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Arizona Court Denies Motion to Suppress Identification in Recent Child Sex Offense Case

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona child molestation case. In its opinion, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion to suppress two identifications made by the complaining witness.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the eleven-year-old victim was sleeping on an Amtrak train on the way back from a volleyball tournament. At some point, she awoke to someone touching her vagina over her jeans. The man asked the girl to come with him to the back of the train, but the girl refused. Instead, she woke up her coach ad pointed out the man who touched her.

The girl’s coach notified the train conductor. The conductor found the defendant, who matched the description provided by the girl. The conductor brought the defendant to the girl, and she positively identified him. When the train arrived in Flagstaff, the police were waiting. Police officers removed the defendant from the train, and then asked the girl if he was the man who had touched her. Again, she indicated that he was.

In a pretrial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that each of the victim’s two identifications was suggestive and should not be admissible at trial. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and he was later convicted.

The Court’s Analysis

The court rejected the defendant’s argument that the two identifications made by the victim were suggestive. The court explained that, an out-of-court identification violates a defendant’s constitutional rights if it was “unduly suggestive and created a substantial likelihood of misidentification.” To determine whether an identification procedure is unduly suggestive, a court considers the following factors, weighing them against any suggestiveness of the identification procedures:

  • The witness’ opportunity to observe the person;
  • The witness’ level of attention;
  • The witness’ degree of certainty;
  • The accuracy of the witness’ description; and
  • The amount of time passed between the incident and the identification.

Here, the court briefly touched on each of the above factors, noting that they all fell in favor of admitting the victim’s identification. The victim had ample time to see the defendant, whom she described in a good amount of detail. She was indicated that she was sure it was him to her coach, and to the train conductor.

The court explained that, once the victim identified the defendant as the person who touched her, the police did not violate the defendant’s rights in how they conducted the identification procedure.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona Sex Offense?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with an Arizona sex offense, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Sex offenses carry lengthy penalties, and these cases must be taken seriously. Attorney Novak is a passionate criminal defense attorney with decades of experience handling even the most complex and sensitive cases. He proudly represents clients facing all types of serious accusations in Tempe and across Maricopa County. To learn more, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today.

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