Defendant in Arizona Drug Case Loses Appeal, Despite Argument That Evidence was Insufficiently Authenticated

In a recent case coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant appealed her convictions and sentences for several drug-related crimes. On appeal, the defendant specifically argued that the prosecution failed to provide a sufficient foundation for some of the evidence presented against her at trial. After considering this argument, the court of appeals affirmed the defendant’s original convictions.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, a confidential informant reached out to the police and offered to set up a drug deal with a specific dealer he knew – that dealer later became the defendant in this case. When the police officers agreed to the set-up, the officers met up with the informant and observed as he reached out to the defendant to organize the logistics of the transaction. The officers then drove the informant to the previously agreed-upon location, which was a parking lot nearby.

The officers observed the drug deal take place, then picked up the informant and retrieved the drugs as well as the recording device that were both on his person. The officers then obtained a search warrant to retrieve the defendant’s private Facebook messages. After further investigations, the defendant was charged with the sale of a dangerous drug as well as participating in a criminal syndicate.

The Decision

The defendant was found guilty at trial, and she promptly appealed. The defendant’s main argument on appeal was that the prosecution wrongfully used her Facebook messages against her at trial. According to the defendant, the prosecution was supposed to introduce additional evidence proving that the Facebook messages indeed belonged to the defendant. Without this additional evidence, it was possible the prosecution could have fabricated the messages, and there was no way for the jury to be sure that the messages came from her account. It was wrong, said the defendant, for the trial court to allow these messages into evidence without requiring the additional authentication they needed.

The court looked at Arizona law, which states that a party offering social media communications as evidence must provide some kind of circumstantial evidence to establish the authenticity of those messages. In this case, the prosecution had offered testimony from the informant, who told the jury that the messages reflected the defendant’s particular method of speaking. Because the informant had communicated with the defendant in the past, the court decided that he was a credible source and was able to provide the necessary evidence to show the authenticity of the messages.

Because of the evidence provided by the informant, the court disagreed with the defendant and denied her appeal.

Have You Been Charged with Drug-Related Crimes in Arizona?

If you or a loved one are facing drug crimes in the state of Arizona, give us a call at The Law Office of James E. Novak. We offer high-quality litigation that takes into account your individual facts and circumstances so that you can be sure you are receiving the personalized and aggressive representation that you deserve. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation at 480-413-1499. You can also send us a message online to have your questions answered.

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