August 2012 Archives

August 31, 2012

"Don't be drinking and driving 'cause we'll catch you", DPS warns.

Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) is geared up for its' statewide DUI task forces. They will be in place for their annual Labor Day crackdown, Friday August 31, 2012 through Tuesday September 4, 2012.
Police Car.JPG
They will be looking for drunk drivers; impaired motorist under the influence of alcohol or drugs, along with other traffic stops and motorist/vehicle safety checks. Arizona DPS offers this advice to motorists:

• Don't drink and drive or you will be arrested;
• Don't drive if you are under the influence of any medication with potential to impair driving;
• Assign a designated driver or plan for alternative transportation;
• Buckle up or citations will be issued;
• Don't speed or you will be cited;
• Be aware of increased traffic throughout the Labor Day Weekend;
• Expect closures and delays due to auto accidents or construction;
• Take along plenty of drinking water and supplies in the case of an unscheduled closure;
• Do not drive without valid driver's; registration; auto insurance, and valid plates;
• Be prepared for changing weather conditions to and from your destination;
• Get a good night's rest before you leave for your destination if you'll be driving;
• Be prepared and use caution in reduced speed limit zones;
• Use caution in merging traffic lanes;
• Drive defensively; don't assume all other drivers will obey traffic and safety laws, and stop at red lights;
• Expect the unexpected;

These are just the fundamental laws of driving. But lack of adherence to these laws and tips, can result in serious automobile accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

DUI Charges in Phoenix AZ

Drunk Driving, DUI - DWI or Drug DUI charges are serious criminal offenses under A.R.S. § 28 - 1381 in Arizona. If charged you will face both civil penalties that include suspension of driver's license, in addition to any other traffic citations if they apply. Driving impaired to the slightest degree due to alcohol or drugs will result in criminal charges. Penalties for convictions include 10 days jail; ignition interlock device on your vehicle; mandatory drug or alcohol screening and counseling; probation; fines; fees; and suspension or loss of driving privileges. You should always consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you face active charges to discuss you matter and defense options. If retained, they will defend your charges, protect your rights; make sure you are treated fairly; and work to protect your future and freedom. Often there are defenses that can be used that may lead to a dismissal of charges, or other favorable outcome in your case.

Additional Resources:

Arizona Department of Transportation;
Arizona Department of Public Safety;
Governor's Office of Highway Safety;
Arizona Legislature

Continue reading "Labor Day DUI Task Forces: Warnings and Safety Tips for Motorists " »

August 23, 2012

United States Supreme Court.jpgArizona police are allowed to use some force if necessary. But only to the degree that is necessary to prevent a suspect from fleeing; or to avoid harm, or injury to others.

Police are not allowed to use excessive physical or lethal force. The justifiable amount of force that can be used is dictated by given set of circumstances.

Although there is no known precise definitions, below low are some situations that would fall within the meaning of police brutality or use of excessive force:

• Physical force against a person who is already in custody; in hand cuffs; restrained or housed by police;

• Physical force against a person or their property if they are not resisting arrest;

• Physical force used by police such as punching, kicking, choking, slamming, or throwing a person down or against a fixed object such as a wall or vehicle, if the suspect is passive or non-violent;

• Improper use of Police Dogs that cause harm to a suspect;

• Use of a weapon including: gun; baton, tear gas, toxic spray; Taser; or dangerous weapon; against an unarmed individual, and for which it can be reasonably presumed that they do not possess a weapon;

• Use of Taser or other weapon against a non-violent and non-threatening individual;

• Threatening or Intimidating a suspect in order to obtain a statement or confession;

• Violent force or suppression of a peaceful activist or protestor;

• Failure of a Police officer to intervene or stop another officer who is using excessive force;
• Carelessly causing death

Laws that Protect against Police Brutality or use of "Excessive Force"

Rights that protect a person from police brutality and use of excessive force originate from the US Constitution and State Constitution.

I. Federal Laws

• US Constitution Amendment IV - Freedom from unlawful search of person or property and seizures;
• US Constitution Amendment V - Freedom from: self-incrimination; deprivation of life, liberty, or property absent due process;
• US Constitution Amendment VIII - Rights against cruel and unusual punishments
• US Constitution Amendment XIV - Freedom from: states to deny the privileges and/or immunities of citizens of the United States; deprivation of life, liberty, or property, absent due process; denial of persons within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.

II. Arizona State Laws

• Article 6 - Right to due process under law;
• Article 6.1 - Right to petition and assemble;
• Article 7 - Freedom of speech and press;
• Article 8 - Right to privacy;
• Article 12- Freedom from self-incrimination;
• Article 14 -Freedom of religion;
• Article 15 - Equal privileges and immunities
• Article 16 - Habeas corpus
• Article 17 - Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment;
• Article 30 - Trial by jury; Rights of accused in criminal prosecution; fair and equal treatment with freedom from discrimination

Your rights if excessive force is used

If the level of force used by police was not justified, then it is a violation of your constitutional rights. If right have been violated, your defense attorney may file a motion to suppress any evidence obtained after the rights violation. This leads to dismissal of the criminal charges.

You chances of getting evidence suppressed or criminal charges dismissed will increase if you have qualified legal representation of a criminal defense attorney. .
Civil laws exist that enable victims of police brutality or their families, in the case of wrongful death, to file complaints and law suits against police officers and their agencies against the police officers, and their department.


Arizona Constitution

United States of America Constitution

US Constitution Amendments

Continue reading " Police Brutality: Your Rights and Use of Excessive Force by Police " »

August 16, 2012

Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney (2).JPGTypes of Robbery Charges

There are three classifications of robbery in Arizona:

1) Robbery;
2) Armed Robbery which involves a weapon;
3) Aggravated Robbery which involves an accomplice

Even if a robbery offense does not involve a weapon or an accomplice it is serious felony charge. Maricopa County prosecutors pursue them egregiously because they are considered crimes against a victim. If convicted, a person may be exposed to long term jail and prison sentencing.

Arizona Robbery Laws A.R.S. § 13-1902

A.R.S. § 13-1902 Robbery is theft that occurs; is intended; or attempted while the owner, caretaker or authorized party overseeing the property stolen is present at the time of the incident.
Robbery occurs when items (s) are stolen forcefully or against a person's will. Robbery also includes acts or words of intentional intimidation, force or threat used against the owner or caretaker of the property in an effort to cause them to surrender the property against their will.

In order to get a conviction for robbery, the intent to commit robbery must exist. A person may be found guilty of robbery or attempted robbery, even if no property was taken; or even if a victim was unharmed.

A person may be guilty of robbery, or attempted robbery, even if they did not get away with any of the property; an even if the victim or witnesses were not harmed.

Robbery Sentencing Mesa AZ

Robbery charges without aggravated circumstance are Class 4 Felonies under Arizona Law. All robbery charges are felonies and sentencing is harsh. If convicted a person will be exposed to prison sentencing of up to 3.75 years in State Prison;, or jail sentences up to one year. Other penalties include fines; fees; victim restitution; property damage, community service, and other penalties the judge deems appropriate. A sentence may be mitigated, which means reduced, or aggravated which mean increased based on certain factors. Factors may include prior criminal record repeat offenses; nature, monetary value, and number of items stolen.

Robbery Lawyer for defense in Mesa A

If you have been arrested for robbery, you will need to hire an experienced criminal attorney to defend you. They will make sure you are treated fairly; defend your charges; and look for defenses that may apply to your case; and provide the court with mitigating factors on your behalf. Retaining a qualified lawyer will increase your chances of getting a good outcome in your case.

Arizona Legislature

Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney for Robbery

Continue reading "Arizona Robbery Laws: A person may be convicted for robbery even if nothing was stolen and no one was harmed. " »

August 6, 2012

550-0038-0409-0105-2144.jpg45 years after Miranda v. Arizona - Its impact on the US Criminal Justice System

Over the last 45 years, legal controversies and challenges have continued to plague the "Miranda Rights". Yet still it is recognized by all states in country. Following an arrest, the police must inform or warn a person of their "right to remain silent" and their right to defense counsel.

In Arizona the right to remain silent is afforded by both the United States Constitution and the Arizona Constitution. The right to remain silent is a privilege, because it enables a person to a avoid self-incrimination.

Under the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution a person shall not be compelled to be witness against themselves in their criminal case. When you hear someone say they are "pleading the 5th", this is usually what they are referring to.

Article 2, Section 10 of the Arizona Constitution states that no person shall be compelled to testify or provide testimony, or statements against their own defense.

The right to avoid self-incrimination existed long before the landmark case. But since the US Supreme Court ruling in favor or Ernesto Miranda, in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 they have been referred to as "Miranda Rights or "Miranda Warning". In this case, the defendant Ernesto Miranda made a confession, which led to a conviction based on his statements. Ernesto Miranda appealed the decision and prevailed in the US Supreme Court. His argument was that he had not been made aware of his right to remain silent during interrogation, or criminal defense attorney.

If a person is arrested for a DUI or crime, it is important that they invoke their rights. After an arrest and before any interrogation the police must read a suspect their Miranda Rights. Invoking one's right to remain silent helps avoiding self-incriminating statements that can later be used against them.

To invoke the right to remain silent one must verbally or in writing put police on notice that they wish to do so. If a person simply remains silent, they will be perceived by police as being uncooperative. It's also important for a suspect to answer routine questions regarding identity and residency as well as the booking process.

Criminal Rights Attorney Chandler AZ

If you have been arrested, be sure you invoke your right to remain silent regarding the charges, until your defense attorney can be present, or has given you other instructions. If your rights have been violated, it may lead to dismissal of charges, other challenges or defenses in your case. You should always consult a criminal defense attorney if you face active charges to discuss your matter, and options for defense.

Additional Resource Links:

Arizona State Legislature - AZ Constitution

Miranda Rights Q. and A.

Justia Law Summary: Miranda v. Arizona 1966

Continue reading "5th Amendment: Right to Remain Silent " »

August 3, 2012

Phoenx Criminal Defense Attorney.jpgAggravated assault charges are assault charges that involved "aggravated factors" which elevated a Misdemeanor to a Felony. One aggravating factor that will raise a misdemeanor to a felony assault is if the offense was against a police officer. These types of charges carry long term prison sentencing and exorbitant fines. Conviction for this offense is egregiously pursued by the State of Arizona and Prosecution.

Felony Assault against a Police Officer A.R.S. § 13-1204 (A)

A person is guilty of aggravated assault if they commit assault as defined in
A.R.S. § 13-1203 Assault, and knows or has reason to know that the victim is a police officer, or peace officer professionally engaged in their official duties; and

• A person causes serious physical harm or injury to the officer; or

• A person commits the assault by any means of force that causes temporary but substantial disfigurement, temporary but substantial loss or impairment, body organ or part or a fracture of any body part; of the officer; or

• A person uses a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument against the officer; or

• A person takes or attempts to gain control of a police officer's firearm or other weapon.

Penalties for Felony Assault

Charges for Felony Assault may range from a Class 6 felony to a Class 2 felony which is more severe. The only charges higher than Class 2 are Class 1 felonies which are reserved for the most serious of crimes, homicide.

Depending on the seriousness of the assault, and number of offenses, and other factors, sentencing may include prison terms of 1.5 to 3 years for a Class 6 felony; and 7 to 21 years in prison for a Class 2 felony.

Fines for conviction may be ordered as high as $150,000.00, plus victim restitution, costs; fees; assessments, counseling, probation or parole; community service; and other harsh penalties.

If convicted, Felony Assault or Aggravated Assault Penalties can include lengthy prison sentences, long term felony criminal records that will follow you for a lifetime, exorbitant fines, fees, counseling, restitution to the victim, adverse impacts on your job and future job opportunities, negative impacts on your ability to get credit or loans in the future and any other punishments the Tempe court determines is necessary and appropriate.

Criminal Defense Attorney Felony Assaults Phoenix AZ

It is imperative to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if you face aggravated assault charges. You can discuss your matter, and they will provide you with options for defense. If retained, they will protect your rights; make sure you are treated fairly; defend your charges; and look for evidence in your favor. They will represent you through the proper channels of the criminal justice system. There may be defenses that can be used, could lead to dismissal of charges; reduction in penalties or other favorable outcomes. For charges of this serious nature you should retain qualified legal representation as early as possible so they may begin working on your defense. This will also help you to avoid any unintended self-incrimination that could harm your case.

Resource Links:

Arizona Revised Statutes
Law Office of James Novak - Assault Laws and Penalties

Continue reading " Aggravated Assault: The High Cost of Harming a Police Officer " »