Month: October 2014

Tequila Sunrise in Flagstaff

Tequila Sunrise is a Flagstaff and NAU tradition – the perfect kick-off to NAU Homecoming festivities. However, mixing alcohol and a heavy police presence can lead to confusion and arrests. Each year, we have routinely defended NAU students and other young adults who find themselves in handcuffs on Tequila Sunrise morning. We offer free consultations on all criminal charges in Arizona, ranging from disorderly conduct to assault to DUI, and more.

As a general reminder, a criminal case is charged through an Arizona Ticket and Complaint, which the police can hand to you, or a Court can provide to you later. Typically, a misdemeanor case that occurs in Flagstaff will result in a criminal case being filed in Flagstaff Municipal Court. However, if the allegation arises out of events on the NAU campus, the case will typically be filed in the Flagstaff Justice Court. And if it’s a felony case, it will be in the Flagstaff Justice Court or the Coconino County Superior Court. Regardless of where the case is filed, the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure will dictate how the case proceeds.

First, there will be an Arraignment. If you don’t have a lawyer, you must appear in person for the Arraignment, or else a warrant will be issued for your arrest. However, if you have an attorney, you do not need to go to the Arraignment if your lawyer tells you it’s okay to skip. Second, there will be a Pre-Trial Conference (PTC) and police reports (the “disclosure”) will be provided to you or your attorney.

Ultimately, you will be able to decide between accepting a plea agreement — or deferred prosecution or diversion agreement, if available — or proceeding to a trial. Some cases have the right to a jury trial; other cases will be a bench trial (where the Judge is both the fact-finder and the Judge). It is our job to get the best possible plea offer, deferred prosecution, or diversion agreement for our clients. And, if the offer is not good enough, we are well known as Flagstaff’s successful trial attorneys. We are honored to utilize our trial experience, reputation, and skills to achieve the best possible outcome in a courtroom.

We offer free consultations on all criminal defense and personal injury cases in Northern Arizona. No pressure, no cost. Use the free contact form to the right, or call us at the number at the top of the page. Let the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC fight for you.

The New Early Disposition Court

Yavapai County’s “early disposition court” (EDC) has been overhauled. New rules, new times for hearings, new ideas. The concept remains the same: substantively address felony cases at the preliminary hearing stage and try to resolve certain cases without expending unnecessary resources. The risks associated with this concept include not treating defendants fairly, putting undue pressure on defendants to accept a plea, limiting the time for the defense to investigate, develop strategy, and possibly crack a case wide open. Once you take a plea deal in early disposition court, you can’t retract it, except under very rare circumstances.

The new EDC rules allow for the defense to spend more time reviewing the police reports and developing a defense strategy while still in early disposition court (preliminary hearing stage). The old rules would limit a defendant’s ability to accomplish much work while still in the preliminary hearing stage. As a result, defendants used to waive preliminary hearings and proceed to the Yavapai County Superior Court more quickly. Now, however, cases are more likely to be resolved while in the early disposition court, without a defendant having to step foot into a Yavapai County Superior Court courtroom. The new rules also affect whether a defendant appears at the 8:00AM docket or the 1:00PM docket.

There are numerous options still available at an early disposition court proceeding: waive a preliminary hearing, continue the early disposition court to a new date, request a preliminary hearing (which is likely to trigger a grand jury indictment proceeding), take a plea, make a counter offer, and potentially more. All of these options should be discussed with a qualified criminal defense attorney. You are also entitled to receive the initial disclosure (police reports, etc.) at the early disposition court stage. The dangers of early disposition court are high: felony convictions, prison, probation, probation violations, parole violations, and more. Don’t fall for the trap of feeling pressured to take a plea deal. Make sure you are certain, with the assistance of legal counsel, that any plea agreement you accept is an appropriate resolution to your case.

At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we are honored to represent defendants in the early disposition court on a regular basis. We know the new rules. We know the new risks. We can protect your rights.