Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

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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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syringeIn a recent appellate case based on an Arizona drug crime prosecution, an Arizona Court of Appeals considered a conviction for possession of a dangerous drug. A police officer had been conducting surveillance on a residence when a blue car approached. The car’s passenger entered the home and then went back to the car two times. Each time, he was carrying something in his hands. Another officer followed him after he left the home, and he stopped the car for a traffic violation.

The officer got identification from the driver of the car and a passenger. He checked for warrants, and there were none. Other officers came to the scene, and one of the officer’s drug detection dogs conducted a sniff of the outside of the car.

The officers asked the driver and the passenger to get out of the car. The officer asked the passenger if he had weapons. When the officer conducted a pat-down of the passenger’s waist to make sure he didn’t have weapons, the passenger ran away. He took off his jacket and dropped it while running. The officer followed and arrested him.

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stop signIn a recent unpublished Arizona DUI decision, the defendant was convicted of second-degree murder, DUI, and extreme DUI. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for the murder charge. His DUI sentence was suspended, and he was put on two five-year probation terms set to start after he served his prison sentence.

The case arose shortly after 2:00 a.m. in 2014 when the defendant drove his car at between 73 mph and 93 mph into the back of the victim’s car at an intersection where the speed limit was 35 mph and there was a stop sign, which caused the victim to die of multiple blunt force injuries. The defendant had been drinking vodka at his friend’s apartment about a mile from the accident, and he couldn’t remember what happened between drinking the first drink and sitting at the accident scene.

The officer who was dispatched saw that the defendant was flushed with watery eyes and that his breath smelled like alcohol. Several officers saw six out of six cues on a field sobriety test, and when they told the defendant he would be charged with second-degree murder, he laughed and said okay. His alcohol level was tested three times and averaged .223.

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gunIn a recent Arizona appellate case, a jury convicted a man of two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of murder. He was sentenced to concurrent terms, with the longer one being 13 years. The victims were two men who were shot and killed and one man who was wounded outside a party at a home. The defendant was convicted as the lone shooter involved.

The surviving victim had come to the party to serve as a deejay, and he knew the defendant from a social media website. Shortly after the victim arrived, the defendant told him that he was carrying a 9 mm pistol. Many witnesses saw him with a black gun that night.

Four or five of the men at the house party argued. The parties agreed there was bad blood between the defendant and one of the victims, based on a fight between the defendant and the victim’s brother. The defendant and the men got into a fistfight. Many people saw the defendant show his gun while they were inside the home.

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carYou should be aware that allowing your vehicle or license registration to expire may provide police officers with a reasonable suspicion to stop you while driving in Arizona. Under A.R.S. section 28-2153, you cannot operate a motor vehicle that has not been registered with the department.

In the unpublished opinion of State v. Avalos, the defendant appealed after being convicted of aggravated DUI and aggravated driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more while his license was restricted, revoked, or suspended. He had been sentenced to concurrent terms of 10 years in prison.

A Tucson officer stopped the defendant after the officer checked the records and found the registration for the defendant’s car had expired eight days before. The officer approached the car, and the defendant got out and handed him his keys, saying he knew that the officer would tow the car. The officer took him back to the car and saw open beer bottles on the floor of the car at the driver’s seat.

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Entrapment Defense in ArizonaUnderstanding 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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Marijuana Odor Establishes Probable CauseArizona 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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Overview of Arizona DUI Trends, Laws, Penalties, and Criminal Defense

https://blog.novakazlaw.com/files/2017/01/Statue-of-Liberty.-4jpg-283x300.jpgIf you live in Arizona or plan to drive in the state over the July 4th weekend it is important to be aware of the DUI laws and consequences of a conviction.

According to media reports, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout Arizona will increase DUI patrols over the July 4th weekend. Starting Friday, July 1, 2016 law enforcement, including the Phoenix and Tempe police departments, will have an increased presence throughout Maricopa County looking for drivers impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

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Mesa Police Department Squad CarOne of least understood and most commonly charged crimes in Arizona is “Failure to Comply with a Lawful Order” in violation of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) section 28-622(A). The crime is classified as a class 2 misdemeanor. The statute provides:

28-622. Failure to comply with police officer…

  1. A person shall not wilfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of a police officer invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic. (“Willful” and its variations are spelled “wilful” in the statute, an accepted but archaic spelling in American English.)
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Medical Marijuana and PrescriptionsOn 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.