Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.6 Interpretation

In State v. Morales, 215 Ariz. 59, 215 Ariz. 59, 157 P.3d 479 (2007), the Arizona Supreme Court held that Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 17.6 requires a trial court to engage in a plea-type colloquy "when defense counsel stipulates to the existence of a prior conviction charged for purposes of sentence enhancement." Id. at 60, P1, 157 P.3d at 480. The court determined that the trial court's failure to engage in such a colloquy was fundamental error, but did not automatically entitle the defendant to a resentencing. Id. at 61-62, PP10-11, 157 P.3d at 481-82. The court found conclusive proof of the defendant's prior convictions in the record and concluded that remanding for a new sentencing hearing would be pointless. Id. at 62, P13, 157 P.3d at 482. In State v. Morales, the supreme court determined that although a defendant had shown fundamental error with regard to a Rule 17.6 colloquy, he is only entitled to resentencing if he can establish prejudice "by showing that he would not have admitted the fact of the prior convictions had the colloquy been given." 215 Ariz. at 62, P 11, 157 P.3d at 482. In Morales, "copies of Morales's prior convictions were admitted at a . . . pretrial hearing." Id. The supreme court determined that "in these circumstances, there would be no point in remanding for a hearing merely to again admit the conviction records." Id. the Court stated: Such a requirement would undermine the prophylactic purpose of Rule 17.6 by implying that a failure to give the colloquy would be without consequence, and the state would be relieved of its burden of proving the prior conviction, in all but the rare case in which the defendant could show no prior conviction exists. Morales, 215 Ariz. at 62, P 12, 157 P.3d at 482. The Court found no need for a further evidentiary hearing on the issue of prejudice because "copies of Morales's prior convictions were admitted at a . . . pretrial hearing. . . . Thus, evidence conclusively proving his prior convictions is already in the record." 215 Ariz. at 62, P 13, 157 P.3d at 482.