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old carIn a recent Arizona criminal case, a police officer answered a check vehicle call after police got reports of a white truck that was parked in a lane of traffic. The officer turned on his overhead lights and pulled up behind the truck. He came up to the driver’s window and tried to talk to the truck driver. He saw three young kids in the car, who seemed to be sleeping. The truck driver asked to see his identification twice. He told her he was a police officer and pointed at his badge and at the police car’s emergency lights.

The police officer believed that it was necessary to check on the kids, due to the totality of the circumstances. He asked her to unlock the doors to check the kids’ welfare and tried to open the doors. She drove up about 100 yards, ignoring his requests to stop, and went into a parking lot.

He followed and pulled his police car behind the truck to effectuate another stop. She backed the truck toward his patrol car. He pulled into a bank drive-through and headed in through the exit. The officer followed her and tried to contact her to ask her to stop the truck. Rather than comply, she drove the truck right at the officer. He pointed his gun at her, and she accelerated. He ran out of the way. She hit his car and drove back into traffic for 50-60 feet. He stopped again in a lane of traffic.

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blood drawIn a recent Arizona homicide case, the defendant appealed a conviction for negligent homicide. He argued that the lower court should have suppressed the blood alcohol content evidence, and he challenged whether the evidence was sufficient for a conviction.

The case arose in 2012 when the police responded to a single-vehicle crash caused by the defendant. The officer found the defendant in the car’s driver’s seat and a woman who was his passenger slumped in the passenger’s seat. The woman was dead. As the officer went with him to a police car for safety, he noticed that the defendant smelled like alcohol. He asked whether the defendant had been drinking alcohol, and he said no. No field sobriety tests were conducted.

He left the defendant and started directing vehicles and spoke to witnesses. The witnesses said that the defendant was going downhill when he seemed to make a lane change to pass a vehicle, but there was no vehicle to pass. He went over the double yellow line and collided with a culvert. There were no skid marks, but the car had damage on it. The officer was knowledgeable about accident reconstruction, and in his opinion, the damage showed an impact speed of less than 35 mph.

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fireIn a recent Arizona arson case, the defendant was convicted of arson of an occupied structure and criminal damage. He was sentenced to concurrent prison terms, and the longer term was 10.5 years.

The appellate court explained that in 2013, the victim’s neighbor called 911 due to the house next to his being on fire. The victim was a family trust, and the defendant was staying there while renovating it. The carport was involved in the fire, and a truck was destroyed.

While putting out the fire, the firefighters found other fires had been started in the house. The truck was blocking the door, and the front door was blocked, so the firefighters pushed into the house. It seemed nobody was inside, but in a second search, a firefighter saw that a bathtub full of water had a hose pushing out from the water in a nearby window. This seemed strange, so the firefighter put his hand in the black, smoky water. The defendant jumped out.

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dogIn a recent Arizona drug crime decision, a woman appealed her conviction for possession of dangerous drugs. The case arose in 2014, when a Tempe officer initiated a traffic stop of a car driven by the defendant. He’d seen a traffic violation. While stopping her, he saw her moving inside the car, leaning forward, and then moving in her seat. Her arm went behind her back such that he became suspicious there was a weapon or contraband in the car.

The officer completed a check of records. He came back to speak to the defendant and her passenger. The defendant explained that she’d been moving in order to find her keys so that the officer wouldn’t think the car was stolen. She explained her ignition was messed up, and the key had broken inside it. The officer asked for police assistance after determining he would ask the defendant and her passenger to leave the vehicle in order to perform a canine sniff or consensual search. He saw the defendant pick something up and move it while waiting for backup.

Another officer came. The first officer approached the car again, and this time he saw that the defendant had her purse on her lap and a multi-tool. He also noticed she had cut her thumb. She explained she had the multi-tool because she wanted to ensure she could start her car.

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car washIn a recent Arizona drug crime decision, the defendant was convicted of transporting a dangerous drug for sale, possessing a dangerous drug, possessing a dangerous drug for sale, possessing drug paraphernalia, and possessing a deadly weapon while committing a felony drug offense. He was sentenced to presumptive, minimum, and concurrent prison terms. The longest of these was five years.

On appeal, he argued that the trial court incorrectly denied his motion to suppress, his convictions for transporting and possessing dangerous drugs violated the double jeopardy rule, and the court had miscalculated his entitlement to pre-sentence incarceration credit.

The case arose when a DEA agent got involved in a group surveillance of a stash house in a Tucson neighborhood that had a reputation for drug trafficking. The police saw two cars with out-of-state license plates involved in suspicious behavior at a convenience store. People with those license plates didn’t come there frequently. There was a lot of back and forth activity between the vehicles, and they left at the same time, which is a common sign of prohibited drug activity.

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drugsRecently, an Arizona appellate court considered an Arizona drug crime conviction for possession of narcotics for sale and possession of dangerous drugs for sale. The convictions were for class 2 felonies under A.R.S. §§ 13-3407 and 13-3408. The defendant argued that the fines imposed were unconstitutionally applied to him and that it was improper for the trial court not to consider his financial status when fining him.

The case arose when cops seized about 10 pounds of methamphetamine and under one pound of cocaine from the defendant’s home in Phoenix. The prosecution introduced evidence at trial to show that the value of the drugs seized was $8,000-10,000 for the cocaine and $30,000 for the meth. The defendant didn’t object to the prosecution’s evidence and didn’t offer any other evidence about the seized drugs’ worth. He was found guilty.

Under A.R.S. § 13-3407(H), the minimum he could be fined for possession of dangerous drugs was the greater of $1,000 or three times the value of the dangerous drugs as decided by the court. The judge had no discretion to suspend the fines. Under A.R.S. § 13-3408(F), the minimum he could be fined for narcotic drug possession was the greater of $2,000 or three times the value of the narcotics involved. The cap on fines was $150,000.

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parking lotIn a recent Arizona aggravated assault case, the plaintiff appealed convictions and sentences for aggravated assault and false reporting. For two days in 2015, the victim and the defendant, as well as their girlfriends, drank alcohol in an empty lot. Early on the second morning, the defendant stabbed the victim in the back three times. The victim got the knife away, and the defendant fled. The victim had to undergo an operation for a punctured lung and was hospitalized for eight days.

The police found the defendant walking down the road after learning of the stabbing. When they asked him for an ID, he gave them false names and birthdates. He later told them he’d been knocked out by a black man in a hoodie and denied that he’d stabbed anybody. The victim advised the police that he was stabbed by “J.J.,” which was a nickname the defendant gave them. The defendant was arrested for the stabbing.

Before the trial, the defendant was recorded calling a woman from jail, asking whether the victim planned to testify. He told her the victim would be a snitch if he testified. The caller told him that she’d talked to the victim and that the victim had decided not to pursue charges, although he initially was going to pursue them. The defendant told the woman that the victim would be known as a rat for testifying. The woman said that the victim had texted her he would drop the case, and the defendant told her the steps the victim needed to take to get the charges dropped.

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marijuana plantIn a recent Arizona marijuana case, the defendant appealed after being convicted of selling marijuana and weapons misconduct. The case arose when two detectives had a confidential informant conduct a controlled buy. The detective searched the informant to make sure he didn’t have money, drugs, or paraphernalia. The detectives photographed a set of $20 bills to be used to purchase drugs and set up the informant with a recording device.

They followed the informant in cars to the target’s home. After going in, the informant returned to his car, accompanied by the target and a woman. The three went to the gas station, and the detectives followed. The target got out and went up to a white car that was parked at the gas station. He got inside and then went back to the informant’s car. They returned to the home, followed by the police. The informant dropped off the target and passenger. He met the detectives to be debriefed and searched. The detectives found a plastic baggie containing marijuana.

Meanwhile, a detective asked a patrol officer to follow the white car and stop it if there was any traffic violation. The patrol officer followed the car after it left the gas station and pulled him over for speeding. The patrol officer saw there was a handgun on the seat, and it was in a firing position. He asked the driver for the gun, which the driver gave him. He also smelled marijuana, and the driver admitted she had marijuana in a paper bag. She consented to a search. Inside, there were bags of marijuana and brownies and a set of $20 bills. She had a medical marijuana card, so the officer determined there was no basis to believe she’d broken a drug law. The officer photographed the money and drugs before letting her leave.

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handcuffsIn a recent Arizona assault case, a man appealed after being convicted of aggravated assault, resisting arrest, shoplifting, and not giving the police a truthful name when he was lawfully detained. The case arose when two cops responded to a department store’s call about a shoplifting suspect who refused to cooperate. When asked why he was causing trouble, the defendant told the cops he was “trouble” and wouldn’t give them his name. He called himself a chief, clenched his fists, and held his hands up in a gesture of wanting to fight. The cops told him he had to give his name under the law, but he refused.

He also wouldn’t comply with his arrest and wouldn’t put his hands behind his back. When the cops took his wrists, he jerked away and fled for the door. He threw a punch. Eventually a cop had to taser him, and then the other cop could cuff him. The surveillance cameras recorded their fight.

Before the trial began, the defendant made a motion to compel disclosure of several contacts with two police officers whom the prosecutor had identified would testify about their opinions. One expert didn’t testify at trial, but the other did. The defendant asked for an email from the prosecutor that asked the expert who didn’t testify to produce a supplemental report on the use of force. With regard to the expert who would testify at trial, the defendant asked for an email from the police to the expert that would ask him to create a supplemental report. The court denied the defendant’s motion for these documents and other emails between the prosecutor and expert witness on the ground that they were work product.

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drug signIn a recent Arizona appellate case, a defendant appealed from his conviction and sentences for possession of dangerous drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was arrested in 2014 after being found in possession of meth in a plastic bag. The police had responded to a call about a suspicious man going into yards and knocking on doors. The man was reported to be Hispanic and in his 30s.

The defendant matched the description of a 911 call and was located a short distance away behind a retaining wall on private property. He identified himself, and the officer asked if he had anything he wasn’t supposed to have, like drugs or guns. He answered yes and was ordered to stop and place his hands on his head. He took his hand out of his pocket. The officer saw a plastic baggie sticking out. When he took it out, he saw it held a substance that looked like meth.

The meth was in the baggie, which was also in another baggie. He was arrested and searched, and the officers found a plastic baggie that held syringes. He claimed this was for insulin for a medical condition, which he stated wasn’t diabetes. He was indicted for possessing a dangerous drug (a violation of A.R.S. § 13-3407(A)(1), (B)) and for possession of drug paraphernalia (a violation of A.R.S. § 13-3415(A), (F)(2)).

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