State v. Williams (1993)

In State v. Williams, 175 Ariz. 98, 854 P.2d 131 (1993), the defendant was convicted of aggravated assault for having recklessly rammed his pickup truck into the rear of a station wagon while intoxicated, injuring a fourteen-year-old boy in the station wagon. 175 Ariz. at 99, 854 P.2d at 132. Because that victim was under fifteen years of age, the trial court found that the offense was a dangerous crime against a child and accordingly enhanced the defendant's sentence pursuant to 13-604.01. 175 Ariz. at 99, 854 P.2d at 132. The supreme court vacated the sentence, however, because "there was no evidence that the defendant's behavior was directed at or focused upon the victim, or that he was even aware of the minor's presence in the station wagon." Id. at 104, 854 P.2d at 137. The Arizona Supreme Court answered in the negative, when asked "whether the use of a motor vehicle which injures a person who fortuitously happens to be under fifteen years old" constitutes a "dangerous crime against children." Id. at 99, 854 P.2d at 132. Defendant in that matter was charged with aggravated assault, an enumerated offense under 13-604.01(L). Id. More importantly, the court in Williams appeared to have confined its rationale to the designated offenses. Id. at 101, 854 P.2d at 134 ("Given the list of crimes, and the language 'against a minor,' a fair construction of the statute is that it refers to crimes in which a child is the target of the criminal conduct."). In Williams, the court "rejected the state's contention that committing an offense 'against' a child within the meaning of 13-604.01 is the same as committing an offense, the victim of which happens to be a child." 175 Ariz. at 103, 854 P.2d at 136. To constitute a "dangerous crime against children," the court stated, "the defendant's conduct must be focused on, directed against, aimed at, or target a victim under the age of fifteen." Id. The court also noted, however, that a defendant's "knowledge of the victim's age is unnecessary" under 13- 604.01. 175 Ariz. at 103, 854 P.2d at 136. Rather, "when an individual targets a person, he or she generally assumes the risk that the victim will turn out to be within a protected age group." Id. The court acknowledged that no intent or knowledge requirement was attached to this victim-status element, but nevertheless concluded "the defendant's conduct must be focused on, directed against, aimed at, or target a victim under the age of fifteen." Id. at 103, 854 P.2d at 136.