The Arizona Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in a defendant’s appeal of his conviction and sentence for two cases, one of which involved an Arizona weapons offense. That case arose when police officers stopped the defendant when they noticed him riding his bicycle against traffic on a two-lane road. During the stop, police noticed a combat-style knife on his hip. When asked, the defendant admitted he was a felon, and the detectives arrested him. The court consolidated both of the defendant’s cases, and the defendant appealed, arguing that the court erred by denying his motion to suppress.
The defendant argues that police abused their discretion and improperly stopped him. He further contends that he was not violating a statute because he was not riding his bike on the roadway. Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement cannot engage in unreasonable searches and seizures. Moreover, the exclusionary rule prohibits the state from introducing evidence seized in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. Generally, investigative stops are permitted if the stop is substantiated by “reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.”
In this case, the officers testified that they drove by the defendant when they noticed him riding on the gravel, talking on a cell phone, and steering the bike with one hand. They stopped him after they noticed oncoming traffic swerving to avoid the defendant. The court found that the detectives possessed the requisite reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant. The court reasoned that the police believed that the defendant was obstructing the highway and creating a public hazard.
In response, the defendant asserted that the trial court did not mention the basis for its denial of his motion and that it is reasonable to assume that the court found that he was not in violation of the statute. However, the appeals court declined to speculate on the trial court’s ruling. Under case law, appellate courts may affirm a trial court’s ruling if the outcome was legally correct for any reason. Ultimately, the appeals court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.
This case highlights the importance of retaining an experienced Arizona criminal attorney for appeals. For example, it may have been helpful for the defendant’s trial attorney to ask the court specifically why it denied his motion to suppress. With this information, the appellate court would not have been forced to speculate as to the trial court’s reasoning, which is almost always resolved in favor of the lower court’s decision.
Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona Crime?
If you have been arrested or charged with an Arizona crime, or need assistance with an appeal, contact the Law Office of James E. Novak. Attorney Novak founded his firm on the belief that his client’s needs and defense are paramount. James Novak handles Arizona weapons charges, drug charges, white-collar crimes, assault and violent crimes, domestic violence, sexual offenses, disorderly conduct, misdemeanor offenses, felony offenses, and warrant issues. Attorney Novak approaches each case with the understanding that every client and situation deserves personalized attention. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak at 480-413-1499 to discuss your rights and remedies if you face Arizona criminal charges.