Earlier this month, an Arizona court considered an appeal from a defendant convicted of transportation of dangerous drugs for sale. In 2018, the defendant was charged after a police officer found methamphetamine and heroin in the trunk of his car. The case went to trial, the defendant was found guilty, and this appeal followed. Looking at the record of the case, the court ultimately denied the defendant’s appeal, affirming the original guilty conviction.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was driving one evening when an officer stopped him because his license plate lamps were broken. When asked for his license and registration, the defendant admitted that he did not have any registration with him. At that point, the officer arrested and searched the defendant.
The officer quickly found $10,000 in cash as well as a briefcase with methamphetamine, heroin, cash, and firearms. The defendant was criminally charged, and his case went to trial. During trial, the State presented evidence that the defendant had been texting with various individuals about how to sell the drugs in his car.
The jury found the defendant guilty of transportation of dangerous drugs for sale. The trial court sentenced him to over 27 years in prison, and the defendant promptly appealed.
On appeal, the higher court went through the record of the case to investigate and figure out if there were any errors on the trial court’s part. Specifically, the defendant’s attorney was concerned that the trial court had not properly advised the defendant on the State’s plea offer and the risks of proceeding to trial. It was the defendant’s right to be properly informed of the offer and the possible consequences of trial, and he would be entitled to a reversal if the court found he did not receive all of the relevant information on this topic.
Looking at the record, the court of appeals determined that the trial court had set a date for a hearing with the defendant so that it could specifically advise him about the plea offer and the risks of moving forward with trial. The defendant, however, failed to appear for that hearing. Even if the court failed the defendant by neglecting to take additional action to make sure he was informed, there was no evidence to suggest that the defendant was unsure about moving toward trial or that he did not understand his rights under the law. Therefore, said the court, the defendant’s guilty conviction would be affirmed.
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