In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant asked the court to reconsider his convictions and sentences for sexual conduct with a minor. Originally, the defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 51 years in prison after he molested three children; however, the defendant was between the ages of 10 and 12 when he committed the crime. On appeal, then, the court found that the defendant was too young to have been prosecuted as an adult, and it ultimately vacated the convictions.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was a child when his mother took him every week to the house of the children she babysat. Over the course of several years, the defendant engaged in sexual acts with the three kids in the household without the kids’ consent.
Approximately ten years later, the kids told their mother about the incidents. At that point, the defendant was 23 years old, and the State charged him with sexual conduct with a minor and child molestation. The case went to trial, and the jury found the defendant guilty as charged. He was then sentenced to 51 years in prison.
On appeal, the defendant’s argument centered around the fact that he was a child himself when he committed the sexual abuse. According to the defendant, he was not old enough to be prosecuted as an adult when he committed the crimes, but the court treated him as an adult when he went through trial. Despite the fact that he was 23 when he was charged, the crimes had been committed over ten years before, and he was too young to fully be able to understand what he was doing at the time.
The State disagreed, and it argued that because it prosecuted the defendant when he was an adult, the court should treat him as an adult for the purposes of trial and sentencing. The court, however, saw things differently. If the defendant were to rehabilitate or become sorry for his prior actions, the time for that would have already passed. There would be nothing gained by putting him in prison now, 15 years after the criminal acts had occurred.
In addition, the defendant was not even a teenager when he sexually abused the kids. His brain had yet to fully form, and he did not yet have the capacity to fully reason, weigh risks, and make smart decisions. Thus, not only was it unreasonable for the defendant to be convicted and sentenced, but it was also unconstitutional for him to receive 51 years in prison. The severity of the crime did not justify the sentence. Therefore, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction and ordered that he be released from prison.
Are You Looking for a Win in Your Arizona Criminal Defense Case?
At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we recognize that sex offenses and other violent crimes are incredibly serious charges, and we are committed to protecting your rights and getting you the best possible outcome in your case. With so much on the line in the face of criminal charges, the best thing you can do for yourself is contact a qualified, hardworking Arizona defense attorney today. For a free and confidential consultation with our firm, give us a call at (480) 413-1499.