Arizona Court Rules that Defendant’s Driving Plausibly Constituted “Felony Endangerment” Even Without Collision

In a recent case before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division One, the defendant asked for a reconsideration of her convictions and sentences for felony endangerment. According to the defendant, the evidence presented at trial did not sufficiently prove that she endangered the two victims in the case, and her verdict should be overturned. The higher court reviewed the trial court’s record, analyzed the case, and eventually affirmed the original ruling.

Felony Endangerment

According to the relevant Arizona statute, felony endangerment involves “recklessly endangering another person with a substantial risk of imminent death.” In order to prove felony endangerment, the prosecution must provide sufficient evidence of every one of these elements – i.e., the defendant must have been reckless, she must have endangered another person, and the person must have faced a substantial risk of imminent death. Without addressing even one of these elements, the prosecution cannot meet its burden of proving felony endangerment.

The Defendant’s Case

Here, the facts of the defendant’s case were the following: the defendant was driving at night with a blood alcohol content of between .073 and .09, well above the legal limit. She drove closely behind another vehicle, repeatedly veering into the vehicle’s lane. At some point, the driver and passenger of the second car stopped and got out of the car to approach the defendant. The defendant hit the driver’s car with her hand, then got back into her vehicle and continued following the car and veering in and out of its lane.

A state trooper stopped the defendant merely minutes later. She was charged and later found guilty of driving while under the influence as well as felony endangerment.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the prosecution had not sufficiently proven each element of its case and asked the higher to review the trial court’s record. Because there was no collision or near-collision, said the defendant, it was unreasonable to believe there had been felony endangerment at all.

The higher court disagreed, determining that the defendant’s veering and sudden stopping did, indeed, put the two victims at risk of imminent death. Therefore, said the court, it was reasonable for the jury to find the defendant guilty, and the prosecution met its burden of proving that felony endangerment did take place. With that, the court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, and the defendant’s conviction and sentence stayed in place.

Do You Need a Phoenix Vehicular Crimes Attorney in Your Corner?

Unfortunately, the legal landscape for vehicular crimes in Arizona can be tough to navigate. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we leverage our years of experience to get our clients the results they need when their freedom is on the line. If you or a loved one needs a Phoenix vehicular crimes to help you ensure your rights are well protected, look no further.
For a free and confidential consultation with an expert Phoenix vehicular crimes attorney, give us a call today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case and have a member of our team get back in touch with you as soon as possible.


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