Arizona Defendant Argues Body Camera Footage Inadmissible at Trial, but Court of Appeals Disagrees

In a recent case before a court of appeals in Arizona, the defendant took issue with evidence that the lower court admitted during his trial. Originally, the defendant was charged with aggravated domestic violence. His case went to trial, a jury found him guilty, and the defendant appealed, arguing that one of the police officer’s body camera videos should not have been part of the trial. After reviewing the defendant’s argument, the higher court ultimately disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged after a pedestrian saw him and his partner arguing on the sidewalk. Apparently, the defendant had pulled his partner’s hair, hit her on the head, and snatched her phone from her hand to throw it on the ground. Once police officers arrived to investigate, the defendant’s partner was at their son’s school, where she had been heading when the altercation ensued. She was in the front office, visibly upset.

The State charged the defendant with aggravated domestic violence. During trial, the State introduced evidence of the police officer’s body camera, which showed the defendant’s partner’s demeanor and distress when she was in the school’s front office. The jury found the defendant guilty, and he promptly appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant argued that the officer’s body camera footage should have been excluded from evidence during the trial. According to the defendant, thirty minutes passed between the altercation and the officer’s arrival at the school office. Therefore, said the defendant, the body camera footage was not reliable, since too much time had passed since the alleged domestic violence. The video was not necessarily an accurate representation of how the partner had responded to the incident, and it should have been excluded during trial.

The higher court considered this argument but ultimately disagreed with the defendant. There was no case law or statute, said the higher court, that said that a thirty-minute delay in obtaining evidence weighs against admitting that evidence during trial. Instead, said the court, it was helpful for the jury to see the partner’s emotional state after the altercation, and there was no reason for the trial court to have kept the jury from considering this evidence when it was deciding the defendant’s guilt.

The higher court affirmed the lower court’s ruling, deciding his conviction would stay in place.

Have You or a Loved One Been Criminally Charged in the State of Arizona?

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we are dedicated to defending the freedom of Arizona defendants facing criminal charges, including domestic violence offenses. If you are looking for a defense attorney that both knows the law and has your best interests in mind, contact our office today. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case and have an attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible.

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