Arizona drug laws are tough

Although marijuana continues to find a greater degree of acceptance throughout the United States, in many instances, the possession or sale of it can still have strong repercussions.

In Arizona, possession of marijuana can be charged as a misdemeanor, but many times it is upgraded to a Class 6 felony unless it is considered only for personal use.  A Class 6 felony can result in up to two years in prison.  Possession of four pounds or more is a felony that can result in up to 3.75 years in prison.

The stakes are even higher for the possession of narcotic drugs in Arizona.  They are considered a Class 4 felony; narcotics may include cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs such as OxyContin or Oxycodone, among others.  Class 4 felonies can result in a sentence of up to 3.75 years in prison.

Possession of dangerous drugs is also a Class 4 felony and includes substances such as LSD, PCP, Ecstasy, and methamphetamines.  Convictions for possession of these can also result in up to 3.75 years in prison.

Penalties increase significantly in Arizona if you are charged and convicted of the sale of marijuana or other illegal drugs.  The sale of marijuana can result in a fine of up to $150,000 and as much as 12.5 years in prison for quantities over four pounds.

If you have never been in trouble with the law before, it may be possible to avoid jail time for simple possession cases for small quantities of drugs.  You may even be able to avoid a criminal record by entering into a diversion program, paying a fine and agreeing to submit to random drug testing.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

How to find the right criminal defense attorney

Finding the right criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between being found innocent of the charges brought against you and spending years in jail and paying thousands of dollars in fines.

Just like with other important decisions, there is a clear process you should follow when attempting to find the right criminal defense attorney for you.

  1. Determine if you need and can afford a criminal defense attorney. For many minor infractions, you may not need the full spectrum of services a criminal defense attorney can provide.  But at the very least, you should seek a consultation to determine if that is the case.  Also, you’ll need to consider if you can afford to hire a criminal defense attorney early in your case, or whether you’ll need to rely on a public defender to represent you.
  2. Decide what kind of criminal defense attorney you will need. This is pretty simple but very important.  If you’ve been charged with a crime that violates a state law, hire an attorney that specializes in state law.  If you’ve broken a federal law, hire an attorney that specializes in federal law.
  3. Narrow your focus to attorneys that specialize in defending the type of crime you are charged with. Use online directories, referrals, professional organizations and your State Bar website to find possible attorneys to represent you.
  4. Talk to several attorneys to find one who has the qualities that are important to you and that you feel most comfortable with. Good communication, promptness in replies, and experience in a particular jurisdiction are just some of the things for you to consider.
  5. Make sure the attorney will be actively involved in your case. It’s not uncommon to hand off some of the work related to a case, but when the game is on the line, you want the actual attorney representing you to a judge and jury.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

Robbery defenses

Robbery is one of the most common crimes committed in America, but sometimes, what constitutes robbery can be confused with other crimes.

There are several elements that define the crime of robbery:

  • Take money, property or valuables
  • Through violence, intimidation, threats or force
  • Take from another person
  • Take those items against their will

There are various degrees of robbery and the punishment for each will vary depending on those degrees.  Firstdegree robbery will meet the test of all the elements above.  Armed robbery will involve the use of a weapon, and sometimes, depending on the type of weapon used (knife, gun, etc.) that will have an impact on the severity of the offense.

A lawyer defending a person against robbery charges has a couple of possible options to pursue.

If a person can show they were forced to commit a robbery under duress, their case has a chance of being dismissed.  To prove duress, a person must be able to show that someone forced them to commit the robbery or face death or bodily injury as a result.

Another defense is providing a solid alibi that proves the accused is innocent.  All a robbery defense lawyer needs to prove is that there is reasonable doubt that the defendant didn’t commit the crime.  This can take place by having witnesses testify as to the defendant’s whereabouts when the robbery was committed, submitting proof that the defendant was nowhere near the physical location of the robbery when it took place, or other similar tactics.

A lesser used defense is entrapment.  This takes place when the supposed victim instigates the robbery as a way to get back at the defendant.  Another way to put this is that a victim or someone else may seek to frame the defendant and make it appear they were the instigators of the robbery.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

A primer on Arizona DUI laws

Driving under the influence is one of those crimes you think you can get away with because it can be so inconvenient to go out for a couple of drinks after work and then not be able to drive home.  Or to go to a college or pro football game and tailgate before and after the Cards or the Sun Devils post a big win.  Or to simply spend the evening at a friend’s house drinking a bit too much wine before driving just a couple of miles to the safe confines of your own home.

But the fact of the matter is the DUI is a serious crime.  People can die from your negligence if you get behind the wheel and drive after having too much to drink.

In some cases, an experienced DUI attorney can defend you from charges and sometimes effectively plea bargain down a sentence, especially if you have no prior convictions or if there was no loss of life, no injuries to people, and no damage to property.

Here are some of the basics you need to know about when it comes to Arizona’s DUI laws.

If you are under 21, there is a zero tolerance for being charged with DUI.  Anything other than 0.0% in your blood will earn charges against you.  If you are a commercial driver, the limit is 0.04%,and if you are 21 or older, you can be charged when your blood alcohol level rises above 0.08%.

First-time offenders face a minimum of 24 hours and up to 10 days in jail, a $250 base fine and a suspended license of up to 360 days.  Second offenses raise jail time to up to 90 days, a $500 base fine and a suspended license for one year.

Arizona also has an implied consent law which means if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can be fined and face an automatic license suspension for one year for a first offense and two years for subsequent offenses.

Arizona’s Extreme DUI law applies to people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher.  Persons convicted of an Extreme DUI are convicted of a criminal misdemeanor and face serious fines, a license revocation of one year and the installation and use of an interlock ignition device.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

Proving a case of manslaughter hinges on proving a defendant’s actions were reckless

In Arizona, manslaughter has a broad interpretation and can include many possible scenarios.  There is no classification on voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.  A person may only be charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide.

One of the keys to proving manslaughter is proving that a defendant’s actions were “reckless.”  In legal circles, “reckless” has a very specific definition.  To be qualified as “reckless” a defendant must have undertaken actions with an awareness that there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk of a negative result, and the risk was disregarded anyway.  Basically, a defendant can meet the reckless standard by ignoring risk and acting in a way that completely deviates from what a normal person would do in similar circumstances.

The “reckless” standard is most commonly applied in cases where a driver kills another driver (i.e. drunk driving), or when children die in an accident and the prosecutor believes the parents were negligent in their attempts to prevent the accident.

Manslaughter charges may also be brought if someone helps a person intentionally commit suicide, intentionally kills another person during a sudden quarrel, or a person causes the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother.

Although manslaughter is a serious charge, many times a seasoned manslaughter defense attorney will seek a plea agreement down to a manslaughter charge if a defendant has been charged with murder.  If an attorney can establish that the death was possibly justified or it was an accident, a defendant can face a shorter prison sentence instead of a conviction that carries a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Manslaughter is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona and as such, carries with it a prison sentence of between 7 and 21 years for a first offense.  For a person with previous felony charges, the sentence can rise dramatically, up to 35 years in some cases.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.