ARS Code 13-604(W)(2)(C) Interpretation

In State v. Thompson, 200 Ariz. 439, 441, P6, 27 P.3d 796, 798 (2001), the defendant committed two prior drug offenses. 200 Ariz. at 440, 27 P.3d at 797. He committed a theft offense eleven days after the second drug offense. Id. He pled guilty to the two drug offenses first. Id. He was then convicted by a jury of the theft offense. Id. The State sought to classify the drug convictions as historical prior felony convictions for purposes of enhancing the sentence on the theft conviction. Id. at P 3. The defendant argued that because the drug convictions did not occur before the commission of the theft offense, the sentence for the theft conviction could not be enhanced by the drug convictions as they were not "prior" felony convictions. Id. The court rejected this argument and concluded that A.R.S. 13-604(W)(2)(c) required that the conviction for the prior offense occur before the conviction for the subsequent offense, not before the commission of the subsequent offense. Id. at 441, P 6, 27 P.3d at 798. The court also noted that the specific subsection of the statute applicable in Thompson "requires the prior offense to precede the present offense." Id.; see A.R.S. 13-604(W)(2)(c). There are also general statements referencing that "the prior offense must precede the present offense" in order to qualify for enhancement under the statute. 200 Ariz. at 441, P6, 27 P.3d at 798. Again, this language was in the context of a case proceeding under subsection (W)(2)(c), which had the specific statutory requirement that the prior offense must precede the present offense. When Hauser characterizes Thompson as "recognizing that for 13-604 enhancement 'the prior offense must precede the present offense,'" 209 Ariz. at 543, P20, 105 P.3d at 1162, this again must be read in the context of a prior conviction that falls within subsection (W)(2)(b) or (c) as contrasted with subsection (W)(2)(a) or (d). That a "prior felony conviction" under subsection (W)(2)(a) may be a subsequently committed offense is also consistent with the legislative policy underlying 13-604.