A primer on Arizona DUI laws

Driving under the influence is one of those crimes you think you can get away with because it can be so inconvenient to go out for a couple of drinks after work and then not be able to drive home.  Or to go to a college or pro football game and tailgate before and after the Cards or the Sun Devils post a big win.  Or to simply spend the evening at a friend’s house drinking a bit too much wine before driving just a couple of miles to the safe confines of your own home.

But the fact of the matter is the DUI is a serious crime.  People can die from your negligence if you get behind the wheel and drive after having too much to drink.

In some cases, an experienced DUI attorney can defend you from charges and sometimes effectively plea bargain down a sentence, especially if you have no prior convictions or if there was no loss of life, no injuries to people, and no damage to property.

Here are some of the basics you need to know about when it comes to Arizona’s DUI laws.

If you are under 21, there is a zero tolerance for being charged with DUI.  Anything other than 0.0% in your blood will earn charges against you.  If you are a commercial driver, the limit is 0.04%,and if you are 21 or older, you can be charged when your blood alcohol level rises above 0.08%.

First-time offenders face a minimum of 24 hours and up to 10 days in jail, a $250 base fine and a suspended license of up to 360 days.  Second offenses raise jail time to up to 90 days, a $500 base fine and a suspended license for one year.

Arizona also has an implied consent law which means if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you can be fined and face an automatic license suspension for one year for a first offense and two years for subsequent offenses.

Arizona’s Extreme DUI law applies to people with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or higher.  Persons convicted of an Extreme DUI are convicted of a criminal misdemeanor and face serious fines, a license revocation of one year and the installation and use of an interlock ignition device.

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

Proving a case of manslaughter hinges on proving a defendant’s actions were reckless

In Arizona, manslaughter has a broad interpretation and can include many possible scenarios.  There is no classification on voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.  A person may only be charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide.

One of the keys to proving manslaughter is proving that a defendant’s actions were “reckless.”  In legal circles, “reckless” has a very specific definition.  To be qualified as “reckless” a defendant must have undertaken actions with an awareness that there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk of a negative result, and the risk was disregarded anyway.  Basically, a defendant can meet the reckless standard by ignoring risk and acting in a way that completely deviates from what a normal person would do in similar circumstances.

The “reckless” standard is most commonly applied in cases where a driver kills another driver (i.e. drunk driving), or when children die in an accident and the prosecutor believes the parents were negligent in their attempts to prevent the accident.

Manslaughter charges may also be brought if someone helps a person intentionally commit suicide, intentionally kills another person during a sudden quarrel, or a person causes the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother.

Although manslaughter is a serious charge, many times a seasoned manslaughter defense attorney will seek a plea agreement down to a manslaughter charge if a defendant has been charged with murder.  If an attorney can establish that the death was possibly justified or it was an accident, a defendant can face a shorter prison sentence instead of a conviction that carries a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Manslaughter is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona and as such, carries with it a prison sentence of between 7 and 21 years for a first offense.  For a person with previous felony charges, the sentence can rise dramatically, up to 35 years in some cases.

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

There are many types of white collar crimes

A white collar crimes attorney will be able to defend you against a wide array of white collar crimes, such as:

Bankruptcy Fraud – If you knowingly make a false statement on a bankruptcy filing, you can be charged with fraud.  You can also be charged when you conceal assets from a bankruptcy trustee in an attempt to have them withheld from creditors.

Health Care Fraud – These are the most commonly prosecuted white collar crimes in federal court.  They generally start when someone submits false claims to the federal government for payment, usually under Medicare.  These can either be for services that were not provided or for fake patients who do not really exist.

Tax Crimes – These types of crimes involve tax misrepresentation, or tax evasion, a complete failure to file a tax return and can involve prison time if convicted.

Immigration Fraud – There are many ways immigration fraud can be committed, from taking part in a sham marriage, to lying on an immigration form, or providing false information to help someone get into the country illegally.  If you are already in the country on a visa, and you lie about your status to obtain employment, you can be charged with a crime as well.  If you are convicted, you can spend time in prison and/or be deported and never allowed to enter the United States again.

Securities Crimes – There are many types of securities fraud that involve pump and dump schemes, churning stocks and bonds, making misleading statements about the prospects of a company and many others.  The federal government works closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission to police these infractions.

Real Estate Fraud – Creating a false appraisal of the value of a property, falsifying loan documents if you are a buyer or a mortgage broker, and not disclosing defects and other negative aspects of the property and other crimes that are considered real estate fraud.

The penalties for white collar crimes can be especially harsh, often times on par with those doled out for violent crimes.  But the severity of a sentence will vary, depending on the amount of loss and how many victims were involved.  Generally, the higher the number of victims, the tougher the sentence.

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

Identity theft is a serious financial crime

In recent years, identity theft has become a major problem. It is a form of financial fraud that can be committed in many different ways. Unsuspecting victims may have their personal information stolen to open credit card accounts, have loans taken out or have their bank accounts drawn down without their knowledge.

Any person who knowingly purchases, creates, records or possesses anyone else’s financial information is guilty of identity theft. In Arizona, this is considered a Class 4 felony and can result in stiff jail sentences and fines of up to $150,000. The severity of the penalty will depend on the amount of monetary damage to the victim, how sophisticated the identity theft was and the defendant’s past criminal record.

If a person is charged with an identity theft crime, there are a few defenses that a financial crimes lawyer can mount on their behalf.

The best defense is to claim that there was no fraudulent intent or unlawful purpose for the defendant to be in possession of another person’s identitymaterials.

Obtaining another person’s personal identifying information with someone’s consent for a legitimate purpose does not, in itself, constitute identity theft.

If you are charged with an identity theft crime, it is essential to work with an experienced financial crimes defense attorney to ensure the best outcome for your case. Because there are so many different ways that an identity theft case can be prosecuted, it is essential to respond by creating a defense that is customized to your particular situation so that you stand the best possible chance of getting charges reduced or dismissed.

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

Making your case for self-defense

Defending yourself, your family or your possessions against criminal actions is a widely accepted principle, but specific rules as to how this is administered will vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

In cases of self-defense, you have the right to use enough force or violence to stop or counteract force or violence that is being attempted to be used against you.  While this sounds simple enough, the degree to which a person can use force creates a serious grey area that has been the focus of many heated cases in recent years.

States have developed general guidelines to help administer self-defense laws.  Many of these can be fully fleshed out by an experienced self-defense attorney defending a person accused of overstepping their self-defense rights.

An imminent threat – A person may only use self-defense measures when it is in response to an immediate threat.  The threat must be one that puts a person in immediate physical harm.  Yelling and threatening a person and then stopping may not be met by a physical self-defense response because the immediate threat has passed.  Such an act is considered retaliatory.

A reasonable perception of harm – Self-defense can be justified if a reasonable person in a similar situation would view the acts as potentially, immediately harmful whether they were intended to be or not.

A proportional response – You can only use self-defense to the same degree as the threat in question.  If a person attempts to use deadly force against you, then you can safely use deadly force against them.  But if the threat is much less than that, you will overstep your legal bounds if you still use deadly force as a self-defense response.

The Castle Doctrine – In most states, a person can use deadly force against someone who unlawfully enters their home.

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

The cost of violating your probation

If you’ve been arrested, convicted of a crime, but are lucky enough to be sentenced to probation, you may breathe a sigh of relief.  But that sigh can quickly go away if you don’t diligently follow the terms and conditions of your probation.

While a good probation violation lawyer may be able to help you avoid going to jail due to your transgression, you need to understand that a probation violation can also result in more significant jail time and fines, or an even longer extended probation period.

There are many ways you can violate your probation.  All of them basically stem from ignoring, avoiding, refusing or acting in such a way that you violate the terms the legal system has set out for you at any time during your probation period.

This may include:

  • Not reporting to your probation officer at your scheduled time and date.
  • Possessing, using or selling illegal drugs.
  • Not paying fines as required by the court.
  • Not appearing in court on your set dates and times.
  • Meeting with people or going places you are expressly forbidden to do so as part of the terms and conditions of your probation.
  • Committing other crimes or getting arrested for any other violation.

When you violate your probation, your probation officer has a lot of leeway to determine what happens next.  He can issue a warning or require you to appear in court for a probation hearing.  Much of this rests upon the type of violation and your history of probation compliance.

At a hearing, a judge will weigh several factors, including the severity of the violation, your probation history and any other circumstances unique to your situation.  If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced accordingly.  Your probation time may only be extended, you may be assigned community service or rehabilitation classes, you may be ordered to serve some time in jail, or you may revert back to the terms of your original sentence and serve out your remaining time in jail.

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

Mortgage fraud can take many forms

For most people, buying a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make.  But the stress of meeting bank standards for a loan can put a lot of pressure on a potential home buyer, a mortgage banker, appraiser, or a broker involved in the transaction.  Fudging facts to make a deal work in return for a considerable pay day is a constant concern.

Illegally representing information on paperwork for a home loan constitutes mortgage fraud.  It is sometimes known by other names including bank fraud, wire fraud or conspiracy.

Because crimes like these have become more prevalent than ever, in 2009, the federal government enacted The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, expanding the enforcement powers concerning mortgage fraud laws.  Federal penalties under FERA can now reach up to $1 million in fines and up to a 30-year prison sentence.  Those who are convicted of mortgage fraud may also be liable for monetary damages if any are suffered by a lender.

Mortgage fraud attorneys are no strangers when it comes to defending clients for various types of mortgage fraud, which can include:

Property flipping –involves buying a house, having it appraised at an inflated and false value, and them promptly selling it.

Loan documentation fraud – takes place when an applicant submits altered or forged financial documents such as paystubs or tax returns.

Straw buyers – a buyer uses another person’s name and credit history to purchase a home while remaining hidden.

Stolen identity – a form of identity theft where a person’s name and credit history are used without their knowledge.

Inflated appraisal – an appraiser colludes with a mortgage broker to raise the appraisal value that will make it possible to match the buyer’s offer.

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

The basics of embezzlement

Embezzlement is a complicated matter.  Being entrusted with the financial aspects of a business can open the door to many possible accusations claiming financial abuse by a business owner against an employee.

With the help of an experienced embezzlement lawyer, a defendant has many possible avenues to have a case dropped or charges lessened.  This is especially true where many people may have access to a business’s money and/or there is not a clear path to a single bank account where the missing money may have been deposited.

In addition, embezzlement may either be a misdemeanor or a felony.  At a trial, the judge will pay particular attention to the value of the amount that was taken and that will tend to influence how much of a punishment to dole out.  Cases involving $400 or less are generally treated as misdemeanors.  Anything over that amount is probably going to be charged as a felony.

In cases of embezzlement, fraudulent intent must be proven.  This means that a defendant had the intent to take funds or property without the consent of the owner and convert them in a way that is inconsistent with what the owner wanted.  For example, a stockbroker who skims money off the top of a brokerage account to use for their own gain would be consistent with fraudulent intent.  If a person takes another’s property but believes they have the right to use and convert that property, and they can prove it, they will not be proven guilty of embezzlement.

It’s important to remember that the primary motivation for a victim is to get their money back.  This may leave the door open to offer restitution to make the victim whole again, and that could lead to a reduced sentence if convicted of an embezzlement charge. In some cases, jail time may be avoided altogether.

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

An attorney is an integral part of helping you stop domestic violence

Arizona has broad and aggressive laws when it comes to prosecuting domestic violence abuse cases.

Many people think of domestic abuse as a physical confrontation between two family members; it is actually much more than that.  All that is required for a domestic violence dispute is if there is a qualifying victim.  That can include a spouse, child, parent, an elderly relative, or a sibling.

Domestic violence is much more than a physical altercation.  It can include threats and intimidation, stalking, kidnapping, economic deprivation, trespassing and harassment, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other situations.

Retaining a highly experienced domestic violence abuse lawyer is especially important because state law does not allow a victim to drop charges.  The case will be prosecuted unless the district attorney decides they do not want to press charges.  This action must be approved by a judge.

Because domestic violence cases are among the most emotionally charged types of cases, a domestic violence abuse lawyer will be able to remove the emotional component on their client’s behalf, allowing for clear-headed thinking that will take the best interests of the client into account.

A lawyer can assist victims of domestic violence in many ways.

Emergency protective orders – A victim can apply for protection from abuse in an official capacity.

Restraining order – When the threat of physical violence exists, an attorney can help secure a restraining order to temporarily keep an individual from approaching or contacting the person specified in the restraining order.

Custody or spousal support orders – These may be issued or modified to further protect family members.

Address Confidentiality Program – A lawyer can assist a victim by helping them get a substitute address to shield their location.

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

The charges against you with credit card fraud

In an increasingly electronic and virtual society, the rise of credit card fraud has been significant.  If you have been charged with such a crime, you’ll need to retain the services of an experienced credit card fraud attorney as soon as possible, because the consequences can be severe.

There are many different types of offenses a person can be charged with in relation to credit card fraud.

Possession of a credit or debit card – A person does not need to be in actual possession of another person’s credit or debit card to violate criminal statutes.  Simply having possession of the card number without the owner’s permission may be enough to be charged.  Also, the card or the card number does not need to be physically found on a person to be charged either.  If the card or information is found in an area that the person has control over (an apartment or a car, for example), then they can also be charged.

Stealing or receiving a stolen card – If a person takes control of another person’s card without their consent, they can be charged with a crime.  This can include taking a card out of a wallet or removing it from a person’s home, as well as taking it directly from a person.  It is also illegal to receive a card with the knowledge that it has been obtained without the holder’s consent.  So if another person steals a card and turns it over to you, and you know it is stolen, you can be charged with a crime as well.  The key here is knowing the card was stolen as opposed to unknowingly accepting a card or card information as payment for goods and services.

Possessing a card with intent to defraud – If you steal a card, a prosecutor must be able to prove that you intended to use the card fraudulently.  If you are simply in possession of a card, and it can’t be proven that you intended to use if fraudulently, or you did not know it was stolen, you can’t be convicted of intent.

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