Articles Posted in Arizona Criminal Defense

Arizona Supreme Court considers factors that create reasonable suspicion to justify police frisk.

What is a Frisk?

Police-Frisk-Mesa-AZ-Attorney
A frisk in the context of a law enforcement search is also known as a pat-down.

It is less intrusive than a full body search.  The purpose of a frisk is to ensure an officer’s safety by confirming that a suspect encountered by police is not armed and dangerous.

How to Protect Your Rights in a Plea Bargain and Deferred Prosecution

Maricopa-County-Trial-Statistics-HD-e1494596719400If you have criminal charges, it is likely that you will be faced with the decision of whether or not to take your case to trial.  As an alternative to trial, you may be offered a plea deal or participation in a deferred prosecution program.

Last year Maricopa County Superior Court reported that of 99.8 percent of terminated DUI and criminal cases, only 2.2 percent went to trial.

The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) reported similar statistics in 2016.   The USSC reported 97.3 percent of criminal cases were resolved without trial, while only 2.7 percent went to trial.

4 Things Arizona Supreme Court Needs to Admit Results

DUI-lab-test--300x213Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a person has the right to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures.

This protection extends to a DUI blood test.  Consequently, police need a suspect’s consent or a search warrant to obtain a blood sample for a DUI investigation.

Without the person’s consent or a search warrant, it is unlawful for the police to collect a DUI blood sample.

Aggravated Assault, Weapons Misconduct, Domestic Violence, Failure to Obey Police Orders: Laws, Penalties, and Criminal Defense in Arizona

aggravated-assault-1In Arizona, we recently learned of a tragic story.

Police officers answered a domestic dispute, and the suspect was fatally shot by police.

When the officer arrived on scene, he encountered a woman outside a home.

Arizona Court of Appeals: Mistake of Law must be Objectively Reasonable to Avoid Suppression of Evidence obtained after the Stop

police-stop-unlawful-2-300x203Can an Arizona Police Officer’s misreading of a clear and unambiguous law give rise to reasonable suspicion, thereby making a stop lawful?

This was a question for a recent Arizona Appeals Court to decide. In the case, the court considered whether a deputy had reasonable suspicion to stop a driver because the officer thought the rear display light on his vehicle was unlawful.

This article takes a closer look at how defense successfully challenged an unlawful police stop due to the police officer’s mistake of law with these topics:

U.S. Supreme Court excuses unlawful police stop due to suspect’s outstanding arrest warrant: How to protect your rights if you have a warrant

The aftershocks still linger following U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s eruptive and indignant dissent in this case:

 “The Court today holds that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer’s violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Do not be soothed by the opinion’s technical language: This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants—even if you are doing nothing wrong…”  

– Justice Sonia Sotomayor, US Supreme Court

US-Constitution-10The incident began with an unlawful police stop of a man leaving a private residence.

The suspect was arrested after the police officer learned the suspect had an outstanding warrant.

Illegal drugs were found in the suspect’s possession, after the officer searched him.

The search was conducted incidental to the arrest, as a result of the outstanding warrant for a traffic violation.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided that even though the stop was unlawful, it was not flagrant.

So they allowed the drug evidence to be admitted and used against the suspect to prosecute the illegal drug possession charges.

In this article we outline the case, the U.S. Supreme Court decision, and how it impacts your 4th Amendment rights, especially if you have an outstanding warrant for arrest.  Continue reading

Criminal Defense Challenges for Prohibited Possession of Firearms Charges in Arizona

                                                        Questions before the Court

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The Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure afford parties the right to request a change of judge before trial.  But these rights are not without limitations.

In a recent case, an Arizona appellate court reviewed a defendant’s conviction for misconduct involving weapons.  The appeal centered around two arguments, one being the defendant’s request for a new judge.

First, defendant had requested a peremptory change of judge under Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 10.2, which was denied by the trial court.

Secondly, the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence used to obtain the conviction.

In this article we will also, take a closer look at the arguments, and summarize three concepts related to the Rules of Criminal Procedure for trial, which were addressed in this case:

  • The Right of the Parties to Request Change of Judge;
  • Special Actions v. Direct Appeals; and
  • Judgement of Acquittal

We will also discuss the proceedings, final ruling, the right to bear arms, procedural and evidentiary challenge in trial, and criminal defense for weapons charges.

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Your Guide to Understanding Risks and Consequences of Fentanyl-laced Heroin

guns-needlesjpg-1--226x300Imagine the lethal game of “Russian Roulette”, but with different rules of chance.

Let’s say the chambers in a revolver with 6 rounds are all loaded with bullets, with the exception of only one chamber.

As if the risks weren’t enough in the traditional game.  They just increased drastically.

Now it means there is an only one in six chance you will survive the game, instead of a 5 in six chance of survival.

That leaves the player with less than 17% chance of survival, and an 83% chance of fatality.

Those are near the same odds of fatality when a person uses heroin laced with the super opiate known as Fentanyl.

Officials in Arizona as well as other parts of the country are on high alert as it leaves a path of fatalities and grieving families to mourn the loss of loved ones.

The Centers for Disease Control collected data that concluded that over the last 15 years, overdose deaths involving prescription and illicit opioid overdose deaths surged, and that this spike was largely driven by heroin.

In this article we will discuss the following topics intended to raise awareness and to provide general resource information.  Topics include:

  • Fentanyl & Signs of Fentanyl Overdose
  • Fentanyl Laced – Heroin – A Lethal Mix
  • Fentanyl – Laced Heroin Law Enforcement Seizures, and Trends
  • Narcotic Laws and Penalties including Fentanyl –Laced Heroin in Arizona
  • Good Samaritan Laws: Proposed Legislation
  • How to Detect Heroin Laced Fentanyl
  • Arizona Criminal Defense for Narcotic Drug Crimes

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Arizona Court of Appeals Upholds K-9 Search of Vehicle; Police not required to advise that Drug K-9 will be used with Voluntary Consent; Your Rights in Vehicle Searches Q & A

Drug-K-9-Phoenix-AZ-1-219x300-221x300In a recent case ruling the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld a woman’s conviction for possession for sale of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

The central issue in the Appeal was whether or not a K-9 drug search of her vehicle was within the scope of a voluntary consent to search she agreed upon.

Case Facts and Court Opinion

The case arose when an officer stopped the defendant for a cracked windshield and speeding. The officer issued a written warning and a repair warning.

Following the issuance of citations, the officer asked the driver if he could search the vehicle.

The driver answered yes.  The officer then gave her a consent-to-search form that was written in both English and Spanish. The officer and the driver conversed in English.

The form the officer gave her was written in both English and Spanish.

The suspect read and signed the Spanish portion of the consent form.  The officer asked her if she understood what she had signed. She acknowledged that she understood.

The consent-to-search form which the driver signed was central to this ruling.  With it, she consented to the following terms:

  • She could refuse to have her vehicle searched;
  • She could withdraw her consent to search at any time;
  • Evidence found during the search could be used against her in court;
  • The consent did not include property of other passengers in the vehicle.

Following the signing and affirmation of consent, the officer instructed the suspect and the passengers to leave the car and stand 20 feet away.

The officer then went to retrieve his drug K-9 from the patrol car to conduct a search of the suspect’s vehicle.

The officer would later testify that the defendant was standing where she could see him remove the K-9 from the car.

The suspect did not say anything to the officer at that time. She did not object to the K-9 search, or withdraw her consent at any point during the K-9’s search.

The vehicle’s exterior with the K-9, did not elicit an alert.  However, upon investigation of the interior, the dog directed a positive response at a purse on the driver’s seat.

The dog went back to the patrol car, and the officer searched the purse.  The officer found methamphetamine (meth) inside the purse.  The suspect confirmed that the purse with the meth inside belonged to her.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence. She argued that seizing the methamphetamine was a Fourth Amendment violation because the K-9 search was outside the scope of her consent.

The trial court found that  Continue reading

Arizona Court of Appeals: A search subject to probation terms significantly diminishes privacy rights

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If you are placed on probation for a drug crime in Arizona, you have a reduced expectation of privacy than you had before.

This means that, depending on the probation conditions, the privacy protections you thought you had under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution related to search and seizure may not apply.

In a recent Court of Appeals case  the state of Arizona appealed after the lower court granted a defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence of a warrantless search.

In this article we will examine a recent Court of Appeals case which centered around the challenge of a warrantless search at the residence of a probationers.

We will also take a closer look at some key legal concepts that the court examined in the process establishing a ruling in this case.  The legal concepts we will discuss following the overview and court ruling summary include:

  • Privacy rights for warrantless searches under the U.S. Constitution 4th Amendment;
  • Privacy rights for warrantless searches of a person’s residence under the Arizona Constitution Article 2, Section 8;
  • A comparison of the two, and discussion as to why the more liberal privacy rights afforded under Arizona law did not apply;
  • Assessing “Totality of the Circumstances” for reasonableness of a warrantless search on a probationer’s residence.

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