Drug trafficking charges can have harsh consequences

In Arizona, if you have been arrested for trafficking drugs, you are facing consequences that can change your life forever.  Aside from possible significant jail time and fines, there are other implications affecting your job and your family that must be managed as soon as possible after you are arrested.

Federal, state and local officials have been bolstered in their law enforcement activities with the passage of The Patriot Act and The Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000, both of which give law enforcement more tools and tougher penalties for those who are convicted of drug felonies.

Trafficking convictions in Arizona will vary depending on the amount and type of drug involved.  For example, penalties for the trafficking of marijuana when less than two pounds are involved carry a sentence of not less than two years and up to 8.75 years and a fine of up to $150,000.  Trafficking in more than two pounds will increase a prison sentence up to 12.5 years and a fine up to $150,000.

There can be enhancements when minors are involved, if a person has been convicted of a prior drug felony, or the drug offense is committed in a school zone.

There are two common defenses if you’ve been charged trafficking drugs.

An experienced drug trafficking lawyer may claim possession of the drugs were for your personal use.  Obviously, the larger the quantity that is involved, the less that this defense can be used, if at all.

The other defense is entrapment.  Law enforcement officials can be overly zealous in pursuing drug trafficking crimes, and when they don’t follow appropriate procedures,a case may be dismissed.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you have been charged or are about to be charged with a drug trafficking crime, the first thing you should do is protect your rights and give yourself the best possible chance for acquittal by hiring a seasoned drug trafficking lawyer.

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

What you need to know about the crime of a drive-by shooting

Whether it took place as a result of road rage, or it was connected to gang activityor was simply an attempt to intimidate another person, the crime of a drive-by shooting poses a serious threat to the liberty and the vehicle of the person charged with the crime.

A drive-by shooting is a Class 2 felony and is alleged to have taken place when a person fires a gun from a vehicle at another person, a vehicle or an occupied building.

Felony weapons charges, attempted murder or aggravated assault are all the types of criminal charges that may result when a drive-by shooting takes place.

Penalties for drive-by shootings carry a sentence of between 7 and 21 years.  Several things can impact the length of the sentence, most notably if someone was injured or not.  Another aggravating factor is if anyone under 18 years old was involved in the shooting.

Also, in a drive-by shooting, the car used in the commission of the crime is impounded and sold at auction, and the government keeps the proceeds.  It does not matter whether or not the owner of the vehicle used it in the commission of the drive-by shooting.  As long as the vehicle was used, it will be impounded.

Additionally, if a person is convicted of a drive-by shooting, they will lose their license for a minimum of one year and for up to five years.

Needless to say, the act of a drive-by shooting and the related charges it can bring are serious.  That’s why it’s important to retain an attorney experienced with drive-by shooting cases as soon as you can.

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

Understanding the different types of homicide charges

One of the most serious and emotional criminal accusations that can happen to a person is to be charged with murder.Under Arizona law, there are four instances that determine the severity of a homicide charge.  A person can be charged as follows:

  • Negligent homicide – takes place through careless and criminal negligence such as with drunk driving resulting in a death.
  • Manslaughter – is defined as, when a person’s recklessness knowingly endangers the lives of others.
  • Second-degree murder – takes place when someone intentionally kills someone else, but the act was not done with forethought.
  • First-degree murder – happens when someone plans and carries out the premeditated death of another person.

These distinctions are important because each charge has its own level of severity and resulting penalties.  A seasoned homicide lawyer will frame defenses differently for each type of homicide charge, building a defense that gives an accused defendant the best possible chance of a reduced penalty or being found innocent.

In defending a homicide charge, an attorney may not always seek to have the charges dismissed, but rather find ways to have a homicide charge reduced to a less serious charge.  There is a big distinction between a charge of first-degree murder and manslaughter, for example.

In framing a defense, a homicide lawyer may use a couple of approaches:

  • Justifiable homicide –used by the defense to show a defendant acted honestly in the belief that the homicide was necessary for self-defense.
  • Inability to intentionally kill – also known as an insanity defense.
  • Reasonable mistake – a defense that makes the case that the defendant does not have the required mental state to understand killing is illegal

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

First-degree murder charge defense strategies

Of all the crimes a person can be charged with, perhaps the most serious is murder.  Taking another life is considered one of the most egregious crimes a person can commit.  While being charged with first-degree murder is serious, it does not mean you are without many possible defense options.

A skilled and experienced murder defense lawyer will explore a wide range of possibilities during the due diligence portion of a case.  Depending on the facts, some of the murder defense options he or she may look at will include:

Justifiable homicide – Not all homicides are crimes.  The legal justification of self-defense or the defense of others is the most common defense used in murder cases.

Exercise of duty – If a police officer kills someone in the discharge of their duty, and it is without unlawful intent, recklessness or negligence, then the act of murder did not take place.

Accidentalhomicide – When someone is killed accidentally in the course of lawful activities, it does not constitute murder.  Lesser charges such as manslaughter may apply, but unless the killing takes place during the commission of a crime, it is not considered first- or second-degree murder.

Insanity – Most states recognize an insanity defense against a charge of first-degree murder.  Insanity is defined as cognitively being unable to understand the quality of the act of murder when it is committed.  There is a complete disconnect in understanding the consequences.

Mistaken identity – Many times a defense attorney will argue that the wrong person has been charged with murder.  If an alibi is available and it can be supported by evidence or witnesses, this can be an effective counter to a murder charge.

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

Defending yourself against assault charges

Assault is one of the more common crimes against a person, and while definitions can vary from state to state, it is often defined as an attempt to injure someone else. In some cases, this can also include threats or threatening behavior against another person.

Depending on the circumstances of a case, a defense against an assault charge will vary widely. However, there are a few defenses that are commonly used by assault defense lawyers

Self-defense – This is the most common defense used in an assault case. To use self-defense, someone accused of a crime must show:
• There was a threat of force or violence against them
• A real and perceived fear of harm existed
• They did not provoke or harm another person first
• There was no reasonable chance to escape or retreat from a situation

Defending others – This is very similar to self-defense, except that all of the standards that apply to self-defense apply to the defense of others.

Defending property – A person charged with assault may claim that they acted to defend their property from being invaded or illegally withheld. In some states, this is known as the Castle Doctrine, where a person has the right to defend their home, and it’s contents with a reasonable amount of force.

The severity of an assault will determine what fines and other penalties may be involved. If a person has a criminal history of assault or the crime rises to the level of aggravated assault or sexual assault, which are felonies, penalties can rise dramatically. In addition, assault or battery crimes committed on a police officer or firefighter also raise the nature of the penalty as well.

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

How to choose a great criminal defense lawyer

Regardless of the nature of thecrime you are charged with, skimping on hiring a criminal defense lawyer to represent you is not a good idea. There’s simply too much at stake to get anything less than the best legal representation you can afford.

So the big question is, how do you find the best criminal lawyer for you? Consider these guidelines:

Is the lawyer a good fit for your type of case and your type of personality? You will have to trust this person with your life, and to have as much trust as possible in an attorney; you need to be more than satisfied with their credentials, experience and their temperament in defending you.

How well known is the lawyer in your particular court system? A lawyer will interact with many of the same judges and prosecutors over the course of their work if they remain in a particular county. That familiarity can many times work in your favor, making it easier to negotiate plea bargains or reduced sentencing.

Can your lawyer remove the emotional component?Almost every case and every trial is highly charged, and when emotions run high, errors in judgment can follow. A lawyer who can cut through the haze of emotions and keep the facts of a case at the forefront gives you the best possibility for a favorable outcome.

Can your lawyer explain all of the hidden costs that might come with a guilty verdict? Aside from fines and jail time, a good lawyer will keep a defendant in line by reminding them of all the soft costs that come with a conviction. Future job prospects, the stigma of a conviction, etc., and a lawyer can help remind the client to stay focused and work hard on their own behalf before, during and after a trial.

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

Knowing This Piece of Advice Could Change Your Life If You’re Ever Arrested

Police officer arresting young male drunk driver

Getting arrested is a stressful situation whether you are guilty or innocent. First, you’re probably scared because the authorities have just pulled you over.

Second, you’re most likely embarrassed because of all the spectators and passersby. Third, you simply don’t know where your future is headed after that moment of truth occurs.

Almost every arrest victim feels a range of emotions at that time. The good news is that you can relax and know that you can get out of your situation intact. The following is the best piece of life-changing advice that you can ever read about how to handle an arrest.

Contact an Attorney, and Do Not Pass Go

The first thing you must do when you receive notification of an arrest is notify the officer that you would like to speak with an attorney. The officer must allow you the opportunity to contact an attorney and receive good counsel from that person.

Furthermore, the officer must read you your Miranda rights, which is a group of rights that include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. The officer is supposed to read those rights to you upon notification of your arrest. At that time, you can kindly tell him or her that you would like to speak to an attorney immediately.

Reasons You Should Contact an Attorney
A number of reasons exist as to why you should contact an attorney for a criminal charge. First, you run the risk of incriminating yourself if you speak to the courts or the arresting officer yourself. Make no mistake; neither the arresting officer, nor the prosecutor or judge is your friend.

These persons are in business to have you convicted of a crime and pay the penalty to the fullest. You cannot fight the battle alone because the other party will surely railroad you. An attorney can assist you in a number of ways because that person cares about your welfare.

A criminal attorney’s main goal is to have you excused and pardoned of the crime of which the courts are accusing you. An attorney can use a myriad of methods that you cannot fathom. The years of experience and education that the attorney has can help to fortify your position.

What an Attorney Can Do?
First, the attorney can try to have your case dismissed by looking for loopholes and procedural errors on the other side. Skipped Miranda rights is one thing that often warrants a case dismissal.

Second, the attorney can challenge the arresting officer by asking that person to produce proof. Such is the case in many DUI cases. Third, the attorney can bargain with the prosecutor and try to get you a deal before the case goes to trial. If all else fails, your attorney can try to get you a lenient or alternative sentence. Examples of alternative sentences are probation, rehabilitation programs, fines and house arrest.

Types of Charges an Attorney Can Handle?

A criminal attorney can handle a wide variety of cases. This person can handle a DUI charge, drug charge, domestic violence charge or a burglary charge. A criminal attorney can also handle identity theft, aggravated assault, vandalism and terrorism.

Such attorneys defend people in a broad spectrum of cases that include minor cases such as traffic violations and serious cases such as murder in all degrees. You need the assistance of an attorney whether an accusatory party has hit you with something large or small. It’s always best to protect your back and not leave it naked.

How to Schedule an Appointment
You can schedule an appointment with a reliable criminal attorney by completing a short form or making a phone call. The attorney will schedule an initial consultation during which the two of you can get into deep details about the case.

If you have an emergency, the attorney may be able to come out to the arrest site immediately. You may want to keep the number to a reliable attorney handy so that you are never caught out there with no assistance. You want to be able to contact someone within a few minutes of hearing that you are under arrest.

7 White Collar Crimes That Are Way More Serious Than You Originally Thought

Law cases and law books on a shelf

White collar crimes are unique in that they are typically perpetrated by business and government professionals. These offenders are much more removed from the harm inflicted by their actions, but these crimes are far from victimless.

On the contrary, the effects of white collar crimes are widespread. Enormous financial and employment losses permeate the entire economy. Seven crimes whose seriousness is often downplayed are listed below.

Credit Card Fraud

This type of fraud occurs when a criminal buys merchandise with an unauthorized credit card. Cardholders typically have safeguards against such unauthorized transactions, but merchants are forced to accept the full liability of losses. To make up for these losses, merchants typically factor in these losses into the cost of their goods and services.

Ultimately this type of white collar crime causes prices to go up for everyone, and the losses are passed onto law-abiding consumers. In 2012, credit card fraud causes around $11.27 billion in losses that eventually got paid for by all of us.

Computer Fraud

Hacking has become a common household world in modern times. Fraudsters can easily steal information like bank account information, social security numbers and phone numbers by infiltrating your computer network or internet connection. Any company that collects payment or information online is vulnerable to instances of computer fraud.

North American ecommerce merchants lost an average of 3.6 percent of sales to online credit card computer fraud in 2000 alone. There is an entire black cyber market dedicated to selling stolen information to fraudsters online, so even if the computer thief doesn’t intent to use your information, it is likely they will sell it to someone who will.

Bankruptcy Fraud

This type of fraud happens when an individual or business falsely claims bankruptcy in order to cut their losses with a failing company. In this way, the person at the top of the business can make money while forcing the loss onto everyone else.

This reduces the public confidence in the system the more often this type of crime occurs. According to the IRS and the United States Bankruptcy Court, over 1.2 million individuals and companies filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Environmental Fraud

This is the illegal release of pollution into the environment. This type of white collar crime has potentially the most far reaching and devastating implications for our planet than any other type of crime. According to the United Nations, this type of crime is the biggest challenge facing the planet today This crime produces costs at nearly every level: political, social, economic, and environmental.

Insider Trading

Stock market trading is supposed to be fair and it is against the law for someone to use confidential or advanced information to trade shares for monetary benefits. Some information can give certain traders an unfair advantage by knowing ahead of time something that will affect the company’s stock price. In this way, these fraudsters can influence the stock value and profit unfairly. When insider trading occurs, everyone without the advanced knowledge usually spreads the losses.

Bribery

This type of crime occurs when money, or political favors, are promised to an individual or company in exchange for cooperation. When bribery occurs at congressional levels, laws can be passed which strongly favor company rights over all other considerations including personal rights and even environmental rights.

Investment Fraud

Ponzi schemes occur when one encourages investors to dump money into a false business venture with the promise of future returns. Rather than investing the money, the dividends are paid with new investor’s money. Bernie Madoff made this crime famous when he was arrested in 2008. His crimes ultimately resulted in the loss of billions of dollars and three individuals committed suicide.

White collar crimes are probably more serious than you thought.

4 Things You Don’t Know About DUI Law But Should, Because It Can Change Your Life

Anybody can get arrested for a DUI. It doesn’t take very much alcohol or much of a traffic violation either. Assuming you’ve never been suspected before, remember these things about a DUI traffic stop. That’s because A DUI on your record can affect you for the rest of your life.

Don’t submit to field sobriety tests.

It might sound like you’re being lawfully ordered to take them, but refuse to take any sobriety tests on the road. It might sound like the police officer that stopped you is being authoritative or commanding you, but they already suspect that you’ve been drinking. They just want to confirm it.

The law doesn’t require you to take roadside tests, especially with a portable breath testing device. Politely refuse them, no matter what the police officer might say the consequences might be. Since you’ve never performed any field sobriety tests in the past, you’ll probably fail them anyway, even if you haven’t been drinking.

Refuse the breath test at the police station.
There will be consequences if you refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test at the police station. You’ll be advised of those. Don’t take the test. You’ll be arrested for a DUI, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be convicted.

It’s highly likely that you’d have been arrested anyway if you took the test. If you take the test, you’re probably giving the prosecutor enough evidence to convict you. You have rights, and one of those rights is to refuse any breath testing. Call us right away. We’ll protect each and every right that you have.

Your license can be suspended even if you haven’t been drinking.
If you submit to breath testing at the police station, your driver’s license will be suspended if your blood alcohol level is .08 or over. Even if you haven’t been drinking and refuse the test your license can be suspended.

Unfortunately that’s the law, but you can contest any suspension, especially if it’s only the police officer’s word against your word without any other evidence. You haven’t performed any roadside tests, and there’s no blood alcohol test from the police station. You refused them. If you haven’t given any evidence, it becomes very difficult to suspend your license.

You could have a criminal record.
DUI prosecutions can be difficult. That’s why police want to assemble as much evidence as possible before you’re actually placed under arrest for DUI. The law doesn’t require you to give them any evidence. Invoke your rights.

Politely refuse to give any evidence that might convict you. A DUI conviction will stay with you for the rest of your life. You can’t expunge it. It can affect your education, job, family and future.

By not providing the prosecution with additional evidence to convict you with, a DUI case might become the police officer’s word against your word. The prosecution’s burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, and a police officer’s word alone usually isn’t going to support a conviction. Politely refuse to take any roadside sobriety tests, and politely refuse to take blood alcohol testing at the police station. The prosecution will have far less to work with in trying to convict you of DUI.

The 8 Most Common Probation Violations People Make Without Even Knowing It

Probation is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you’re not in jail. On the other, you need to be as careful as possible not to violate your probation status. Your lawyer probably communicated the importance of steering clear of another crime, but did you know you could be breaking your probation in ways you might not know?
Steer clear of added jail time and fines by avoiding these blunders.

1. Associating with someone who has a record.
Unfortunately, a judge can prevent you from associating with known felons. This includes your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend or cousin. Even though you may feel you have the right to visit with whomever you want, if the judge in your case feels that your associating with criminals might be a setback in your rehabilitation, you could find yourself with another fine or more jail time for committing this infraction.
2. Crossing town, state or federal lines.
When you’re put on probation, it’s best to know the terms surrounding your probation. Depending on the probation laws in your state or the guidelines surrounding your case, you might need to abide by certain rules. Most people know not to leave the country while on probation, but many don’t know not to leave their state. This is particularly tricky if you happen to live near a state border or in a small state—like the states in New England. It’s important you abide by these rules. Getting caught could result in a larger punishment.
3. Failing to pay a fine.
When you leave court with a bill for a fine or restitution, it’s important to pay these fines on time. Failing to pay a court fine (or paying one late) isn’t the same as paying your water bill late. Not only could you be facing more fines, you could also be facing more jail time.
4. Forgetting your meeting with your probation officer.
Your probation officer changed the date of your next meeting because he or she was out of town on your usual day. You forgot about the change and missed the check-in. This could be grounds to send you back to jail. To ensure you stay in good standing with the courts, make sure you remember your probation meetings and stick to them without fail.
5. Forgetting to attend a court-ordered meeting.
Part of your probation might be contingent upon court-ordered therapy, community service or other requirements. Normally when you forget a therapy appointment, all is not lost. You simply reschedule your appointment. When your therapy is court ordered then you must attend all meetings or risk being sent back to jail. If a judge thinks you’re not taking your treatment seriously then you could end up in big trouble.
6. Losing your job.
You forgot to count your cash drawer at the end of your shift, and your manager found out. Not only have you lost your job, but you’ve lost your probation too. If you lose your job while on probation—even if you feel you were let go in error—this change could affect your probation status. It’s best to make sure your employment status doesn’t change while on probation. Going to jail because you’ve been fired is just like adding insult to injury.
7. Associating yourself with drugs.
Most people on probation understand they shouldn’t take drugs. Yet just being around drugs—even marijuana—can result in huge penalties and jail time. If you have even trace amounts of drugs in your system from being in the same room as drug users, you could end up facing the judge again. If you’re at a party where drugs are present (even if you’re not aware of their presence) you could end up with more jail time or fines.
8. Failing to report your change of address.
Something as simple as a change of address is easy to let slip through the cracks—especially if you’re not moving far. Even if you’re moving from your mom’s house to your dad’s house, you need to let the court know about the change.

Probation may feel like added jail time, but it’s important to abide by these rules. Doing so ensures you stay clear of the system and any future jail time or fines.