Defending yourself against manslaughter charges

A person charged in the accidental killing of another can either be charged with voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, depending on the circumstances of the situation and usually revolving around the degree of reckless and negligent behavior on the part of the defendant.  Defenses against manslaughter charges can be similar to other homicide charges, but there are a few other options as well.

An experienced manslaughter defense attorney may choose to use one or more of the following strategies in defending their client:

Self-Defense.  This is perhaps the most common of all manslaughter defenses.  An attorney must be able to prove that a defendant reasonably suspected that they were in imminent danger of being killed or seriously harmed.  They must also be able to prove that there was not an over-reaction on the amount of force used to protect ones self.  Sometimes, in a murder case, when this defense is used, a charge may be reduced from murder down to a plea of manslaughter, resulting in a lesser penalty.

Accidental.  A defendant may be able to show that the death was the result of an accident.  In cases where a dismissal may not be the outcome, it may be possible to have a charge reduced from one of voluntary manslaughter, which has an element of intent attached to it, to one of involuntary manslaughter, which only has some form of recklessness or neglect.

Innocence.  A prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person did actually commit manslaughter.  In some cases, it is possible to attach an alibi to a case or to introduce evidence that would create a reasonable doubt, leading to a dismissal of charges.

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

Financial crimes involve deceit and subterfuge

Financials crimes, often times referred to as white collar crimes, are a form of theft that involves taking money or property and using them illegally for the purpose of trying to gain some kind of benefit.  It is a very broad category of crime and can take on many forms, including:

  • Identity Theft
  • Fraud
  • Tax Evasion
  • Mortgage Fraud
  • Bribery
  • Bank Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Money Laundering
  • Racketeering
  • Securities Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Telemarketing Fraud
  • Ponzi Schemes

While each of these has its own unique traits, all of them involve some form of deceit or subterfuge, relying on another person or another business’s trust.  What is also common to all of these types of crimes is that they are generally complex in nature and will require a high degree of financial forensic work, meaning that a case may take a long time to come to trial or be resolved.

A financial crimes attorney may mount one or more possible defense strategies on behalf of a client, depending on the circumstances of a case.

One of the more common defense is claiming there is insufficient evidence to prove a financial crime has been committed.  A prosecutor has the burden of proof and as long as a degree of reasonable doubt can be used in a case, it could lead to a decision in the defendant’s favor.

Another defense is the absence of intent to commit a crime.  For a financial crime to take place, there generally must be an intent to deceive as part of the burden of proof required by the prosecutor.  For example, if you accidentally use a friend’s credit card, unless it can be shown that the act was intentional, in which case you could face charges.

A lesser used defense is entrapment which takes place when the government or law enforcement compels someone to commit a crime they would have not done so otherwise.  Prosecutors will generally argue that a defendant was likely to commit the crime anyway, leading to a murky overall defense strategy.

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

Using the truth as a self defense strategy

If you’ve been charged with a crime such as assault, battery or even murder, how you create an effective defense strategy could mean the difference between a long stretch in prison or walking out of a courtroom as a free person.

While there are many possible ways that an attorney can frame your case, one of the best strategies and one of the most common is to claim self defense.  A skilled self defense lawyer has many possible ways they can spin your story to show that you were not at fault for a crime that took place.  A skilled attorney will also be able to show how there can be several possible versions of “the truth” and be able to introduce enough reasonable doubt that could lead to an acquittal.

A skilled self defense lawyer must be a great storyteller because often times, he or she will be using the same basic set of facts as the prosecutor in a case.  How well an attorney can take those basic facts and create a narrative will be a key component.  The attorney should be able to tap into the truth, but also be able to create a story that will generate sympathy among the judge and the jury.

In those cases where the evidence overwhelming proves that a person did commit the crime, the attorney’s job is a bit more difficult, but not impossible.  It’s quite possible to admit guilt, but then explain why and how the crime was committed.  For example, a person may admit to killing another person, but if it is revealed that the person who was killed had repeatedly committed sexual assaults on the victim or that there were other extenuating circumstances, then a plausible explanation may be enough to sway the courts, gaining either a reduced sentence or an outright acquittal.

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

Give yourself the best chance to stay out of jail if you violate the terms of your probation

You’ve had a run-in with the law and as part of the terms of your punishment, you were placed on probation.  Chances are you were given several different things to complete in a timely manner to satisfy the court’s requirements.  But in a life filled with job, family and school commitments, you may find that you’ve backed yourself into a corner and have either let some of those terms lapse, or you know that it will be next to impossible to complete everything you’re required to do by the deadline imposed on you.

You probably also know that when you violate the terms of your probation, you run the risk of greatly upsetting the courts.  And that can me going to jail, facing additional terms or a number of other options, none of which are sure to be pleasant.

If you find yourself in this kind of a situation, your best bet is to work with an experienced probation violation attorney.  While there’s no guarantees when it comes to stepping over the line, an attorney gives you a solid chance of being able to keep your freedom and negotiating a new set of terms on your behalf.   Those terms may include fine payments, community service, counseling, rehabilitation, restitution payments, progress reviews as well as continuing to maintain lawful conduct at all times.

Regardless of your situation, when a probation violation is reported to the court, you do have certain legal rights.  Those include the right to receive a written notice of the violations claimed against you, the opportunity to be heard by a neutral judge, and the right to present evidence and witnesses to support your case that you were not in violation.  Your attorney will be able to use the legal process to your best advantage and help you understand all of your rights in any probation violation situation.

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

Chasing the American Dream at any cost can have serious implications

It’s virtually every American’s dream to own a home at some point in their lives.  It represents the fact that you’ve made it, that you’ve accomplished something noteworthy and significant.  But the pursuit of that goal can also cause some people to cut corners and tell lies to make their dream become a reality.

As real estate continues to be a big ticket item that seems to keep getting even more challenging, sometimes people resort to mortgage fraud as a means to an end.  Mortgage fraud includes various types of misrepresentation or lying on various mortgage documents.  This might mean submitting a fake W-2 form, lying on the amount of income and assets you have available or creating an inflated property appraisal, among many other types of fraudulent activities.

In 2009, the federal government enacted the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (FERA) that significantly expanded the enforcement of mortgage fraud laws.  Without the assistance of a skilled mortgage fraud lawyer, defendants can be subject to prison sentences ranging to 30 years and fines of up to $1 million.

Because so many people are involved in the sale and purchase of a property, the opportunity to commit mortgage fraud can take many types of forms.  Mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, appraisers, real estate agents, bankers, and even home buyers can be tempted to commit mortgage fraud at any one of the numerous steps involved in a real estate transaction.

Common types of mortgage fraud can include property flipping at an inflated value, fraudulent loan documentation, identity theft, equity skimming, inflated appraisals, the execution of a silent second mortgage, and the use of straw buyers, to name a few.

In addition to criminal penalties, defendants may also be held accountable for civil penalties as well.  For example, if a bank sustains a loss due to mortgage fraud, the defendant may be required to pay restitution to the bank for their illicit activities.

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

Defending yourself against embezzlement charges

Embezzlement is defined as a white collar crime in which some form of financial fraud takes place.  Typically, this means that when business funds are put under the control of a person and they are then misused for another purpose, the crime of embezzlement has been committed.

Because embezzlement cases can be complicated and involve a significant amount of financial forensic discovery, if you are charged with this type of crime, you will want to make sure you are represented by the best possible and most experienced embezzlement lawyer.

Depending on your situation, there are many possible defenses against a charge of embezzlement.  They can include:

Entrapment.  This is a defense strategy for many types of crimes in which the government compels an otherwise innocent person to commit a crime that they would not have done so otherwise.  The government will usually counter with the argument that you were going to commit the crime anyway.

Insufficient evidence.  Prosecutors must have enough solid evidence to prove that you committed a crime.  Otherwise you can raise the defense centered around reasonable doubt.  Because evidence can be difficult to produce and uncover, this is an often used defense strategy.

Under duress.  If you genuinely believe that some form of harm would come to you or that you would be in danger if you did not commit or participate in an embezzlement scheme, then you may be able to use this strategy.  Duress defenses do not work for the most part when they involve protecting a family member, such as taking money to pay for debts, gambling losses or drug and alcohol addiction.

Insanity or incapacity.  Mental illness claims can be difficult to prove as a means of having charges dismissed, especially when it comes to an insanity plea.  Incapacity defenses may make sense if you can prove that you were not in control of your senses, perhaps due to drugs or medications, and you made a mistake in the handling of money.

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

Possible defenses against domestic violence charges

Being charged with a domestic violence crime can be a particularly difficult situation to endure.  In almost all cases, emotions run high, evidence can be conflicting and courts and sentences can be exceptionally harsh.

Domestic violence falls under the broad umbrella of stalking, threatening, abandonment, or damaging property in addition to the primary definition which deals with inflicting some kind of physical injury to a victim.  Domestic violence is also not limited to violence among spouses.  It can include children, parents, or any member of an extended family.  Depending on the circumstances and the severity of charges, a defendant may be facing a felony or a misdemeanor.  Both can have far reaching and serious consequences.

An experienced domestic violence abuse attorney is critical to mounting an appropriate defense against these types of charges.  And often times there’s more to a charge than meets the eye.  That’s because many men and women who are accused of domestic violence may themselves be a victim, actually acting in self-defense which resulted in a violent response.  A strong domestic violence abuse lawyer will not only be able to call out a situation like this, they will know how to put the facts in the best possible light so that you can avoid jail time.

An attorney can also help you mount one of several possible defenses.  In addition to claims of self-defense, an attorney may also be able to claim that false accusations are being made against you.  This is quite common and a trained attorney can spot contradictions that will help prove the allegations were false.  Another defense is that of lack of willful intent.  This means that an accidental shove resulting in an injury may not meet the test of domestic violence because you did not intend to harm your partner.

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

Dealing with the proliferation of credit card fraud

With the proliferation of e-commerce and an Internet based economy, law enforcement has seen a significant jump in credit card, and related types of crimes in recent years.

In an economy where instant gratification can be the norm, if you’ve tempted fate and committed a crime using credit or debit cards, you will want to have the best possible credit card fraud attorney representing you as soon as you are charged.

Credit card fraud can take on many forms, but law enforcement treats all types with a high degree of seriousness, because every crime of this nature will damage a victim financially, whether it is an individual, a business, or a bank.

It’s important to note that depending on the nature of the crime and the amount of money involved, credit card fraud can either be considered a state level crime or a federal crime, on that could involve the FBI or the Secret Service in some large and extreme cases.

As these types of cases have become more prevalent, so to have the ways in which law enforcement has become more sophisticated in catching cases of credit card fraud.  But law enforcement faces a difficult task, because there are so many ways to commit this type of fraud.  Cards can be forged, lost or stolen.  They can be doctored or a skimming device can be used to steal credit card information.  Cloned merchant sites can be set up.  Data hacks and identity thefts can also lead to extensive cases of credit card fraud as well.

There are some types of defenses that can be employed in credit card fraud cases, but the best chance you have of keeping your freedom rests with doing your homework to find the best possible defense attorney to protect you.  The common goal is to get a dismissal or help you to negotiate a reduction in any charges from a felony to a misdemeanor as a way of avoiding jail time.

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

What you need to know about drug trafficking charges

One of the most serious drug charges you can face is drug trafficking.  Federal laws provide extremely tough penalties for selling, transporting and importing a wide range of illegal substances including marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and other similar drugs.

You can also be charged with drug trafficking even if the drugs in your possession are legal in Arizona.  If you possess large quantities of prescription drugs such as sleeping pills, painkillers, hydrocodone drugs and opiates, you may be subject to arrest as well.

A much more serious charge than drug possession, drug trafficking charges can be applied even if law enforcement officials think that you intended to sell any drugs found in your possession.  Much of this will depend on the quantity of drugs and cash in your possession when you’re arrested.

Most drugs are defined as controlled substances, meaning that their use and distribution falls under the purveyance of state and federal laws.  Controlled substances are further defined by being placed in various levels or schedules.  For example, marijuana is often classified as a Schedule I controlled substance.  Cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance and so forth.  These classifications are determined by the Controlled Substances Act.  The reason this is important is because penalties are often times determined not only by the quantity of a drug but by also what schedule it falls under.

For the most part, drug possession will be considered a state level crime, while trafficking and distribution charges are considered a federal level crime.  It’s important to note this because in most cases federal drug crimes will result in more harsh penalties, up to and including life in prison.  Depending on the crime, drug trafficking convictions can be governed by pre-determined and mandatory minimum sentences, leaving the courts little discretion in many cases.

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

Drive-by shooting defenses and strategies

In Arizona, a drive-by shooting crime is considered a Class 2 felony and is considered a highly dangerous offense because of the use of a deadly weapon.  This type of crime is punishable by a minimum of 7 years in prison and up to 21 years in prison for a first offense.  If a person has a previous history of dangerous felony crime convictions, then prison sentences bump up to a minimum of 14 years in prison up to 28 years in prison.

Needless to say, being charged with a drive-by shooting crime is a serious offense.  Fortunately, a drive-by shooting lawyer does have several possible defense strategies they can use when defending a client.

The most common of these is the misidentification of a suspect.  In drive-by shootings there are often multiple occupants in a vehicle, and the police may not always be able to accurately identify who actually pulled the trigger.  Even when witnesses come forward, there are ways to challenge their stories in such a way as to raise reasonable doubt.  Many times, in a strong cross-examination during a trial, a witness may cave in or otherwise have doubts cast upon their ability to accurately identify a shooter.

Also, sometimes the police use gun residue found on a defendant’s hands as a way to help them make their case.  A defense attorney can always counter this possible evidence if they can show that the gun was handed off to an individual after a shooting incident.  Residue can be left behind on anyone’s hand who touches the gun.

At other times, as part of a plea bargaining negotiation, if may be possible to get prosecutors to agree to lesser charges such as Misconduct Involving a Weapon or the Unlawful Discharge of a Weapon which are less severe charges than can result in lesser punishments.

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