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Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal Based on State’s Use of Evidence in Assault Case

Recently, an Arizona court denied a defendant’s appeal in an assault case. The defendant had been found guilty of aggravated assault after a woman he knew accused him of significantly injuring her when they were both in her apartment. The defendant appealed, arguing that the state should not have been allowed to bring in evidence of his previous felony convictions at trial. He also argued that the state failed to look at and preserve important evidence that would have worked in his favor. Ultimately, the court disagreed and denied the defendant’s appeal.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant and a female companion of his went to a music venue where the defendant performed as a DJ. The defendant consumed enough alcohol to become intoxicated, while his female companion did not drink at all. The pair went back to the woman’s apartment, where the defendant soon became very upset and yanked one of the apartment’s doors from its hinges. The woman asked the defendant to leave, but he refused.

The woman soon blacked out on the floor of her apartment. When she woke up, she felt as if the room were spinning. She saw the defendant close the door and walk towards her; she blacked out another time and later found herself sitting on the floor with the defendants’ hands over her mouth and nose. The woman called 9-1-1 and was taken to the hospital, where she found pieces of her cell phone in her hair. She had several serious injuries she had not had before the incident, including injuries to her head, bruising, and scratches on various parts of her body.

The Court’s Opinion

The defendant was indicted on charges of aggravated assault, kidnapping, and aggravated domestic violence. At trial, the state brought up the defendant’s past convictions, including four convictions: (1) aggravated harassment, (2) aggravated assault, (3) criminal damage, and (4) aggravated assault of a minor. After being found guilty, the defendant moved for a mistrial because the state referred to these four prior felony convictions during the trial itself. Bringing up these previous convictions, said the defendant, biased the jury and unfairly disadvantaged him.

The court denied the defendant’s request for a mistrial. It was okay, said the court, for the state to bring up these previous felony convictions because when the defendant was testifying, he suggested that he only had one prior felony conviction. It was thus acceptable for the state to bring up the felony convictions as a way of proving that the defendant was lying during his testimony.

Alternatively, the defendant argued that his verdict should be overturned because the state failed to keep important evidence from his cell phone. Specifically, he was concerned because the state never looked at recordings and Facebook messages on his phone supporting his version of events. After being taken into custody, he had repeatedly asked a detective to get the evidence from his phone, but the detective refused.

The court did not see this failure to preserve the cell phone evidence as an issue. The state does not have a duty, said the court, to seek out evidence that might hurt their case. It was also true that the defendant did not make an independent effort to get the cell phone himself, which he should have done if it was such an important part of his defense. Because the court disagreed with the defendant on these two main points, it denied his appeal and affirmed his convictions.

Have You Been Charged with Assault in Arizona?

If you have been charged with assault in Arizona, all hope is not lost. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are familiar with possible defenses you can raise to fight your charges, and we are ready to present you with your options to develop the strongest possible defense. We have over ten years of experience in the criminal legal field in Arizona, and our Arizona criminal defense attorney are ready to see discuss we can best advocate on your behalf. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 480-413-1499.

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