Special Action Proceeding. Pima County Cause No.
Brault, Pima County Legal Defender, By Kristine Alger,
Assistant Legal Defender, Tucson, Counsel for Petitioner.
LaWall, Pima County Attorney, By Nicolette Kneup, Deputy
County Attorney, Tucson, Counsel for Real Party in Interest.
Judge Vá squez authored the opinion of the Court, in
which Judge Miller and Judge Staring concurred.
SQUEZ, Presiding Judge:
In this special action, fifteen-year-old Emily McGuire
contends the respondent judge erred by denying her motion to
dismiss the underlying armed robbery prosecution and to
transfer the matter to the juvenile court. She contends that,
because a simulated weapon was used during the alleged
robbery, it is not a violent offense and she is not,
therefore, subject to mandatory prosecution as an adult
pursuant to article IV, pt. 2, § 22 of the Arizona
Constitution and A.R.S. § 13-501(A). Although we accept
jurisdiction of this special action, we deny relief because
the respondent did not abuse his discretion in concluding the
plain language of § 13-501 and A.R.S. § 13-1904,
the armed robbery statute, require that McGuire be prosecuted
as an adult.
and Procedural Background
The following facts are either undisputed or are established
by the record before us, including the grand jury testimony
of a sheriff's detective. A male with a hood over his
head and his face covered approached the victim, who was in
her car in the parking lot of a Tucson restaurant, pointed a
gun at her, and demanded that she give him her purse. The
victim complied, and the perpetrator ran from the scene with
another person, whose head and face were also covered. Pima
County Sheriff's Deputies apprehended fourteen-year-old
J.M. He initially stated his sister, McGuire, was the robber
and he had been the lookout, but he later admitted he had
approached the victim with a toy gun and demanded her purse.
Sheriff's deputies then found McGuire, who told them that
she had been the lookout and that J.M. had robbed the victim.
J.M. also told deputies they had left the purse in the yard
of a house. Deputies found the purse and the toy gun the next
day in a yard near the area where they had found J.M. and
A sheriff's deputy initially took J.M. and McGuire to the
Pima County Juvenile Detention Center. Because of
McGuire's age and the type of offense involved, however,
the deputy then transported her to the Pima County Adult
Detention Center. About two weeks later, in early 2016,
McGuire was charged by indictment with armed robbery and
aggravated robbery. She filed a Motion to Dismiss, or in the
Alternative, to Transfer to Juvenile Court, arguing she was
not subject to mandatory prosecution as an adult. She
maintained that because the " plain language" of
§ 13-501 " reveals two reasonably plausible
interpretations, it is ambiguous." She contended that
based on all subsections of the statute, read together, as
well as the intent behind article IV, pt. 2, § 22 of the
Arizona Constitution, a juvenile who commits armed robbery
with a simulated weapon, a toy gun in this case, has not
committed a violent offense and is not subject to mandatory
prosecution as an adult.
The respondent judge disagreed with McGuire. Based on the
language of § 13-501 and the armed robbery statute,
§ 13-1904, he concluded McGuire must be prosecuted as an
adult and denied her motion. This special action followed.
The order McGuire challenges is interlocutory in nature and
may not be appealed directly. See State v.
Lee, 236 Ariz. 377, ¶ 9, 340 P.3d 1085, 1088-89
(App. 2014). In addition, the issues raised involve pure
questions of law regarding the interpretation and application
of statutes and an amendment to our constitution.
Id. And, the question of whether a juvenile who is
fifteen years of age or older and has been charged with armed
robbery involving the use of a simulated weapon must be
charged as an adult is a question of first impression and
statewide importance. State v. Bernini, 230 Ariz.
223, ¶ 5, 282 P.3d 424, 426 (App. 2012). For these
reasons, in the exercise of our discretion, we accept
jurisdiction of this special action.
We may grant special-action relief only when a respondent
judge has, inter alia, abused his discretion. See
Ariz. R. P. Spec. Actions 3(c). An abuse of discretion
includes an error in interpreting or applying the law.
Sierra Tucson, Inc. v. Lee, 230 Ariz. 255, ¶
22, 282 P.3d 1275, 1281 (App. 2012). The interpretation and
application of statutes and the constitution are questions of
law, which we review de novo. SeeLee, 236
Ariz. 377, ¶ 9, 340 P.3d at 1089 (statutes); Univ.