Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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Ariz. Const. art. II, 22(A)(1) and Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-3961(A)(2), on their face, violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause because the provisions categorically prohibit bail without regard for individual circumstances. The provisions at issue categorically prohibit bail for all persons charged with sexual assault if “the proof is evident or the presumption great” that the person committed the crime, without considering other facts that may justify bail in an individual case. In the instant case, Defendant with charged with sexual assault, and the superior court set his bail at $70,000. The court of appeals vacated the bail order, holding that sexual assault “remains a non-bailable offense.” The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and affirmed the superior court, holding that courts must engage in an individualized determination by conducting a section 13-3961(D) hearing before denying bail to a person charged with sexual assault. View "State v. Honorable Kevin Wein" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Ariz. Const. art. II, 22(A)(1) and Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-3961(A)(2), on their face, violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause because the provisions categorically prohibit bail without regard for individual circumstances. The provisions at issue categorically prohibit bail for all persons charged with sexual assault if “the proof is evident or the presumption great” that the person committed the crime, without considering other facts that may justify bail in an individual case. In the instant case, Defendant with charged with sexual assault, and the superior court set his bail at $70,000. The court of appeals vacated the bail order, holding that sexual assault “remains a non-bailable offense.” The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and affirmed the superior court, holding that courts must engage in an individualized determination by conducting a section 13-3961(D) hearing before denying bail to a person charged with sexual assault. View "State v. Honorable Kevin Wein" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Ariz. Rev. Stat. 15-108(A), which makes it unlawful for a person, including a qualified Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) cardholder, to possess or use marijuana on the campus of any public university, college, community college or postsecondary educational institution, violates Arizona’s Voter Protection Act (VPA) with respect to AMMA-compliant marijuana possession or use. Defendant, an AMMA cardholder, was convicted ofpossessing marijuana in his dormitory on the campus of Arizona State University. The Supreme Court vacated the conviction, holding (1) section 15-108(A) is unconstitutional under the VPA because the statute amends the AMMA by re-criminalizing AMMA cardholders’ marijuana possession on public college and university campuses; and (2) therefore, the statute is unconstitutional as applied to Defendant. View "State v. Maestas" on Justia Law

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Defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 2, section 8 of the Arizona Constitution were not violated when law enforcement officers followed Defendant’s vehicle onto a private driveway to complete a traffic stop that began on a public road. Defendant was found guilty of possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and transporting methamphetamine for sale. Defendant appealed the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized from him and his vehicle. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Constitution does not protect a driver that declines to stop on a public road and retreats onto private property; and (2) the officers’ actions in this case comported with Fourth Amendment standards because Defendant impliedly consented to the location of the stop where he led the officers in his vehicle. View "State v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

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On its face, Ariz. Const. art. II, 22(A)(2), the so-called On-Release provision, satisfies heightened scrutiny under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The On-Release provision precludes bail for felony offenses committed when the person charged is already admitted to bail on a separate felony charge and where “the proof is evident or the presumption great” as to the present charge. Defendant was arrested and held without bail pursuant to the On-Release provision. Defendant moved to modify his release conditions, arguing that the On-Release provision was facially invalid because it deprived him of constitutional right to a pre-detention individualized determination of future dangerousness. The superior court denied the motion. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the On-Release provision and affirmed the superior court’s order denying Defendant bail, holding that the On-Release provision meets constitutional standards. View "Moreno v. Honorable Nicole Brickner" on Justia Law

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Under Tison v. Arizona, 481 U.S. 137, 158 (1987), in determining if a defendant acted with “reckless indifference to human life” while he was a major participant in a felony, thus making him eligible for the death penalty, the fact-finder may consider evidence of the defendant’s diminished capacity. The postconviction relief (PCR) court in this case granted Defendant relief by commuting his death sentence to a life sentence. The PCR court ruled (1) Defendant was ineligible for the death penalty under Tison because reasonable doubt existed whether he acted with the requisite reckless mental state; and (2) even if Defendant were death-eligible under Tison, he would be entitled to resentencing because he sufficiently demonstrated that the sentencing court would not have imposed the death penalty had it known of his mental health deficiencies. The Supreme Court affirmed the PCR court’s ruling that Defendant was ineligible for the death penalty under Tison, holding that the PCR court did not err by admitting diminished-capacity and voluntary-intoxication evidence in the Tison inquiry. View "State v. Miles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Pursuant to Ariz. R. Evid. 609(a)(2), evidence of a shoplifting conviction is admissible to impeach a witness only when the court can readily determine that the conviction turned on proof of a dishonest act or false statement. During Defendant’s criminal trial, the prosecution called Witness to testify. Defendant told the court that he intended to impeach Witness with a 2015 misdemeanor shoplifting conviction. The trial court refused to admit the impeachment evidence. The court of appeals affirmed, holding that shoplifting is not categorically a “dishonest act or false statement” for purposes of Rule 609(a)(2). The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a conviction for shoplifting is not automatically admissible under Rule 609(a)(2) because the crime does not necessarily require the prosecution to prove “a dishonest act or false statement” within the meaning of Rule 609(a)(2). View "State v. Winegardner" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court disavowed the approach of the state’s courts prohibiting a defendant from simultaneously claiming self-defense and asserting a misidentification defense, holding that if some evidence supports a finding of self-defense, and even if the defendant asserts a misidentification defense, the prosecution must prove the absence of self-defense and the trial court must give a requested self-defense jury instruction. The court of appeals in this case reversed Defendant’s murder convictions and remanded the case for a new trial, concluding that the trial court erred in refusing to give a self-defense instruction on the grounds that Defendant had denied he had shot the victims. The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and reversed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding (1) at least the “slightest evidence” existed that Defendant shot the victims in self-defense; and (2) therefore, the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense. View "State v. Carson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was the procedure for evaluating a capital defendant’s intellectual disability (ID) status before trial. Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-753(B) provides that the trial court shall order a pretrial ID evaluation in every capital case unless the defendant objects, and if the defendant objects, the defendant waives the right to a pretrial evaluation. In the instant case, more than two years after filing his objection to an ID evaluation and four months before the scheduled trial, Defendant moved to withdraw his objection to court-ordered testing. The trial court granted the motion, concluding that section 13-753(B) permitted Defendant to reinstate his right to a pretrial ID evaluation by withdrawing his objection. The Supreme Court vacated the trial court’s order and remanded the case for consideration of Defendant’s request for an ID evaluation, holding (1) a defendant cannot void his waiver under section 13-753(B) by later withdrawing his objection; but (2) a defendant’s waiver does not deprive the court of its discretionary authority to order a pretrial ID evaluation if the defendant later requests or consents to one. View "State v. Honorable Pamela S. Gates" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When a defendant possesses an item that is statutorily defined contraband, the State need prove only that the defendant knowingly possessed the item, not that the defendant knew it was contraband, to convict the defendant under Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-2505(A) of knowingly possessing contraband while being confined in a correctional facility or transported to it. Defendant was convicted of promoting prison contraband for possessing a cellphone at the relevant times. The court of appeals ruled that it was necessary for the State, in addition to proving that Defendant knew he had a cellphone, to also prove he knew it was contraband. The Supreme Court vacated the court of appeals’ opinion and held that the trial court correctly ruled that the State did not have to prove that Defendant knew the cellphone was contraband. View "State v. Francis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law