In a recent case involving fraudulent activity and identity theft, an Arizona court denied a defendant’s appeal filed based on an error committed by the trial court. In the appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court committed an error so substantial that it biased the jury and gave her an unfair trial. The higher court disagreed, ultimately denying the defendant’s appeal.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was hired to take care of an elderly man who was not expected to live for much longer. Shortly after the defendant started caring for this man, the man’s wallet went missing. When the man died a few weeks later, his wife continued to employ the defendant as her own caretaker. The defendant was involved in many aspects of the elderly woman’s life, and she was thus given access to the woman’s home, incoming mail, checkbooks, and email.
The woman soon noticed several financial documents missing. She went to visit a bank and discovered that all of her accounts had been emptied. Soon, she learned that the defendant had used her credit card, rented a house for herself in the woman’s name, liquidated stocks belonging to the woman for herself, and used the woman’s bank account to pay various bills of her own. Law enforcement searched the defendant’s home and found significant evidence of this fraudulent activity. She was charged with fifty-six crimes against four victims; thirty-two of the counts related to this elderly woman and her husband. The defendant was sentenced to time in prison as a result of her convictions.
The Court’s Decision
The defendant appealed, asserting that the court provided incorrect evidence during her trial. Since there were multiple victims, there were many charges on the table, and the court erred by showing the jury forms relating to charges separate from the ones having to do with the elderly couple for whom she acted as a caretaker. Because the court failed to exclude these separate forms from the trial, the jury was improperly biased and she was not given a fair trial.
The court disagreed. There were fifty-six total counts of fraudulent activity, and the error of the trial court was that it improperly numbered the counts when it presented the evidence to the jury. The mere fact that the trial court numbered these papers wrong, said the higher court, was not a significant enough error to warrant a new verdict. The jury had so much testimonial evidence at their disposal, including a rental agreement, financial statements, and verbal testimony, that one mistake in the forms would not make a difference as to how they thought about the case in front of them. Because this detail was not substantial enough to bias the jury, said the court, the verdict was sustained.
Have You Been Accused of Fraud in Arizona?
If you or someone you know has been charged with some kind of fraud in Arizona, it is crucial that you speak to an experienced defense attorney who can walk you through your options. Forgery, theft, and identity fraud are complicated areas of the law, and at the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are knowledgeable about the way courts handle these kinds of charges. Don’t wait: your representation is waiting for you. For a free and confidential consultation, call our office at 480-413-1499.