from the Superior Court in Yuma County No. S1400CR201400967
The Honorable Maria Elena Cruz, Judge
Arizona Attorney General's Office, Phoenix By Joseph T.
Maziarz Counsel for Appellee
County Public Defender's Office, Yuma By Edward F. McGee
Counsel for Appellant
Presiding Judge Margaret H. Downie delivered the opinion of
the Court, in which Judge Kent E. Cattani and Judge Donn
Monica Lara appeals her shoplifting conviction. We hold that
in this felony prosecution brought pursuant to Arizona
Revised Statutes ("A.R.S.") section 13-1805(I),
Lara's prior shoplifting convictions are elements of the
charged offense, not sentencing enhancements. As a result,
the superior court properly declined to bifurcate the trial,
and we affirm the ensuing conviction and sentence.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Lara was charged with one count of shoplifting with two or
more prior convictions - a class 4 felony in violation of
A.R.S. § 13-1805(A), (I). Specifically, the State
alleged that Lara stole merchandise from a Walmart store and
that she had been convicted of shoplifting twice previously
within the past five years.
Lara moved to bifurcate the trial so that jurors would learn
of her prior convictions only if they first found her guilty
of "misdemeanor shoplifting." The superior court
denied the motion, concluding Lara's prior convictions
were elements of the charged offense.
At trial, witnesses testified that Lara shoplifted the items
in question and that she admitted doing so when confronted
with the stolen merchandise. The State introduced certified
copies of Lara's 2009 and 2012 shoplifting convictions.
The jury found her guilty as charged.
Lara timely appealed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S.
§§ 12-120.21(A)(1) and 13-4031.
Lara contends her prior shoplifting convictions are
sentencing enhancements, not elements of the charged offense.
As such, she argues, the court should have ordered
bifurcation because she was entitled to have the jury first
determine whether she was guilty of shoplifting before the
State introduced evidence of her prior convictions.
Whether a prior conviction is an element of an offense is an
issue of statutory interpretation that we review de novo.
See Robbins v. Darrow,214 Ariz. 91, 93, ¶ 12 (App.
2006). An element is any constituent part of an offense that
the prosecution must ...