Possible defenses against an assault charge

Did you know that in most states, you don’t even have to actually strike a person to be charged with the crime of assault?  In most instances, just the act of threatening someone or to put them in immediate fear of being hit is enough to meet the standard for being charged.

A more serious charge of aggravated assault may take place when a person attempts to seriously injure another, or they cause an injury through the use of a deadly weapon.  In addition to facing criminal charges, if you commit assault, you may also be facing civil penalties as well, as you could be sued by a person who suffers an injury based on your actions.

While the crime of simple assault may seem straightforward to some people, an assault case is rarely, if ever, quite so simple.  That’s why no matter how small the crime appears to be, it just makes good sense to retain the services of a seasoned assault lawyer.

A lawyer may be able to employ several possible defenses on your behalf, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Some of the more common defenses of an assault case are:

Self defense.  To be able to use this as a defense strategy, it must be shown that a person perceived that there was a threat of harm against them, and that it was real and justified, and that they did not provoke their attacker nor did they have a reasonable chance of escaping the situation.

Defending others.  The same standards apply as in a straight self defense situation, except that your actions are in defense of another person instead of yourself.

Defending your property.  If someone illegally invades your property, you may be able to claim that you used a reasonable amount of force to defend your home and, in some cases, your personal property.

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

How to choose the right criminal attorney

Once you have been charged with a crime you’re probably going to be facing one of the most stressful situations you have ever encountered in your life.  Unless you are a repeat offender, you will encounter a system that is imposing and unforgiving.  You will not understand much of the mechanisms of the court system and that will lead to a certain amount of intimidation and fear.

With all these factors in mind, it is imperative that you hire the best possible criminal defense attorney for your situation.  If you are not diligent in finding the right criminal defense attorney, a bad situation could become even worse.

Here are some things to consider as you begin the process of finding a good fit.

First, you will not want to hire a rookie fresh out of law school.  The best way to defend you is for a lawyer to apply years of experience gained in the legal system.  Armed with this knowledge they can make the best possible defense on your behalf and for your criminal situation.  The experience of defense counsel should and needs to match your particular case as closely as possible.  An attorney with 20 years of experience in white collar crimes is not going to be the best fit for someone facing drunk driving or aggravated assault charges.  Many lawyers are generalists, but many others also practice law in narrowly defined areas of the court system.

Next, find a lawyer who knows the court system where your case is pending.  Laws may be the same throughout a state, but personalities, particulars and preferences can often times influence the outcome of a case.  Use known tendencies to your advantage to give you the best possible chance of acquittal.

Finally, you must have some sort of positive chemistry with your attorney.  You will be forming a close knit team to try and win your case and that pretty much demands a certain level of trust in working together.  When interviewing possible attorneys, if you don’t sense that they are personable and sympathetic to your issues, it may be best to move on to someone else.

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

Bank fraud can take many forms

As identity theft becomes more prevalent, the rise in the number of fraud crimes against banks continues to rise as well.

Bank fraud occurs when a person deliberately uses illegal means to acquire money or assets from a bank or any other financial institution, and the perpetrator keeps the crime a secret.  Conversely, bank fraud can also take place when someone poses as a bank and attempts to get money from depositors.

Bank fraud encompasses many types of white collar crimes, some of which include:

  • Impersonation
  • Stolen Checks
  • Accounting Fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Forgery
  • Fraudulent Loans
  • Internet Fraud
  • Counterfeiting
  • Identity Theft
  • ATM Theft
  • Credit Card Fraud
  • Wire Fraud
  • Tax Evasion

Although banks employ their own fraud investigators, local law enforcement agencies are generally involved when a crime has been committed.  In some instances, the U.S. Secret Service may also become involved since they are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the U.S. banking system.

Bank fraud is a federal crime because banks are protected by federal statutes.  As such, penalties can be particularly harsh, with fines up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 30 years.

Banks are highly motivated to press charges in cases like these, but they are even more motivated to recover their assets, which can create a negotiating point between a bank fraud attorney representing a defendant and the banking institution.

A defense attorney may also be able to use a couple of other defensestrategies as well.

In some instances, a defendant may be able to use entrapment as a defense, claiming that they had no intent to steal funds from the bank.

A defendant may also claim a lack of knowledge or understanding regarding the source and nature of the stolen funds.

And finally, although it is rare, a defendant can sometimes claim mental incompetence or insanity as a defense.

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

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.

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.