The Preservation of Appellate Rights in Arizona DUI Cases

Normally, after someone is found guilty of an Arizona DUI charge by a judge or jury, they are able to appeal the case to a higher court, arguing that their conviction should be reversed or a new trial granted based upon some legal error committed at the court below. There are many types of errors that can result in a successful appeal, including an improperly denied motion or a wrongly decided objection.

Of course, beating a case outright is always the goal when taking a case to trial. However, the ultimate decision is up to the judge or jury. When a finder of fact rules against a defendant, it is important that they have all available options to appeal any adverse decision that was made in their case. Thus, preserving all potential issues for appeal is an important consideration for any Arizona DUI attorney.

As noted above, when a case is taken to trial in front of a judge or jury, and the defendant is found guilty, they will have an automatic right to an appeal to the Arizona Court of Appeals. However, there are a few circumstances in which a defendant will be considered to have waived their right to appeal.

Entering a Guilty Plea Waives a Defendant’s Right to Appeal

When a defendant pleads guilty to an Arizona DUI charge, or any other Arizona criminal charge for that matter, they give up their right to file an appeal. Under A.R.S. section 17.1 defendant who pleads guilty “waives the right to have the appellate courts review the proceedings on a direct appeal.” In addition, the rule also includes those who enter no contest or “nolo contendre” pleas. A recent Arizona appellate decision affirmed this rule when it dismissed a plaintiff’s appeal without reaching the merits based on the fact that he had plead guilty.

Arguably, if a defendant decides to plead guilty, they have gone over the potential issues in their case and made that decision after consulting with their attorney. Perhaps because the prosecution offered a favorable plea agreement. However, what strikes some defendants by surprise is the fact that even after a defendant litigates a motion to suppress and then pleads guilty, the right to appeal is still waived.

For example, in some Arizona DUI cases the motion to suppress is dispositive, meaning that if the defendant wins the motion the case is dismissed, but if he loses there is little left to fight at trial. In these cases, it is important defendants realize that by entering a plea of guilty, they will not likely be able to ask a higher court to review the lower court’s decision to deny their motion.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested for an Arizona DUI, contact Attorney James E. Novak. Attorney Novak has decades of experience fighting for the rights of those who have been charged with driving under the influence in Arizona and has a deep knowledge of both the substantive and procedural laws that govern these cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with Attorney Novak, call 480-413-1499 today.

Additional Resources:

Other Articles of Interest from The Law Office of James Novak’s Phoenix DUI Blog:

Arizona Appellate Court Upholds DUI Conviction Over Defendant’s Operation Challenge, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, July 19, 2018

Nearly 300 DUI Arrests Were Made in Arizona over 4th of July Weekend, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, July 9, 2018

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