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Arizona Defendant Loses Argument Over Expert Testimony in Aggravated Assault Case

In a recent appeal coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant argued that his conviction for aggravated assault should be reversed. According to the defendant, the trial judge had improperly denied him the right to present an expert witness and thus that his defense was incomplete. The higher court examined the trial record and disagreed with the defendant, affirming his original conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the alleged assault that precipitated this case occurred at an auto repair shop in 2019. The victim drove to pick up his truck from the shop after having received standard services on his vehicle. After paying for the services, the victim went to his car to drive away but realized there was another vehicle blocking his car that prevented him from moving.

The victim returned to the shop and asked if anyone knew who’s car was directly behind his. One of the repair shop workers replied that it was his car and said that he would move the car after he had finished eating his lunch. The victim, unhappy about this statement, went to the parking lot to begin moving his car anyway.

The repair shop worker, later named the defendant in this case, came outside and confronted the victim. He walked to the passenger window of the victim’s vehicle and pointed a pistol at the victim, saying he would shoot if the victim moved. After a verbal altercation, the defendant finally moved his vehicle and the victim drove away. Later, the defendant was arrested and subsequently found guilty of aggravated assault.

The Decision

At trial, the defendant argued he had been entitled to self-defense during the altercation. He sought to introduce expert testimony for the jurors to consider. The defendant’s expert was prepared to present his opinion, based on 20 years of law enforcement experience, that the defendant’s use of force was justified under the circumstances.

The trial court found the expert testimony to be irrelevant in assisting the jury in their decision as to whether or not the defendant was guilty of aggravated assault. Jurors are capable, said the court, of deciding whether the use of force is reasonable or unreasonable in any given event. The use of expert testimony was thus unnecessary. On appeal, the higher court agreed: because neither the victim nor the defendant was a law enforcement officer, evidence of how a law enforcement officer would react under the same facts was indeed irrelevant evidence.

Given the court’s conclusion, the defendant’s appeal was denied.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Arizona?

If you or a loved one is facing charges for a violent crime in the state of Arizona, give us a call at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We offer you the aggressive representation you need when a guilty verdict is simply not an option. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation at 480-413-1499. You can also send us a message online to have your questions answered.


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