State v. McCann

In State v. McCann, 200 Ariz. 27, 21 P.3d 845 (2001), the Arizona Supreme Court held that "a rebuttable presumption of regularity attaches to prior convictions used to enhance a sentence or as an element of a crime." 200 Ariz. 27, P1, 21 P.3d at 846. In so holding, the court explained the new procedure to be followed: When the State seeks to use a prior conviction as a sentence enhancer or as an element of a crime, the State must first prove the existence of the prior conviction. At that time, the presumption of regularity attaches to the final judgment. If the defendant presents some credible evidence to overcome the presumption, the State must fulfill its duty to establish that the prior conviction was constitutionally obtained. Id. P15. Thus, under McCann, prior, final judgments of conviction are presumed valid. Id. P16. But the court "emphasized that its ruling does not lessen the burden on the State, which retains the burden of establishing that a prior conviction is constitutionally valid" when used "as an element of a crime." Id. In addition, the court stated: "In cases in which a judgment of conviction results from the violation of constitutional rights, the conviction cannot be used either to establish an element of an offense or for purposes of sentence enhancement. Thus, prior convictions may be used by the State only if constitutionally valid." Id. P17.