State v. Harrison, 1

CourtCourt of Appeals of Arizona
Writing for the CourtGERBER; FIDEL, P.J., and EUBANK
Citation792 P.2d 779,164 Ariz. 316
PartiesSTATE of Arizona, Appellee, v. Mark Preston HARRISON, Appellant. 89-007.
Docket NumberNo. 1,CA-CR,1
Decision Date01 March 1990

Page 779

792 P.2d 779
164 Ariz. 316
STATE of Arizona, Appellee,
Mark Preston HARRISON, Appellant.
No. 1 CA-CR 89-007.
Court of Appeals of Arizona,
Division 1, Department C.
March 1, 1990.
Reconsideration Denied March 28, 1990.
Review Denied June 26, 1990.

Page 780

[164 Ariz. 317] Robert K. Corbin, Atty. Gen. by Jessica G. Funkhouser, Chief Counsel, Crim. Div., and Richard J. Graci, Asst. City Prosecutor, Phoenix, for appellee.

Mark P. Harrison, Phoenix, in pro. per.


GERBER, Judge.

Appellant Mark Preston Harrison (defendant) was charged with running a red light in violation of A.R.S. § 28-645(A)(3)(a), failing to provide proof of insurance in violation of A.R.S. § 28-1253(D), and driving a motor vehicle in violation of a license restriction under A.R.S. § 28-424 requiring him to wear eye glasses. The violations were consolidated and tried before the Phoenix City Court. 1 Defendant was found in violation on all three counts. He was fined $408 and had his license suspended 90 days for running the red light and failing to provide proof of insurance, and was fined an additional $40 for driving without glasses. He appealed the municipal court's decision to the superior court, which affirmed the decision of the municipal court. Defendant now brings his appeal to this court. 2

On appeal to the superior court, defendant contended that he was unconstitutionally denied the right to a jury trial. He now contends that requiring proof of financial responsibility violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and that the court's decision not to sentence him to driver education classes violates constitutional equal protection guarantees.

Defendant's first contention, that he was unconstitutionally denied the right to a jury trial, 3 lacks merit for two reasons.

In the first place, defendant had no right to a jury. The Arizona Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant the right to a jury trial. Ariz. Const. art. 2, §§ 23, 24. This right, however, extends only to serious, not petty, crimes. Rothweiler v. Superior Court, 100 Ariz. 37, 410 P.2d 479 (1966). Courts use a three-prong test to determine whether the crimes charged constitute a non-petty violation: (1) the defendant is exposed to a severe penalty, i.e., a penalty in which the exposure exceeds six months imprisonment or $1,000 in fines; (2) the act involves moral turpitude; (3) the crime has traditionally merited a jury trial. State ex rel. Baumert v. Superior Court, 127 Ariz. 152, 618 P.2d 1078 (1980). Each prong is independently sufficient to give rise to a jury trial.

The test to determine whether the right to a jury trial exists is not mandated by legislation but is a judicial doctrine subject to modification. In Rothweiler, a potential sentence imposing a $300 fine, six months in jail and a three-month license suspension was found to merit a jury trial. In Baumert, the court found no "talismanic significance" in either the $300 amount found in Rothweiler or the $500 limit set in the federal criminal code in 18 U.S.C. § 1(3), and held that a fine of $1,000 was not severe enough to warrant a jury trial. Baumert, 127 Ariz. at 154-55, 618 P.2d at 1080-81. The Baumert court recognized that devaluation of the dollar and other economic changes make any fine an arbitrary trigger for a jury trial. Id.

We decline to rivet the right to a jury trial to the $1,000 amount set in Baumert.

Page 781

[164 Ariz. 318] The Baumert court raised that amount in order to address economic forces at play in 1980. The $1,000 figure in 1990, however, is not as significant a sum as it was in 1980. In fact, the federal government has raised the amount of a fine for a petty infraction to $5,000. 18 U.S.C. §§ 19, 3571 (1988) (originally enacted as 18 U.S.C. § 1(3) (1982)). The legislative history of the act indicates that Congress raised the amount of the fines to compensate for economic change:

These [previous] statutory limits are largely the products of an earlier era when the wage earner achieved a yearly income considerably lower than that common today, and when inflation had not yet reduced the value of currency to its present level.


... It is with the intent of enhancing the ability of the courts to fashion remedies appropriate to offenses by providing maximum fines at levels that are suitable to our times--and at levels that will help eliminate the popular view that certain offenses will lead only to a nominal fine equivalent to a minor cost of doing business--that the Committee has drafted the provisions of this subchapter.

Senate Rep. No. 98-225, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 98th Cong., reprinted in 1984 U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 3182, 3286-87. In Arizona, however, a crime is still considered serious if its fine exceeds $1,000. It would be incongruous to classify a crime as petty in one court system and not in another based merely on its fine. See State v. City Court of the City of Tucson, 157 Ariz. 599, 760 P.2d 599 (App.1988), opinion vacated on other grounds, State ex rel. Dean v. Dolny, 161 Ariz. 297, 778 P.2d 1193 (1989). We therefore find that the fines totalling less than $500 in this case do not constitutionally require a jury trial.

Another way to judge the seriousness of an offense is to examine the other penalties associated with it. We therefore next examine whether a 90-day license suspension is sufficient additional punishment to make defendant's crimes serious.

There are three reasons why suspending an operator's license for three months is not a serious enough penalty to warrant...

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  • Derendal v. Griffith, CV-04-0037-PR.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • January 14, 2005
    ...view these factors as three independent prongs in the constitutional analysis of the right to jury trial. See, e.g., State v. Harrison, 164 Ariz. 316, 317, 792 P.2d 779, 780 (App.1990) ("Each prong [of the Rothweiler test] is independently sufficient to give rise to a jury ¶ 6 Twenty-three ......
  • State ex rel. McDougall v. Strohson (Cantrell), CV-97-0118-SA
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    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • September 4, 1997
    ...Dean v. Dolny, 161 Ariz. 297, 778 P.2d 1193 (1989); Rothweiler v. Superior Ct., 100 Ariz. 37, 410 P.2d 479 (1966); State v. Harrison, 164 Ariz. 316, 792 Page 1256 P.2d 779 (App.1990). As previously discussed, however, Arizona courts also have looked at whether the crime involves moral turpi......
  • Benitez v. Dunevant, CV-98-0540-PR.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arizona
    • July 31, 2000
    ...other vehicular offense. ¶ 26 This court does not recognize driving as a right. Instead we view it as a privilege. See State v. Harrison, 164 Ariz. 316, 318, 792 P.2d 779, 781 (App.1990) ("The loss of a privilege is not nearly so serious or burdensome as the loss of a recognized right"). We......
  • U.S. v. Bencheck, 90-6072
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • February 27, 1991
    ...the right does not extend to other traffic offenses, such as running a red light, because they are labeled petty. State v. Harrison, 164 Ariz. 316, 792 P.2d 779 (Ct.App.1990), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 111 S.Ct. 979, 112 L.Ed.2d 1064 (1991). New Jersey, on the other hand, refuses to call......
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