Felony Sentencing Guidelines in Arizona

In Arizona, there are many different levels of criminal offenses that have a wide range of punishments associated with them. There are two major categories of crimes, felonies and misdemeanors. Each has different levels, or classes, within each. There are also different categories associated with repeat offenders for each class of felony or misdemeanor. In addition to that, there are several special circumstances and unique sentencing provisions that may or may not apply to your case.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor offense in Arizona, it is critical to hire an experienced attorney that will fight for you. Here at the Cates Garvey Law Group, we have years of experience handling cases involving the lowest level misdemeanors to the most severe felonies. Mr. Cates is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a Specialist in Criminal Law and has over 20 years of experience in handling cases of all types. In addition, Ryan Garvey, the managing partner of Cates Garvey, has 20 years of experience in standing up for the rights of the accused. The Cates Garvey Law Group has a strong team of attorneys that have experience in fighting cases in all 15 counties in Arizona. We are aggressive at mounting defenses and strategies to help you fight any allegation. Do not waste your time talking to salespeople who are not licensed attorneys. At the Cates Garvey Law Group, we offer free, and confidential, 30-minute consultations with licensed attorneys to help answer your questions. Please call (855) 965-4522 to schedule a consultation today.

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Dangerous Crimes Against Children

In Arizona, crimes involving minor children are subject to serious sentencing enhancements under A.R.S. § 13-705. Generally, if the alleged victim of any crime involving sex or violence is under the age of 15, the offense may be charged as a dangerous crime against children. This has the effect of significantly increasing the amount of prison time a defendant is facing and raising the mandatory minimum required sentence for the defendant’s alleged crime. As an example, aggravated assault causing temporary disfigurement, or a fracture is a class four felony in Arizona. If charged as a non-dangerous, non-repetitive offense, aggravated assault carries a range of punishment from probation to 3.75 years in prison. If aggravated assault is charged as a dangerous crime against a minor child who is under fifteen years of age the defendant faces a range of penalties from 10 to 24 years in prison.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime involving a minor child, please contact us today. Allegations involving dangerous crimes against children are incredibly serious, but our attorneys have achieved excellent results for our clients in these cases. Despite the gravity of this sentencing enhancement, we have successfully negotiated very favorable plea offers for our clients in these types of cases, including deals that involved no prison time. Our attorneys are available to provide a free consultation seven days a week. Please don’t hesitate to call.

 

Vehicle Search Crimes

Vehicle Searches in Arizona: Know Your Rights

One of the most frequent issues in criminal cases is the legality of a search by a police officer. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, this means that police need a warrant to execute a search, or to stop a person for more than a few moments. The Supreme Court, however, has ruled that the Fourth Amendment’s protections are limited in the case of vehicles.

Police need some reasonable suspicion that a person has broken the law in order to stop a vehicle. That means that if an officer has reason to believe that the driver of a vehicle has broken almost any traffic law, he can be pulled over.

While police need only reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle, to execute a search, they require probable cause to believe that the occupants of the vehicle are engaged in a crime, and that evidence of the crime will be found in the vehicle. An example of this is the smell of marijuana. If an officer smells marijuana, an illegal substance in Arizona, he has probable cause to believe that the occupants of the vehicle are in possession of marijuana, and that the marijuana is located somewhere in the car.

It seems like a simple concept, but search issues can get complicated. Police often have a strong suspicion that a crime is being committed but lack any evidence as the basis for their hunches. In situations like these, officers often attempt to draw out the stop to develop more information. Common tactics include asking drivers to exit the vehicle on the premise that the officer wants to talk about issuing a warning, asking permission to search to gauge a driver’s reaction, or engaging the driver in small talk so the officer can claim the stop became consensual. The last is often used while the officer awaits the arrival of a canine unit.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a crime following a vehicle search, please call us. We offer free consultations and can help you understand your rights.

Juvenile Criminal Cases and Court System In Arizona

Arizona has a juvenile court system that has been set up to handle criminal cases where the defendant is a minor. Not all minors will qualify to be a part of the juvenile court program; depending on the age of the defendant and the nature of the charges against him, a minor could be charged as either an adult or juvenile. The benefit to the juvenile court system is that it is far more forgiving than the criminal court system. The juvenile court system focuses on rehabilitation; judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and probation officers all work closely with each other and with the parents and minor defendant to get the defendant back on track.

During the pendency of the case, the judge will get regular status updates from juvenile probation on the minor defendant’s progress. The judge is looking for signs of progress: obeying parents and teachers, improving grades, volunteer or community activities, whether the defendant is working, the defendant’s plans after high school and what they are doing to prepare for the future.

If the defendant is successful at the juvenile level, they will most likely be placed on a period of probation. Once they reach the age of majority, their juvenile records will be sealed.

If you are the parent of a child who has been accused of a crime, please call us today. Our attorneys are familiar with the juvenile process and will be happy to discuss your case with you at no charge.

Penalties Under A.R.S. § 13-3405 – Possession of Marijuana

Possession of any amount of marijuana without a valid Arizona Medical Marijuana Act card is a felony under Arizona law. A.R.S. § 13-3405 defines the range of penalties for possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana for sale. Simple possession, that is, possession of a small but usable amount of marijuana for personal use, is a class 6 felony, and may be designated a misdemeanor by the court. Possession of any amount of marijuana over two pounds, the threshold amount, is a felony offense. The seriousness of the felony charge is tied to the amount of marijuana in the person’s possession.

• 2 pounds or less: Class 6 felony
• Between 2 and 4 pounds: Class 5 felony
• 4 pounds or more: Class 4 felony

Possession of marijuana for sale is a more serious offense. A person can be charged with possession for sale if the officers who conducted the investigation find evidence that the person was planning to sell the marijuana. Some examples of evidence the officers look for are the amount of marijuana in the person’s possession; the amount and denominations of cash the person is carrying; whether the marijuana is packaged for sale; whether the person has a scale or some other instrument used to measure quantities of marijuana. The penalties for possession of marijuana for sale are also tied to the weight of the marijuana in the person’s possession.

• Less than 2 pounds: Class 4 felony
• Between 2 and 4 pounds: Class 3 felony
• More than 4 pounds: Class 2 felony

Transportation of marijuana is charged when the police have reason to believe that a person is importing or transferring marijuana for sale. Like the other sections of the statute, the seriousness of the charge is tied to the weight of the marijuana.

• Under 2 pounds: Class 3 felony
• Over 2 pounds: Class 2 felony

As you can see, transportation is a very serious offense.
If you or a loved one has been charged with possession of marijuana, call us today. Our attorneys are familiar with these cases, and frequently achieve good results for even the most serious marijuana related offenses.

What You Need To Know About Resisting Arrest Charges: A.R.S. § 13-2508

Resisting arrest is one of the most commonly charged offenses in the country, and Arizona is no exception. In fact, in some cases a person has committed no other crime, should not have been arrested, and may still have committed resisting arrest and be found guilty of that charge.

A.R.S. § 13-2508 is the Arizona statute that defines resisting arrest. It holds that a person commits resisting arrest when they intentionally hinder a peace officer from making an arrest. Resisting can be either active, such as threatening or trying to fight an officer, or it can be passive, such as locking up or going limp.

Resisting arrest can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on whether the resistance was passive or active. In cases where the resistance was passive, the resisting arrest charge will usually be accompanied by an aggravated assault charge, as harming or attempting to harm a peace officer is its own crime.

Body-worn cameras are now common, and many arrests are filmed. For people charged with resisting, this can be good news. We have seen cases where resisting charges have been tacked on with little or no basis. In one of our cases, our client was charged with actively resisting for spitting on an officer. When we reviewed the body-cam footage, we found that our client had been placed in a choke hold and involuntarily drooled on the officer’s arm. We were able to get those charges dismissed.

If you or a loved one has been charged with resisting arrest, please call us today. We offer free consultations and are familiar with these types of charges.

Involuntary Commitment for Mental Health Treatment

Involuntary commitment for mental health treatment is often an extraordinarily confusing and frightening experience for patients and their families. Generally, this process starts when the patient has a break, a mental health episode that causes someone to be concerned enough for the patient that they contact police or mental health services. That call triggers a short period of commitment for evaluation. If, during the evaluation period, behavioral health experts determine that the person is a danger to themselves or others, they may file a petition for court ordered treatment.

When a petition for court ordered treatment is filed, a hearing will be scheduled where the Court will determine whether the person is a danger to themselves or others as a result of some disability, and whether that person is unable or unwilling to seek treatment voluntarily. If the Court determines that both are true, it may order the person to receive treatment. Under A.R.S. § 36-540 the Court has three options:

  1. Outpatient treatment: The Court may order the patient to receive treatment on an outpatient basis. The patient will be assigned a contact to ensure that they are following their treatment plan.
  2. Inpatient/outpatient: The Court may order the patient to receive treatment consisting of both inpatient and outpatient care.
  3. Inpatient treatment: The Court may order the patient confined to a behavioral health facility for treatment.

Court ordered treatment programs are in effect for one year, or until the patient is determined to be voluntary.

Often, when patients or their families are told that a doctor has filed a petition for court ordered treatment and are confronted with this statute, they come to the conclusion that the patient may end up confined to a behavioral health facility for a year. This is rarely the case. Arizona’s mental behavioral health services are designed to stabilize and release patients. Only in extreme cases, or in cases where the patient has a pattern of abandoning treatment, would a long period of commitment be ordered.

If you or a loved one are the subject of a petition for court ordered treatment, please contact our firm today. Our attorneys are familiar with this process and can advocate on your behalf.

Fraud Schemes and Artifices, A.R.S. § 13-2310

Fraud Schemes and Artifices, A.R.S. § 13-2310, is an incredibly short, incredibly broad, and incredibly serious charge. It reads: “Any person who, pursuant to a scheme or artifice to defraud, knowingly obtains any benefit by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises or material omissions is guilty of a class 2 felony.” There is a lot to unpack in that one sentence.

Fraud schemes is often charged when the State believes that a person has stolen something using a plan or trick, and that they have used that plan or trick more than once. Some common examples of this include using telemarketing to solicit investments in phony companies, foreign lotteries, or exchanging checks for money orders.

Fraud schemes can also be charged when a person has committed some other, lesser offense, more than once. For example, if a person uses another person’s credit card, they can be charged with credit card fraud, which can range from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 5 felony, depending on the dollar amount of the purchase. If that person has used more than one person’s credit card, they can instead be charged with fraud schemes, and three class 1 misdemeanors can become a class 2 felony.

If you have been charged with Fraud Schemes and Artifices, please contact us today. This is a serious charge, and these cases can be very complex. Our attorneys are experienced in fraud cases, and will take the time to help you understand the nature of the accusation, and the best way to proceed.

Understanding Domestic Violence Charges in Arizona

In Arizona, domestic violence is never charged on its own. The State uses the domestic violence (DV) tag as an enhancement for criminal charges where the alleged victim has some familial relationship to the defendant. The domestic violence tag can be applied to a wide variety of offenses, but is commonly applied to:

  • Assault
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Criminal Damage
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Stalking

If you are charged with a domestic violence offense, you should be aware of four things: First, your release conditions will likely instruct you not to return to the scene of the crime, and not to have any contact with the alleged victim. These release conditions will be enforced even if the scene is your home, and the victim your child or spouse. Second, if there were any firearms at the scene they may have been seized, and they can be held for up to six months. Third, if you have two or more prior domestic violence offenses you may be charged with a felony, even if the crime you are charged with is a misdemeanor. Fourth, federal law prohibits the purchase or possession of firearms by anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense if the crime involved the use or threat of force.

If you have been charged with any crime and the State is alleging that it is a domestic violence offense, you should call us today. Our attorneys have experience dealing with domestic violence charges and will be happy to provide a free consultation.

Possession of Marijuana/Medical Marijuana/Prop 200

Possession of any amount of marijuana is a felony in Arizona, though it can be designated a misdemeanor by a judge. The penalty for possession of marijuana can range from no conviction at all to several years in prison, depending on the number of prior felony convictions and drug strikes a person has on their record.

Arizona’s Prop 200, ARS § 13-901.01, makes possession of marijuana a probation mandatory offense for anyone not convicted of two or more drug crimes, provided they have no history of violence. This means that if a person has no prior drug convictions, and has never been involved in a violent crime, they will not be sentenced to prison if convicted.

Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona. If a person is in possession of a valid Arizona Medical Marijuana card, they will not be prosecuted for being in possession of small amounts of marijuana. Arizona does not recognize medical marijuana cards from other states. Possession of any amount of marijuana in Arizona without a valid medical marijuana card from Arizona is a crime. This can lead to some absurd results, like a New Mexico state citizen purchasing marijuana legally with a valid New Mexico medical marijuana card, travelling to Arizona with a small amount of marijuana, and being convicted of a felony for possession of marijuana in Arizona.

If you have been accused of possession of marijuana, or any drug, call us today. Our attorneys offer free consultations and can usually determine whether a person is eligible for probation under Prop 200.