In a recent case before a court of appeals in Arizona, the defendant asked for a reversal of his guilty verdict based on unfair conduct from the prosecutor at trial. Originally, the defendant was found guilty of several crimes, including identity theft, forgery, and criminal possession of a forgery device. On appeal, the defendant took issue with part of the prosecuting attorney’s closing argument, in which he insinuated the defendant was guilty of activity that was not in the record. Looking at the case, the court of appeals disagreed and ultimately affirmed the defendant’s original verdict.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, an officer was on patrol one evening when he got a call about a suspicious-looking car in a parking lot. The officer went to investigate and came upon the defendant, who was alone and asleep in the driver’s seat. When the officer approached, the defendant quickly drove away, crashing the car in front of a nearby house.
The defendant took off on foot, arriving at a shed next to another house in the neighborhood. When the officers arrived, they found the defendant hiding in the shed with a slew of credit cards around him. After further investigation, the defendant was charged, and his case went to trial. He was found guilty of forgery, based in part on the fact that he had dozens of credit cards that were not under his name, as well as the fact that the credit card holders had reported fraudulent charges on those cards.
The defendant appealed his guilty verdict. While it might be true, argued the defendant, that he unlawfully ran from the police to hide in the shed, there was no definitive proof that he knew the credit cards in his possession were forged.
The defendant took issue with one part of the trial in which the prosecutor suggested that there was evidence to prove that the defendant had used the credit cards to make purchases without authorization. When the prosecutor said during closing arguments that there was evidence of “past fraudulent use” by the defendant, it led the jury to believe that the defendant made the unauthorized transactions. In fact, the defendant was only on trial for forging the credit cards, not for making any transactions with the cards in question.
The court reviewed this part of the trial and found that the prosecutor had not unnecessarily suggested that the defendant had made unauthorized purchases. The prosecutor quickly followed his comment about past fraudulent activity by the statement that he was only alleging the defendant had manufactured the cards, not that he had used them. Because he corrected his error, the prosecutor did not bias the jury in any significant way.
With this conclusion, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.
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At The Law Office of James E. Novak, we take pride in providing thorough, detail-oriented representation that keeps our clients’ needs front and center. If you are looking for an Arizona criminal defense attorney to take care of your fraud case, look no further. For a free and confidential consultation with our team, call us today at 480-413-1499.