Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of second degree murder. Following the guilty verdict, 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, determining that the 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 its verdict was not a miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court vacated in part the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed the order granting a new trial, holding (1) the court of appeals exceeded the proper scope of 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

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Defendant was charged with possession or use of marijuana. At a settlement conference, Defendant agreed to participate in a drug treatment program through the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) in return for the State deferring the prosecution. Defendant then made a set of statements to TASC regarding his offense. The State later resumed the prosecution because Defendant had failed to attend TASC seminars and had tested positive for alcohol and marijuana while in the TASC program. Defendant moved to suppress the statements he gave to TASC, arguing that they were made during plea discussions and were therefore protected by Ariz. R. Evid. 410(a)(4). The trial court denied the motion. The court then found Defendant guilty. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that Defendant’s statements were not protected by Rule 410(a)(4). The Supreme Court vacated the opinion of the court of appeals and affirmed Defendant’s conviction, holding that Rule 410(a)(4) does not apply to deferred prosecution agreements and that a knowing waiver of its provisions does not require specifically referencing the rule. View "State v. Gill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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After a jury trial, Defendant pleaded guilty to two counts of first degree murder and one count of first degree burglary. The jury sentenced Defendant to death for each murder. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and sentences, holding (1) the trial court properly denied Defendant’s motion alleging that Arizona’s death penalty statute is unconstitutional without holding an evidentiary hearing; (2) the prosecutor’s statements during closing argument at the penalty phase did not constitute fundamental error; (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it revoked Defendant’s self-representation after Defendant refused to proceed with jury selection on the scheduled trial date; (4) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s request for new counsel without holding an evidentiary hearing; and (5) Defendant’s death sentence was appropriate. View "State v. Hidalgo" on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the constitutionality of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 28-1321(C), which allows law enforcement officers to make or direct nonconsensual blood draws from unconscious DUI suspects. Defendant was driving an SUV that was involved in a two-vehicle collision in Arizona. Defendant was airlifted to a Nevada hospital for treatment. Without seeking a warrant, a law enforcement officer instructed Department of Public Safety dispatch to request that Las Vegas police officers obtain a blood sample from Defendant. Defendant was unconscious when the blood sample was taken. Defendant was subsequently charged with numerous offenses, including aggravated driving under the extreme influence of intoxicating liquor with a suspended license. Defendant moved to suppress the results of his blood test, arguing that the statute authorizing his blood draw while unconscious violated his Fourth Amendment rights. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed the denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress, holding (1) section 28-1321(C) is unconstitutional as applied to the facts of this case; and (2) under Arizona law, the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule would not apply in this case. Remanded to the trial court to determine whether Nevada or Arizona law applies and, if it is Nevada law, whether it supports application of the good-faith exception. View "State v. Havatone" on Justia Law