State v. Powers

In State v. Powers, 200 Ariz. 123, 23 P.3d 668 (App.), approved on other grounds, 200 Ariz. 363, 26 P.3d 1134 (2001), the defendant pled guilty to one count of leaving the scene of an accident and was convicted after a bench trial of a second count of leaving the scene of an accident arising from the same incident. 200 Ariz. at 124, P 1, 23 P.3d at 669. Powers argued that there was only one accident and he could not be convicted twice for the same offense. The State cross-appealed from the trial court's ruling permitting Powers to unilaterally plead guilty to only the first count. Id. The court of appeals agreed with Powers that there was only one accident scene and therefore he could not be charged with the same offense twice. Accordingly, it vacated the second conviction. Id. at 127, P 16, 23 P.3d at 672. On the cross-appeal, the court found no basis to preclude Powers from unilaterally entering a guilty plea to the first count because such a decision did not interfere with the state's determination of which charges to file or its authority to offer plea agreements. Id. at 129, P 22, 23 P.3d at 674. It also held that the decision was not a "backdoor" means to sever the charges since there was no severance. Id. The court also noted that since there was only one offense and Powers had pled guilty to that offense, there was no prejudice to the State. Id.