of 2020. Because of the pandemic, however, the court rescheduled trial for several months later.

Over the next two years, the case was delayed again and again. At one point, one of the attorneys in the case had an emergency surgery; at another point, witnesses’ travel made them unavailable to testify. For a variety of reasons, each time the trial approached, either the defendant or the State requested a continuance. This process went on until September 2022, at which point the defendant argued that the delay was so substantial it had drained her financial resources, depleted witnesses’ memories, and caused her significant emotional turmoil.

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In a November 2023 case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant appealed convictions of burglary, kidnapping, attempted sexual assault, and sexual assault. The alleged incident occurred in 1991, and the defendant argued on appeal that the State’s late introduction of evidence during trial had adverse effects on the case’s outcome. According to the defendant, the lower court should have granted his motion for a mistrial. Considering the defendant’s argument, the court ultimately sided with the state, ruling that the trial court properly denied the defendant’s motion.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the complainant in this case was in her house one evening when a man came into the house unannounced, tied her up, and sexually assaulted her. The man warned the woman that he would kill her if she called the police. Eventually, after the man left, the woman was able to get to a phone, and she called 911. First responders took her to the hospital and arranged for DNA samples to be taken from the woman’s body.

The case went unresolved, as investigators were unable to come up with any legitimate suspects. The DNA swabs from the woman’s hospital visit, however, remained at the DNA testing site for 23 years. By 2014, DNA testing had significantly advanced. Investigators therefore reopened the case, ran the DNA through the system, and connected it to the defendant in this case.

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In a recent Arizona criminal case arising out of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, the defendant asked the higher court to reconsider the lower court’s denial of his motion to suppress. The defendant was charged after investigators found out he was involved in an attempted meet up with a teenage girl. The defendant filed a motion to suppress incriminating evidence that the investigators found in his phone, and the court denied his motion. A jury later found the defendant guilty as charged, and the defendant appealed the lower court’s denial.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, investigators in Arizona began looking into an online chat forum and found the defendant’s profile. Pretending to be a teenage girl, the investigators began chatting with the defendant. Through these messages, the defendant asked the girl to meet up with him so that the pair could have sex. He also informed the girl that he would bring drugs to the meet-up.

On the day and time of the meet-up, the investigators waited for the defendant at a nearby bus stop. Using the phone they had pretended was the teenage girl’s phone, they dialed the defendant’s phone number. He answered, and the investigators approached and arrested him. They later found drugs in the defendant’s backpack. They also seized the defendant’s phone and found evidence showing the defendant’s exchanges with the teenage girl, which were mostly sexual in nature.

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In a September 2023 case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant argued that the lower court made a mistake by allowing the victim to discuss her religious beliefs on the stand. Originally, the defendant was charged with and convicted of sexual assault, kidnapping, sexual abuse, and assault. After a jury found him guilty, the court sentenced the defendant to almost 80 years in prison. The defendant appealed, but the higher court ultimately affirmed the guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

The defendant’s criminal charges arose from an incident in which he and his girlfriend met a girl at a local gas station. The girl was asking passersby for a ride, so the defendant and his girlfriend agreed to drive her to a friend’s house. As the group drove, they became high and inebriated. They eventually drove back to the defendant’s home.

While there, the defendant and his girlfriend poured the girl a strong alcoholic drink, then proceeded to sexually assault her. They slapped her in the face, hit her in the leg, and then forced the girl to engage in sexual intercourse. The girl escaped as soon as she could, running to a nearby security officer who helped her call the police. The defendant and his girlfriend were charged, and the girlfriend accepted a plea deal. She later testified at the defendant’s trial.

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