Month: May 2011

Flagstaff Felony Lawyer: drug offenses on I-40 and I-17 and more

Drug crimes make up a huge portion of the major felony prosecutions in Arizona each year.

In Coconino County, and in particular Flagstaff, the intersection of two major interstates leads to drug courier profiling and drug arrests on local highways. Interstate 40 runs east/west; Interstate 17 runs north/south. Many of those arrested and charged with drug felonies in Coconino County, at the courthouse in Flagstaff, or in the Yavapai County Courthouse, are from out-of-state. So I’d like to take a moment to address what kinds of drug crimes exist in Arizona.

There are a lot of drug crimes in the Arizona statute books.

  • Possession of marijuana
  • Possession of dangerous drugs
  • Possession of narcotic drugs
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Possession of marijuana for sale
  • Possession of dangerous drugs for sale
  • Possession of narcotic drugs for sale
  • Transportation of marijuana for sale
  • Transportation of dangerous drugs for sale
  • Transportation of narcotic drugs for sale
  • And more…

Anything above the following threshold amounts in Arizona is a serious felony offense for which you should consult with me immediately:

  • 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

FREE CONSULTATIONS ON ALL ARIZONA FELONY DRUG CASES!

Location of your arrest/charges doesn’t matter! Call now or use the link at the top of this page. Coconino County Felony Drug Lawyer Certified in all Arizona State & Federal Courts.

Flagstaff Felony Defense Lawyer: drug sales in school zones

I’ve had a lot of questions recently regarding the sale of drugs on or near school property, and whether that matters for their cases. The answer is yes, it does matter. It matters a lot.

Possession of drugs, such as marijuana, “for sale” comes with far more severe consequences than simple possession. And the actual sale of drugs, such as when the METRO undercover task force does a drug sting in Flagstaff or in Northern Arizona, is even more serious that possession “for sale.”

All Arizona drug crimes involving the sale of drugs are felony offenses. Arizona drug laws define “sale” or “sell” as the “exchange for anything of value or advantage, present or prospective.” A.R.S. section 13-3401.

Now, what about offenses committed in a school safety zone, like when a high school senior sells marijuana to his friends while at school? It’s not a different crime than the ones I’ve discussed above, but it is a different sentencing scheme. First of all, what is a “school”? It’s “any public or nonpublic kindergarten program, common school or high school.” A.R.S. section 13-709(D)(1).

A “school safety zone” under Arizona law means any of the following:

(a) The area within 300 feet of a school or its accompanying grounds;

(b) Any public property within 1000 feet of a school or its accompanying grounds;

(c) Any school bus;

(d) A bus contracted to transport students for school;

(e) A school bus stop; or

(f) Any bus stop where children wait to be transported by bus to or from school.

A.R.S. section 13-3401(D)(2)(a)-(f).

Thus, selling drugs at a school bus stop anywhere in Flagstaff, even if the nearest school is miles away, brings you under the enhanced sentencing structure of A.R.S. section 13-709. So why does this matter so much?

Because if you are convicted of a drug crime in a school zone or school safety zone in Arizona you face up to a YEAR longer in prison (if non-gang member) and up to FIVE YEARS longer if you are a gang member.

Plus your minimum fine is $2,000. Know your rights. Defend your freedom.

Arizona DUI Checkpoint Lawyer on the Cinco De Mayo DUI Task Force Arrests

Flagstaff, Arizona – The Associated Press broke the story recently that Arizona law enforcement put together a statewide task force to make DUI arrests from Thursday, Cinco De Mayo, through Saturday night. And make arrests, they sure did. (Article here.) But not every one of those arrests must result in a conviction. 511 different people were arrested for DUI in Arizona in the three (3) nights of the Cinco De Mayo DUI Task Force;According to reports, Arizona police in places such as Phoenix, Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, Mesa, Tempe, and Gilbert, just to name a few, made the following arrests under Arizona DUI statutes:

  • 167 of those were arrested for Extreme DUI (see below);
  • 50 people had prior DUI convictions (see below); and
  • 52 drivers were underage (see below).

A simple DUI conviction in Arizona requires time in jail. If the DUI is an “Extreme DUI,” which means the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above 0.15% or 0.20%, then the person convicted must serve 30 or 45 consecutive days in jail, respectively. For those 167 folks charged with Extreme DUI as a result of the Arizona Cinco De Mayo DUI Task Force arrests, an aggressive DUI lawyer should be consulted immediately.

Just because you’re charged with an Extreme DUI doesn’t mean you need to be convicted and go to jail. Let an Arizona DUI lawyer defend you and try to get a good plea offer, a dismissal, or an acquittal. For the underage young adults nabbed on DUI charges over the weekend, the consequences are extra bad if you’re convicted and can include serious jail, fines, fees, and long license suspensions. Get a DUI lawyer now.

For a free Arizona DUI consultation, call or email Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC now.

Flagstaff, Phoenix, Prescott, Verde Valley, Arizona Weekend Lawyer: Free Consultations for May 2011

Let’s face it. Arizona Police don’t take weekends off. Whether you’re facing felony drug or assault charges… or you’re accused of criminal speeding on I-40, I-17, or I-10, or you get arrested on suspicion of DUI, or marijuana or drug crimes, or assault… no matter what the crime, misdemeanor or felony, call your Arizona criminal lawyer at the phone number above, even if it’s a weekend, or request a free consultation with the link at the top of the page.

With felony defense lawyer offices in Gilbert, Mr. Stevens serves as a weekend criminal defense lawyer for the entire Valley of the Sun.

If you’re in any of the Maricopa County courts, including justice courts for criminal charges in Tempe, Chandler, and near ASU (Arizona student defense lawyer), call for a free consultation.

With a criminal defense lawyer offices in Prescott and Cottonwood, Mr. Stevens handles all types of felony and misdemeanor cases arising out of Verde Valley, Prescott Valley, and Yavapai County.

With Flagstaff law offices, Mr. Stevens is a criminal trial lawyer with weekend hours for all of Northern Arizona, providing criminal defense services in Page near Lake Powell, in Holbrook and Navajo County, in Kingman and Mohave County, and all along I-40 and I-17.

Flagstaff DUI Lawyer: How to Get Your Best Plea Offer in an Arizona Criminal Case

If you or someone you know has been charged with DUI in Flagstaff or elsewhere in Northern Arizona, or any criminal charge, now is the time to deal with it. And by “deal with it,” I mean work hard to “deal” the case, as in an Arizona plea deal, or plea offer, or plea bargain, or plea agreement (all the same thing).

As I’ve discussed in prior articles, when you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, a huge chain of events is set off. You’ll be arrested and potentially face an Admin Per Se / Implied Consent suspension (i.e., your drivers license will be suspended), depending on your BAC results if there are any. You can appeal that suspension, but must do so within 15 days in order to prevent the suspension from starting. Once you are under arrest, you’ll appear before a judge, magistrate, or justice of the peace within 24 hours. See Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 4.1(a).

At your Initial Appearance under Arizona law, the judge or magistrate will perform several functions relating to your Arizona constitutional rights, as I discussed in a recent article about criminal arraignments. Once you plead “Not Guilty” to each and every count of your Arizona DUI Ticket and Complaint, as I strongly advise you to do, the judge or magistrate will set your case for a “Case Management Conference” or a “Pre-Trial Conference.” They will decide on your release conditions and/or a bond. Arizona Case Management Conference / Pre-Trial Conference Now you’re getting into the meat of your case.

The procedural elements are out of the way: you’ve been advised of your rights, you’ve pled Not Guilty to the Complaint. It’s a very good time to have a lawyer working for you. Behind the scenes, while your case is pending, and a Case Management Conference (CMC) or a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) is coming up, there are numerous things that a lawyer can be doing for you to help set up the plea negotiations with the prosecutor.

Things you and/or your Arizona DUI defense attorney should be doing, include: a substance abuse screening (you, not your lawyer); performing a detailed legal review of all of the State’s disclosure; requesting more disclosure from the State; formulating mitigation; researching potential constitutional violations; and handling case-specific needs. As your CMC or PTC approaches, your Arizona DUI lawyer should be contacting the prosecutor’s office to determine what the State’s approach to plea negotiations is going to be in your case. It will be different in every case because every case has unique facts unique defendants, and unique charges.

If, for example, you are charged with Super Extreme DUI – 0.20% BAC or more, you’re facing a mandatory 45 days in the county jail (e.g., Yavapai or Coconino County Jail). So if you just plead guilty, you’re hitting the slammer for 45 days minimum, plus somewhere around $3,000 in fines.

But if you work hard and prepare perfectly for your plea negotiations, you stand a real shot at a better plea, reduced jail time (if any at all), lower fines, and a softer conviction on your record. Plea negotiations in Arizona criminal cases require a hard working and knowledgeable criminal defense firm like Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC to get you the best possible resolution in your case. Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC has a special understanding of the criminal justice system and Arizona plea negotiation process because he has practiced law on both sides of cases. Call today.

Flagstaff lawyer discusses Arizona criminal arraignments

Flagstaff, Arizona

So you got charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, now what? Your first real court hearing, except for a possible Initial Appearance where your bond and release conditions will be set, is called an Arraignment.

You’ll be informed of the charges against youThere are several things that happen at an Arraignment, including the following:

  1. You’ll get a copy of the Complaint if you don’t have one
  2. You’ll be informed of your constitutional rights
  3. You’ll learn about possible immigration consequences
  4. The judge can answer certain questions you may have (but not about the facts of your csae)
  5. You’ll enter a plea of Not Guilty
  6. Your next Court date will be scheduled. Be aware that Arizona law generally requires courts to set cases out a few weeks to give the prosecutor (e.g., the Flagstaff City Attorney or the Coconino County Attorney’s Office) enough time to obtain police reports and other evidence in your case, to get your motor vehicle records, to contact alleged victims in your case, and to obtain restitution information.
  7. Lastly, the Court will address your release conditions, which can include a bond, jail, no contact with victims, no drinking alcohol, and various other requirements.

You have very important constitutional rights which you’ll be informed of at your Arraignment as well:

  • You have the right to remain silent and not to incriminate yourself.
  • You have the right to be represented by an attorney at all proceedings in your case and to have an attorney appointed to represent you if you are eligible.
  • You are presumed innocent unless and until the State can prove you guilty by a standard called “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
  • You have the right to have a trial in which the State must present evidence against you and at which time you may confront and cross-examine any witnesses against you.
  • You have the right to have the Court issue subpoenas free of charge to compel witnesses of your choosing to appear and testify.

If you have hired a lawyer, you can waive your Arraignment, meaning you don’t have to show up, sit around, wait to see the judge, and go through the cattle call process.

If you’ve got an Arraignment coming up in Arizona, call me today. Time is of the essence and getting a lawyer prior to an Arraignment can help your odds in your criminal case in many ways.

Gilbert Felony Defense Lawyer discusses fraud and the recent indictment in Gilbert against car auction owner

Gilbert, Arizona –

According to a recent news article, Maricopa County prosecutors say a 101-count indictment charges Stanley Dean Torgerson of fraud and theft for allegedly selling vehicles for customers and failing to give them the proceeds.

Fraud statutes are located at Arizona Revised Statutes, section 13-2201 et seq. Fraudulent activities can be misdemeanors or felonies. The allegations in the case against Mr. Torgerson involve felony fraud counts. Prosecutors may be seeking a punishment authorized by special sentencing provisions in the Arizona statutes. Prosecutors are threatening a life sentence in this case. That may be a bit extreme, as they are suggesting he would have to be convicted of all 101 counts and sentenced to consecutive aggravated prison terms. Such a claim by prosecutors ought to be shot down immediately by Mr. Torgerson’s attorney and a much more lenient resolution to this case should be sought.

Flagstaff marijuana lawyer discusses federal threat against Arizona marijuana users…

Flagstaff, Arizona –

As I’ve written about before, when Proposition 203 passed last November, Arizonans said “YES” to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, which allows those who have a doctor’s recommendation and a state-issued card to purchase, possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. But under federal law, marijuana remains a big no-no, and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona is making his marijuana fears known.

The Arizona Department of Health Services instituted the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program (website) in order to carry out the will of the Arizona people, who voted to pass the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act.

But here’s a word to the wise: just because something is legal under state law doesn’t mean it’s legal under federal law. Dennis Burke, the top federal prosecutor in Arizona, wrote a letter to Will Humble, Arizona’s state health director, saying in the letter:

“The public should understand, however, that even clear and unambiguous compliance with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act does not render possession or distribution of marijuana lawful under federal statute.”

That is a threat, plain and simple.

“This compliance with Arizona laws and regulations does not provide a safe harbor, nor immunity from federal prosecution,”

Burke wrote.

Another threat. Essentially, Prosecutor Burke is saying he can, and perhaps will, swoop in and arrest and prosecute people who are in full compliance with Arizona law. Why? Because the federal government is, as usual, decades behind the times and has not yet legalized marijuana. The biggest threat, in my opinion, is to those who grow, cultivate, and producte marijuana for the State of Arizona.

Even if issued appropriate state authority to grow marijuana, the cultivator is in grave danger of a federal swoop-in for several reasons. Not only will there be a federal criminal prosecution (e.g., it would start at the Federal Magistrate Court in Flagstaff), but then the feds will probably try to apply Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO” as we know it) and steal the cultivator’s property — tools, equipment, vehicles, buildings, real estate, etc.

According to Burke, even those on the periphery, including property owners, landlords and organizations that finance dispensaries, risk not just federal criminal prosecution but also having the assets seized. The federal message from our fearless U.S. Attorney: don’t touch marijuana, not even with a stick, because the feds will prosecute you (and seize your stick while they’re at it). In response to hearing about Burke’s letter, Arizona governor Jan Brewer took Prosecutor Burke to task. “You know what I would say to Dennis Burke?” she said. “Why don’t they enforce their immigration laws?”

Of course Brewer was making a point on her own politically-hot topic, but in doing so, she makes a great point for Arizonans altogether, not to mention all American citizens. Let’s here it for states’ rights. Charged with a marijuana crime? Call Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC now.

Flagstaff Lawyer explains Minor in Possession (MIP) or Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor (MIC) Arizona laws…

Flagstaff, Arizona –

Alcohol crimes are particularly detrimental to young people: teenagers, students, and young adults looking to make a living. When you’re under 21 and busted for an alcohol-related offense in Flagstaff or anywhere in Northern Arizona, you’re looking at potential jail time of up to 6 months and a $2500 fine.

In this article, I’ll address the different levels of misdemeanors that an Arizona minor can be convicted of when dealing in alcohol, such as consuming alcohol, possessing alcohol, furnishing alcohol to a minor, and driving with alcohol in the minor’s body (separate from an Arizona DUI).
First, a person (whether a minor or not) cannot provide alcohol to a minor. Here is what the Arizona statute says about that:

“It is unlawful…for a…person to sell, furnish, dispose of or give, or cause to be sold, furnished, disposed of or given, to a person under the legal drinking age . . .”

Arizona Revised Statutes, section 4-244(9).

Second, a minor cannot possess or consume alcohol:

“It is unlawful . . . for . . . a person under the legal drinking age to buy, receive, have in the person’s possession or consume spirituous liquor.”

Arizona Revised Statutes, section 4-244(9).

Third, a minor cannot drive a car with any alcohol in his or her body.

“It is unlawful . . . for or a person under twenty-one years of age to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while there is any spirituous liquor in the person’s body.”

Arizona Revised Statutes, section 4-244(34).

Also be aware that a minor (or person under 21) can get a DUI under Arizona’s regular DUI laws, including DUI – Slightest, DUI – 0.08% or More, DUI – Extreme, DUI – Super Extreme, and even Aggravated DUI (a.k.a. felony DUI).

Even if a person under 21 years old is at a 0.01% BAC, they can be convicted of driving with alcohol in his or her body. The minor need not even be impaired by alcohol to be convicted!

Fourth, in addition to consuming alcohol, a minor cannot even have alcohol in his or her body. (How it would have gotten there without consuming it is beyond me.) “It is unlawful . . . for a person under twenty-one years of age to have in the person’s body any spirituous liquor.” See Arizona Revised Statutes, section 4-244(41).

What Level of Offense Are Minor-Alcohol Offenses?

To get that answer, we have to look beyond the “Unlawful Acts” section of the alcohol chapter of the Arizona statutes. The answer is found in A.R.S. section 4-246, which reveals that all violations of Title 4 of the Arizona Revised Statutes are class 2 misdemeanors, EXCEPT certain offenses are class 1 misdemeanors and a very few of them are class 3 misdemeanors. A prime example of a class 1 misdemeanor is when a person sells, furnishes, or gives alcohol to a minor. Another class 1 misdemeanor occurs when a minor possesses or consumes alcohol.

Misdemeanors are criminal offenses and can affect students, education potential, and careers. They should not be taken lightly, as their punishments can be very serious. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries a potential sentence of up to 6 months in jail as well as fines up to $2,500.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a minor in possession or minor in consumption of alcohol in Arizona, or furnishing alcohol to a minor, call today for a free consultation.