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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion requiring the court to determine whether the defendant’s Miranda rights were violated when the police took a statement from the defendant while he was not in custody. Ultimately, the court concluded that Arizona criminal law permitted the officers’ actions, and that the statement was properly admitted into evidence at trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was a handyman who was working for a landlord. One day, the defendant and the landlord’s property manager were scheduled to meet up so that the defendant could give the property manager rent he had collected from tenants. During the meeting, which took place in a home, the defendant shot the property manager with a shotgun, killing him instantly.

Later that day, the defendant’s friend came over to the home, and the defendant showed his friend the body. The friend helped the defendant bury the body in the backyard. The defendant later sold two of the property manager’s rings to a jewelry store. The jewelry store owner later saw a picture of the victim wearing the rings, and provided them to detectives.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona manslaughter case discussing the government’s contention that the lower court improperly admitted certain evidence regarding the victim’s conduct in the moments leading up to a fatal traffic accident. Ultimately, the court concluded that the victim’s actions were not a superseding cause of the accident, and thus the evidence at issue was not admissible.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was driving well over the speed limit when he struck the rear-end of another vehicle that was making a left turn. Neither the driver of the other vehicle, nor his seven-month-old son, were properly restrained, and both were ejected from the car. The driver was seriously injured, and his son died. Officers found a marijuana pipe in the car, and the driver later tested positive for THC.

In a pre-trial motion, the prosecution asked the court to prevent the defendant from pursuing a superseding-cause theory and admitting evidence of the victim’s possible impairment. The prosecution also argued that evidence suggesting the victim failed to yield when making the left-turn was admissible, but that, as a matter of law, it was not a superseding cause of the accident.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona sexual assault case involving the defendant’s claim that evidence of the alleged victim’s mental state was improperly and prejudicially admitted. Ultimately, the court determined that the victim’s mental state was relevant, as it went to her ability to consent to sex.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was a friend of the alleged victim’s family. The alleged victim was a 66-year-old woman with schizoaffective disorder. Evidently, the defendant took the woman on a walk to a nearby home where he had sex with her despite her telling him not to.

Later that day, the woman told a family member that the defendant had raped her. She went to the hospital, where medical professionals performed a rape kit. While there, she told the police what happened.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona homicide case discussing the propriety of the prosecution’s use of cell location site information (CLSI) taken from the defendant’s cell phone. Ultimately, the court reviewed recent Supreme Court case law, concluding that the prosecution’s use of the CLSI data did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights, affirming his conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a man was shot and killed outside a club as he sat in his car. Evidently, he was talking to a woman, CK, when two men walked up and shot the man. Police retrieved the cell phones of several witnesses, including CK. During their investigation, detectives discovered that one of the witnesses was in contact with a phone number that belonged to the defendant.

Police officers presented a judge with an ex parte order, seeking to obtain the defendant’s cell phone records. The court signed the order, noting that there was probable cause to believe that the information requested would be relevant to the crimes. Detectives used the information provided by the defendant’s cell carrier to link him to the crime. The defendant filed a motion to suppress, arguing that the CLSI information was illegally obtained without a warrant. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, finding that the request was supported by probable cause. The jury convicted the defendant of murder, and the defendant appealed.

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, courts are dealing with many novel legal issues. One of those issues is how to conduct Arizona criminal trials in a time of social distancing. Thus far, there is no consensus on how to effectively hold a trial while protecting a defendant’s constitutional rights, however, some courts are considering allowing witnesses to testify through the use of two-way video calls.

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to be confronted with the witnesses against him.” This is referred to as the Confrontation Clause. Over the years, the United States Supreme Court has issued several important opinions discussing a defendant’s right to confront their accusers. However, this issue seems more salient than ever, and will likely come before the Court again.

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a case that, while not dealing specifically with the complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrates the issue quite clearly. In that case, a defendant faced sexual assault charges stemming from an incident in 1996. At the time, a rape kit was performed, however, it was not analyzed until 2015. The results of the testing tied the defendant to the crime.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona murder case discussing whether the defendant’s statements to police were taken in violation of his Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination. Ultimately, the court determined that the admission of the defendant’s statements was proper because the police officers taking the statements did not violate the defendant’s rights in the process.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, in October 2015, police found a 75-year-old man stabbed to death in his home. The investigation led to the arrest of the defendant. After his arrest, detectives claim they read the defendant his Miranda warnings, however, the defendant alleged that the warnings were not read to him. While parts of the interview were recorded, the reading of the Miranda warnings were not.

Initially, the defendant denied all involvement, however, he later admitted to killing the victim because he thought the victim “was a child molester.” The defendant also admitted to stealing the victim’s truck and throwing the murder weapon in the Colorado River. The defendant was arrested, charged, and ultimately convicted of murder.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona sex offense case involving the defendant’s motion to suppress statements that he made to police after his arrest. The defendant claimed that his statements must be suppressed because they were taken without police having provided him with his Miranda warnings, as required by the United States and Arizona constitutions. Ultimately, the court concluded that police did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights in taking the statement, and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant lived with his girlfriend, as well as her daughter, the complaining witness, between 2004 and 2007. During this time, the defendant’s girlfriend’s daughter was between the ages of three and six. In 2014, the young girl disclosed to her grandmother that the defendant had sexual contact with her several times back when they lived in the same home.

After the grandmother contacted the police, two officers went to the defendant’s workplace to talk with him. The officers asked to speak with the defendant, who did not verbally respond, but followed the officers to a room where they interviewed him. One of the officers told the defendant he was not under arrest, and began to question him.

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In May of this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a case involving the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that he claimed was illegally obtained when a probation officer searched through his cell phone after he had been arrested for violating his probation. Ultimately, the court held that the search was reasonable and permissible because, in accepting probation, the defendant permitted warrantless searches of his property.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, in 2014, the defendant was on probation for an Arizona domestic violence offense. The defendant was placed on probation. As a part of his probationary sentence, the defendant signed a document outlining the conditions of probation. Condition 4 stated that the defendant consented to warrantless searches of his property.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona sex offense case discussing whether the defendant was properly ordered to register as a sex offender after he was convicted by a jury. The case involves the guarantees of the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial in criminal cases.

A Little Background into the Sixth Amendment

The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides, among other rights, that “in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” This right to a trial by jury has been expanded over the years. For example, in the case, Apprendi v. New Jersey, the U.S. Supreme Court held that any fact that increases the punishment a defendant may face must be found beyond a reasonable doubt by the jury.

The Facts of the Case

In the recent opinion issued by the Arizona Supreme Court, the defendant was convicted of a sexual offense. At trial, the jury determined that the victim was “fifteen or more years of age.” However, the jury did not formally make a specific finding as to the victim’s exact age.

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Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion in a case that addressed an important issue that arises in many cases that begin with an Arizona traffic stop. The case, Kansas v. Glover, presented the Court with the question of whether a law enforcement officer is able to reasonably assume that the person driving a vehicle is that vehicle’s registered owner.

The import of the Court’s decision is in how courts evaluate the legality of a traffic stop. Under longstanding Supreme Court case law, a police officer must have “a particularized and objective basis to suspect legal wrongdoing” to stop a vehicle based on a traffic violation. This has come to be known as the “reasonable suspicion” standard. Notably, reasonable suspicion requires less than a finding of probable cause. The question in this case was whether a state frooper’s assumption that the driver of a pick-up truck was the truck’s registered owner was a “reasonable” assumption.

The Facts of the Case

According to the Court’s opinion, a state trooper was on routine patrol when he ran the tags of a pick-up truck being operated by the defendant. The tags indicated that the vehicle’s owner had a revoked license. The trooper, assuming that the driver of the pick-up truck was the registered owner, pulled the truck over.

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