In a recent Arizona appeals court opinion, a defendant filed a motion to suppress statements he made to detectives based on whether the statements were made voluntary. The lower court delayed a ruling on the motion until testimony was made during the course of the trial, eventually finding that the statements were made voluntarily by the defendant. The appellate court affirmed the lower court’s decision because the lower court was not required to make a voluntariness determination in this matter and because the court’s delayed ruling did not impact the evidence.
The Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, a minor child testified that the defendant, who was her adoptive father, had been sexually abusing her for over ten years. A recorded phone call during a police investigation revealed that the defendant also had similarly sexually abused the child victim’s mother, starting when the mother was about fourteen years old. The mother married the defendant, and the defendant adopted the child victim.
Before the trial occurred, the defendant filed a motion to suppress involuntary statements, but in his motion, he only asked the court to examine whether his statements were admissible under the law based on voluntariness. The defendant did not raise the voluntariness claim in a timely manner or argue that the statements he made to detectives should be suppressed. The lower court noted the untimeliness of the defendant’s motion and did not make a ruling on it before trial, but instead decided to consider the voluntariness of the defendant’s statements during the course of the trial. During the trial, it was revealed that the defendant fully cooperated with the investigation and consented to an interview before he was in custody. The jury found the defendant guilty of child sex abuse and sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 35 years. The defendant appealed.
The appellate court explained that the lower court acted properly within its discretion to delay the decision on the defendant’s pretrial motion to suppress until the course of the trial. Under Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, parties must raise any issues by motion no later than 20 days before trial, and an untimely motion may be excluded. Additionally, if a party does not timely raise a voluntariness issue in a motion, the court is not required to make a determination on the matter on its own accord. The defendant failed to timely raise his voluntariness argument and also failed to argue that his statements should have been suppressed, so the lower court was not required to make a voluntariness determination. Thus, the appellate court found that the lower court did not make an error by delaying its decision in finding that the defendant’s statements were voluntary because the lower court’s delayed ruling did not impact the evidence admitted at trial.
Have You Been Arrested for a Sex Offense in Arizona?
If you have recently been arrested and charged with a sex offense in Arizona, contact the Law Office of James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Sex offenses can carry lengthy penalties and can quickly become complicated cases as seen in the case described above. Attorney Novak is a dedicated and passionate criminal defense attorney with specific experience handling the most complex cases, including serious Arizona sex offenses, drug charges, and DUI offenses. To learn more, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.