Articles Posted in Law News

The Mayor of Phoenix AZ recently announced plans for the largest Gun Buyback Program to be held in May 2013. It is being funded by an anonymous donation of $100,000.00.
A Gun Buyback Program is an organized jurisdictional effort to compensate gun owners in return for their guns. The goal is to take unwanted guns off the street so that they are not a threat to police officers or residents of the communities.

Here are some facts that have been released about the program:
• It will be conducted every Saturday in May, excluding Memorial Day weekend;
• Sessions will be held in various different parts of Phoenix in church parking lots or other trusted locations;
• Anyone can drop off a weapon anonymously. City officials announced that no questions will be asked regarding the source of the firearm or it’s possessor;
• The owner will receive an unknown amount to be determined at a later date for the weapon;
• The Phoenix Police will check to see if the firearm was stolen. If so, it will be returned to the rightful owner;
• If the weapon was used in a criminal offense, it will be retained by police to be used an investigation.

• All other firearms will be taken out of circulation.

More details will be released as May approaches. For more information a person can contact *Arizonans for Gun Safety at 602-547-0976.

Criminal Defense Attorney Phoenix AZ

Gun offenses are very serious crimes in Arizona. Convictions under A.R.S. 13-3102 Arizona criminal code call for harsh penalties, many of which are felonies. All firearms used in the course of conducting or fleeing from a crime are felonies, and call for aggravated sentencing of the initial crime. Felony convictions call for a minimum sentence of 1 year in prison, and loss of the right to possess a gun, and classify the person as a Prohibited Possessor under the Arizona gun laws.

If you have been arrested for any weapons crimes under Arizona you should always consult a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to charges. If retained, they will protect your rights, defend your charges, and make every effort to get a good outcome in your case. There may be constitutional rights that were violated, or other defenses that may be used to resolve the matter favorably on your behalf.

*The Law Office of James Novak is a criminal defense firm serving clients in the Phoenix area. It has no affiliation with Arizonans for Gun Safety or the Phoenix Police Department.

Additional Resources:

• Phoenix Buyback Program

Arizona Gun Laws

Arizona sentencing for serious, violent or aggravated offenses

Phoenix Police Department

Phoenix Superior Court

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“Use of Prescription Medication an Epidemic and DUI hazard”

The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes use of prescription medication as an epidemic and the fastest-growing drug problem in the Country. It is said that more teens are using prescription medicine than cocaine, meth and Ecstasy combined.

Final numbers are still being tallied from police agencies throughout Arizona. But preliminary statistics for 2012 indicate Drug DUI arrests are expected to jump from 11% in 2011 up 14% in 2012 of all DUI arrests in Arizona.
Officials attribute this to increased funding for specialized police drug detection and impairment training such as Arizona’s Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Program. Police Agencies are now using state of the art equipment, and are well trained for Drug DUI enforcement. For example, Gilbert AZ Police Department, is equipped with mobile DUI enforcement vans; unmarked vehicles; special DUI motor cycle enforcement units; granted allowances for overtime; and training and certification to police officers in phlebotomy DUI processing.

Other contributing factors for the increase in Drug DUI arrests are frequency of use and access to prescription drugs by adults, and youths.

At this juncture, there are no published statistics as to how many of the Drug DUI arrests were Marijuana related. So no assumptions can be made as to whether or not legalization of Medical Marijuana in Arizona contributed to the increased Drug DUI Arrests.

Arizona Drug DUI Laws

Under A.R.S. 28-1381 in addition to alcohol DUI laws, it is also unlawful to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in Arizona, if a person is impaired to the slightest degree due to the influence of any drug; vapor releasing toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances. This includes legal, or illegal drugs, or Medical Marijuana. It also includes drugs obtained with a valid prescription or any over-the-counter drugs. This means that a person can be cited for DUI if they have had no spirituous liquor at all, but are driving impaired to being under the influence of a drug.

A first or second DUI with no aggravated factors in Arizona is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. This includes drug related DUI charges. Penalties are generally the same or similar as sentencing for alcohol related DUI charges. If convicted penalties call for 10 day jail terms; mandatory substance abuse counseling; fines, fees, and other harsh penalties. Jail terms may be reduced to 24 hours, upon successful treatment of an alcohol or substance abuse program.

Criminal Defense Attorney Gilbert AZ

Motorists are not aware that a drug may impair their ability to driver. But in Arizona, it is not a defense for a motorist to claim that a driver was aware that drug had the potential to impair their driving or not. If you have been arrested for any type of DUI, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. You should a qualified consult a criminal defense attorney who defends charges in the city where you received the citation, to discuss your matter, and defense options.

Additional Resources:

Arizona State Legislature – Drug DUI Laws

• Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Annual 2011 DUI Enforcement Statistics

Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety 2012 DUI Enforcement statistics (preliminary to 12/27/12)

Drug Abuse in Arizona – Office for Children, Youth and Families

National Center for Disease Control – Prescription Drug Abuse

• Gilbert Police Traffic Unit

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The Verdict could have national impact on when law enforcement can collect DNA evidence from suspects.

On November 9, 2012, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a criminal DNA testing case, Maryland v. King (12-207), which could result in nation-wide impacts. The defendant’s DNA samples were collected immediately following his arrest. He was subsequently convicted of rape. King’s Attorney attempted to suppress the DNA evidence, on the grounds that it was taken unconstitutionally. The Maryland Court of Appeals agreed, and overturned King’s conviction. They ruled that suspects under arrest but not convicted, have more rights than convicted felons; and that DNA testing was more invasive than standard finger print evidence.
The State of Maryland disagreed, and appealed to the US Supreme Court to hear the case. The case is expected to be heard by the high court in June 2013.

DNA testing has been the subject of much controversy. Objection to the DNA testing of non-convicted suspects is that it is in violation of a person’s 4th Amendment Constitutional Right against unlawful search and seizures.

All states currently use DNA testing as an admissible investigative tool. Currently it is lawful in most states, including Arizona, to collect report and distribute DNA results for convicted felons. However, not all states allow collection, analysis, reporting, distributing, and use of DNA testing as evidence against first time criminal offenders, with no felony convictions.

DNA Testing Laws in Arizona

Arizona allows collection, reporting and distribution of DNA evidence from prison inmates and convicted felons. Criminal DNA samples are maintained by in a forensic data base by authorized Law enforcement agencies, and indexed by the FBI.
However, in recent years, Arizona also passed legislation allowing DNA to be collected from suspects who were arrested, but not convicted of a felony in specific situations.
Under Arizona Law A.R.S. 13-610 DNA may be collected from a suspect if they were arrested for serious, violent, and dangerous felony offenses on involving a victim.

The law allows for DNA testing in situations where the suspect was arrested for a criminal offense specified by law, even if they were not convicted of the crime. Examples of these offenses include but are not limited to sexual offenses and assault; burglary in the first or second degree; homicide; and other dangerous offenses involving victims.

Criminal Defense for Charges involving DNA cases

Anyone arrested for a serious or dangerous crime, should always consult a criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty. Felony convictions for these types of crimes, will result in years to life in prison, or even expose a defendant to the death penalty. A defendant should always invoke their right to retain qualified legal representation to defend their rights and charges. If DNA evidence was collected unlawfully it may lead to suppression of the evidence in favor of the defendant. If DNA evidence does not lead to a match of the suspect arrested, the charges may be dismissed or lead to a “not-guilty” verdict in a jury trial. The lawfulness or validity of DNA evidence should always be argued by a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Additional Resources:

Arizona State Legislature

Arizona State Bar – Jury Instructions for Evidence

United States Supreme Court – Maryland v. King

US Supreme Court Orders – Petition Granted Maryland V. King, Alonzo J. (12-207)

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The 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

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On September 18, 2012, U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton released the temporary restraining order on the immigration provision in SB 1070 A.R.S. 11-1051 (B). The action was pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter in June 2012.

At the center of a two year legal batter, is the provision in the law known as “Show me your papers”, and was the most controversial of Arizona’s SB1070. Under this provision a police stop must still be a lawful one. In other words, the “reasonable suspicion” that a violation of the law occurred in order to make a legal stop.

During the stop, the officer determines that there is reasonable suspicion that a person is unlawfully in the United States. If reasonable suspicion exists that the person may be in the country illegally, the officer must make a reasonable attempt to contact the USB Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agency to confirm the immigration status of the detainee.

The law also requires police to verify immigration status of arrested or imprisoned persons prior to their release.

Lawful Documentation of US Residency

Under SB 1070 A.R.S. 11-1051 (B) a person is presumed to be in the United States legally if they can provide the following documentation:

• Valid Arizona Driver’s License;
• Valid Arizona Nonoperation ID License;
• Valid Tribal Enrollment cared or alternative Tribal ID;
• Valid US Federal, State, or Local Government issued ID, if the entity requires proof of legal presence to issue any of the above documents.

U.S. Presidential Executive Order Amnesty Exceptions

There are exceptions to the rules, including those afforded under the U.S. President’s Executive Order Decree on June15, 2012, which was also effective immediately. Eligible applicants will receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for a work or school permit to reside in the United States.

This applies to otherwise illegal immigrants. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began accepting applications for “Deferred Actions” for the following persons:

• Those brought to the US before the age of 16; and
• Those who are under the age of 31; and
• Who have lived in the USA continuously from June 15, 2007 to June 15, 2012;
• Currently enrolled and attending school; or
• Graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school; or
• Earned a General Education Development (GED) Certificate; or
• An honorably discharged veteran of the US Coast Guard or US armed forces; or
• Have not been convicted of a felony; serious misdemeanor; three or more other misdemeanors; and
• They do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The immigration laws in Arizona and on a Federal level continue to change and face legal challenges. Police spokespersons extended their intent to “Treat all individuals with dignity and respect, which is the ethical foundation of policing”. We will continue to follow up on changing legislation.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

SB 1070 Arizona Legislature

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Police announced that DUI Task Forces were set up on Wednesday May 23, 2012 and will run through Monday May 28, 2012 during the Memorial Day weekend. They are targeting Phoenix and East Valley Cities in Maricopa County have already made arrests for drivers impaired due to alcohol or drugs. A spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported that 65 police agencies that will be participating in operations, which is strong enforcement.

Arizona has adopted the guidelines from National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA). The guidelines set parameters on organization; administration; a conducting of the stops. This includes which cars to stop. According to NHTSA guidelines the vehicles which will be stopped are pre-determined by city officials or the police. Those vehicles must be chosen by a mathematical formula or sorts, for example, every 3rd vehicle or every other vehicle.

Locations of DUI Task Forces or Checkpoints

Generally the DUI Task forces are set up in areas where high traffic volume is expected. For example in the case of a summer holiday, the Police may set up check points in areas where people may be popular establishments where liquor is sold. This Memorial Day Weekend, some of the DUI Checkpoints include the following areas in Maricopa County:

• Phoenix – Metro and suburbs
• Areas near University of Phoenix Stadium
• Highway leading to Lake Pleasant in Arizona
How to avoid a DUI Task Force Stop
1) The best way to avoid a task force stop is not to drink and drive;
2) Whether you are plan to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is best to avoid a DUI stop if you can. Not many people enjoy the long lines, or the experience in general. You can check your local media website, police departments, County websites, and even social media outlets on the internet;
3) NHTSA also requires that signs be readily present and posted near the Checkpoint. Stay vigilant if you should approach one, and take another route if possible;
4) If you did not plan to drink and drive, but find you are in that position, call on a friend or family member or taxi to take you home;
5) If you know in advance you will be consuming liquor, make plans in advance for a designated driver, or alternative arrangements to get home safely. Judgment decisions are always more prudent when a person not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

DUI Lawyer Phoenix AZ

If you are arrested for DUI in Phoenix AZ, you should consult a criminal defense attorney to discuss your matter and defense options. Arizona has strict laws and hrsh penalties for DUI. You will need a legal advocate to represent you in court. There are defenses that can be used combat DUI charges. With experienced and effective legal representation you will increase your chances of getting a good outcome in your case

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“New AZ Criminal Law helps felons accused of less serious crimes avoid prison; reduces Arizona costs; and provides relief for overcrowded prisons”.

News & Law Review By: Law Office of James Novak, PLLC, Phoenix DUI & Criminal Defense Firm
On March 21, 2012, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law “HB 2374 – Deferred Prosecution” Attached is a copy of the House Bill. In absence of legal challenge it is expected to go into effect July 2012. HB 2374 amends the current law A.R.S. § 11-361. In effect it liberalizes the law in favor of the defendant. It allows more opportunities to those charged with non-dangerous offenses, non-serious offenses, to participate in deferred sentencing and diversion programs, previously prohibited. It also allows those who have previously completed such a program to participate again for new criminal charges.

Deferred Sentencing or Diversion Program – Purpose of the Programs

The intended purpose and effects of the programs are bilateral for both the State and the Defendant:

• If a defendant agrees to participation in the program, and completes it successfully, the charges are permanently dismissed. The defendant receives confirmation of the dismissal by the Superior Court. If the defendant fails to complete the program, the charges will be reinstated; trial, conviction or sentencing will retroactively be continued where it left off.
• In theory, by participating in an appropriate program of professional counseling or treatment the person gets help they need to avoid the chance of repeating a criminal offense or recidivism in the future.
• Successful Diversion Programs help ease the strain on the overpopulated prisons
• The expenses of assessments and participation in the programs are the responsibility of the defendant. This saves the state the costs resulting from imprisonment as well as the diversion program.

Existing Criminal Law in effect until July 2012 – A.R.S. § 11-361

The current laws A.R.S. § 11-361 allows a defendant to participate in an approved program under supervision before entering a guilty plea or trial. The County Attorney of a participating county may not approve a diversion or deferment program for a defendant if they have:

1. Prior Felony Record;
2. Been accused of committing a “Dangerous Offense” Felony;
3. Previously completed a program established under this law
New Criminal Law Effects on A.R.S. § 11-361 due to HB 2374
The new law to become effective in July 2012, liberalizes A.R.S. § 11-361 by allowing the following defendants previously prohibited from being considered as candidates for the diversion programs and deferred sentencing:

• Persons previous convicted of a felony charge may now be considered for candidacy in the programs as long as the conviction is not for a Serious offense; Dangerous Offense; Sexual offense; or Dangerous crime against children.
• A person may now be considered for candidacy in the diversion program or deferred sentencing for persons who has previously completed a special supervision program.
• A person is prohibited from being considered for candidacy in the diversion or deferring prosecution of they have had three or more convictions for:

1) Personal possession of a controlled substance;
2) Personal possession of drug paraphernalia
Criminal Defense Attorneys for Deferred Prosecution, and Diversion Program

Participation in Deferred Sentencing, Deferred Prosecution, and Diversion Programs are not automatic and not an entitlement programs. A Defendant must be eligible for such programs, as agreed upon by the Prosecution, and Court based on factors such as nature of the crime, prior criminal record, attitude of the defendant towards reform, safety of community if the defendant is released after successful completion of the program. If retained, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be actively involved to help eligible defendants qualify for the program.
For more information regarding this new Arizona legislation visit:

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The new AZ DUI law withdraws the right of a jury trial for some DUI defendants. But Arizonans say “not so fast”…

June 4, 2011
Arizona News & Editorial Commentary
Article By: James Novak, Arizona DUI and Criminal Defense Lawyer
AZ SB 1200 was signed into law by the Governor Jan Brewer on April 29th, 2011, to take effect December 31, 2011. A controversial provision discretely found its way into the bill at the last minute. It contained restrictive language that was not included in the earlier versions of the bill. Thus, it deprived the public of input or debate on the issue. The provision causing upset involves the revocation of some AZ DUI defendant’s statutory right to a jury trial. It applies to DUI defendants who have been charged with a first time, non-extreme Arizona DUI charges, eliminates their statutory right to a trial by jury for their AZ DUI. It does include a consolation or alternative for the judge to hear the case and decide if the AZ DUI defendant is guilty or not guilty.

It didn’t take long before the restrictive amendment sparked opposition by many Arizona citizens, AZ DUI defense attorneys, and organizations such as The Committee for the Right to Jury Trial.

Among numerous provisions, the new AZ DUI law includes the following:
1. Gives municipalities, counties and certain local AZ jurisdictions judges the authority and discretion to offer such alternative penalties to eligible defendants, home-detention programs instead of incarceration in jail.
2. Reduces the length of time from one year to 6 months for a first time, non extreme DUI offenders to use the DUI interlock device on their vehicles.
3. Eliminates the right for non-extreme, first time AZ DUI offenders the previous right to a jury trial. Instead only DUI defendants that have prior convictions, extreme DUI or less serious DUI charges to keep their previous statutory and inherent right to request a trial by jury.

The first provision makes good sense. It allows for some cost relief to help reduce the over crowded Arizona’s Jails. The second provision gives some relief to first time non-extreme misdemeanor DUI defendants. So far, so good right?

But then there is the third provision that’s facing fire. Arizona Law makers and proponents of the amendment claim that it was a move to reduce the State’s cost for expensive jury trials for those less serious DUI charges, where the blood test or breathalyzer test against them strong against the DUI defendants. The problem with that thinking, among many other reasons, is that it revokes an existing statutory right to those who fall within this category. In essence it could be argued that first time offenders are losing rights while repeat offenders get rewarded by preserving their rights.

Constitutional and Statutory Rights are one of the few things in life people lean on to protect them from mistreatment or abuses in the criminal justice system. If the move was all about Arizona saving money because “trials are too expensive” then someone needs to redo the math. How much will it cost the state of Arizona to fight any and all future repeal propositions that this amendment will face? So much for cost savings and the preservation of the States economic resources.

The Committee for the Right to Jury Trial, led by attorney Clifford Girard is asking voters to repeal that particular amendment of the new AZ DUI law in SB 1200. The committee needs to gather 86,405 signatures by July 19, 2011 to qualify for putting the repeal on the 2012 ballot. Opponents want the voters of Arizona to have the chance to decide, debate, and vote; a chance that was not provided to them before it was passed into law. Fair enough.

Article News Sources: 1), 2) , 3) Associated Press 4) Arizona Republic News. 5) AZ news
This news article and commentary has been posted for general public informational purposes only. All articles by this author are intended to raise awareness and generate discussion on a variety of Arizona State Law issues and topics. Note that Arizona legislation, laws, and bills are often presented and changing. If you have a criminal or DUI defense matter related to this topic, it is important that you consult or hire an Arizona criminal or AZ DUI lawyer in the jurisdiction or municipality of Arizona where you received your charges for up to date information.

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Petitions to be Accepted by ADHS for Additional Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions for AZ Medical Marijuana Use

March 30, 2011 News Post
Article by: James Novak, Phoenix DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney
Don’t fret if you have a qualifying debilitating medical condition not initially included on the list. The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) plans to accept petitions beginning January, 2012, for additional debilitating medical conditions to be considered as qualifying for use of prescription medical marijuana in Arizona. This is good news to many who feel they needed to use medical marijuana for relief of their symptoms, but their conditions did not initially qualify under the AZ medical marijuana law.

According to the AZ Medical Marijuana Rules patients suffering from the following medical conditions were considered to initially qualify (Cited in part):

• Cancer
• Glaucoma
• Hepatitis C
• Crohn’s disease
• Alzheimer’s disease
Also there are certain symptoms that qualify, even though they may not be the result of a qualifying condition listed above. A “chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition” is defined as one that causes the following symptoms below. (Cited in part):
• Cachexia or wasting syndrome;
• Severe and chronic pain;
• Severe nausea;
• Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy;
• Severe or persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
The ADHS will accept written requests to add medical conditions and chronic or debilitating symptoms of a condition to the current list. This opportunity will take place twice each calendar year, in January and July. There will be certain requirements and documentation needed by the ADHS in order to consider adding a new qualifying medical condition. Those requirements and documentation are outlined in detail, but reader friendly, at the ADHS official website in the Question and Answers section.

Article Source: Official ADHS Website: .
This article has been posted for general public informational purposes only. All articles by this author are intended to raise awareness and generate discussion on a variety of Arizona State Law issues and topics.

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Final Rules Published by ADHS

They’re here! Arizona Department of Health Services Publishes Final Rules for Administration of the AZ Medical Marijuana Act. Two more milestone dates added.

March 29, 2011 News Post
Article by: James Novak, Phoenix DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney
The ADHS published it’s Final Rules, Physician Certification Form, and Frequently Asked Questions and Answers which can be found at their official website

There you will also find two more milestone dates for future actions posted on the website: :
1) August, 2011: ADHS will select and award medical marijuana dispensary registration certificates.

2) January, 2012: ADHS will accept petitions for additional debilitating medical conditions.

Article Source: Official ADHS Website Refer to the Arizona Department of Health Services Official Website for more information on this article topic, latest news and expanded information .

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