Month: August 2011

Flagstaff’s Drug Court Program

Flagstaff is fortunate. We have one of the best Drug Court Programs available in Arizona. In this article, I’ll define what makes a Drug Court; how it is authorized by Arizona law; and how it resolves some of the most difficult Arizona drug prosecutions.

The mission statement of the Coconino County DUI/Drug Court is as follows: To require abstinence and accountability, and promote recovery through a court-supervised treatment program which reduces crime, improves community safety, and leads the participant to a healthier, more productive lifestyle.

Every superior court in Arizona has the vested power to form a Drug Court Program at any time. See A.R.S. section 13-3422(A). Eligible defendants are limited to those who are “drug dependent persons.” See A.R.S. section 13-3422(B).

Those ineligible include violent/dangerous offenders, sex offenders, and those who have previously completed or were terminated from a Drug Court Program. To be admitted in the Flagstaff program, each defendant must be individually screened and approved by the Drug Court Program and its team consisting of a substance abuse professional, judge, prosecutor, defense lawyer, and other qualified individuals.

The Coconino County DUI/Drug Court is a voluntary and court-supervised attempt to provide drug dependent persons with substance abuse rehabilitation and community involvement. It is, in many cases, a superior alternative to a prison term.

Flagstaff’s program is generally 12 months in duration with an intensive outpatient treatment program of counseling, recovery support groups, urinalysis tests, and a victim impact panel. Flagstaff’s program utilizes an incentive-based structure for sobriety and compliance and immediate sanctions for relapse or non-compliance. Speaking of non-compliance, where a program participant fails to fulfill the terms and conditions of probation, the court is required to find the participant guilty and sentence the defendant as provided by law, including a prison sentence in many cases.

On the other hand, compliance and successful completion of Drug Court allows the court to discharge the participant (i.e. the defendant) and dismiss the charges as agreed upon. Some of the toughest felony cases in Flagstaff, and elsewhere in Arizona, come as a result of drug abuse and drug addiction.

Whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, or more addictive substances like cocaine and heroin, abuse and addiction leads to felony DUI, selling drugs, transporting drugs, prostitution, theft, shoplifting, and other crimes punished severely by Arizona’s mandatory sentencing schemes. Many young adults get caught up in a drug-fueled lifestyle and, at a young age, realistically face 20+ years incarceration in the Arizona Department of Corrections.

Such cases are often a perfect opportunity for admittance into the Drug Court Program, to rehabilitate and save taxpayers millions of dollars in prison costs and future prosecutions of recidivist offenders. Drug Court offers an alternative to prison in an attempt to help individuals and serve the public by rehabilitating the accused and helping them build a stable, drug-free life.

Such offenders are far less likely to reoffend. And we are all better off.

Making Bail in Arizona

Bail and bonds play a major role in felony cases in Arizona. Occasionally, bail and bonds affect misdemeanor cases, too. So let’s talk about how the bonds system works in Arizona.

Initial Appearances in Arizona

When someone is arrested for a criminal offense, they get taken to jail, booked in, and thrown into a holding cell. But they get to see a magistrate. If you are arrested, you “shall be taken before a magistrate without unnecessary delay.” Rule 4.1(a), Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure (ARCP).

Instead of arguing over what “unnecessary delay” means, we have an additional explanation in Rule 4.1(a): “If the person is not brought before a magistrate within 24 hours after arrest, he or she shall immediately be released.” Get the arrested person before a judge within 24 hours or let the person leave jail. Plain and simple. That first appearance is called an “Initial Appearance.”

At the Initial Appearance, the magistrate is required to inform the inmate of many things, including the charges, right to counsel, right to remain silent, whether probable cause exists for the purpose of release from custody, and more. See ARCP 4.2(a). Because of the Initial Appearance rule, most jurisdictions and Arizona jails have systems in place to ensure that arrested people are seen by a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest, even on weekends. That way, they are not required to release people.

However, if the police want to throw somebody in a drunk tank (i.e., a large jail cell in which intoxicated arrested persons are left to sober up), they can do that as long as they had sufficient probable cause to arrest. Then, before the 24 hours is up, the jail can release the now-sober person, having never taken them before a magistrate.

Within 48 hours of a warrantless arrest, a criminal complaint must be filed against the arrested person, or else release is mandated.

Setting of Appearance Bond

An “appearance bond” is an undertaking, on a form approved by the Supreme Court, to pay to the clerk of the court a specified sum of money upon failure of a person released to comply with its conditions. ARCP 7.1(b). Rule 7.2 discusses the right to release of all arrested persons: “Any person charged with an offense bailable as a matter of right shall be released pending or during trial on the person’s own recognizance[.]” “Own recognizance” means release without any condition of an undertaking relating to, or deposit of, security. ARCP 7.1(a).

That sounds like good news for inmates. However, there is a major exception to this rule. If “the court determines, in its discretion” that own recognizance release “will not reasonably assure the person’s appearance as required[,]” then the court is not required to release the person. And this is where bail comes into play.

The court is permitted to set an appearance bond. Such a bond can be “unsecured” or “secured” or, worse, cash only.

Unsecured Bonds

Let’s talk about unsecured bonds first. An unsecured appearance bond means that a person will be released, unless they fail to satisfy the other conditions of release, and that they must appear for subsequent court proceedings. If they fail to appear for the subsequent proceedings, then they will owe the amount of the unsecured bond as a sort of punishment for their failure to appear.

Typically, a warrant will issue for the person’s arrest. When arrest is made, that person will then be ordered to pay, or else continue to sit in custody.

Secured Bonds

A secured appearance bond is an amount of money that the person must put up before being released. Contrast that to the unsecured bond, which does not require the person to ever post the bond unless they fail to appear.

With a secured appearance bond, you can get a bail bondsman to put up the money and essentially promise the court that you will appear or else the bondsman will find you, arrest you, and bring you before the court. This added security is often used to make judges more comfortable releasing you. Bail bonds companies often assess the risk of bonding you out. If they decide to help you, they will require a down payment, which they will keep, even after your case is over. That’s how they get paid.

Typically, that amount is roughly 10% of the total secured bond.

For example, if you are arrested for felony DUI, or Aggravated DUI, you will be taken into custody, held for up to 24 hours, and taken before a magistrate. The magistrate will inform you of many rights and then decide on a bond. The magistrate may decide on a $5,000 secured appearance bond. Then, you or your family can try to locate a bail bonds company, who may require a $500 down payment in order for them to put up the remaining $4,500 to secure your release.

Cash Bonds

Worse, even, than a secured appearance bond is a cash bond. A cash bond is exactly what it sounds like: you must put up the full amount of the bond in cash in order to secure your release from custody.

Bonding Out Matters to Your Case and Your Sanity

When a criminal defendant is held in custody, the person has limited access to evidence; all communications with friends and family are recorded or copied; no telephone calls are safe; visitation with the person’s lawyer is restricted and strained; stress and fear are higher; and, most importantly, you are physically limited from assisting in your own defense. Getting out of jail is absolutely critical. It can help your case; it will keep you sane.

For a free consultation on any criminal matter involving bond or bail, call Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC right now, or use the Contact form at the top of the page. It’s free. And you should be too.

Domesticating Foreign Cases in Arizona

Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC proudly assists out-of-state lawyers when they need to domesticate a foreign subpoena, foreign judgment, or foreign case in the Arizona courts.

In this article, Mr. Stevens shares his experience in domesticating foreign cases and explains how his services can help out-of-state law firms win their cases.

We’ll start first with the general concepts. A “foreign” judgment or “foreign” subpoena means any judgment, decree, subpoena, or order of a court of the United States or of any other court which is entitled to full faith and credit in Arizona. In plain terms, a California case is a “foreign” case in Arizona. But that doesn’t mean we can’t issue a California case’s subpoena in Arizona, or domesticate a California judgment in Arizona so that it can be enforced and money can be collected.

Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC is equipped to help you do just that by utilizing the powers provided under Arizona laws and rules of court. Arizona adopted the Uniform Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act, known by its short title as the “uniform enforcement of foreign judgments act.” A.R.S. section 12-1708. Under the Act, a copy of any authenticated foreign judgment may be filed in an Arizona superior court. The clerk of the superior court in which it is filed “shall treat the foreign judgment in the same manner as a judgment of the superior court of this state.” A.R.S. section 12-1702.

Proper filing and follow up is necessary for a successful outcome. Once that judgment is domesticated, it is enforceable within Arizona.

Now let’s move on to out-of-state, or foreign, subpoenas. Unfortunately, Arizona is behind other states when it comes to uniform rules for depositions and discovery and has not adopted the Uniform Interstate Depositions and Discovery Act. See here. So we’re stuck with the obsolete Arizona rules when it comes to tracking down discoverable information and witnesses within Arizona’s boundaries. But that does not mean we are without the means to win your case.

Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC can put the Arizona rules to work for you. All hidden within an old civil procedure rule designed explicitly for depositions of foreign cases are the keys to the successful domestication of a subpoena, deposition, discovery order, and more. You’ll need the following items, available now at Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC:

  • a praecipe;
  • civil cover sheets;
  • filing fees and issuance fees;
  • current/updated Arizona subpoenas;
  • application for domestication citing current Arizona laws;
  • fast and reliable service of process;
  • and anything else you may desire or require

For more information on domesticating foreign subpoenas, judgments, and cases, check out the Civil Litigation department of our website.

Ryan Stevens Appears on RocketLawyer Podcast

Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC founder Ryan J. Stevens was honored to be a recent guest on the RocketLawyer podcast, LegallyEasy.

Mr. Stevens shared his insight, both as a criminal defense attorney and former felony prosecutor, on DUI laws, various traffic crimes, and the duties and roles of prosecutors in the American criminal justice system.

In particular, Mr. Stevens commented on the recent case in the State of Georgia involving Raquel Nelson, who was convicted of second degree vehicular homicide after a dangerous hit-and-run driver killed her 4 year-old boy while she crossed a road with him.

Mr. Stevens wrote an article on that case, Could the Raquel Nelson case happen in Arizona.

To read and hear the podcast, please enjoy and provide positive feedback on the RocketLawyer podcast website.