Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Request for a New Verdict in Sexual Abuse Case

In a recent opinion in an Arizona sexual abuse case, the court denied the defendant’s request for a new verdict. A jury had convicted of a mixture of twenty-five felony and misdemeanor counts, including felonies of molestation of a child and sexual conduct with a minor, as well as misdemeanors of indecent exposure and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. On appeal, the defendant argued that some of the evidence used to find him guilty should have been suppressed; namely, when officers searched his cell phone and found incriminating photos, they were not actually authorized to be looking through his personal property. The court disagreed, finding the warrant that the officers used gave them permission to search the defendant’s phone.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was convicted after having molested his stepdaughter from the time that she was eight years old. The abuse remained constant throughout the victim’s childhood, and when the victim turned sixteen years old, the defendant began having sexual intercourse with her. In 2015, the victim and her biological father reported the incidents to the police, and a formal investigation began. During this investigation, detectives learned that the victim and the defendant had exchanged photographs of each other’s genitals over text message, as well as that the defendant had recently taken her cell phone away from her.

A few days later, police officers secured a search warrant, which identified fifteen specific items that the police were authorized to search. These items included the defendant’s cell phone and other electronic devices. A search of his cell phone led to the discovery of several nude photos of the victim, including photos of the defendant and the victim having sex.

The Decision

After being found guilty of sexual abuse, the defendant challenged the trial court’s use of the photographs in his cell phone as evidence. The defendant argued that even though the officers did have authority to obtain his cell phone, they should have secured an additional warrant if they wanted to actually search the contents of the phone.

The court disagreed, pointing to the language of the warrant itself, which said explicitly that the officers did have permission to search the defendant’s cell phone. In response, the defendant argued that since the officers did not provide him with a copy of the warrant before making use of it, his rights were violated. Again, the court disagreed, saying that Arizona law does not require officers to show defendants a written warrant before conducting a search of their property. Thus, disagreeing with the defendant’s arguments, the court affirmed his guilty verdict.

Have You Been Charged with an Arizona Sex Crime?

For many defendants, an arrest for an Arizona sexual abuse case can feel like the end of the road. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are here to let you know that you have legal options to fight your case. As an experienced and zealous advocate, Attorney Novak will stand by your side and present you with the best possible defense. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call at 480-413-1499.

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