In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant asked for his guilty conviction to be reversed because of an error committed by the trial court. Originally, the defendant was charged with and convicted of armed robbery. After his trial, the defendant asked for a reversal because, he argued, the lower court had failed to sufficiently inform him of his rights at several of his hearings. Ultimately, the court of appeals determined that while the lower court had failed to properly advise the defendant of certain rights, this fact did not warrant a reversal. The court kept the original conviction in place.
Facts of the Case
The defendant was arrested in connection with a series of incidents in which a man wearing a clown mask approached individuals, pointed a gun at them, and robbed them. After several months of this particular kind of armed robbery popping up throughout the area, investigators were able to link the defendant in this case to the crime. He was criminally charged, and his case headed for trial.
Before trial, the defendant went to court for several suppression hearings or hearings in which he tried to get certain incriminating evidence suppressed before the trial began. At these hearings, the defendant opted to represent himself, even though he was offered an attorney. He brought in several witnesses for each of the hearings, and his motions to suppress were denied at each hearing.
The defendant’s case went to trial, and he was found guilty as charged.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court was legally supposed to advise him during the suppression hearings that he had a constitutional right to testify on his own behalf if he wanted to exercise that right. Because the court is procedurally required to state this right to unrepresented defendants, he was deprived of a fair process, and his guilty verdict should be reversed.
The court of appeals agreed that the lower court should have explicitly stated to the defendant that he had the right to testify. However, the court of appeals noted that when the trial court did ultimately tell the defendant this information in the third hearing, he declined to testify even then. Thus, said the court, there was no reason to think he would have taken advantage of the right in the earlier hearings. Additionally, the defendant brought up a multitude of witnesses in each hearing, and he was able to sufficiently communicate his side of the story using these witnesses.
Given these conclusions, the court of appeals kept the guilty verdict in place.
Are You Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Arizona?
Unfortunately, there are so many procedural parts of a criminal case that it is easy to win or lose on these seemingly minor grounds. With a qualified, knowledgeable attorney, however, you can stay informed of your rights and ensure that you know everything you need to know about the Arizona criminal justice system. For the most qualified and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney around, call the Law Office of James E. Novak. We have a long history of getting our clients the results they need because we understand that sometimes, a guilty verdict just isn’t an option. For a free and confidential consultation, call today at 480-413-1499.