Articles Posted in Arizona Courts

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In a recent Arizona gun crime decision, a man was indicted for two misdemeanors and three felonies after discharging a firearm. The victim was a cab driver who stopped the man and his friends to ask if any of them had called for a cab. A friend told the driver they only called Uber. The driver and the defendant spoke to each other. The victim drove away but came back and got out of his cab. The defendant pulled a gun out of his back pocket and fired at the cab before running off.

The defendant was indicted for aggravated assault, illegal discharge of a firearm, discharge of a firearm at a non-residential structure, criminal damage, and weapons misconduct. The defendant argued that the prosecution had presented false testimony and had not properly advised the grand jurors on self-defense. His motion was denied, and he followed up with a special action.

On appeal, he argued the lower court had made a mistake because the prosecution had not presented a fair and impartial case, and he was therefore denied a substantial procedural right.

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In 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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Understanding Arizona Affirmative Defenses

One of the best ways to understand the entrapment defense in Arizona is to read the standard jury instructions. Arizona Pattern Jury Instructions for criminal cases tracks the language of A.R.S. § 13-206 and provides:

The defendant has raised the affirmative defense of entrapment with respect to the charged offenses. In this case the defendant must prove the following by clear and convincing evidence:

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Arizona Cannabis Laws, Penalties, Criminal Defense

Police officers have long used the alleged scent of marijuana as an excuse to perform searches of alleged offenders’ motor vehicles when they refuse to consent to such searches. After the two divisions of the Arizona Court of Appeals came to different conclusions about the legality of the “plain smell doctrine”—the proposition that the smell of cannabis alone provides probable cause, the Arizona Supreme Court agreed to review of one of the cases.

The alleged offenders in both cases argued that the odor of marijuana no longer suffices to establish probable cause after the implementation of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) in 2010. “We granted review because whether AMMA affects the determination of probable cause based on the odor of marijuana is a recurring issue of statewide importance,” the Arizona Supreme Court wrote in its decision in State Of Arizona v. Ronald James Sisco II, No. CR-15-0265-PR.

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On November 20, 2015, the Supreme Court of Arizona decided Dobson v. McClennen (P.3d, 2015 WL 7353847, Arizona Supreme Court 2015). The decision has important implications for individuals that use medical marijuana and might have THC or its metabolite in their system but drive at a time when they are not impaired. Jokingly called the “Driving While a Habitual User of Marijuana,” these prosecutions are no joke.

Although the responsible use of cannabis for medical purposes has largely been decriminalized in Arizona, prior to this decision the DUI laws effectively made it a crime to drive as a medical marijuana patient (even after the impairing effects faded and disappeared). In other words, using medical marijuana should not automatically be a DUI when there was no actual impairment at the time of driving.

The decision in Dobson v. McClennen didn’t make either side happy. The defense wanted a ruling that Medical Marijuana Patients were immune from the “per se” version of DUI under § 28–1381(A)(3). On the other hand, the prosecution wanted a ruling that a positive blood test meant an automatic “per se” DUI conviction under § 28–1381(A)(3). The Court rejected both positions and came up with a middle ground that leaves many of the complicated issues surrounding driving after consuming medical marijuana unresolved.

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“Probation is a privilege that cannot be denied under AMMA; Penalties & criminal defense for probation violations.”

Nearly 5 years after the passing of Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) the Arizona Supreme Court heard two cases involving denial of the privilege of qualified patients to use marijuana.

The Arizona Supreme Court held that a condition included in terms of their probation that denies Registered Qualified Patients the right to use medical marijuana is invalid and unenforceable.

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Rippling Impacts Arizona v. Zaragoza:  DUI arrests for being in “actual physical control” of a vehicle 

This weekend in the news we heard a popular motorcycle sports celebrity Robbie Knievel was allegedly arrested for DUI. Reports indicate the Police were called to Mr. Knievel’s parked motor home, near a famous Motor Cycle Rally. When they arrived on the scene, they found Mr. Knievel’s motor home parked; with Robbie Knievel patiently texting on his mobile device, while sitting in the driver’s seat of his parked vehicle.

Police reported that when they arrived they smelled a strong odor of alcohol, and asked him if he had been drinking. He admitted that he had been drinking a few beers, but DUI test results allegedly indicated his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) tested 0.228 percent which was 3 times the legal limit in South Dakota. But there is more to this story. It was reported that the reason police were called to the scene, was that witnesses reported seeing him allegedly driving into two other motorhomes, causing damage, without stopping.

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Recent Amendment expands protections under Arizona’s “Stand Your Ground” Laws; not only to their homes, business, but anywhere else in Arizona “they have the right to be”.

Amidst heated debates over “Stand Your Ground” laws Arizona, businesses and homeowners continue to do what they must, to protect their home and property from intruders. For centuries, “Stand Your Ground” laws have existed and also referred to as the “Castle Doctrine” influenced by the age old adage “One’s home is their castle.”

Most states have some form of “Stand Your Ground” laws. These laws pertain to defenses that justify one’s actions, in what would otherwise be considered criminal conduct. Arizona has some of the broadest, most liberal “Stand-Your-Ground” laws in the country. One such provision is that a person can be protected under the laws if an incident where deadly physical force is reasonably necessary outside their home. In fact, it applies anywhere in Arizona where they “have the right to be”.

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State Marijuana Laws Pass Another Test of Strength.

Some see the Arizona Supreme Court’s refusal to disturb an Appeals Court ruling in favor of a Medical Marijuana Defendant’s rights, as win in the test of strength of the Arizona Medical Marijuana Law (AMMA). This is because the issues inherent in the case, extended well beyond the matter of returning a defendant’s Marijuana following dismissal of charges. They compel the state courts to address the conflicting federal laws on the prohibition of Marijuana.

Last week the Arizona Supreme Court, held the lower court’s ruling that Medical Marijuana Patients, who have not violated the law, are entitled to the return of the Marijuana seized from them in an arrests. The AZ Supreme Court Justices provided only a brief order, which in essence simply outlined their refusal to overturn the lower Appeals Court’s Ruling.

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“State of Arizona v. Hon. Jane A. Butler and Tyler B” Decision: The Impact of the AZ Supreme Court’s Ruling on Arizona Drivers.

In an unprecedented ruling, the Arizona Supreme Court rejected the Prosecution’s holding that all motorists who drive in Arizona, give their absolute voluntary consent to DUI breath or chemical testing, solely due to the existence of the “Implied Consent” traffic law A.R.S. 28-1321; and that the voluntary consent by a juvenile is not absolute.

This case involved a 16-year-old student who was accused of driving to school under the influence of Marijuana. The student was detained when after school security reported a strong odor of Marijuana in the vehicle, and drug paraphernalia in plain view inside the vehicle. The Court records revealed that the student agreed to have A DUI blood test, only after being handcuffed by police, informed of the existence of the Implied Consent Law, and then instructed that he was required to submit to the DUI chemical test.