Month: June 2012

Felony Defense in Arizona

We defend all types of criminal offenses in Arizona state, federal, and tribal courts. But what does it take to aggressively defend a felony charge? And what is a felony? Here’s how it works.

Felonies are distinguished from misdemeanors on a very simple basis. A felony is any crime punishable by time in the Arizona Department of Corrections – prison. Misdemeanor offenses cannot land you in prison, but they can land you in the county jail (e.g., the Coconino County Detention Facility on Sawmill Avenue in Flagstaff, or the Yavapai County Jail in Camp Verde, or the Navajo County Jail in Holbrook). Felony cases range from a few months in prison (think: Aggravated DUI) to an entire lifetime behind bars (think: murder cases), or even a death sentence.

Felony defense is a major component of our work at the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC. Here’s how we do it.

First, we prioritize. If our client is in custody, sitting in the county jail awaiting prosecution, we fight to get them out. We want our clients out of jail to not only be free, but to assist us in developing our defense. Getting our felony clients out of jail is our immediate top priority. There are many ways to accomplish this goal, ranging from Pre-Trial Services release, to bond reductions, to secured bonds, to unsecured bonds, to mental health or substance abuse treatment furlough, to work furlough, to own recognizance (O.R.) release, and to jail breakouts. (Kidding about the jail breakouts, but the other ones are real.) The point is: we need our clients out and we fight to get them out of jail. See Rule 7.4 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Second, we investigate. There is no way to effectively defend a felony case if you don’t put in the work. We collect all of the prosecution’s investigation – police reports, interviews, DVD’s, CD’s, photographs, etc. We also decide which of our own defense witnesses to interview. Ultimately, we will know our client’s case as good or better than the prosecution knows it. We can force out all of the information we need from the prosecution. They can’t hide the ball from us.

Third, we analyze. Once we collect all of the evidence against a person, we make sense of it. Charts, timelines, lists, etc. – we read every word of every report. We want to know what the evidence at trial will be. Hard work and preparation will prevent surprises in Court. And it will help us develop a meaningful and cohesive defense strategy.

Fourth, we strategize. We meet with our clients regularly. We need your input to form a high quality defense strategy. We use our client’s input, our investigative work, and evidence analysis to develop the appropriate strategy to defend your case. Each case is different. Strategy is based on the facts of your particular case. We exploit all legal strategies available to your case. But we also need to develop strategies consistent with the evidence (i.e., the precise facts of your situation).

Fifth, we attack. If the case calls for it, we attack aggressively. We file motions to suppress evidence, motions to dismiss for various legal reasons, and other evidentiary attacks. In other cases, we approach the prosecution diplomatically, in order to seek a beneficial plea agreement (e.g., if a person is facing mandatory prison time, we will try to obtain a promise of probation instead of prison). For example, if a person is charged with violating Arizona Revised Statute section 28-1383 (Aggravated DUI, class 4 felony), we will want to avoid a prison term by analyzing the State’s case, fighting every legal avenue available, and in some cases, negotiating a fair resolution. Defense strategy is also dependent on you. We need your input. We keep you informed and give you quality legal advice. Then, you make the call.

If a case proceeds to litigation, we utilize Arizona Supreme Court law, Arizona statutes, the U.S. and Arizona Constitutions, the Arizona Rules of Evidence, Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, and all other legal authority.

Ultimately, we take many cases to trial. What distinguishes the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC from other law firms in Arizona is that we are trial lawyers. We fight cases all the way through jury trials and beyond. We don’t force clients to take plea agreements just to avoid a trial. Both Mr. Griffen and Mr. Stevens have handled major felony trials, including first degree murder, second degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, child abuse, transportation of drugs for sale, sexual abuse, manslaughter, and more.