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State v. Francis

Supreme Court of Arizona

February 5, 2018

State of Arizona, Appellee,
v.
Darrel Scott Francis, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Superior Court in Navajo County The Honorable Dale P. Nielson, Judge Nos. CR-2015-00087; CR-2015-000700

         Opinion of the Court of Appeals, Division One 241 Ariz. 449 (App. 2017)

          Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, Dominic Draye, Solicitor General, Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel, Michael Valenzuela (argued), Assistant Attorney General Criminal Appeals Section, Phoenix, Attorneys for State of Arizona

          Criss E. Candelaria (argued), Criss Candelaria Law Office P.C., Concho, Attorneys for Darrel Scott Francis

          Randy McDonald (argued), Osborn Maledon, P.A., Phoenix; Keith J. Hilzendeger, Assistant Federal Public Defender, Phoenix; and Carol Lamoureux, Law Offices of Hernandez & Hamilton, PC, Tucson, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice

          JUSTICE BOLICK authored the opinion of the Court, in which CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, JUSTICES BRUTINEL, TIMMER, and GOULD, and JUDGE MORAN joined.[*]

          BOLICK JUSTICE

         ¶1 We consider in this case whether the state must prove that a defendant knew an item he possessed was "contraband" to convict the defendant under A.R.S. § 13-2505(A) of knowingly possessing contraband while being confined in a correctional facility or transported to it. We hold that when such a defendant possesses an item that is statutorily defined as contraband, the state need prove only that the defendant knowingly possessed the item, not that the defendant knew it was contraband.

         BACKGROUND

         ¶2 In October 2014, officers booked Darrel Scott Francis into the Navajo County Jail Annex on charges unrelated to this case. Upon booking, officers took and bagged Francis' personal property, including clothing and a cellphone. The next day, Francis asked to call his attorney. When the officer could not find the attorney's number, Francis told her he had it in his cellphone, which the officer retrieved to obtain the number. Later, Francis was transferred to the main jail, where an officer confiscated a cellphone held by Francis.

         ¶3 The State charged Francis under A.R.S. § 13-2505(A)(1) and (A)(3) with two counts of promoting prison contraband, one for obtaining or possessing the cellphone in the jail annex or during transport and the other for taking it inside the jail grounds. Before trial, the superior court ruled that the State need not prove that Francis knew the cellphone was contraband. The jury found Francis guilty, and the court sentenced him to two concurrent five-year prison terms.

         ¶4 The court of appeals reversed Francis' convictions and sentences, applying A.R.S. § 13-202(A) to conclude that the State had to prove that Francis knew that the cellphone was contraband. State v. Francis, 241 Ariz. 449, 452-54 ¶¶ 12-21 (App. 2017). In light of its ruling, the court of appeals declined to address Francis' argument that the trial court also erred by allowing the State to call his former lawyer to testify about Francis' prior convictions. Id. at 454 ¶ 24 n.6.

         ¶5 We granted review to clarify what the state must prove to convict a defendant under A.R.S. ยง 13-2505(A), a recurring issue of statewide importance. We have jurisdiction under article 6, section ...


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