October 2012 Archives

October 31, 2012

Dring & Keys.JPGThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently conducted an evaluation of the Maricopa County DUI Court program. The purpose was to review the effectiveness of the program aimed at reducing Aggravated DUI (Felony) and repeat impaired driving offenses.

The conclusions were that the program was effective in reducing recidivism and had successfully helped reduce repeat offenses. It also concluded that Maricopa County's program was more effective than other County DUI Probation Programs.

DUI Court Program

DUI Court is a speciality court , similar to drug court. It is designed to improve public safety and reduce repeat and future felony DUI offenses, by promoting changes in destructive and illegal behaviors. This is accomplished through team efforts of the prosection, judge, probational officers, criminal defense attorney, and the drug/alcohol treatment professional, and the probation department.

As part of sentencing, the court includes substance abuse screening and treatment as well as probation. This treatment is a primary component of the program. Those eligible to participate in the program must demonstrate a voluntary willingness to stop drinking or stop substance abuse behaviors in an effort to rehabilitate them. Not everyone will qualify for the program which usually involves a reduction of other harsh sentencing including jail and prison terms.

Requirements of the DUI Court Program

Participants are required to sign a contract with the court that outlines the details their obligations. These may include the following:

• Abstinence from drugs and alcohol;
• Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment with a qualified treatment program;
• AA meetings;
• Monitoring, supervision and reporting of defendant to their probation officer;
• Attendance to DUI Victim Impact meetings;
• Random drug and alcohol testing;
• Attend court hearings and meet with the presiding judge to discuss progress and issues of concern.

A variety of incentives are used by the court to encourage successful completion of the programs. These may include deferred or reduced jail or prison time; public recognition; set aside of criminal charges; or reduced penalties.

Penalties or sanctions for non-completion of the program

The participating defendant is held accountable for completing or not completing the program. A person may be exposed to the following penalties for non-compliance, or breach of contract in the program:

• Additional jail or prison terms;
• Community service;
• Curfews;
• Electronic monitoring;
• Probation violation hearings and consequences;
• Abolishment from the program;
• Revocation of probation;
• Reinstatement of original sentencing

Successful completion of the program

In order to graduate from the program with successful completion, the person must to the following:

• Remained sober or abstained from drugs for six months;
• Attend school or be employed;
• Complied with all court orders;
• Attended all treatments and counseling and provide proof of completion;
• Fulfilled all other probation or court ordered requirement.

Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI charges Tempe AZ

You should always retain qualified legal representation if you face any type of DUI charges. Your attorney will defend your charges, and make sure your rights are protected. They will also work to help you to get qualified for a treatment program, that may reduce or mitigate sentencing, if the case can not be dismissed.

Additional Rescouces:

National Highway Safety Administration - Evaluation of DUI Court Conclusions

Maricopa County - DUI Specialty Court Program

Arizona State Legilslture - Revised Statutes for Felony DUI '

Arizona MADD website - Victim Panel

Continue reading "DUI Court Program in Maricopa County Gets High Marks by NHTSA " »

October 11, 2012

United States Supreme Court.jpg"Request made 'unknowingly'; defendant lacked ability to adequately mount a defense" - says Judge

On October 9, 2012, the Superior Court Judge in Maricopa County denied Michael Lee Crane's request to represent himself at trial. Crane is accused three violent robberies and homicides in the Phoenix, AZ.

The defendant claimed the reason he wanted to represent himself was because no one knew his case better than he did. But the reason for the Judge's denial had little to do with knowledge of the case.

But rather, Crane had persistently been disruptive; refused follow or recognize governing authority and law; refused to answer questions; refused to follow substantiated law; refused to comply with the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure and Code; and deliberate engaged in serious and obstructionist misconduct

The Judge explained that Crane needed to be able to understand, and follow these rules and follow the Arizona and US constitution. The Judge explained that by not knowing and following these laws and procedures, the defendant did not realize the limits he would place on his defense. But more importantly, his request was denied on the basis that the request for self-representation was not "knowingly" made.

Analysis of Ruling

The Sixth Amendment of the constitution affords a person the right to counsel or the right to defend themselves. And while it is unwise, the court must respect a person's right to refuse attorney representation, even if it to the detriment of the person's defense. For this reason, the Judge did take the defendant's request under advisement. However, the decision is still ultimately at the judge's discretion.

In this Ruling the Judge recognized the right of a person to defend themselves and refuse counsel. However, he explained that this right has limits. The court cited numerous important rulings to refuse to the defendant his request for self-representation:

• A defendant who is persistently disruptive of orderly procedures may lose their right to self-representation U.S. v. Williams 2011; State v Brooks 1989; Smith v State 1998; Wilson v. state 2004; Coleman v. State, 1980;

• Repeatedly arguing with the court on issues that were already ruled on, may be cause for forfeiture of the right to self-representation State v. Hemenway, 2004;

• Self-representation must be balanced against the government's right to a fair trial which requires it to be conducted in a judicious and orderly forum State v. Henry, 1997;

• A trial court has broad discretion in managing the conduct of a trial, and has a duty to properly exercise that discretion State v. Cornell, 1994;

• Even if found competent to waive counsel, and stand trial, the court still has discretion to deny self-representation requests if it believes that the defendant's request was not made knowingly.

Criminal Defense Attorney Mesa, AZ

If you face criminal charges, especially if they are serious, you should always consider retaining a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent you. They will defend your charges, and make sure your rights are protected. They will represent you through all stages of a criminal case; be capable of mounting a defense on your behalf; and worked towards obtaining the best possible resolution to your charges.

Additional Resources:

State of Arizona v. Michael Crane

Arizona Judicial Branch - Rules of Criminal Procedure

Arizona Superior Court - Case Procedures

Continue reading "Judge denies murder suspect's request to represent himself at trial" »

October 3, 2012

Domestic Violence Charges.jpgOctober 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every nine seconds a woman in the United States is beaten. Three women a day in the USA lose their lives. But victims are not limited to women. Victims can be men, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, or other familial relationship.

The observance was founded by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence. Its goal is to reach out to victims throughout the nation to protect victims, raise awareness, and help end domestic violence.

A wide range of services and activities focused on education, support, and prevention at local, state and national levels. It includes the mourning of those who died as a result of domestic violence, and provides services and support efforts to their surviving children

Identifying Abusive Behaviors

• Controlling behavior;
• Physical abuse;
• Threat or intimidation;
• Isolation;
• Mental or physical neglect;
• Economic abuse or neglect;
• Sexual abuse

Planning for Safety

• Don't allow yourself to be cornered in a room especially a small enclosed area;
• Educate yourself and your children to identify signs and indicators from your abuser that abuse is imminent;
• Discuss safety with your children before any incidents occur including safe places to go, what numbers to call, and safety signals to alert them to act if anything happens;
• Set up emergency signals with a trusted family member or neighbor who lives outside your home;
• Collect important documents, and records that you can access immediately from a safe location on short notice;
• Pack and keep a bag in a safe place that includes clothing, nonperishables, medicines, water, and any needed supplies for you and your children for at least 24 hours;
• Be familiar with local domestic violence shelters in your area, and keep their contact information readily available in the event of emergency.

Local and national supporters are wearing purple ribbons, and conducing "going purple activities". For activities in your area, you can visit your state's Domestic Violence Coalition, official city police website or other national resources.

Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic abuse or violence is a criminal offense, punishable by jail, fines, and counseling. You should know that even victims sometimes are charged or arrested for domestic violence. There are a numerous reasons for this. It can occur if a parent is a witness to domestic abuse or neglect to a child, but does not take any action to report it to authorities or respond appropriately to keep the child safe. It can also occur, if the police arrive, and are uncertain of which person is the aggressor and which is the victim; or if both persons contributed to the incident of aggression, violence, abuse, or neglect.

If you received charges or were arrested, you always consult a criminal defense attorney regarding your matter, before pleading guilty to charges, or appearing in court.

Additional Domestic Violence Support Resources:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Other US Organizations for Domestic Violence Support

Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence

State Coalition Contact List

Continue reading "October - National Domestic Violence Awareness Month " »

October 1, 2012

United States Supreme Court.jpgThe 4thAmendment right put to the test: Unlawful search and seizure

On September 25, 2012, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear Missouri, Petitioner v. Tyler G. McNeely. The decision could affect DUI blood test consent cases throughout the nation.

The high court will rule on the issue of when the police need a warrant to draw blood from a suspect stopped on DUI, if they refuse a blood test. The law requires consent by the suspect to for the blood test to be administered, or in the alternative, with a warrant by police. The warrant could be waived, however, under the following circumstances:

• A delay could threaten a life; or
• A delay would destroy potential evidence.

In this case, the suspect refused both the breath test, and was also unwilling to take a blood test. The police proceeded with the chemical blood test which reportedly was 0.154% and exceeded the legal limit in Missouri of .08%.

The defendant moved to suppress the blood test on the challenge that since he did not consent to the test; the officer did not seek a warrant; and the officer was not concerned about any delay jeopardizing the evidence. As a result, the defendant's challenge was that it violation of his 4th Amendment Rights against unreasonable search and seizures.

The lower court suppressed the DUI blood test evidence, and the Missouri Supreme Court sided affirmed the lower trial court's ruling. The US Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in January 2013.

Arizona DUI Blood Test Consent Laws

The Arizona Supreme Court also held that under A.R.S. § 28-1321 the suspect must either expressly consent. In the case of a refusal the e police must have a warrant to administer a blood test. A warrant will be granted, if the police have just cause to believe a motorist was driving impaired due to alcohol or drugs. If the driver refuses the breath test, or does not consent to the blood test, civil penalties will be imposed including a one year loss of driver's license. The refusal will also be held against them in court. Refusals are perceived as an act of non-cooperation, or that the driver refused because they knew they would test positive for drugs or alcohol.

DUI Defense Attorney Mesa AZ

If you were arrested for any DUI you will need to address both the Civil Court penalties and the Criminal Court charges. You should always consult a qualified Criminal attorney before pleading guilty to a drunk driving or DUI charges. In addition to civil penalties, sentencing for convictions also include jail; fines, fees, assessment costs, drug or alcohol screening, and use of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle. If retained, your attorney will represent you, defend your charges, make sure your rights are not violated, and work to get the best resolution in your case.

Additional Resources:

US Supreme Court Docket - Missouri, Petitioner v. Tyler G. McNeely

Arizona State Legislature - Implied Consent Laws

Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety Programs

Continue reading "US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Landmark DUI Blood Test Case" »