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In re Nathaniel H.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, Second Division, Department A

August 15, 2013

IN RE NATHANIEL H.

Not for Publication Rule 28, Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure

APPEAL FROM THE SUPERIOR COURT OF PIMA COUNTY Cause No. 13663103 Honorable Lisa Abrams, Judge Pro Tempore.

Barbara LaWall, Pima County Attorney By Barbara S. Gelband Tucson Attorneys for State.

David T. Hardy Tucson Attorney for Minor.

MEMORANDUM DECISION

JOSEPH W. HOWARD, CHIEF JUDGE.

¶ 1 Nathaniel H. was charged by delinquency petition with unlawful use of means of transportation, a class five felony, in violation of A.R.S. § 13-1803(A)(1). After a hearing, the juvenile court found he had committed the offense and adjudicated him delinquent. The court placed Nathaniel on probation until his eighteenth birthday, which is in September 2013. On appeal, Nathaniel contends the court erred when it denied his motion for a judgment of acquittal, pursuant to Rule 20, Ariz. R. Crim. P. We affirm for the reasons stated below.

¶ 2 Because this is a juvenile proceeding, Rule 29(D), Ariz. R. P. Juv. Ct. applies, not Rule 20, Ariz. R. Crim. P. Rule 29(D)(2) provides as follows: "On motion of the juvenile or the court's own motion, the [juvenile] court shall enter a judgment of acquittal . . . if there is no substantial evidence to support an adjudication." The language of the criminal and juvenile rules is essentially the same; therefore, we refer to authority in adult criminal prosecutions to determine the meaning of "substantial evidence." See Ariz. R. Crim. P. 20(a) ("On motion of a defendant or on its own initiative, the court shall enter a judgment of acquittal . . . if there is no substantial evidence to warrant a conviction."); In re Maricopa Cnty. Juv. Action No. JV-508488, 185 Ariz. 295, 299-300, 915 P.2d 1250, 1254-55 (App. 1996) (interpretations of criminal rules provide useful guidance in juvenile setting).

¶ 3 In reviewing a trial court's denial of a motion under either rule, we must determine de novo "'whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.'" State v. West, 226 Ariz. 559, ¶ 16, 250 P.3d 1188, 1191 (2011), quoting State v. Mathers, 165 Ariz. 64, 66, 796 P.2d 866, 868 (1990). "Substantial evidence" includes both direct and circumstantial evidence. Id. "'When reasonable minds may differ on inferences drawn from the facts, the case must be submitted to the jury, '" or the trier of fact, which is the juvenile court in a delinquency adjudication, "'and the trial judge has no discretion to enter a judgment of acquittal.'" Id. ¶ 18, quoting State v. Lee, 189 Ariz. 590, 603, 944 P.2d 1204, 1217 (1997) (alteration removed from West).

¶ 4 Thus, in determining whether the juvenile court properly denied Nathaniel's motion for a judgment of acquittal, made at the close of the state's case and renewed at the close of evidence, we view all of the evidence presented at the adjudication hearing in the light most favorable to sustaining the court's ruling and will resolve all reasonable inferences against him. In re Dayvid S., 199 Ariz. 169, ¶ 4, 15 P.3d 771, 772 (App. 2000); see also In re Maricopa Cnty Juv. Action No. JT 9065297, 181 Ariz. 69, 82, 887 P.2d 599, 612 (App. 1994); In re John M., 201 Ariz. 424, ¶ 7, 36 P.3d 772, 774 (App. 2001). Much like our review of the evidence to determine whether it was sufficient to support the finding that the juvenile committed the charged offense after submission of the case to the court, "we consider whether the evidence sufficed to permit a rational trier of fact to find the essential elements of [each] offense beyond a reasonable doubt." Dayvid S., 199 Ariz. 169, ¶ 4, 15 P.3d at 772. "[W]e will not re-weigh the evidence, and we will only reverse on the grounds of insufficient evidence if there is a complete absence of probative facts to support the judgment or if the judgment is contrary to any substantial evidence." John M., 201 Ariz. 424, ¶ 7, 36 P.3d at 774.

¶ 5 Section 13-1803(A)(1) provides that "[a] person commits unlawful use of means of transportation if, without intent permanently to deprive, the person . . . [k]nowingly takes unauthorized control over another person's means of transportation." "It is axiomatic that . . . knowledge may be inferred from the circumstances surrounding a person's behavior or action." State v. Martinez, 15 Ariz.App. 10, 12, 485 P.2d 600, 602 (1971). The evidence at the adjudication hearing established J.B. had purchased a 2008 Enduro motor bike about a year before it was stolen, paying $3, 500 for it. He usually parked it outside of his home in a gated community, with the keys in the ignition. Discovering it was missing one morning, J.B. called the Pima County Sheriff's department and reported the motor bike had been stolen. The Pima County Sheriffs department contacted J.B. a few days later after Sheriff's Deputy Scott McCleod found the motor bike in Nathaniel's possession; Nathaniel was on the side of the road at the intersection of Swan Road and Sunrise Drive.

¶ 6 The state presented evidence that Nathaniel had obtained the motor bike in exchange for $600 and an Xbox gaming system from a person who had responded to Nathaniel's advertisement on Craig's List stating he would sell the Xbox. The two met after negotiating a price over the telephone. Nathaniel admitted to McCleod he did not know who the registered owner of the motor bike was and, when the officer asked Nathaniel if the deal had seemed a bit "fishy, " Nathaniel responded it had but he had taken the motor bike in any event because it was a "once in a lifetime deal." Nathaniel knew how much the motor bike was worth. The seller gave Nathaniel a registration that did not have the seller's name on it, although Nathaniel apparently did not look at it until he was stopped by McCleod and asked about it.

¶ 7 After the state rested, Nathaniel moved for a judgment of acquittal, arguing the state had failed to present sufficient evidence that he had acted knowingly, that is, that he had actual knowledge the motor bike had been stolen and therefore the requisite intent to commit the offense. Relying on the definition of "knowingly, " see A.R.S 13- 105(10)(b), Nathaniel argued the state had failed to prove he had "actual knowledge" that the motor bike was stolen. At best, he contended, the state's evidence showed Nathaniel had agreed the transaction was "a bit fishy." In response, the prosecutor pointed out that Nathaniel had negotiated the priced down to $600 from $1, 000, adding,

He doesn't have a driver's license. He bought it on the side of the road from somebody he can't identify. He got no title, no receipt, and no license plate. It's clear that he knew that or had—it was more than a suspicion. He knew that he ...

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