In a recent case coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict for failure to register as a sex offender was denied. Originally, the defendant had been charged, found guilty, and sentenced when he failed to register as a sex offender in the county where he resided. On appeal, the defendant argued that the prosecution should not have been able to state that he was convicted of child molestation instead of any other “sex offense” during trial – this information, said the defendant, unnecessarily biased the jury. The court ultimately disagreed with the defendant and affirmed his guilty verdict.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was convicted of child molestation fourteen years ago and was ordered to register as a sex offender for life. In 2019, police officers contacted the defendant in Arizona and discovered he had not registered as a sex offender in his county. At that time, the defendant told officers that he did not think registering was necessary. One year later, officers arrested the defendant and charged him with failure to register as a sex offender.
Before trial, the defendant’s lawyer asked the court to prevent the jury from learning that the specific crime for which the defendant was convicted was child molestation. According to defense counsel, it would be perfectly sufficient for the jury to learn that he had been convicted of a sex offense in general; telling jury members that he had molested a child was both unnecessary and highly prejudicial.
The court denied the defense attorney’s request, and a four-day trial ensued. The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to time in prison. On appeal, he argued the court unfairly denied defense counsel’s request, urging the court to conclude that the jury was biased by learning that he molested a child.
The higher court deciding on the defendant’s appeal disagreed with his argument. According to the court, the State did not have bad intentions when bringing up that he had molested a child. They were simply stating a fact, not trying to make the defendant look guilty in the jury’s eyes.
In addition, the court said that the value added by the prosecution’s use of the words “child molest” outweighed any bias that the jury might have experienced as a result. The State never provided specific details from the prior case that would have made the jury particularly suspicious of the defendant as a person. There was no evidence, said the court, of a prejudicial effect on the jury as a result of these words.
Given these conclusions, the court denied the defendant’s appeal and his guilty verdict remained in place.
Have You Been Charged with Sex Crimes in Arizona?
If you or a loved one has been criminally charged with a sex crime in Arizona, call the Law Office of James E. Novak. We will bring unparalleled experience, dedication, and expertise to your case that will give you the best possible chance of reversing the charges against you. For a free, confidential consultation, call us at 480-413-1499. You can also send us a message online to have your questions answered.