Arizona Court Denies Defendant’s Appeal in DUI Case After He Fails to Appear in Court

In a recent Arizona DUI case, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty verdict was denied. The defendant appealed in part because he was not present at his trial, and he asked the court to reverse the verdict given his absence. The higher court denied the appeal, finding it was the defendant’s own decision to skip the trial, and that his voluntary decision made him subject to the consequences of the jury’s decision.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two cars approached the entry gate of a Target warehouse one evening in March 2018. Coincidentally arriving at the same time, the driver of the second car watched as the driver of the first car rammed his vehicle into the closed gate and squeezed into the parking lot. The gate came off its tracks and the driver of the second car immediately called 911.

When police officers arrived, they found the first car zooming around in the parking lot, and they suspected the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officers stopped the car and found the defendant in this case at the wheel and his one-year-old daughter in the back of the car. At this point, the officers noticed that the defendant’s eyes were bloodshot; he smelled of alcohol, and his words were jumbled and slurred.

Officers brought the defendant to the police station; during the car ride, the defendant said to the officers that the Mexican Mafia was chasing him, which was why he was driving irresponsibly. At the station, the officers drew the defendant’s blood and found that his blood alcohol content was .106 and that his blood tested positive for unmetabolized THC as well as methamphetamine.

The Decision

The defendant was charged with three counts of driving under the influence. The defendant expressed his intention to accept a plea bargain with the State but asked if he could have a few days in order to put his affairs in order before admitting himself to prison. The court agreed to this request, but the defendant never showed up as he had promised to do.

A few months later, the defendant’s hearing went on without him present. The jury found him guilty on all three counts and the court found that he had three prior felony convictions. The defendant turned himself in about two years later, at which point he was sentenced to time in prison. The defendant then appealed this conviction and sentencing.

The court denied the defendant’s appeal, finding that even though he was not present at trial, it was his own decision to be absent, and thus that he would pay the price for choosing not to attend. The defendant’s attorney was present on his behalf at trial, which accounted for the fact that the defendant himself was not in attendance. For this reason, the verdict was affirmed, and the defendant was ordered to again present himself for his prison sentence.

Have You Been Charged with a DUI in Arizona?

If you are facing DUI charges in Arizona, you need the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can make sure your rights are protected. At The Law Office of James E. Novak, we offer the highest quality representation at every stage of your case, creating and implementing individualized defense strategies that work for you. For a free and confidential consultation, call us at 480-413-1499 or send us an online message to have your questions answered.

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