Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
Only the second requirement of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-3822(A) that registered sex offenders must “register as a transient not less than every ninety days” if the person “does not have an address or a permanent place of residence” applies to transient individuals. Defendant was convicted of failing to satisfy the first requirement of the statute, which requires that registered sex offenders register a new residence or address within seventy-two hours of becoming homeless. Defendant became homeless after leaving a halfway house. Defendant appealed, arguing that a homeless person, by definition, cannot inform the sheriff of a new residence or address because he has none, and therefore, only the transient registration requirement applies. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that transient sex offenders are not required to notify the sheriff of a new residence within seventy-two hours of becoming homeless. View "State v. Burbey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Enhanced sentences may not be imposed under the dangerous crimes against children (DCAC) statute when a defendant commits a crime against a fictitious child. Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of solicitation to commit molestation of a child for speaking to a woman about allowing him to engage in sexual acts with her two young children, who were actually fictitious. Defendant’s crimes were classified as DCAC, and he was sentenced to lifetime probation on each count in accordance with the DCAC sentencing statute. Defendant later moved, without success, to dismiss the DCAC designation and then brought a special action in the court of appeals. The court of appeals upheld the trial court, concluding that DCAC sentencing applies to convictions for solicitation to commit molestation of a child when the victim is fictitious. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and reversed the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s request to dismiss the DCAC designation, holding that Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-705(P)(1) requires an actual child victim for DCAC enhanced sentences to apply to the enumerated offenses. View "Wright v. Honorable Pamela Gates" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Neither Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-4041(B) nor Ariz. R. Crim. P. 32.5 requires a trial court to determine whether an Ariz. R. Crim. P. 32 petitioner is competent before proceeding and ruling on a state post-conviction relief (PCR) proceeding. After a new penalty phase trial, Petitioner was sentenced to death for first degree murder. Petitioner later brought a Rule 32 proceeding. Petitioner then moved the superior court to conduct a hearing to determine competency and to stay all PCR proceedings until the court found him competent, arguing that section 13-4041(B) and Rule 32.5 establish a defendant’s right to competency during PCR proceedings. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a convicted capital defendant is not entitled under Arizona’s statutes or rules to a competency determination in PCR proceedings. View "Fitzgerald v. Honorable Sam Myers" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
In this criminal case, the prosecutor’s instruction to the grand jury regarding the defense of justification was not erroneous and did not deprive Petitioner of a substantial procedural right. A grand jury indicted Petitioner on two counts of child abuse. Before the Supreme Court, Petitioner argued that he was denied a substantial procedural right because the prosecutor misstated the law regarding justification. Specifically, Petitioner argued that the prosecutor incorrectly advised the grand jurors that they were not allowed to consider whether his use of physical force on his son was justified under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-403(1). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the prosecutor correctly instructed the grand jury on the defense of justification. View "Cespedes v. Honorable Kenneth Lee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
In this criminal case arising from an incident of domestic violence, the trial court did not err in admitting the testimony of an expert witness that described general behavioral tendencies of adult victims of domestic abuse. Defendant was found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault (domestic abuse) and five counts of aggravated domestic violence, among other offenses. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the expert witness’s testimony did not constitute impermissible offender profiling. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the expert witness’s testimony but that trial court should exercise great caution in screening, admitting, and limiting evidence describing the characteristics of offenders. View "State v. Haskie" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Pursuant to Ariz. R. Crim. P. 11.4(b), a defendant who asserts an insanity defense and voluntarily undergoes a mental health exam must disclose a complete copy of the mental health expert’s examination report, including any statements made by the defendant concerning the pending charges against him. Defendant asserted the defense of insanity, or guilty except insane, to charges for armed robbery and felony murder. Two experts prepared reports that included statements that Defendant made about the pending charges. When the State requested copies of the experts’ reports defense counsel produced copies but redacted Defendant’s statements. The State filed a motion to compel, seeking disclosure of unredacted copies. The superior court denied the motion based on Austin v. Alfred, 163 Ariz. 397 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1990). The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Rule 11.4(b) requires a defendant to disclose his statements contained in a mental health expert’s report. The court thus disapproved of Austin to the extent it holds that such statements must be redacted under Rule 11.4(b). View "State v. Honorable Hugh Hegyi" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The police conducted a pat-down search of Defendant based on the dangerousness of the area in which he was found and the flight of one of Defendant’s companions. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion to suppress, concluding that the search was proper. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and reversed Defendant’s conviction of misdemeanor marijuana possession, holding that, under the totality of the circumstances of this case, the police did not have an individualized reasonable suspicion that Defendant was engaged in criminal activity and that Defendant was armed and dangerous sufficient to justify the pat-down search. View "State v. Primous" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court reversed the postconviction court’s grant of relief to Appellant. The postconviction court set aside Defendant’s death sentence for the murder of Holly Iler, finding ineffective assistance of counsel and a due process violation. The court ordered a new aggravation and penalty phase sentencing trial. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the evidence did not establish ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC) on any of Defendant’s multiple IAC claims, and no aggregate IAC occurred here; and (2) the postconviction court erred in finding a due process violation based on testimony by the State’s medical expert because the expert did not present objectively false or misleading testimony. View "State v. Pandeli" on Justia Law

by
Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-707(B) does not require a repeat class one misdemeanor conviction to be both classified and sentenced as a class six felony. Defendant was convicted of the same class 1 misdemeanor of disorderly conduct in both 2012 and 2013. The trial court classified Defendant’s two 2013 convictions as class six felonies pursuant to section 13-707(B) and sentenced him as a category three repetitive felony offender. The Supreme Court modified Defendant’s disorderly conduct convictions and designated them as class one misdemeanors, holding that the trial court committed fundamental error when it classified Defendant’s 2013 disorderly conduct convictions as class six felonies and sentenced him as a category three repetitive felony offender. View "State v. Gulley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder. Defendant moved for a new trial under Ariz. R. Crim. P. 24.1(c)(1). The trial court granted the motion for a new trial, concluding that the guilty verdict was contrary to the weight of the evidence. After independently examining the evidence, the court of appeals reversed, concluding that the jury properly weighed the evidence and the verdict was not a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s order granting a new trial, holding (1) the court of appeals exceeded the proper scope of deferential appellate review by independently reweighing the evidence rather than determining if substantial evidence supported the trial judge’s ruling; and (2) substantial evidence existed to support the trial court’s determination. View "State v. Fischer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law