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.
The 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.
As the police were investigating the vehicle, the defendant approached. Police stopped her, confirmed her identity, and then arrested her. In her purse was some cash, as well as the complaining witness’ identification. She was then arrested and charged with the robbery.
In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant claimed that she was stopped without probable cause, and that any evidence taken from her should be suppressed. The court disagreed, noting that under A.R.S. section 13-301 an accomplice is someone who “aids, counsels, agrees to aid or attempts to aid another person in planning or committing an offense” or someone who “provides means or opportunity to another person to commit the offense.”
Here, the court noted that the evidence showed that the defendant was not only the registered owner of the vehicle, but also that she was seen moving the vehicle less than 45 minutes after the robbery. The court also noted that it was certain that someone other than the person who committed the robbery was driving the car, because the video showed that person get into the passenger side of the vehicle as it was driving away. Thus, at the point when police determined that the defendant was the person who both owned the car and moved it, they had probable cause to stop her and conduct an investigation.
Have You Been Arrested After a Questionable Police Stop?
If you have recently been arrested and charged with an Arizona crime, Attorney James E. Novak can help. Attorney Novak has decades of experience handling all types of Arizona criminal defense cases, including robbery cases. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Novak understands how the other side thinks, and aggressively puts this knowledge to use for his clients. To learn more, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today.
Other Articles of Interest from The Law Office of James Novak’s Award Winning Blog:
Warrant Based on Informant’s Tip Upheld by Arizona Court, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, June 13, 2018
Plea Bargains in Arizona Criminal Cases, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, June 26, 2018
Recent Supreme Court Case Protects Privacy of Cell Phone Location Data, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Blog, July 5, 2018