Series: Part 1 of 2
The AMMA Cannabis Controversy
It’s been nearly a decade since the state passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA).
A DUI breathalyzer or chemical test is considered a protected search under the 4thAmendment of the U.S. Constitution. This means that police need a warrant with probable cause to conduct a DUI breath, blood or urine test, even under Arizona’s Implied Consent law.
There are a few exceptions to the warrant rule, one of which is voluntarily consent. If the driver expressly consents to a breath or chemical test, the officer is not required to have a warrant.
Arizona courts have held that if a person was coerced by the officer to take the DUI test then their consent is not voluntary (State of Arizona v. Valenzuela, 2016). An involuntary consent does not relieve police of the requirement of obtaining a warrant.
While police can use drug courier profiling evidence to establish reasonable suspicion for purposes of stopping someone to investigate a crime, this evidence cannot be used at trial largely to prove they are guilty.
This is because by doing so, the defendant is essentially prosecuted for the conduct of others, rather than that of the defendant.
Arizona lawmakers recently passed House Bill 2007 (HB2007), adding an aggravating circumstance to the list of 26 that were previously enumerated in the statute. The law became effective August 3, 2018.
The newest aggravating circumstance is triggered when a defendant “uses a mask or other disguise to obscure the defendant’s face to avoid detection” during a crime.
To be clear, the new aggravating circumstance doesn’t criminalize wearing a disguise. Rather, it allows for an increased punishment for those who are convicted of committing a crime, while wearing a mask or disguise.
The U.S. Supreme Court previously held that Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking on a driver’s vehicle comprises a search under the 4th amendment. This means that police need a warrant to conduct GPS tracking on a vehicle owned or driven by a suspect when the vehicle is legally in their possession.
Earlier this year, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a landmark opinion in an Arizona drug trafficking case in which the passenger in a GPS tracked vehicle was arrested in addition to the suspect driver.
In the case, the Arizona Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the defendant’s conviction, finding that the officers who conducted the search relied on previous case law in place, that held the conduct was permissible. With that, the court determined that the police acted properly and did not suppress the evidence, based on the good faith exception.
Arizona jails and prisons have measures in place to assure no criminal activity is in progress related to the defendant’s communications.
Authorized jail and prison officials screen mail, and record suspects’ phone calls.
The information they obtain may be used to prosecute pending or future criminal charges. The exception to this would be privileged communications between a defendant and their criminal attorney.
The Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled that enhanced sentencing does not apply if the victim is fictitious.
Under Arizona’s Dangerous Crimes against Children statute (DCAC), a person convicted of a sexual crime against a child is subject to enhanced sentencing. These penalties are severe and designed to provide greater punishments to those convicted of the offenses.
The question for the Court in this case was whether or not enhanced sentencing should be imposed under A.R.S. § 13-705(P) (1), when there was no actual victim.
If you were arrested for domestic violence or assault, the prosecution may attempt to use profiling evidence or “cold” expert witness testimony against you.
Profiling evidence and “cold” expert witness testimony is not always admissible. The decision about admissibility is a decision for the court. When making this determination the court will consider the rules of criminal evidence, content, relevance and objectivity of the testimony.
If improper witness testimony is admitted, it can potentially lead to an unfair guilty verdict. Therefore, proper challenges should be made as to the admissibility of planned expert witness testimony.
In a recent Arizona Court of Appeals drug case, the court considered a defendant’s conviction for narcotic drug trafficking charges. The defendant was sentenced to a presumptive five-year term of imprisonment and appealed the conviction.
The defense argued that (1) the drugs found in his car should have been suppressed, (2) improper profile testimony was admitted, and (3) the sanction imposed for a Batson violation wasn’t adequate.
Drug trafficking charges are multi-facet in nature, and challenges can take place on numerous fronts. In this article three types of challenges will be discussed:
Currently the state of Arizona limits circumstances in which firearms can be carried onto school grounds.
Unless specifically outlined by law, carrying a loaded firearm on any school grounds will result in criminal charges under Arizona’s Weapons Misconduct law A.R.S. 13- 3102(12).
This article outlines the weapons misconduct laws related to guns on school grounds, threatening and intimidation (assault) laws; and criminal defense for weapons misconduct and assault charges.