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Arizona Supreme Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in Case Questioning Trial Court’s Authority Over Adults Who Committed Crimes as Juveniles

In a recent case before the Supreme Court of the State of Arizona, the defendant appealed his convictions and sentences stemming from a series of sexual assaults. On appeal, the defendant argued that because he committed the offenses when he was a minor, the superior court did not actually have the authority to hear his case, given that the case should have been heard in a juvenile court. Considering the defendant’s argument, the court ultimately denied the appeal but remanded the case back to the lower court for re-sentencing.

Offenses at Issue

In this case, the defendant sexually assaulted and abused three younger children between 2006 and 2008. At the time he committed the crimes, the defendant himself was a minor. The State learned about the offenses after the defendant turned 18 and he was charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and three counts of child molestation.

The defendant’s case went to trial, and a jury convicted him on all counts. The trial court then sentenced him to fifty-one years in prison.

Superior Court’s Jurisdiction

On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court did not have the jurisdiction, or authority, to hear his case. The defendant was a minor when he committed the crimes, and he argued that Arizona law makes clear that the case should have been before a juvenile court when he was younger. The juvenile court, said the defendant, should have transferred jurisdiction to the trial court that ended up hearing the defendant’s case. Because the court did not transfer this authority, and because the defendant was now over the age of 18, no court had the authority to hear the defendant’s case.

The higher court considered the defendant’s argument and ultimately denied the appeal. Even though the defendant was a minor when he committed the crimes, he was an adult when the State indicted him. Nothing in the Arizona criminal code, noted the court, keeps the State from being able to prosecute adults for crimes that they committed when they were minors.

Therefore, the defendant’s appeal was denied. The court did, however, remand the case for purposes of resentencing. The court wrote it its opinion that it was “troubled” by the extremely long sentence that the defendant received, hoping the lower court would reconsider this 51-year sentence.

Are You in Need of a Phoenix Sex Crimes Attorney?

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in the state of Arizona, call us at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We fight tirelessly for criminal defendants to make sure they have access to the highest quality representation possible, because we know how daunting it can feel to fight to make sure your rights are well protected. For a free and confidential consultation with a Phoenix sex crimes attorney, reach out to us today by calling 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case, and we will get back in touch with you as soon as possible.


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