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Sex crimes defendant was substantially prejudiced by long trial delay

Under Arizona law, even after a defendant has served his time, he may still be held in custody, if adjudged to be a "sexually violent person" under the applicable law.
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    February 12, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Sex crimes defendant was substantially prejudiced by long trial delay

Article provided by Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law
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A person convicted of a sex crime faces many issues, from long-term incarceration to the requirements of registering as a sex offender in the future. However, under Arizona law, even after a defendant has served his time, he may still be held in custody, if adjudged to be a "sexually violent person" under the applicable law.

All citizens deserve to have their rights observed, and if those rights are trampled, the release of an individual may result, as demonstrated in the recent Arizona Court of Appeals case of Fuller v. Olson ex rel. County of Pinal.

A defendant held for a hearing . . . indefinitely?

The defendant, who had previously been convicted of a sex crime and served his time, was alleged to be a sexually violent person under the applicable state law. The Pinal County Superior Court found probable cause to believe the defendant should be held and ordered his detention. The defendant was transferred from the Arizona Department of Corrections to the Arizona State Hospital, pending a trial.

For more than a year, the defendant's case was in limbo while he remained in detention. No court dates were scheduled and no steps were taken to further prosecute the petition. In addition, the defendant did not receive any treatment for his alleged propensity toward sexual violence.

As a result, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the petition against him, based on the delays in holding a trial regarding the allegation.

Did the delay cause substantial prejudice?

The Arizona Court of Appeals noted that the applicable Arizona law specified that a trial should be held within 120 days after a petition is filed.

Here, the trial date was neither adjourned nor postponed--the trial date was never set at all. In fact, the trial court considered the matter for the first time approximately 10 months after the expiration of the statutory deadline. Therefore, the statute was violated.

In addition, commitments under this law were specifically aimed at providing services to improve the condition causing confinement, and here the defendant received no treatment while he was held indefinitely. Had the defendant been found to be sexually violent after a timely trial, he would have soon been entitled to an annual examination to assess whether he had improved, and potentially might have been eligible for conditional release.

Because of the substantial prejudice caused by the delay, the statutory violation required the defendant's release and the dismissal of the petition against him.

Far-ranging consequences

As the case above demonstrates, the repercussions of a sex crimes conviction can continue even after your time has been served. Considering the far-ranging consequences, if you are accused of such a crime, you should do everything in your power to fight the charge. Seek strong criminal defense representation from an attorney who will fight for your rights and reputation.

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