for Special Action from the Superior Court in Maricopa County
No. CR 1992-003917 The Honorable Pamela S. Gates, Judge
Maricopa County Legal Advocate's Office, Phoenix By
Frances J. Gray Counsel for Petitioner.
Maricopa County Attorney's Office, Phoenix By Christine
A. Davis, David R. Cole Counsel for Real Party in Interest.
Patricia A. Orozco delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Judge Kenton D. Jones joined and to which Presiding
Judge Diane M. Johnsen dissented.
Dale Allen Wright seeks special action relief from a trial
court order finding that his convictions were properly
classified as dangerous crimes against children (DCAC) and
that a conviction for solicitation to commit molestation of a
child does not require the existence of an actual child
victim. For the following reasons, we accept jurisdiction,
but deny relief.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
In April 1992, Wright was charged with several counts of
solicitation to commit molestation of a child, as DCAC, after
soliciting a postal inspector to allow him to engage in
sexual conduct with her two fictitious children, represented
as under thirteen. He pled guilty to two counts of
solicitation to commit molestation of a child, both class
three felonies and DCAC, and was sentenced to lifetime
probation on each count. In August 2002, Wright's
probation was revoked as to one of the counts and Wright was
sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. Upon release from
prison in 2008, Wright's lifetime probation on the second
count was reinstated.
Wright was arraigned on a petition to revoke probation in
September 2014. Wright moved to dismiss the DCAC designation
and requested a delayed Rule 32 petition. Without deciding
the merits, the trial court denied the request, finding that
such relief could be achieved by "withdrawing] from the
plea agreement for manifest injustice."
In July 2015, Wright was again arraigned on a petition to
revoke his probation. Wright renewed his request that the
court "strike the DCAC designation" and modify his
sentence accordingly. The court again declined to hear
Wright's motion on the merits, because "a probation
violation [proceeding] is [not] the appropriate vehicle"
for the requested relief. Wright then filed a petition for
special action in this court, requesting a remand for
"consideration of the substantive issues." This
court accepted jurisdiction and granted relief, directing the
trial court to "address the merits of Wright's
motion by treating it as a motion for modification of
probation under Rule 27.3 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal
On remand, the trial court heard oral argument on
Wright's motion to strike the DCAC designation. After
taking the matter under advisement, the trial court denied
Wright's motion, finding that the crimes were properly
designated as DCAC. This special action followed. We
subsequently requested additional briefing, which we also
Special action jurisdiction is appropriate because Wright
does not have an equally plain, speedy, and adequate remedy
by appeal, and this is an issue of first impression and
statewide importance. See Ariz. R.P. Spec. Act.
1(a), 8(a); Vo v. Super. Ct. In and For Cty. of