The basics of filing an appeal

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you have the right to challenge the decision through an appeal process. The basis for the appeal can be filed based on the claim that key legal mistakes were made that affected the outcome of the trial and the sentence that was imposed. In an appeals process, a criminal appeals attorney is hoping to have the case dismissed or at the very least, re-tried or re-sentenced. Appeals are heard in what is known as an appellate court.

The attorney will present their reasons that an appeal should be validated by filing a brief with the court. No new evidence may be introduced and the court may only review the proceedings of the lower court. In response, the government will also file its own brief stating why the conviction should be upheld. In some cases, the presiding court will also ask both sides to present oral arguments before reaching a decision.

There are four main grounds for an appeal:

The lower court made a serious error of law that materially affected the outcome of the trial. Judges make mistakes and when one impacts the outcome of a trial or a sentence imposed, a challenge can be brought to correct the deficiency.

The evidence does not support the verdict that the judge or the jury reached. Because an appellate court is limited in what they can have access to, the “weight of evidence” claim may put appellate judges at a disadvantage when it comes to determining the validity of an appeal.

The lower court did not use appropriate discretion and made an errant ruling. A judge may be overturned if an appellate judge determines that he or she was clearly unreasonable or arbitrary in a way that did not support the facts of the case.

The defendant can claim that they had an ineffective assistance of counsel, a right protected under the Sixth Amendment. It is not enough to claim that an attorney was ineffective, it must also be shown that the ineffectiveness had a material outcome on the trial itself. Sometimes, the level of incompetence is not enough to impact the outcome.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.

Arizona drug laws are some of the toughest in the nation

Despite a trend toward relaxing penalties related to certain drugs throughout much of the United States, Arizona is still known as one of the states with some of the toughest drug laws on the books.  Part of this is a general conservative attitude toward drugs in the state, and part of it comes from being a border state that is a prime target for drugs moving across the border with too much regularity.

All of these forces combine to create a severe punishment for anyone who is caught violating Arizona’s drug laws.  That means it is imperative to retain the services of an experienced drug crime attorney for even the smallest and most simple of drug related charges.

In Arizona, drugs are divided into six categories, and the type of punishment a person may receive will depend partly on which category of drug is involved.  Those categories are:

  • Marijuana
  • Prescription drugs
  • Narcotics
  • Peyote
  • Substances that release toxic vapors
  • Dangerous drugs such as metheamphetamines

In addition, you can also be charged with a drug crime if you possess the compounds used to make any of the aforementioned drugs as well.

The main dividing line in drug charges has to do with marijuana versus all other types of dangerous drugs.  Since the legalization of medical marijuana in Arizona, possession laws have become a bit fuzzy, but there are still harsh penalties for possessing larger quantities of the drug, as well as transporting, distributing and manufacturing it as well.

For many other drugs that are classified as dangerous drugs, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony, and depending on the quantity and circumstances, you can be looking at almost four years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000 upon conviction.

There is some leeway in these statutes and sometimes, through a plea bargain, charges and penalties can be negotiated down to lesser charges, but only with the help of a skilled drug crimes attorney.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities

Understanding the different types of robbery you can be charged with

Robbery is defined as a form of theft that involves violence or some type of threatened violence, making any kind of robbery conviction one in which a defendant could face serious jail time.

In Arizona, robbery is broken into three distinct crimes:

Robbery, which is defined as the taking of another person’s property by using force of the threat of force, and against the victim’s will.  In most cases, a defendant will be charged with a Class 4 felony and could face up to three years in prison.

Aggravated robbery carries the same burden of proof as a regular robbery, except that a defendant will commit the crime with one or more accomplices.  Aggravated robbery is considered a Class 3 felony and can carry a penalty of up to seven years in prison.

Armed robbery involved the use of a deadly weapon or a simulated deadly weapon.  This means if a defendant uses a toy gun that appears to be a real gun, they can still be charged with armed robbery.  This offense is charged as a Class 2 felony and can result in up to 10 years in prison.

In each of these types of crimes, mitigating or aggravating circumstances can result in a penalty that is less than the maximum or confirm that a convicted defendant should receive the maximum sentence.  Much of the length of the sentence will be determined by how the judge perceives the facts of the case.

That’s why it is imperative to hire a skilled robbery attorney to represent you if you are charged with any form of robbery.  An attorney can not only mount a defense that may result in an acquittal, they may also be able to negotiate a lesser sentence when an acquittal is not possible.

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves clients in Phoenix, Tempe, Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.