In a recent assault case coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant appealed his guilty verdict. At trial, the prosecutor referenced eight prior convictions on the defendant’s record, and the defendant argued that this reference unnecessarily biased the jury deciding his case. The court looked to Arizona law and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, deciding it was acceptable for the prosecutor to mention the prior convictions during trial. Given this disagreement, the court maintained the defendant’s original guilty verdict.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant and his girlfriend got into an altercation one evening in January 2019. At the time, the couple lived together at the girlfriend’s mother’s home with their child. After the altercation, the defendant left the home and consumed alcohol, returning to find his girlfriend and one of her friends in the house.
The couple again started to fight, this time physically. The defendant hit his girlfriend several times, bloodied her nose, and “choke slammed” her onto the bed. When the girlfriend’s friend attempted to intervene, the defendant pushed her out of the way and continued hitting his girlfriend. Police arrived at the scene, but by that point, the defendant had left the home.
A nurse examiner looked at the defendant’s girlfriend and concluded that she had suffered scrapes, torn skin, and broken blood vessels as a result of the fight. The State charged the defendant with multiple crimes, including aggravated assault and disorderly conduct.
The defendant was found guilty at trial and he quickly appealed the verdict. On appeal, he argued that the jury was unfairly biased when they made a decision on his case. The prosecutor referenced the defendant’s eight prior felony convictions during trial, which could have led the jury to believe that he was more inclined to commit the assault against his girlfriend. This reference was highly prejudicial, said the defendant, and the court should not have allowed the prosecutor to make the statement.
The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed with him. The court wrote in its opinion that the defendant did not provide any legal support for the fact that there is a limit on the number of prior convictions a trial court may allow to be referenced. What’s more, it was important for the jury to have all of the information, and the prosecutor’s reference to the previous convictions was more helpful for the jury than it was harmful to the defendant. Given these factors, the defendant’s argument was shut down. The court thus affirmed his guilty verdict and his sentence.
Have You Been Charged with Assault in the State of Arizona?
If you or a loved one has been charged with assault in Arizona, contact our team at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We are expert criminal defense attorneys who are committed to putting your needs front and center. For your free and confidential consultation, call us at 480-413-1499. You can also send us a message online to have your questions answered.