In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant asked for a reversal of his guilty conviction of stalking. The defendant had been charged and convicted after a period of nine days during which he repeatedly showed up at the victim’s house and vandalized his property. When the defendant appealed, he argued that the victim was actually acting as an officer of the state when the defendant got arrested, and the lower court was wrong not to recognize this fact during the defendant’s trial. Looking at his appeal, the higher court disagreed and ended up affirming the original conviction.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant drove by the victim’s house several times over the course of nine days, each time slowing down to monitor what was happening on the property. The defendant also dumped trash in the yard and slashed the victim’s tires.
Tired of the stalking behavior, the victim decided to confront the defendant during a drive-by. The victim was a justice of the peace in a local Arizona county and therefore had a gun at his disposal, and when the defendant got out of his car and started moving towards the victim, the victim fired a shot to the ground as a warning. Within a few minutes, police officers were on the scene, and they arrested the defendant.
A jury found the defendant guilty of one count of stalking, and the court sentenced him to 1.5 years in prison. He appealed.
On appeal, the defendant focused on the fact that the victim was a justice of the peace and that he was, therefore, an actor of the state. According to the defendant, this individual was acting in his governmental capacity during the pair’s altercation, and there were different considerations for the court to consider while deciding whether the arrest was legal and fair to the defendant.
Ultimately, while the court recognized that the victim did have a role as a justice of the peace, it decided the individual was not acting in his official capacity during the altercation at issue. The victim was responding to the stalking that was targeted at him as a citizen, and therefore the lower court was correct to treat the altercation as an incident between two individuals instead of as between one individual and one state actor.
The defendant’s appeal was therefore denied, and his original sentence remained in place.
Are You Looking for a Defense Attorney in the State of Arizona?
If you or a loved one has been charged with an Arizona stalking or harassment offense, call us at the Law Office of James E. Novak. We know the ins and outs of the criminal legal landscape in the state, and we offer you high-quality representation that cannot be matched. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 480-413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to give us some of the details on your case.