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Arizona Defendant in Aggravated Driving Case Unsuccessfully Appeals Long Sentence, Ruling that Trial Judge Rightfully Considered Prior Convictions

In an October 2023 criminal case on appeal in Arizona, the defendant took issue with the trial court’s decision about how long he should be incarcerated after a jury found him guilty of aggravated DUI. Originally, the defendant was charged with aggravated DUI while he was on probation for two other convictions. Once he was found guilty, the trial court took both of his convictions into consideration when deciding his sentence. The defendant appealed this decision, but the higher court ultimately affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving in December 2019 when officers pulled him over driving under the influence. The State charged the defendant with aggravated DUI and asked the trial court to revoke the defendant’s probation from both a 2010 felony DUI conviction and a 2013 misdemeanor DUI conviction.

The defendant’s case went to trial, and a jury found him guilty after four days of hearing evidence. The court then sentenced the defendant to over seven years in prison. The defendant promptly appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant took issue with the trial judge’s sentencing decision. Specifically, the trial judge sentenced him to more time in prison because of his previous convictions. During the sentencing hearing, the judge asked the defendant if he agreed to admit that he was on probation for a prior felony conviction. The defendant had agreed, which allowed the judge to take this probation into account during the hearing. On appeal, however, the defendant argued that the trial court did not have the right to factor the probation and prior convictions into the sentencing decision.

Looking at the trial court’s record, the higher court noted that the lower court’s judge specifically asked the defendant if he was willing to admit that he was on probation for a prior conviction when the State charged him with aggravated DUI. The defendant had knowingly and voluntarily agreed.

What’s more, said the court, during a sentencing hearing, a trial court judge is entitled to take notice of a prior finding of guilt. The trial court judge here had followed the proper procedure. The judge reasonably took the defendant’s prior proceedings into account, and there was therefore no merit to the defendant’s argument.

The court therefore affirmed the defendant’s sentence.

Are You or a Loved One in Need of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona?

Facing DUI charges in Arizona can be daunting, and at the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are here to help. We provide aggressive, informed legal services that help you protect your freedoms and make sure your voice is heard. For a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney, give us a call at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to have a member of our team reach back out to you as soon as possible.




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