Arizona Law on Grand Theft Auto

Arizona’s laws on what most people think of as “grand theft auto” takes the catchiness out of the popular video game’s namesake. Instead, Arizona refers to “Theft or Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation.” These laws apply to the unauthorized use or theft of any vehicle.

Arizona law breaks down this type of theft of a vehicle into two categories. The two categories are distinguished by the driver’s intentions. In other words, did the driver intend to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle, or just temporarily?

Unauthorized Use of Means of Transport (A.R.S. § 13-1803)

Unauthorized use of means of transportation applies when a person uses or controls a vehicle without authorization but does not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. There are two ways to commit unauthorized use of means of transportation.

The first occurs when a person knowingly takes unauthorized control of another person’s vehicle. The law defines control as acting “to exclude others from using their property except on the defendant’s own terms.” So a joy ride or a family member borrowing a car without permission can fall into this category. Using someone else’s vehicle without permission is a class 5 felony, punishable by .5 – 2.5 years in prison.

The second way of committing unauthorized use of means of transport occurs when a person is knowingly transported or physically in a vehicle the person knows (or has reason to know) is stolen. That means that simply being a passenger in a car that you have reason to know was stolen can be a felony. This category is classified as a class 6 felony, punishable by .33 – 2 years in prison.

Theft of Means of Transportation (A.R.S. § 13-1814)

This is the law people generally think of when they think of auto theft. There are multiple ways to commit theft of a vehicle. All of them are classified as a class 3 felony, punishable by 2 – 8.75 years in prison.

The first way to commit auto theft is to control another person’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive that person of their vehicle. Again, the law defines control as acting “to exclude others from using their property except on the defendant’s own terms.”

The second way to commit auto theft applies when a vehicle is entrusted to a person for a period of time. Auto theft occurs if that person then controls the vehicle for a period longer than the permitted timeframe.

A third way to commit auto theft occurs when a person obtains a vehicle through misrepresentation or fraud, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle.

Auto theft can also occur when a vehicle is lost or mis-delivered. If the circumstances provide “means of inquiry” as to the true owner, and a person takes or controls a lost or mis-delivered vehicle as their own without reasonable efforts to notify the owner, they can be charged with auto theft.

Finally, auto theft occurs when a person controls another person’s vehicle when they knew (or had reason to know) that the vehicle was stolen. Contrary to what you’d expect, the law actually contains a presumption that a person had reason to know property was stolen in this case! The presumption applies if the state can prove that the person 1) possessed the stolen property, 2) purchased it substantially below fair market value, or 3) purchased it from a dealer outside the normal course of business. A satisfactory explanation can overcome the presumption.

Rental Cars

Arizona criminal law also favors rental car companies and lien holders. If a person fails to make a car payment for more than 90 days, for example, the lien holder, if they carefully comply with the language of A.R.S. § 13-1813(2)(a), can ask the State of Arizona to pursue a class 6 felony charge against the lessee (i.e., the person who leased the vehicle or bought it subject to a lien). For rental vehicles, the penalties for failing to return a rental car are even worse. Under Arizona criminal law, if a person rents a vehicle, and fails to return it within 72 hours after the time provided for in the rental agreement, that person can be convicted of a class 5 felony and sentenced up to 2.5 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections, pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1806.

Conclusion

Theft or use of means of transportation charges are commonly accompanied by other charges too. It is important for your lawyer to investigate the evidence carefully to unearth and utilize all available legal defenses. (The relevant statutes contain several defenses.) Unlike in the video game, the stakes are real. At Griffen & Stevens, PLLC, we are proud to defend clients accused of all types of theft, auto theft, unlawful use, and fraud. Feel free to contact us for a free criminal defense consultation.

Article written by Ian van Schilfgaarde, Esq.

Featured image of “Grand Theft Auto” screen used pursuant to license issued by iStock by Getty Images. This article is for educational purposes only, and is not for commercial use. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship nor does it contain any legal advice.

Arizona Ignition Interlock and DUI Drug Cases

Written By Ian van Schilfgaarde, Esq.

There are several different types of misdemeanor DUI charges under Arizona law. All require varying mandatory minimum penalties for a conviction, including jail time. All misdemeanor DUI charges in Arizona are classified as class 1 misdemeanors. In this article, we will break down the current DUI laws in Arizona as they relate to mandatory penalties and ignition interlock device orders.

DUI to the Slightest Degree

A DUI to the Slightest Degree states that it is illegal to operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle “[w]hile under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs, or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.” What does this mean? Well, if the State can prove that you had any amount of alcohol, drugs, or other substance in your system that caused you to be impaired to the “slightest” degree, then you can be convicted of a DUI even if your BAC is below a .08! A DUI Slightest is essentially a catchall law for prosecutors to seek DUI convictions when they believe a person was impaired.

Standard, Extreme, and Super-Extreme Alcohol DUI

If you are found driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08% (which means that ethanol in your system is higher than .08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, or .08 grams per 210 liters of breath) the State does not need to prove impairment; the BAC alone is sufficient to establish a rebuttable legal presumption of impairment.

If your BAC is above .15%, you can be charged with an Extreme DUI. Not surprisingly, the minimum penalties for an extreme DUI are harsher than for a standard DUI.

Finally, if your BAC exceeds .20%, you can be charged with a Super Extreme DUI. As you can guess, minimum penalties for a Super Extreme DUI are even harsher than for an Extreme DUI.

DUI Drugs

The Arizona statute for “DUI Drugs” states that it is “unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle… [w]hile there is any drug defined § 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.” Section 13-3401 lays out a myriad of different drugs, including marijuana THC, cocaine, methamphetamine, and most prescription drugs. Similar to an extreme or .08 DUI, the State does not need to prove impairment so long as it can prove that the drug is in your system and you are not an authorized user (like a medical marijuana card holder or a valid medical prescription holder for a prescription drug).

Minimum Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI Convictions

The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI range from varying mandatory minimum penalties to the maximum possible for a class 1 misdemeanor. Maximum penalties include 6 months in jail, a fine of $2,500 + 83% surcharge, alcohol counseling, community service, and an ignition interlock requirement.

Minimum penalties for a DUI Slightest, DUI .08 and DUI Drugs are generally the same. They include alcohol/substance abuse counseling, jail time of 10 days (9 can be suspended upon completion the counseling), fines of approximately $1,600, and, in some cases, an ignition interlock for 12 months.

Minimum penalties for an Extreme DUI include the same counseling requirement, jail time of 30 days (21 can be suspended upon successful completion of counseling), a fine of approximately $2,800 (including surcharges), and 12 months of ignition interlock.

A Super Extreme DUI also carries the same counseling requirement, jail time of 45 days (31 can be suspended with completion of alcohol counseling), a fine of approximately $3,300, and a year of ignition interlock.

Second, or subsequent, DUI offenses have much harsher mandatory minimum penalties. A third DUI within 7 years will usually result in an aggravated (or felony) DUI.

Ignition Interlock for DUI Drug Convictions

Extreme, Super Extreme, and subsequent DUI convictions require the court to impose an ignition interlock device (“IID”). The actual order for the IID will come from the Arizona MVD, a subdivision of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Even DUI convictions that do not require a court-ordered ignition interlock still require the MVD to require a person who has been convicted of a DUI to install an ignition interlock for at least 12 months on any alcohol-related DUI.

Previously, the law in Arizona did not distinguish between an alcohol related DUI, a DUI to the Slightest Degree, or a DUI Drugs – all required either the court or the MVD to impose an ignition interlock for at least 12 months. Thankfully, Arizona law changed on January 1, 2017 with respect to DUI Drugs. The amended law, A.R.S. § 28-1381(I)(6), no longer mandates the court or MVD to require an ignition interlock device if the offense did not include alcohol. That means that if you were charged with a DUI that involves drugs and alcohol, it is better to be convicted of only the DUI for drugs, if a better result cannot be achieved.

Conclusion

The Arizona legislature takes DUI cases seriously. At Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC we provide a thorough analysis of all DUI charges to consider what our clients’ best options are. Sometimes a trial is the only appropriate method of defending your rights. Other times it is advantageous to pursue alternatives that may help you avoid significant collateral consequences, such as an ignition interlock device order.

This article does not contain legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. This article is for informational purposes only. We encourage you to call our law firm, or use our contact form, if you need a consultation, legal advice, or representation.

Ryan Stevens Appointed to Merit Selection Panel

The Griffen & Stevens Law Firm is pleased to announce that Flagstaff attorney Ryan J. Stevens has been appointed by the U.S. District Court (District of Arizona) to the Merit Selection Panel for the full-time United States Magistrate Judge position for the District of Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona. The appointment was completed by General Order 18-11 in the U.S. District Court, available here.

Mr. Stevens is honored to serve the northern Arizona community, the court, and the legal profession with this appointment.

Our Case Results (Fall, 2018)

We are trial lawyers. We have secured “Not Guilty” jury verdicts on first degree murder, aggravated assault, sale of dangerous drugs, and other serious charges. And that’s just in the last few years. With over 50 years of combined experience, our attorneys are proud to serve our clients, and the Flagstaff and northern Arizona community. We are high energy, and nobody outworks us.

U.S. News & World Report “Best Law Firms” has repeatedly ranked our law firm as a “Tier 1” Best Law Firm. We are the only Flagstaff-based law firm to achieve that ranking in 2018 and 2019. The Arizona Daily Sun article is available here.

Want to see more of our real case results? Click here.

We offer free consultations on all criminal defense and personal injury cases. This is a service we are proud to offer to people in need. Contact us by using our contact form, or call us at the phone number at the top of our website.

Dust Storm Driving: Safety Tips for Arizona Drivers

Dust storms are very common in Arizona and create hazardous conditions for drivers throughout the state. The most common time to experience a dust storm in Arizona is between the months of May and September. One particularly dangerous condition is called a haboob, which is an extreme dust storm that travels at speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The area that lies between Phoenix and Tucson is known for this type of weather phenomenon.

Although dust storms usually don’t last very long, they can be deadly. These blinding conditions often cause collisions that result in injury and vehicular damage. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, dust storms are most likely on Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson, Interstate 10 between Benson and the New Mexico State line, and on Interstate 8 between Casa Grande and Yuma.

During a Dust Storm

Since dust storms can severely limit your visibility while driving, it’s important to safety get off the road when one hits the area you’re traveling in. Keep these tips in mind if you find yourself caught in a dust storm behind the wheel:

  • Reduce your speed (In Arizona, the speed limit is 75 mph on rural interstates and 65 on urban interstates)
  • Carefully exit the highway as soon as you notice a dust storm forming in the distance
  • Don’t drive in an emergency lane or on the shoulder
  • Once stopped, turn off your lights to discourage other drivers from read-ending your vehicle
  • Set the emergency brake
  • Take your foot off the brake
  • Stay in the vehicle until the storm passes

If it is not possible to pull off the road right away, reduce your driving speed and use the center line as your guide while continuing to drive to a safe location.

After a Dust Storm

After it appears that the dust storm has passed, driving conditions may still be compromised. Here are some tips on what to do after a dust storm has passed:

  • Only begin driving when visibility is 300 feet or greater
  • Beware of slippery pavement and obscured lane markings
  • Ensure everyone in the vehicle is wearing safety belts (It’s required for kids in Arizona, but a good idea for everyone)
  • Be prepared for heavy rain, which often follows dust storms
  • Keep your car radio on to listen to local weather alerts
  • Call the police if you are involved in an accident

“Driving into a dust storm is very dangerous, but the key is that oftentimes it can be avoided,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “Drivers must be ready to alter their plans if there is a threat of a dust storm. It’s better to change plans than try to power through dangerous conditions. But if you’re on the road and a dust storm suddenly appears near you, pull off the highway as quickly and safely as possible. Never drive through a dust storm. It’s not a risk worth taking.”

Dust Storms & Arizona Laws

Not only do dust storms have safety implications for Arizona drivers, but they a legal significance too. For example, Arizona traffic laws (Title 28, Chapter 3, Article 4) require drivers to notify the local police department, county sheriff, or highway patrol office of any accident that results in injury.  And a written accident report must be provided within 24 hours of completing an investigation.

If you or someone you care about has been involved in a dust storm accident, we can answer your questions and help you handle your claim. We understand how Arizona laws apply to dust storm situations and are here to serve our friends and neighbors.

Jemma writes for Comedy Defense Driving, a driving school with locations in Texas and Florida.

The Importance of Dog Bites

Most people are not aware of the personal and legal implications of a dog bite. The immediate need for medical care is, of course, the top priority. But then what? Will there be a scar? Permanent injury or disfigurement? What happens to the dog owner? And the dog?

Statistically, dogs bite about 4.5 million Americans every year, half of them children between ages 5 and 9. Injuries often include one or more of the following: scars, nerve damage, abrasions, punctures, lacerations, crush injuries, tissue loss and avulsion, bone fractures, sprains and strains, disability and disformity, and life-threatening infections like rabies. Children are especially susceptible to facial scars and facial fractures.

Getting proper medical care and treatment is extremely important after a dog bite. At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, we know the best doctors and are happy to refer dog bite injury clients to the right providers for the best care.

Legal Implications of Dog Bites

In Arizona, dog bites are subject to strict liability. The dog owners are strictly liable for the bite victim’s injuries if they are “owners” of the dog. Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 11-1025(A).

Arizona law specifies that “[t]he owner of a dog which bites a person when the person is in or on a public place or lawfully in or on a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, is liable for damages suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of his viciousness.” § 11-1025(A). Importantly, the legislature defined “owner” as “any person keeping an animal other than livestock for more than six consecutive days.” A.R.S. § 11-1001(10).

In Arizona, dogs do not get “one free bite;” owners are held strictly liable for injuries caused by their dogs’ actions and liability is imposed without regard to an owner’s knowledge of the dog’s viciousness. Massey v. Colaric, 151 Ariz. 65, 725 P.2d 1099 (1986).

In sum, if an unprovoked dog bite occurs, the owner or keeper of that dog is civilly (and sometimes criminally) liable to the victim for damages. If the owner has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, the damages may be covered by the insurance carrier.


Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC Practice Tip: The statute of limitations for strict liability on a dog bite is one (1) year in Arizona. Contact our law firm as early as possible to preserve all evidence and file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations.


The dog bite owner/keeper can be criminally prosecuted under several city and county codes. Criminal restitution may be available in the criminal case. However, it is critically important to file a lawsuit and/or initiate a claim with the insurance carrier who will be paying the damages to the dog bite victim.

Other damages may become known soon after the dog bite. Emotional harm; fear of dogs; and other emotional and psychological consequences are common. These harms and damages, in addition to the physical injuries, can lead to a serious insurance claim. We would be honored to aggressively pursue your dog bite claim.

Contact us for a free case evaluation on any dog bite case.

Retrograde Analysis in Arizona DUI

Flagstaff, AZ – Arizona law prohibits driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher within two hours of driving. For the purpose of this article, “within two hours of driving” is the critical phrase.

What if the police cannot obtain a breath or blood sample from the driver in the two hours after driving?

In some cases, it takes over two hours to get a qualified phlebotomist to draw a person’s blood. In other cases, the driver may refuse to consent (warning: there are consequences for refusal) to a breath sample. Or the driver may have to receive medical treatment, and no sample can be obtained within the first two hours.

Regardless of the reason for the delay, the State will still prosecute the driver for DUI, even if they did not obtain a BAC on the driver within 2 hours of driving.

How? And what is a retrograde extrapolation?

The State will try to meet its burden of proving that a defendant had a BAC higher than the legal limit within two hours of driving by using retrograde extrapolation. State ex re. Montgomery v. Miller (Real Party in Interest: Suzanne Madrid), 234 Ariz. 289, 295 ¶ 4 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2014) (citation omitted) (hereinafter referred to as “Madrid”). A retrograde extrapolation is a method by which a person’s BAC at an earlier point in time is calculated based on his BAC from a later blood test. Id.

Rule 702 of the Arizona Rules of Evidence provides that a trial judge serves as a gatekeeper who makes a preliminary assessment as to whether the proposed expert testimony is relevant and reliable. Madrid, 234 Ariz. at 297. There are several considerations under Arizona law: (1) whether the proffered expert is qualified to testify about a particular issue; (2) the expert testimony must assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence – expert testimony that does not relate to any issue in the case is irrelevant therefore not helpful; (3) the court examines whether the expert obtained enough information to make the opinion reliable; and (4) the law requires the expert’s testimony to be based on ‘reliable principles and methods’ and must be based on more than speculation.

Under newer legal standard for expert testimony pursuant to Daubert, the trial court should consider such factors as: 1) whether the expert’s theory or technique can or has been tested; 2) whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication; 3) whether the theory or technique is generally accepted within the relevant scientific community; 4) the known or potential rate of error of the technique; and 5) the existence and maintenance of standards controlling the application of the technique.

According to Madrid, “[n]o single Daubert factor is dispositive of the reliability of an expert’s testimony, and not all of the Daubert factors will apply to all experts or in every case.” Id. at 299 (internal quotation and citation omitted).

Generally, the best Arizona experts agree that a number of variables affect how long it takes an individual to reach their peak BAC, including drinking history (time of last drink, how much they drank and over what time period, what type of alcohol they drank, whether they are a heavy or social drinker), eating history (when they ate, what they ate and how much food they consumed before they were stopped), and personal characteristics (height, weight, gender).

The Madrid Case

The trial court in Madrid determined that the retrograde analysis evidence was “unreliable and highly prejudicial” and precluded it from trial. The Arizona Court of Appeals applied Rule 702/Daubert and reversed the trial court’s decision.

Under 702(c) the court made several findings: (1) the State’s expert’s testimony that an average person reaches a peak BAC within two hours of driving was sound because the expert was able to cite multiple studies supporting his position; (2) the analysis had been peer reviewed because the State submitted several peer reviewed publications; (3) the State presented evidence that its expert’s methodology has been generally accepted within the relevant scientific community; (4) the State’s expert’s specific methodology reliably accounted for the potential rate of error in his retrograde analysis; (5) there were general scientific standards that governed the use of retrograde extrapolation; (6) whether an expert prepared his/her testimony in preparation of litigation does not weigh heavily for or against reliability regarding retrograde; and (7) retrograde is generally considered to be a reliable scientific procedure.

With that, the Madrid case solidified Arizona law on retrograde analysis under the new expert testimony standards (Daubert). Under Arizona law, when offered properly by a qualified expert witness, retrograde extrapolation is acceptable and admissible in a DUI case.

If you need a free consultation on a retrograde DUI case, or any criminal case, send us an email or call us at the number at the top of this web page.

Flagstaff DUI Defense

Flagstaff, AZ – Defense lawyers Ryan J. Stevens and Bruce S. Griffen defend DUI charges in Northern Arizona ranging from Aggravated DUI (felony) to Extreme DUI to DUI Slightest Degree. There are numerous courts in Flagstaff that handle DUI cases: Flagstaff Municipal Court, Flagstaff Justice Court, Coconino County Superior Court, and U.S. Magistrate Court (for federal DUI cases occurring on national park lands).

Arizona DUI Defense: Criminal Procedure

All DUI cases are criminal in nature. That means the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure apply. Cases begin with an investigation, arrest, and the filing of criminal charges. Then an arraignment, pre-trial conferences, case management conferences, and a jury trial may follow. It is important to understand every step of the procedure, to know when it is best to negotiate, when to file disclosure, when to expect to make a decision, and how to file motions to suppress evidence. Not to mention: how to win a jury trial. Last year, the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC earned dismissals of numerous DUI cases by utilizing the rules of procedure, as well as arguing constitutional law.

Arizona DUI Defense: Substantive Arizona DUI Law

Arizona DUI law evolves rapidly. There are new Arizona Supreme Court cases that affect DUI defense often throughout each year. Tactics in challenging breath or blood evidence are also evolving. At the Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC, attorneys Bruce S. Griffen and Ryan J. Stevens routinely study new laws and cases from the Arizona Court of Appeals and Arizona Supreme Court. For example, a huge case came down in 2014 that made it impossible for the State to convict a person of DUI based solely on having a non-psychoactive metabolite of marijuana in their body at the time of driving. Other areas of challenge to DUI cases include: illegal traffic stop, Miranda violations, lack of probable cause for arrest, right to counsel violations, and numerous other areas.

Arizona DUI Defense: Jury Trial Success

When the prosecutor refuses to offer a plea agreement worth accepting, it is critical that you have a lawyer with substantial trial experience. In the last couple years, Griffen & Stevens have obtained substantial trial success. Griffen & Stevens had a DUI case thrown out of court during the middle of a jury trial; obtained “not guilty” jury verdicts on charges such as DUI, possession of dangerous drugs, and more; obtained multiple hung jury results on serious felony cases, causing the prosecution to either dismiss or seriously reduce the charges; and other successful outcomes prior to trial, such as the dismissal of a second degree murder charge.

Arizona DUI law gives the defendant the right to a jury trial. Will a jury understand your position? Will a jury respect your testimony or silence? Will you have a lawyer whom the jury trusts?

We are pleased to offer free consultations on all criminal charges, including DUI. Send us an email or call us at the number at the top of this web page.

Would an Arizona grand jury indict in the Michael Brown case?

The news recently broke that a grand jury has declined to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. In that case, the officer, Darren Wilson, testified at the grand jury proceedings. In Arizona, it is common for law enforcement to testify at grand jury proceedings, but not as common for a suspect (i.e., someone about whom the grand jury is deliberating) to testify before the grand jury. In the Brown case, Wilson was both law enforcement and the person under scrutiny for killing Michael Brown, which he admitted doing. Arizona has its own set of grand jury laws. Let’s reflect on some of those now, in light of the Michael Brown case.


It is settled law in the State of Arizona that a grand jury proceeding may be challenged for the denial of substantial procedural rights. Rule 12.9, ARIZ.R.CRIM.PROC. The accused is entitled to due process during a grand jury proceeding, requiring the use of an unbiased grand jury and fair and impartial presentation of the evidence. Crimmins v. Superior Ct. In & For Maricopa Cty., 137 Ariz. 39, 668 P.2d 882, 884 (1983).

Arizona has long recognized the historical independence of the grand jury. The purpose of the grand jury is to “clear the innocent, no less than to bring to trial those who may be guilty.” United States v. Dionisio, 410 U.S. 1, 16-17 (1973). In order to fulfill its purpose, the grand jury must “be both independent and informed in order to render a decision free from bias.” Wood v. Georgia, 370 U.S. 375, 390 (1962).

Arizona courts have attempted to safeguard grand jury independence by regulating the prosecutor’s presentation of the evidence and law and also by enforcing the prosecutor’s good faith duty. Justice Feldman of the Arizona Supreme Court described the role of the grand jury as:

The grand jury is neither an arm nor a servant of the prosecution. It has an independent responsibility to determine whether there is probable cause to believe a particular crime has been committed. A further function is to protect citizens against unfounded criminal prosecutions.

Crimmins, supra, 668 P.2d at 886 (Feldman, J. specifically concurring).

In Arizona, the State is also obligated to present to the Grand Jury “exculpatory evidence.” More specifically, while the State is not obligated to present evidence that is “arguably” exculpatory to the grand jury, the State must present evidence that is “clearly” exculpatory. State v. Coconino County Superior Court, 139 Ariz. 422, 687 P.2d 1386 (1984).


It is difficult, if not impossible, to say what an Arizona grand jury would do in the Michael Brown shooting. We note that grand jury proceedings in Arizona, due to their secretive nature and limited witness testimony, do not compare to a real trial. That’s why some indictments are issued by a grand jury but ultimately rejected by a trial jury after hearing all of the evidence, from both sides.

Also, in Arizona, the law on self-defense can be a huge hurdle for the State to overcome to obtain a conviction. That’s because, in Arizona, the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions of the defendant were not self-defense. That’s right, the State must prove a negative: that the defendant was not acting in self-defense, within the limitations of Arizona’s criminal justification laws. We encourage our readers to review the grand jury transcript in the Michael Brown case for themselves. It has been published on many national media websites. Then, ask yourself: would an Arizona grand jury have acted differently in the Michael Brown case?

Most importantly, we grieve for the Michael Brown family, who have suffered the greatest loss. We hope his life and his story cause a positive social change, to include appropriate self-restraint by law enforcement, while keeping everyone as safe as possible.

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.