Arizona county attorney’s office drops 180 criminal charges because of missed deadline

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The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office was forced to drop 180 criminal cases because charges weren’t filed before the statute of limitation expired.

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone offered no excuses, while saying he felt for the victims of the cases not prosecuted by the attorney’s office. Penzone spoke on behalf of Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Col. Heston Silbert.

“The colonel and I recognize the difficulties in managing complex organizations and the corresponding challenges, but we found nothing to mitigate or exonerate the breadth of this deficiency,” Penzone said in a statement to Glendale’s KTAR-FM.

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Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone

Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone
(Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office )

“We emphasized to” County Attorney Allister Adel “our expectation there must be integrity and transparency in communication with the victims impacted by this issue,” Penzone added. “We also requested immediate feedback upon MCAO’s solution to this problem to ensure it will not be repeated.”

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An investigation by the Arizona Republic found the attorney’s office was forced to drop 180 misdemeanor cases, including drunk driving, domestic assault, and criminal damage incidents that occurred in 2020 – because prosecutors forgot to file charges before the deadline passed.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office in Phoenix, Arizona

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Arizona
(Google maps)

“The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office failed to review roughly 180 misdemeanor cases from 2020 prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The Office took steps to notify law enforcement agencies and victims of this error,” wrote the attorney’s office in a statement, according to FOX 10 Phoenix. “The Office has also redirected resources to ensure this error does not occur in the future.”

Under Arizona law, misdemeanor cases are required to be filed within a year that the alleged crime occurred, reports said.

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel

Maricopa County Attorney Allister Adel
(Maricopa County Attorney’s Office)

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Sheriff Penzone noted the highest priority right now is for the victims, who “due to these circumstances, will not receive justice.”

Adel did not respond to a Fox 10 Phoenix request for comment.

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