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Police Cell Phone Searches and Your Smartphone: Know Your Rights

These days, many people store personal and sensitive information on their cell phones. To protect your privacy, you might have a passcode or similar security measures in place on your smartphone. But if you’re being questioned or searched by police, are you required to provide your cell phone’s passcode and allow officers to search your phone?

Arizona law says no, in most cases.

What Does Arizona Law Say About Cell Phone Searches?

The precedent for this was set forth in Arizona State v. Peoples, the opinion of which was issued by a judge in September of 2016. Ultimately, the opinion in this case found that Arizona recognizes a “legitimate expectation of privacy” when it comes to cell phones. In fact, this case has set the precedent for privacy even in situations where a phone is left unlocked.

As a result, in State v. Peoples, the court found that incriminating evidence unlawfully obtained by a police officer from the suspect’s phone would not be admissible in court.

Instead, officers in Arizona are required to obtain a search warrant for a person’s cell phone before searching, unless the person has otherwise provided consent to search.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

So, what does this mean for you if you’re being questioned by police? It means that, at least in the state of Arizona, you are not legally required to unlock your phone and allow officers to search its contents. Even if you don’t have a passcode on your phone, officers may not seize your phone and search it without your permission.

It is perfectly within your legal rights to deny an officer consent to search your property. However, if an officer has reasonable suspicion, he or she may still obtain a search warrant from a judge. With a search warrant, your property may be legally searched. However, it’s always a good idea to ask officers for proof of a search warrant before turning over any of your property.

When to Speak With a Lawyer

While most police officers are up-to-date on Arizona law and general constitutional laws protecting you from unreasonable search and seizure, the reality is that some officers do abuse their power (knowingly or unknowingly). If incriminating evidence was obtained against you from your cell phone without your consent or without a search warrant, you may be entitled to have this evidence suppressed in court.

Your best course of action is to speak with a lawyer who is well-versed in Arizona search and seizure law. Our team is here to help; contact us today to schedule your free consultation and speak with our legal team about your case.

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.


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.

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.

Finding the right criminal defense lawyer to represent you.

You’ve been charged with a crime.  It may be something relatively minor, such as simple assault.  Or something much more serious, such as fraud, robbery, manslaughter or another crime that has the potential to be life changing.

You’re going to be in for the fight of your life, trying to do everything you can to protect your freedom.  But you can’t do it alone.  You know you’ll need the best possible criminal defense lawyer for your situation that you can afford.

So what do you do to find that person or that firm?

First, you got to determine what your legal needs will be.  A minor charge may only require a consultation from an attorney about how to best proceed.  But make no mistake, if you are facing a serious charge, you will want the full services and attention of top flight legal representation.

Then you’ve got to decide what type of defense attorney you’ll need.  It may seem obvious, but if you’re charged with a federal crime, then you’ll want an experienced federal defense attorney.  A state level charge means you will probably want to seek out someone with relevant experience in that type of court system.  This is important because when you’re prosecuted at the federal level, you’ll be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s office, which has a lot more time and resources to put into your case.  It also pays to try and find a specialized attorney who has experience with exactly the type of charges you are facing.

You’ll need to figure out what your costs are going to be, which you can accomplish after an initial consultation with one or more attorneys who may represent you.  If you can’t afford the costs associated with a law firm, you may need to talk to a public defender, who are assigned by the courts to represent people with limited resources.

Finally, while there are many highly skilled attorneys out there, you need to make sure you find one with the qualities that are important to you as well.  Do you want someone who is compassionate?  A bull dog?  A strong negotiator?  What kind of reputation do they have?  What’s going to make you feel like you can trust this person to represent you the way you want to be represented as you face the tests you will encounter going forward?

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

Bank Fraud Crimes Can Take Many Forms

As thieves become more sophisticated than ever when it comes to cheating individuals and banking institutions out of money, law enforcement has applied more and more resources and activated complex operations to catch would-be thieves.  This aggressive stance also applies to the court system, where it is not uncommon to see lengthy prison sentences be handed down upon conviction.

Although more and more criminals are attempting to circumvent the system, just because you are charged with a banks fraud charge, does not mean that you are automatically guilty.  However, banks fraud cases can be extremely complicated and require a lot of financial forensic work, so if you are facing any kind of fraud charge, it is important to seek help from an experienced banks fraud attorney.

Banks fraud can take on many forms, including:

  • Embezzlement
  • Stolen checks
  • Counterfeiting
  • Credit card fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • ATM thefts
  • Accounting irregularities
  • Forgery

Because the nation’s banking system is highly complex and interconnected, there are many other types of fraud that are attempted on a regular basis as well.  For example, a person may not only attempt to acquire money from a bank illegally, in some instances, they may also pose as a bank in an attempt to prey on unsuspecting customers.

It’s important to note that banks fraud can be considered a state level crime or a federal crime, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accusations.  However, because banks are protected by federal statutes, most times a bank fraud charge will be considered a federal criminal offense.  That means penalties can be particularly harsh with less wiggle room to plea down a charge in an effort to gain a reduced sentence.  However, a defendant may be able to craft a defense strategy that involves helping the bank recover as much of their assets as possible, leaving open the possibility of an agreement that benefits both parties.

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

Legal Defense and Title IX: What You Should Know

Though it may not sound as serious as criminal allegations, facing Title IX violation charges is no laughing matter. Especially in today’s times, any accusation of discrimination or harassment can be not only tough to deal with, but also extremely challenging to overcome. In many cases, it can damage a person’s, organization’s or school’s reputation long into the future if not for life. If you or your organization have been accused of a Title IX offense, it is imperative that you seek out experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.

Our offices are ready to help you deal with Title IX violations, so give us a call at your nearest convenience. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about Title IX complaints and the legal proceedings that surround them:

What is the Title IX Law?

At its core, Title IX is a civil rights law. Though it was passed back in 1972 as a portion of the Education Amendments Act, it has only been in more recent years that Title IX complaints have become more visible.

The law states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

More specifically, the Title IX law prohibits any school or organization that receives Federal funding from discriminating against anyone based on their gender. It’s also very important to note that this law goes further, prohibiting those who are accused from retaliating or taking any kind of responsive action against someone who may have filed the complaint. In other words, should an employee accuse you of gender discrimination, you may not terminate their employment as a result or take any other kind of negative action against them.

Sexual assault accusations may also be included under Title IX, specifically when it concerns students. This means that administrators and school staff can be accused of assault, as can students.

How Does Defense Against Title IX Complaints Work?

While the Title IX law is overall a good thing that has done a lot in the way of reducing discrimination and promoting gender equality, there is still a long way to go in order to ensure those who are accused have the means to defend themselves. The unfortunate truth is that many people and organizations are falsely accused, and their reputations start to take a dive almost immediately. Even if the accusations are eventually proven to be unfounded (which itself can be tough), there is often long-lasting damage.

Now, Title IX cases vary greatly in severity. While they are settled in court in a lot of situations, they may also be settled “in house” in a school setting. In these cases, proceedings will (that is, should) start as soon as the school receives word of a complaint. In the case of lawsuits, the case may also be able to stay out of court if an agreement is reached.

However, it depends on the severity of the allegations. While opting for an out-of-court setting may be desirable in many cases, it is important to realize that the accused may not receive the due process found in the court setting.

Again, this is why it is so important to get experienced legal counsel on your side, even if your case is not (yet) set to go to court. Your attorney can review all the facts of the case and do what they can to get any criminal charges dropped.

Potential Case Outcomes

Because the details of each case will vary greatly, it is important to realize that potential outcomes are also numerous. In the event of criminal allegations, the main goal will be getting the criminal charges dropped or reduced, as well as avoiding a prison sentence. In other cases, the goal will be focused on saving the accused’s reputation and character by gathering as many facts as possible (including potential witnesses).

If you or a loved one is facing a Title IX complaint, don’t wait to seek out help. The sooner you get legal assistance, the more likely you are to get the best possible outcome.

Arizona’s harsh DUI penalties

It’s been a tough week at work and you stop off with friends at your local watering hole for a couple of drinks.

Or, you’re watching the big game and you need to restock your frig at half-time.

Maybe it’s Saturday night, you’re at a party, and you’re feeling invincible when you’re selected to make the next beer run.

Whatever the case may be, when you get behind the wheel after too many drinks, you not only put your life other people’s lives in danger, you run the risk of messing up your life in a pretty big way, even if you don’t get into any kind of an accident.

Arizona limits the legal blood alcohol content limit for drivers to .08. While the punishments vary widely from state to state if you’re popped for driving while over this limit, in Arizona, you’ll be facing mandatory jail time, a suspended license, and you’ll have an ignition interlock device installed on your car. You will need to hire a lawyer who specializes in DUI to keep a bad situation from getting even worse.

It should be noted that the .08 limit applies to drivers who are of legal age to drink and drive. For anyone under 21 years old, there is a zero tolerance law in place, meaning that if you are busted for having any blood alcohol content whatsoever and you are under age, you can be charged with DUI. The law was put in place because nearly one-third of all fatalities for people under 21 years old are due to motor vehicle accidents. Of these, about one-third are caused by drinking and driving.

In addition, for those drivers who have a blood alcohol content of .15 or above, they will face aggravated DUI charges resulting in enhanced penalties upon conviction.

Those penalties start with a minimum 90 day suspension of a driver’s license and can rise to up to 3 years based on subsequent DUI convictions. While vehicle confiscation will not take place, a person will be required to go through mandatory alcohol education, assessment and treatment.

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

White collar crimes are complex and can take a long time to resolve

White collar crimes are those that are not violent committed by businesses and individuals who are motivated by financial gain. Typically, this will include crimes such as bribery, fraud, insider trading, embezzlement, forgery, money laundering, identity theft and other related infractions.

In most cases, these offenses are highly complex and can generate substantial evidence gathering and forensic investigation. This means that a charge and the subsequent case can drag on for months or even years before going to trial. Retaining an experienced white collar crimes lawyer is a necessity. That attorney will often need to work with related financial professionals on your behalf, because white collar cases are often laced with complex financial information and scores upon scores of documents and data.

Many white collar crimes fall under the jurisdiction of federal laws, so a person charged with this type of crime may be going up against the resources of a variety of federal agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Labor, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service, among many others. That means an attorney defending a white collar crimes defendant must have experience not only at the state level, but at the federal level as well.

It also makes sense to retain a lawyer even if you have not yet been charged with a white collar crime. Because white collar crimes are complex, you will need someone familiar with the mechanisms of how an investigation will play out. An attorney will be able to guide you and shield you from saying or doing things that could self incriminate you or lead to additional charges over and above what you may already be facing. Preserving your rights as early as possible can set the stage for a solid defense and one that may ultimately lead to the charges being dropped or resulting in an acquittal.

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

DUI Checkpoint Locations for Cinco de Mayo Weekend in Arizona

Cinco de Mayo weekend in Arizona can result in more DUI’s than St. Patrick’s Day, & police will be on high alert for people driving under the influence. People will be celebrating all weekend and DUI incidents will be on the rise. Cates & Garvey Law Group wants everyone to stay safe this Cinco de Mayo weekend. Call an Uber, Lyft, or a taxi if you are celebrating with family and friends. If you or anyone you know is in need of a free consultation for a pending DUI matter please call us at your convenience.


Click the link to stay up-to-date with the newest checkpoints, updated in real time:

Recent Arizona Checkpoints - DUI Location Alerts

Arizona DUI Checkpoints
Recent Alerts


County City Location Time
Maricopa Buckeye Undisclosed Location – West Valley Weekend – Mar 16 – 17, 2019
Maricopa Phoenix Baseline Rd and 24th St Area Sat Mar 16, 2019
Maricopa Phoenix N 27th Ave and W Devonshire Ave Area Thu Dec 27, 2018
Maricopa Mesa W Rio Salado Pkwy and N Evergreen Rd 6pm To 4am – Wed Dec 26, 2018
Pinal Apache Junction Ironwood Dr and W Southern Ave Area Fri Dec 21, 2018
Maricopa Chandler W Hunt Hwy and N Gary Rd – San Tan Valley Sat Dec 15, 2018
Graham Pima N Pima Rd and Roadrunner Rd Sat Dec 8, 2018
Coconino Sedona Undisclosed Location Sat Dec 8, 2018
Maricopa Tempe E University Dr and S Mcclintock Dr Area Fri Dec 7, 2018