When a parent kidnaps their child

Kidnapping is defined as knowingly restraining another person with the intent of holding the victim for ransom, as a shield or as a hostage.  Kidnapping can be an emotionally charged crime, especially when a parent kidnaps one of their own children as part of a family dispute.

Custody disputes are most times a messy affair, and in cases where one parent wants to hurt the other or feels they have been wronged by the court system, this can lead to a parent absconding with their child.

To meet the standard of parental kidnapping, three standards must be met.

  1. What is the legal standing of the offending parent?
  2. What are the court orders, if any, regarding custody?
  3. What is the intent of the offending parent?

Parental abduction generally violates several federal and state laws and may include the FBI.  When a kidnapping occurs, it also means that custody orders were violated.  When custody orders are violated, some of the penalties for the violator can be fines, jail time (in addition to kidnapping charges), loss of custody and loss of visitation rights.  To prevent a repeat of this happening, the custodial parent should involve an experienced custody rights attorney who can also press the case for kidnapping as the most thorough way to prevent a repeat episode.

In cases where a parental kidnapping standard cannot be met, if a custody order was in place, then the offending parent could be charged with a crime of “interference with child custody.”  Though not as serious, it could still lead to custody sanctions, fines and other penalties.  On the flip side, a good defense attorney will use alawful custody argument to counter parental kidnapping charges.

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

Defining what constitutes aggravated assault

A slap across the face or a punch in the nose happens all the time and are classic examples of simple assault.  In some instances, just the threat of physical harm is enough to constitute assault.

However, when an assault turns more violent, either through the use of weapons or through the intent of the perpetrator, than simple assault can be raised to aggravated assault.  In most all cases, aggravated assaults are considered felonies.

Using a deadly weapon during an assault is considered aggravated assault.  The weapon does not actually need to be used for the charge to apply.  Simply threatening a person with the use of a weapon means that the injuries would be more serious than without the weapon.

Determining the mental state of the perpetrator can also result in an upgrade to an aggravated assault charge.  If the intent of the perpetrator can be proven, that they wanted to cause severe harm or that they acted with reckless indifference toward human life, a charge of aggravated assault can be applied.

Some states also raise the level of assault automatically to aggravated assault if certain classes of victims are involved.  Typically, this will include, fire and police officers, paramedics, doctors and nurses, and in some cases, teachers.

Assaults based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion or sexual orientation of a victim may qualify as a protected class, resulting in not only aggravated assault charges being filed but hate crime charges being filed as well.

There are also degrees of aggravated assault.

First degree aggravated assault occurs when there is adeliberateand premeditated malice.

Second degree aggravated assault takes place when there is no deliberate or premeditated planning.

Third and fourth degree aggravated assault are lesser charges where significant bodily harm may be committed, but does not rise to the standard of serious bodily harm.  This may take place during serious fist fights and similar events.

Because penalties from an aggravated assault charge can be quite serious, it’s best to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing this kind of a situation.

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

The differences between state and federal criminal defenses

A large majority of people who are charged with crimes face state criminal charges.  While state charges are serious, they pale in comparison to what a person faces at the federal level if they are charged with a crime.  An experienced federal criminal attorney will mount a very different defense for federal crimes vs. state crimes.

There are many differences a defendant needs to be aware of at the federal level.

Federal prosecutors are known as Assistant United States Attorneys.  In general, they have more resources and handle fewer cases than a prosecutor at the state level.  They get involved earlier in a case than at the state level and will spend a lot more time framing a prosecution.

Federal felony crimes are heard by two different kinds of judges.  United States Magistrate judges will be the first judge a defendant will appear in front of after they are charged.  A United States District judge is appointed by the President and serves the court system for life, meaning their credentials are among the best in the U.S. justice system.

Jurors in federal cases come from a much more diverse pool than with state courts.  In a state court, jurors will generally come from the same county as the court.  In federal cases, jurors will come from the same judicial district, which can encompass a large number of counties.

Sentencing at a federal level is based on federal sentencing guidelines as well as a variety of laws that govern how a sentence will be imposed.  There is less leeway in a federal court than with a state court when it comes to sentencing.

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

Why you might be able to appeal a verdict

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, but don’t feel your side of the case was given proper consideration, then you have the right to appeal the verdict.  There are several possible issues that can be raised if there is a decision to appeal.  A criminal appeals attorney may focus on these issues:

Evidentiary issues – A judge may have decided that someone was not going to be allowed to testify in your defense.  If you thought that should have been otherwise, you can appeal this part of your case and make the argument that they should have been allowed to testify.

Pretrial motions – Many times, a defendant will have pretrial motions that are decided against them.  This can be anything from how evidence was collected, to how a search warrant was executed, or how any number of your other constitutional rights were violated.  In appealing a pretrial motion, you are asking the court to look at these procedures again to make sure they are carried out correctly.

Sentencing – This holds mostly true in federal criminal sentencing and will challenge whether or not the judge used the proper sentencing guidelines to determine the length and severity of a sentence they handed down.  If a sentence seems unduly harsh, it is up to the defendant’s legal team to show the judge had some bias or prejudice that resulted in the harsh penalty.

Sufficiency of evidence – You can file an appeal if you think the prosecutor did not present enough evidence to find you guilty of a crime.  These types of appeals are tough to win, but they do remain an option.

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