Cherry v. Araneta
In Cherry v. Araneta, 203 Ariz. 532, 57 P.3d 391 (App. 2002), Division One of this court suggested, in dictum, that analyzing the statutory elements of an offense is the only means of concluding a prior offense was violent as defined in 13-901.01 and 13-604.04, reasoning that "whether a prior conviction is a violent crime for purposes of A.R.S. 13-901.01 is a question of law for the trial judge." 203 Ariz. 532, P8, 57 P.3d at 393.
Division One perceived that question to be a narrow one, as explained below:
Analysis of the prior conviction "is purely a legal question; it does not depend on the merits of alternative versions of the facts." State v. Ault, 157 Ariz. 516, 520, 759 P.2d 1320, 1324 (1988). The scope of a trial court's review of the prior conviction is limited, however, to the statutory elements of the offense, without consideration of other evidence. 203 Ariz. 532, P11, 57 P.3d at 394.
As the court noted in Cherry, in other contexts in which sentencing statutes require a trial court to determine the nature of a prior conviction, the court may consider only the statutory elements necessary for the conviction. Id.