Arizona Court’s Opinion Highlights Deference Shown to Trial Courts in Sentencing Decisions

The Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, recently addressed a defendant’s argument that at 21 years old, he was too young to understand the crimes he committed and therefore his resulting sentence was excessive. In the case before the court, the defendant had engaged in sexual conduct with a minor. After he was found guilty of molestation of a child as well as sexual misconduct with a minor, he appealed. Ultimately, the higher court determined that the lower court acted within its authority when sentencing the defendant, and it denied the defendant’s appeal.

Sentencing Decisions in Arizona Criminal Cases

In both the United States and Arizona, there are certain requirements for sentencing that trial courts must consider. Under the Eighth Amendment in particular, sentences must not impose “cruel and unusual punishment” on offenders. According to Arizona case law, higher courts are to respect lower courts’ sentencing decisions, trusting that trial courts are in the best position to decide on how a defendant should be punished. Only in rare circumstances should a higher court question a lower court’s sentencing decision; very seldom will these decisions violate the Eighth Amendment if they are within the law’s sentencing guidelines.

In this case, the defendant was sentenced to twenty-five years’ imprisonment after being found guilty. The trial court judge decided this sentence based on the crimes that the defendant committed: he had engaged in consistent sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and he was old enough to understand that this was not appropriate or legal. He had told the girl that he was 16 years old when he engaged in sexual activity with her, and he had not heeded the girl’s mother’s warnings that he should stay away from her daughter.

According to the higher court, the trial court properly considered the seriousness of the defendant’s crimes. Even though he was young when he committed the offenses, the twenty-five-year sentence was appropriate, and it was the higher court’s job to respect the trial court’s sentencing decision. The sentence in this case, said the court, was not “grossly disproportionate” to the defendant’s crime.” With that, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.

Do You Need a Phoenix Sex Crimes Attorney to Help You Fight Your Charges?

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are committed to fighting for your rights when you are facing criminal charges. Sentencing guidelines in Arizona can be tough, and fighting a sentencing decision requires a deep understanding of the legal landscape, the offense at play, and the courts involved in the process. Ultimately, when your freedom is on the line, you only want the best representation; at the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are proud to offer just that.
For a free and confidential consultation with an expert Phoenix sex crimes attorney, give us a call today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case and have a member of our team get back in touch with you as soon as possible.


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