Articles Posted in Theft

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona criminal case requiring the court to determine if police had probable cause to arrest the defendant without a warrant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the information police had at the time they decided to arrest the defendant gave them probable cause to believe that she had acted as an accomplice in the robbery.

Legal News GavelThe Facts of the Case

The complaining witness was approached by someone in a convenience store parking lot who took her purse. Video of the parking lot showed that person get into the passenger door of a green “Jeep-like” vehicle with a white bumper sticker in the top-right corner of the rear window. After taking the robbery report, a police officer put out a description of the vehicle over police radio.

About 30 minutes later, the officer received a report of a suspicious vehicle that other officers believed to be the one involved in the robbery. The investigating officer drove to where the vehicle was parked and confirmed that it was the same vehicle as seen in the video. In the bushes not far from the vehicle was the complaining witness’ purse. A witness told police that a woman had recently moved the car to its current location from a driveway a few doors down. Police ran the license plate, and it was registered to the defendant’s name.

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Legal News GavelAn unpublished Arizona appellate decision considered an identity theft, theft, and fraudulent schemes case. The charges arose after a high-end mountain bike was stolen from a home in 2010 and then sold on Craigslist. At trial, the defense attorney stated that the mountain bike the defendant sold wasn’t the bike stolen from the home, as made plain by the difference in serial numbers.

The defense attorney cross-examined the buyer of the bike. The buyer’s wife gave the police officer a piece of paper on which she’d put two numbers that the victim of the theft said were on his bike. One of these numbers matched the bike the buyer bought. The buyer’s wife had kept the paper for three years without turning it over to the police until a few weeks before trial. The first the defense counsel and prosecutor heard of it was during the cross-examination.

The court asked the parties if they wanted a mistrial due to the surprise. The defense attorney initially said that one way to deal with what happened was a mistrial, but he was clear that he would rather go to trial with the same jury. The prosecutor suggested empaneling a new jury or precluding any more evidence about the scrap of paper. The defense attorney also stated that he wouldn’t move to strike the surprise testimony because he didn’t want to call attention to it, and if a mistrial were deemed necessary, he would ask for a dismissal with prejudice.

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