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Appellate Court Affirms Arizona Defendant’s Theft Conviction

In a recent Arizona car theft case, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his conviction and sentence for theft of a means of transportation. The trial court sentenced the defendant to an enhanced, aggravated prison term of fourteen years. On appeal, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. The appeals court denied his appeal and affirmed his conviction and his sentence.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, one evening in February 2021, a man forced his way into the back door of a home while the resident was not there. The person took a car key fob and several personal items from the home, departing in the resident’s car. Using the car’s global positioning system, the resident was able to track her car to a precise location in Maricopa, where police officers found it early the next morning. The defendant was in the driver’s seat, and another individual was in the passenger’s seat. The defendant was indicted for theft of a means of transportation and then convicted as charged, and sentenced to an enhanced, aggravated prison term of fourteen years following a jury trial. The defendant filed an appeal shortly thereafter.

On appeal, the defendant contended that the state presented insufficient evidence to support his conviction for theft of a means of transportation. The appellate court reviewed de novo the sufficiency of the evidence. In doing so, the appeals court viewed the evidence in the light most favorable to sustaining the jury’s verdict and resolving all inferences against the defendant. The appellate court opinion outlined the evidence presented against the defendant, establishing that the car was stolen and the defendant was found sitting in the driver’s seat of the car several hours later without permission to be in the car.

Regarding the defendant’s claim that he knew the vehicle was stolen or that he controlled it knowing it was stolen, the appeals court disagreed. Based on the evidence presented by the state, the appeals court found that a reasonable jury could infer that the defendant participated in the theft of the car. The opinion highlighted that security footage showed a Black man wearing black pants, a white shirt, and a chain necklace with a cross breaking into the back door of the home. At the time of his arrest, the defendant, a Black man, was wearing black pants, a white shirt, and a gold chain with a cross on it. The appeals court held that the state presented sufficient evidence from which reasonable persons could find the defendant guilty of theft of a means of transportation, denying the appeal and affirming the lower court decision.

Have You Been Charged with a Crime in Arizona?

If you are facing theft charges in Arizona, call us at The Law Office of James E. Novak. We are committed to advocating for your rights and exploring every aspect of your case to find the holes in the prosecution’s charges against you. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 480-413-1499. You can also send us an online message to have your questions answered.

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