Month: April 2011

Flagstaff DUI Lawyer discusses marijuana, drugs, and your rights

One day after a methamphetamine bust in a Flagstaff motel netted 5 arrests for various drug crimes, like possession and sale of dangerous drugs, including methamphetamine, a 13 year old boy was arrested for possession of marijuana for sale in a drug-free school zone at Sinagua Middle School.

The boy had apparently hidden 5 baggies of a small quantity of marijuana under a heater in the school. A simple K-9 search revealed the drugs in the middle school on E. Butler Avenue in Flagstaff, Arizona. Under Arizona Revised Statutes, sections 13-3411 and 13-709.03(C), possessing marijuana for sale in a school zone is a prison-only offense and the prison time is increased by 1 year, generally, because it was in a school zone.

Fortunately for the 13 year old, he will be tried in the juvenile court system. An adult who commits the same crime is looking at serious prison time. What is happening? Drugs are rampantly traveling through Northern Arizona on I-17 and I-40 through Mohave, Yavapai, Coconino, Navajo, and Apache counties. Police are getting aggressive in their drug detection and enforcement of drug laws. But that’s how lines get crossed and constitutional rights get violated.

DUI In other news, DUI charges are increasing lately in Flagstaff. As the weather gets nicer, people are out longer and later, and driving home after hitting the bars and clubs. You should know that under Arizona law, there are multiple different ways to charge DUI. Here are a few:

  • DUI – Slightest — minimum 10 days jail with 9 suspended upon successful completion of alcohol screening and treatment
  • DUI – 0.08% or higher — minimum 10 days jail with 9 suspended upon successful completion of alcohol screening and treatment
  • “Extreme” DUI – 0.15% or higher — minimum 30 days consecutive jail
  • “Super Extreme” DUI – 0.20% or higher — minimum 45 days consecutive jail
  • Aggravated DUI (Felony DUI) — minimum 4 months in prison

All DUI offenses have major fines and fees, suspension of your license, and other life-changing penalties. Stay safe, and get a good a DUI lawyer if you are charged to protect your rights and get the best result in your Northern Arizona DUI case as is possible.

Flagstaff Lawyer: drug arrests in NAU fraternity house case may result in prison-only felony charges

As a criminal defense lawyer in Flagstaff, I’ve been watching the news unfold on a serious spree of crimes, including drugs and drive-by shootings, happening at an NAU fraternity house just south of downtown Flagstaff.

The Arizona Daily Sun has been reporting on the story. Flagstaff police have arrested two residents of an NAU fraternity house on drug charges as relief work soft part of an investigation into an April 2011 drive-by shooting and continuing threats with a weapon at the same fraternity house. The Flagstaff police arrested two fraternity students, charging them with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and charging one of them with the sale of illegal drugs. An indictment will likely come out of a Coconino Grand Jury for these felony crimes.

As a Flagstaff felony drug lawyer, I’ve written before that Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is a class 6 felony offense in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes, section 13-3415(A). The sale or possession with the intent to sell illegal drugs is an even more serious felony under Arizona law.

Depending on the type of the substance, and the amount, quantity, and weight, that crime sometimes mandates a prison sentence, meaning felony probation is not even an option for the Coconino County Superior Court judge who will be issuing the sentence upon conviction, if any. Flagstaff has seen a widespread illegel drug problem over the past few years, including methamphetamine production and sale, heroin overdoses resulting in death and near-death situations for addicts, cocaine and ecstasy deals resulting in first degree murder, and the usual culprit, marijuana possession and sales.

For a free consultation on any drug-related criminal case, call Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC now.

Flagstaff Felony Lawyer explains felony domestic violence in Coconino County or Northern Arizona…

Domestic violence is not a separate criminal offense in Arizona in-and-of-itself. Domestic violence is a designation attached to a criminal offense, such as assault, endangerment, criminal damage, criminal trespassing, interference with judicial proceedings, harassment, aggravated harassment, disorderly conduct, and more, when the victim of the offense meets certain criteria, explain below.

The criteria for a domestic violence designation of a Northern Arizona criminal case are as follows:

1. The relationship between the victim and the defendant is one of marriage or former marriage or of persons residing or having resided in the same household.

2. The victim and the defendant have a child in common.

3. The victim or the defendant is pregnant by the other party.

4. The victim is related to the defendant or the defendant’s spouse by blood or court order as a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister or by marriage as a parent-in-law, grandparent-in-law, stepparent, step-grandparent, stepchild, step-grandchild, brother-in-law or sister-in-law.

5. The victim is a child who resides or has resided in the same household as the defendant and is related by blood to a former spouse of the defendant or to a person who resides or who has resided in the same household as the defendant.

6. The relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship. The following factors may be considered in determining whether the relationship between the victim and the defendant is currently or was previously a romantic or sexual relationship: (a) The type of relationship. (b) The length of the relationship. (c) The frequency of the interaction between the victim and the defendant. (d) If the relationship has terminated, the length of time since the termination.

Arizona Revised Statutes, section 13-3601(A).

If any of those criteria apply, and you commit any of the offenses listed above against such a victim, then the crime is a domestic violence offense. There is a misconception that every domestic violence case in Arizona is a felony. The truth is, most domestic violence crimes are misdemeanors. Simple assault, trespassing, criminal damage… these offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies.

However, just because they are domestic violence in nature does not elevate a misdemeanor to a felony. Aggravated Domestic Violence is a separate crime in Arizona, and applies across Coconino County, Yavapai County, Mohave County, Navajo County, and all of Northern Arizona Domestic Violence cases. Aggravated Domestic Violence occurs when someone commits a third or subsequent violation of a domestic violence offense within a period of 84 months (i.e., 7 years).

So, for example, say a Flagstaff person is convicted of trespassing into an ex-girlfriend’s apartment after he was told to leave. Such a conviction can be a domestic violence offense in Flagstaff Municipal Court. Next, three years later, while hiking just outside of Flagstaff City limits, that same person gets frustrated and grabs hold of his new girlfriend’s wrist when she tries to leave his presence after an argument. Such a simple assault is prosecuted in the Flagstaff Justice Court and is a domestic violence offense.

Then, two years later, the same person is now married and has a baby. He gets upset that the baby won’t stop crying and he breaks the baby’s bottle by throwing the bottle onto the ground. Such a criminal damage case would normally be yet another Flagstaff domestic violence misdemeanor… but this is his third domestic violence offense within 7 years, landing him in the Coconino County Superior Court on charges of Aggravated Domestic Violence, a class 5 felony, punishable by up to 2.5 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

As you can see, domestic violence is treated very seriously under Arizona law, especially repeat domestic violence offenders. Even if each act of domestic violence is not severe, or does not even cause personal injury to any person, a third offense within 7 years is felony domestic violence and very serious in nature. In addition, a first act of domestic violence can be a felony. For example, Aggravated Assault, or a simple assault committed by use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, can be a domestic violence offense, of a “dangerous” nature, causing a prison term of up to 15 years on a first domestic violence offense.

Domestic violence is a serious crime. It has broken apart Flagstaff families, ruined children’s lives all across Northern Arizona, broken people’s spirits, caused suicide and depression, and sent thousands of offenders to jail and prison. People who commit domestic violence often need help themselves, which is why if you are convicted of your first domestic violence offense as a misdemeanor, you are required to attend a domestic violence offender treatment program. See Arizona Revised Statutes, section 13-3601.01(A).

If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, you need a lawyer who understands the complicated domestic violence laws, had experience dealing with the criminal justice system as it relates to domestic violence, and who is familiar with treatment programs in Northern Arizona. Call today for your free consultation.

Flagstaff felony possession lawyer discusses possession of marijuana (and other drugs) intended for sale…

Possession for sale, trafficking, transporting for sale, and similar felony offenses in Northern Arizona, often occurring on I-40 and I-17 in the Flagstaff vicinity, or in Yavapai County, or Mohave County, or Navajo County, all come with serious consequences. Possession for sale charges are much more serious and are always charged as felonies. In Arizona, arrests are made and felony drug charges are filed when there is probable cause to believe the person has the intent to sell the drugs, the weight the drugs in your possession is over the threshold amount or a sale of drugs was made (for money or as a trade, such as marijuana for ecstasy).

A conviction of possession for sale charges results in mandatory prison sentences. It’s very important that you have an aggressive and well-trained lawyer if you’re charged with felony drug possession, and especially any Arizona drug crime involving the intent to sell, or sale of, illegal drugs. Transportation of drugs for sale is another extremely serious felony offense in Arizona. Much like possession of drugs for sale, transportation of drugs for sale charges are felony charges and often result in serious mandatory prison sentences if the weight of the drugs exceeds the threshold amount. Here, once again, are the “threshold amounts” defined by Arizona statutes:

  • Marijuana – 2 pounds
  • Methamphetamine – 9 grams
  • Amphetamine – 9 grams
  • Cocaine – 9 grams (powder form); 750 milligrams (rock form)
  • Heroin – 1 gram
  • LSD – ½ milliliter (liquid form); 50 dosage units (blotter form)
  • PCP – 4 grams or 50 milliliters

So why do the threshold amounts of drugs matter in Arizona? The possession of drugs at or above the following threshold amounts requires a mandatory sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections. This means that probation is not available. If convicted, you go to prison. The judge has no other options. The prosecution presumes that when a person has the threshold amount of drugs in his or her possession that the drugs are for sale, even if in reality they were not. Felony drug carges in Flagstaff, Coconino County, Yavapai County, or anywhere across Northern Arizona, are very serious in nature and deserve the attention and expertise of an agressive criminal defense lawyer.

Man jumps off of rim of Grand Canyon while fleeing from the police

Terrance Black was wanted in connection with a possible Texas murder of his ex-girlfriend. When police spotted him, he took off running, and jumped off the south rim. He fell 25 feet. He survived and is recovering in the Flagstaff Medical Center… under police security.

Black had an arrest warrant out for him. So police were permitted to arrest him as soon as they spotted him and confirmed it was him. When Black took off running, they chased. Black’s flight from the police could be a separate felony charge here in Arizona (in federal court because it was in the Grand Canyon National Park).

Flight can also be used as evidence of guilt, if this case proceeded to trial. Flight from police is never a good idea because it can be a crime and it will be used against you in your criminal case as evidence of guilt

Flagstaff’s weekend lawyer gears up for the April 23-24 weekend

Northern Arizona’s beautiful warm spring weather has broken through.  We’re looking forward to Grand Canyon trekkers, Snow Bowl hikers, soon-to-be NAU graduates, and everyone else who enjoys Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, Camp Verde, Cottonwood, Page, and all of Northern Arizona!

We hope everyone stays safe and enjoys the April 23-24 Easter weekend.  Flagstaff’s weekend lawyer will be on call, ready for consultations on all criminal and DUI cases.

NAU students: if you run into some legal trouble this time of year as the celebrations begin, call me for aggressive legal representation.

Stay safe, and if you need a criminal or DUI consultation, or any pressing legal matter, call me or email me using the form to the right.

 

Flagstaff Marijuana Lawyer: so you got busted with marijuana in Flagstaff…

It can happen fast. Say you’re driving down Route 66 in Flagstaff and you get pulled over for speeding by Flagstaff Police. The officers ask if you’ve been drinking or smoking weed. They end up searching your car and find a small baggie of marijuana. Maybe it’s your friend’s, or your brother’s, or you didn’t even know it was there. But you get charged with Possession or Use of Marijuana or worse yet Possessing or Transporting Marijuana for Sale.

Arizona marijuana crimes occurring in Flagstaff can end up as felonies or misdemeanors. If the weight of the marijuana is 2 or more pounds, most likely you’ll be looking at felony charges in Coconino County Superior Court in downtown Flagstaff. If you’ve got under 2 pounds, like a little baggie for personal use, depending on your prior criminal history, misdemeanor charges are a possibility in the Flagstaff Municipal Court on Beaver Street. If you’re convicted of simple possession of marijuana, you’re looking at a minimum fine of $750, or significantly more. You can end up in drug treatment, or jail.

Possession of Marijuana for Sale, or Transporting Marijuana for Sale, are very serious felony offenses in Arizona. These cases happen in Northern Arizona in I-40 and I-17 regularly, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (highway patrol) are well-aware of drug courier profiles and how to spot those transporting marijuana. Depending on the weight of the drugs, you could end up in prison, with a felony conviction on your record. You need a lawyer fast if you’re arrested for a felony drug offense. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Another possible criminal charge is possession of drug paraphernalia.

That marijuana pipe you have, or that baggie with marijuana residue, or that water bong all can lead to further criminal charges under Arizona Revised Statutes section 13-3415(A), which states: It is unlawful for any person to use, or to possess with intent to use, drug paraphernalia to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or otherwise introduce into the human body a drug in violation of this chapter. Any person who violates this subsection is guilty of a class 6 felony. Yes, that’s a lot of options for committing a crime.

Analyze marijuana? Propagate marijuana? Class 6 felony. Again, like the simple possession of marijuana charges discussed above, you should be trying to get a misdemeanor or deferral of your case for possession of drug paraphernalia. DUI – Drugs Remember the hypothetical above? Say you’re driving down S. Milton Road in Flagstaff and you get pulled over and the cops find a baggie of marijuana. Next thing you know, you’re under investigation for DUI.

If you have a metabolite of THC (active ingredient in marijuana) in your system while driving… boom, DUI. The police will probably get a urine sample from you. (See my article about this: http://www.flagstaff-lawyer.com/2011/04/flagstaff-dui-and-admin-per-se-implied.html) So if you have marijuana in a vehicle, look out for that DUI investigation that is almost guaranteed to happen if you’re pulled over. If you are facing marijuana charges in Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, or anywhere in Northern Arizona, call Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation on your criminal case, including nights and weekends.

Coconino County felony charges and convictions explained…

Coconino County in Northern Arizona is the second largest county in the United States. Because of its major intersection of I-40 (west toward Los Angeles, east towards New Mexico, Texas, and the east coast) and I-17 (south toward Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, and Mexico), major drug trafficking, drug transportation, and marijuana cases often arise in Coconino County. All Arizona felony charges in Coconino County are tried in the Coconino County Superior Court, located at 200 N. San Francisco Street, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001. Once you are charged with a felony, the Arraignment, Case Management Conferences, Plea Agreements, Evidentiary Hearings, and other legal proceedings start coming at you fast and furious.

If you are arrested for a felony in Northern Arizona, you need to hire a lawyer fast to protect your rights and assert your defenses and get you out of jail as soon as possible. A felony case, by definition, is a case in which if you are convicted you may be sentenced to a term in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Felony convictions also result in many of your Arizona rights to be taken away, such as the right to possess a firearm and the right to vote. As an example of a Coconino County felony, let’s say, heading east on I-40 from L.A. and charged with transporting marijuana for sale, while traveling through Coconino County on I-40 near Flagstaff, here’s what happens.

  1. The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) will impound your car and arrest you.
  2. You will be taken to a police station where they will ask to interview you.
  3. You will (or should be) provided you Miranda rights.
  4. The officers will really be interested in knowing whether you have good information about drug rings, drug manufacturers, drug suppliers, and basically anyone above you in the drug food chain.
  5. They’ll first ask you about your own illegal activity to make sure they can file felony drug charges against you.
  6. Once they have you for a felony, they can try to leverage that against you for information.
  7. Whether it’s a drug felony or other type of Arizona felony crime, you are likely to be arrested and jailed.
  8. Within 24 hours of being arrested in Arizona, you must be taken before a magistrate judge to be informed of many important things: the charges, your right to counsel, your right to remain silent, and more.

See Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 4.2.

Additionally, if only a felony complaint is filed against you, you shall have the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days of your arrest.

See Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 5.1.

If a judge determines there is probable cause in your case, you will have an Information filed against you. The prosecutor can instead take your case before a Coconino County Grand Jury and seek a grand jury Indictment. A felony Information and felony Indictment are, for all important purposes, the same thing in Arizona.

They both mean the same thing: you are accused of and will stand trial for a felony or multiple felony offenses. You will need excellent legal representation at the following hearings in the Coconino County Superior Court: Arraignment Case Management Conferences Evidentiary Hearings Change of Plea Hearings Jury Trial Sentencing Hearings Post-Conviction Relief Hearings It is very important to get a good criminal defense lawyer as early as possible in your Coconino County felony case.

Some felony cases proceed very fast. And if you are only facing a complaint at the moment, your case can potentially be resolved completely as a misdemeanor in the Flagstaff Justice Court, Williams Justice Court, or Page Justice Court.

Time is of the essence. If you have questions about your felony case in Coconino County Superior Court, send me a message for free using the form in the right column (near the top of this page). Coconino County also touches many other counties, including the Utah border. Here are those counties adjacent to Coconino: Mohave County, Arizona Yavapai County, Arizona Gila County, Arizona Navajo County, Arizona San Juan County, Utah Kane County, Utah If you’ve been charged with, or arrested for, any felony crime in Coconino County or any of its adjacent counties, contact Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC now for best results.

Flagstaff Misdemeanor Lawyer on alcohol-related misdemeanors in Flagstaff cases…

Flagstaff Misdemeanor Lawyer Ryan Stevens discusses one of the most common elements found in Flagstaff misdemeanor criminal cases in Northern Arizona: alcohol.

  • Underage consumption.
  • DUI.
  • Disorderly conduct.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Domestic Violence.

These are just some of the Flagstaff misdemeanor cases I deal with. And one thing in common in most, if not all, of those cases is ALCOHOL. As soon as an alcohol-related case comes across my desk, a number of things cross my mind: alcohol dependency, alcohol addiction, alcohol counseling and treatment, alcoholism rehabilitation, outpatient services, residential treatment, and more. I think: would this Arizona crime have occurred had it not been for alcohol dependency?

There are many tools I can utilize in defending Flagstaff misdemeanor cases, like Miranda violations, voluntariness, constitutional violations, search and seizure violations, illegal traffic stop, unlawful arrest, bad breath/blood analysis, and more. And sometimes, you can win a Flagstaff DUI or other Flagstaff misdemeanor case on that. Other times, however, we need to address whether that Northern Arizona DUI was preventable, whether the driver is treatable, and whether we can use this information to best resolve the case with no jail and perhaps a deferred prosecution.

Underage consumption can lead to serious consequences for your drivers license, just like a DUI or certain other misdemeanors in Arizona. There are fines, fees, and jail time. You will have a criminal record. For all of these reasons, it is well worth it to hire a lawyer to walk you through the criminal justice process, to stand up and fight for all of your rights, to assert your defenses under Arizona criminal law, and to achieve the best resolution possible under the specific circumstances of your case.

Flagstaff Marijuana Lawyer welcomes Arizona medical marijuana…

As of April 14, 2011, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has officially begun accepting applications for medical marijuana patient and caregiver cards. Qualifying patients can begin applying for registry identification cards at the ADHS website.

Fun Facts About the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act says that anyone who follows the requirements can’t be penalized for the medical use of marijuana by entities such as schools, landlords, and employers. In regard to growing and cultivating medical marijuana, a qualifying Flagstaff patient or the qualifying patient’s designated caregiver may cultivate medical marijuana if the qualifying patient lives more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary. A dispensary may cultivate marijuana at the dispensary or at a cultivation site, but the location of the dispensary and the cultivation site needs to be in compliance with local zoning restrictions, and must be done in an “enclosed, locked facility” such as a greenhouse. A medical marijuana card will cost a qualifying patient $150 for an initial or a renewal registry identification card. Some qualifying patients may be eligible to pay $75 for initial and renewal cards if they currently participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Who gets to apply?

A qualifying patient, who has been diagnosed with one of the debilitating medical conditions will need to get a written certification from a physician (medical doctor, osteopath, naturopath, or homeopath licensed to practice in Arizona) with whom he/she has a physician-patient relationship. The written certification has to be on a form provided by the Arizona Department of Health Services (Department) within 90 days before submitting an application for a registry identification card. After obtaining the written certification from the physician, the qualifying patient can apply online for a registry identification card, after April 14, 2011.

So what is a “debilitating medical condition” for the purpose of getting a medical marijuana card?

Here is how Arizona statute defines a debilitating medical condition: “Debilitating medical condition” means one or more of the following: (a) Cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, crohn’s disease, agitation of alzheimer’s disease or the treatment of these conditions. (b) A chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or its treatment that produces one or more of the following: cachexia or wasting syndrome; severe and chronic pain; severe nausea; seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy; or severe and persistent muscle spasms, including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis. (c) Any other medical condition or its treatment added by the department pursuant to section 36-2801.01. See Arizona Revised Statutes, section 38-2801(3).

How much marijuana can I possess?

A qualifying patient can possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana or 12 marijuana plants.

Flagstaff Police Make Their Points on Enforcing Criminal Marijuana Laws

Recently, the Flagstaff police held a public meeting to discuss medical marijunana laws about to go into effect. One of their major points was that medical marijuana card-holders can still be charged with DUI if they are impaired by marijuana consumption while driving in Flagstaff city limits. The main point: Flagstaff police officers will still be looking to pull you over and charge you with possession of marijuana (in excess of 2.5 ounces), DUI, DUI – impaired, smoking marijuana in public, and any other Flagstaff drug violations they can come up with.

If you have been charged with a marijuana crime in Flagstaff, or have questions about medical marijuana and how to protect yourself and your rights, call Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation.