Under Arizona and federal criminal law, every citizen is guaranteed the right to a fair trial and fair legal defense in the event of a criminal arrest, no matter the reason. Despite what can feel like unfair treatment from the press or the public, this remains the case. Unfortunately, there can be some times when this does not happen and, if a defendant is lucky, that error is eventually discovered.
This is the case for one Arizona woman who has been in prison for more than 20 years for the murder of her then four-year old son. An appeals court recently deemed her criminal conviction to have been unfairly obtained due to the actions of the police officer at the time of her arrest. As a result, the woman has been released from prison on a $250,000 bond while a retrial is being prepared.
The officer was found to have not followed policy in three key areas concerning the interview in which the defendant allegedly confessed to the murder. He did not record the interview, did not ensure a witness was present and destroyed his notes. Those actions essentially left the jury in a position of choosing between what the defendant said and what the police officer said with no other evidence. It is unclear at this point whether or not the officer will testify during the new trial and what impact that will have on the outcome.
Such stories highlight the need for diligence in ensuring those facing penalties receive the criminal defense they are entitled to. Anyone facing a criminal charge may wish to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to learn how they can protect their rights.
Source: AZFamily.com, “Cop’s credibility key to murder suspect’s retrial,” Brian Skoloff and Adam Geller, September 22, 2013