Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

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In a recent appeals court opinion in an Arizona child sex crimes case, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his convictions and sentences for ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, class two felonies, and dangerous crimes against children. In the appeal, the defendant argued that his motions to suppress evidence were improperly denied by the trial court. The appeals court affirmed the trial court decision, finding that the files searched by law enforcement did not need to be limited to the certain files named by the defendant and that there was probable cause for the search of the defendant’s desktop computer. Subsequently, the appeals court ruled that the defendant did not show that the denial of his motion to suppress was not an abuse of discretion.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, in February of 2015, the Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce (ICAC) obtained some downloads of child pornography from an internet protocol (“IP”) address that used a peer-to-peer network program called Torrent. After further investigation, a detective of the ICAC learned that the IP address was assigned to a residence in Mesa, AZ. The detective then obtained a search warrant for the home in question.

A search of the home did not produce evidence of illegal activity, but when officers asked the homeowner whether anyone else had access to his home’s secured Wi-Fi connection, he explained that his cousin, the defendant, had stayed with him in February of 2015. The detective then orchestrated a call between the homeowner and the defendant. On the call, the defendant claimed that a virus on his computer had downloaded the illegal images and he had not deleted them as he should have.

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In a recent case coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant unsuccessfully appealed his convictions and sentences for child molestation. In his argument, the defendant focused on the expert testimony that the prosecution used during his trial, alleging that this testimony was overly broad and prejudicial towards the jury. In considering the appeal, the court declared that the expert testimony was appropriate given the circumstances of the case, thus denying the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was a family friend of the victim, who was born in 2003. The victim had known the defendant to be like an uncle to her, and between the years of 2013 and 2015, the victim saw the defendant regularly.

During those years, the defendant molested the victim several times. He forced the child to perform oral sex on him; he threatened the victim by saying that if she told anyone about the abuse, he would hurt her grandmother; and he forced himself on the victim by inappropriately touching her on multiple occasions. When the victim moved in with her father in 2015, the abuse stopped. A few years later, however, the victim texted the defendant saying that she was still negatively affected by the abuse she had undergone.

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In a recent child molestation case coming out of Arizona, the court vacated the defendant’s convictions and sentences, remanding the case for a new trial. Originally, the defendant had been found guilty of molesting a minor, and he made multiple arguments in his attempt to appeal the guilty conviction. While the court rejected the majority of the defendant’s arguments, it accepted his assertion that the trial court had unfairly admitted hearsay into the evidence for the jury to consider. Agreeing with the defendant on this point, the court vacated the guilty conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the child involved in this case lived with her mother and her stepfather when she was four years old. At that time, the child’s stepfather, the defendant, began touching the child sexually at least once a week. This behavior continued for many years, through the family’s move to Sierra Vista when the child turned eleven.

The defendant told the child not to tell anyone about the sexual activity. Eventually, the defendant and the child’s mother separated and moved away from each other. In November of that same year, the child’s gym teacher noticed that she was not acting like “her usual self.” When the gym teacher asked the child what was happening, the girl admitted that her stepfather had been molesting her. The gym teacher and the school counselor promptly reported these statements to the police.

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In a recent case coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict for failure to register as a sex offender was denied. Originally, the defendant had been charged, found guilty, and sentenced when he failed to register as a sex offender in the county where he resided. On appeal, the defendant argued that the prosecution should not have been able to state that he was convicted of child molestation instead of any other “sex offense” during trial – this information, said the defendant, unnecessarily biased the jury. The court ultimately disagreed with the defendant and affirmed his guilty verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was convicted of child molestation fourteen years ago and was ordered to register as a sex offender for life. In 2019, police officers contacted the defendant in Arizona and discovered he had not registered as a sex offender in his county. At that time, the defendant told officers that he did not think registering was necessary. One year later, officers arrested the defendant and charged him with failure to register as a sex offender.

The Decision

Before trial, the defendant’s lawyer asked the court to prevent the jury from learning that the specific crime for which the defendant was convicted was child molestation. According to defense counsel, it would be perfectly sufficient for the jury to learn that he had been convicted of a sex offense in general; telling jury members that he had molested a child was both unnecessary and highly prejudicial.

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In a recent opinion from an Arizona court involving sexual assault, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was denied. Originally, the defendant was found guilty of sexual conduct with a minor. He appealed, arguing the trial court unfairly used evidence of sexual abuse that occurred outside of the county where the court resided. Disagreeing with the defendant, the court affirmed the defendant’s guilty verdict.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the victim of sexual assault in this case was 13 years old when the defendant began molesting him. The defendant, a close family friend, would stay at the victim’s house and come into his room at night. On other occasions, the defendant brought the victim to an unoccupied house and engaged in sexual conduct with him there.

At trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of four counts of molestation of a child and one count of sexual conduct with a minor. He was sentenced to time in prison, and he immediately appealed his guilty verdict.

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In a recent sexual assault case in Arizona, the court denied the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict. The defendant was originally convicted of sexual conduct with a minor, attempted sexual conduct with a minor, and continuous sexual abuse of a child. On appeal, he made several arguments, one of which was that the court should not have been able to access incriminating statements he made during phone calls with both of the children. Disagreeing with this argument, the court denied the appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant in this case was a family friend of the victims and their parents. For a couple of years, the defendant would regularly stay overnight at the family’s home after the family moved to Arizona in 2004. During these visits, the defendant sexually assaulted the two teenage brothers that lived at the residence.

In 2018, one of the brothers called the defendant to confront him about the abuse while detectives listened in. At first, the defendant denied the allegations, but eventually, he made incriminating statements. A few weeks later, in front of detectives, the same brother made another call to the defendant, who once again admitted to the abuse. After this second incriminating call, detectives listened in to a third phone call, this time between the second brother and the defendant. Again, the defendant admitted to sexually abusing the brothers.

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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.

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The Supreme Court of the State of Arizona recently issued an opinion setting forth the procedure for determining whether an individual is a “sexually violent person” (SVP). The case arose after prosecutors charged the Arizona defendant with one count of sexual conduct with a minor. The defense moved for a competency examination, and the trial court found him not competent and not restorable (NCNR).

In response, the prosecutors requested an SVP screening, arguing that the procedure was warranted under § 13-4518(A). The defendant argued that the statute did not require a screen, and it is an abuse of discretion for a trial court to order one when the record does not support the order. At a hearing on the issue, the defendant argued that although the State met two elements of the statute, that alone did not require the trial court to grant the request. Nevertheless, the trial court ordered the screening.

Under Arizona’s SVP Act, a sexually violent person is one who has “been convicted or been found guilty but insane of a sexually violent offense” or was charged as such and was found guilty but insane and has a mental disorder that makes it more likely that they will engage in sexually violent acts.

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A significant type of evidence in Arizona sexual offense cases is the DNA recovered from rape kits. Rape kits are the physical evidence and notes from an assault victim’s examination. The physical evidence usually contains DNA such as hair, blood, bodily fluids, clothes and belongings of the victim, and physical evidence from the crime scene. In some cases, the rape kit findings are the primary evidence used against a defendant. However, rape kit findings do not necessarily equate with forced or unlawful sexual conduct. Arizona courts will evaluate the probative value of DNA findings and if the evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.

For example, recently, the Supreme Court of the State of Arizona issued an opinion stemming from a sexual assault case. In that case, an Uber driver picked up a passenger who sat in the front passenger seat. The driver claimed that the passenger forcibly tore her clothes off and assaulted her. The driver went on to report the crime and received a rape kit. The passenger later texted the driver apologizing for his “out of line” behavior; however, he later denied any non-consensual behavior.

During the trial, a DNA analyst matched the defendant’s DNA evidence with the contents of the rape kit performed on the victim. However, the defendant argued that there were only two markers that connected him to the victim. As such, he filed a motion in limine to exclude a portion of the DNA evidence. The trial court convicted him, and the appeals court reversed the conviction holding that the evidence was improperly admitted.

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The Supreme Court of Arizona recently issued an opinion in a defendant’s appeal of his conviction based on an illegal search and seizure. The case focused on whether law enforcement must obtain a search warrant in cases involving Arizona criminal defendant’s Internet Protocol (IP) addresses or subscriber information the user provides to an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

In this case, an undercover detective joined an internet forum seeking users interested in child pornography. A user responded and requested to be added to the group. After the detective added him, the defendant sent illicit photos and videos depicting child pornography. Federal agents served a subpoena to obtain the user’s IP address. After obtaining the IP address and ISP, the detective retrieved the name, addresses, and phone number of the defendant. Law enforcement executed a search warrant and confiscated the defendant’s external hard drive, laptop, desktop computer, and cell phone. An in-depth search of these items revealed child pornography and messages the defendant sent to the law enforcement officer.

After he was indicted, the defendant moved to suppress the subscriber information and all evidence seized from his residence. He argued that it was an illegal search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution (US Constitution) and article 2, section 8 of the Arizona Constitution (AZ Constitution). He argued that the US Constitution and AZ Constitution require a warrant or court order to obtain his IP and ISP information. The trial court denied his motion, and a jury convicted the defendant on all counts. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction.

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