Articles Posted in Drug Crimes

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In a recent Arizona drug case, the court was tasked with deciding whether or not juries are required to unanimously agree on what type of drug a defendant used when issuing a guilty verdict for certain drug crimes. After considering the arguments on both sides, the court decided that a jury must unanimously identify the specific kind of drug when convicting a defendant for possession of drug paraphernalia or sale of narcotic drugs.

Facts of the Case

In this case, three different defendants were charged with drug crimes, and because their cases were all substantially similar, the court combined their three cases into one. The defendants were all U.S. residents who had come from Mexico, and they all had legal status in the States. One of the defendants was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, and the remaining defendants were convicted of possession of a narcotic drug for sale.

Because the defendants were not originally from the U.S., their charges had different consequences than they would if they were all born in the States. For some criminal offenses, judges can impose immigration consequences on defendants as a form of punishment. In this case, the immigration court ordered that the three men be removed from the country, telling them that they had to return to Mexico because of their drug convictions. The defendants appealed.

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In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, the defendant’s appeal of his marijuana conviction was denied. The defendant had been found guilty of transporting marijuana for sale, and he made multiple arguments in his attempt to reverse this original conviction, including an argument that the incriminating evidence used against him should have been suppressed. The court, however, disagreed with the defendant’s arguments and affirmed his original verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving alone in his SUV when two State Troopers pulled him over for speeding. The troopers found two bundles of marijuana in the SUV that weighed approximately 46 pounds. At first, the defendant told the troopers he knew nothing about the marijuana, saying that he had recently lent the car to a friend. Later, though, the defendant admitted that he knew about the marijuana but did not know specifically that it was in his car.

A jury trial was conducted. The jury found the defendant guilty of transportation of marijuana for sale, and he was sentenced to time in prison as a result.

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In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, the defendant unsuccessfully argued that his motion to suppress incriminating evidence was unfairly denied. At trial, the defendant had been found guilty of transportation of a narcotic drug for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. On appeal, he argued that the original traffic stop leading to his charges was unreasonable and that it was an infringement on his privacy rights. The court disagreed, affirming the defendant’s convictions and sentence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was pulled over in December 2019 when he was driving on the highway. Originally, the police officer who pulled the defendant over noticed his car because the defendant made an “odd gesture” and because the officer noticed an object in the windshield. After a few minutes, the defendant began driving through a dirt parking lot, over a curb, and into the parking lot of a nearby casino. Suspicious, the officer followed the defendant into the casino, approached him, and said he was conducting an investigatory stop for improper material on his windshield.

The officer checked the defendant’s license and registration, which led him to the realization that the defendant’s license was suspended. The officer called back up to the scene, including a unit of dogs to help him investigate. One dog sniffed the air around the defendant’s truck and led the officer to three packages of fentanyl. The defendant was indicted, and he moved to suppress the evidence from the traffic stop. The trial court denied his motion to suppress.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona drug case involving the defendant’s motion to suppress hundreds of pounds of marijuana found in his vehicle. Ultimately, the court found that the police officer unnecessarily and unjustifiably extended the duration of the traffic stop. Thus, the court held that the defendant was illegally seized and any evidence recovered as a result of the search could not be used at trial.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a state trooper observed the defendant following another vehicle too closely on Interstate 40. The trooper initiated a traffic stop, obtaining the defendant’s information. The trooper then asked the defendant to exit his car and sit in the front seat of the patrol vehicle.

At this point, the trooper’s drug-detection dog, which was seated directly behind the defendant, began barking. In response, the defendant became nervous; however, he continued to answer the trooper’s routine questions. The trooper verified the information provided by the defendant and issued a traffic citation.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona drug case, affirming the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress. As a result, the defendant’s eight-year prison sentence for disorderly conduct and possession of narcotics was affirmed. The case is an example of the court’s ability to resolve conflicting versions of events at a motion to suppress.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, police received a call from the complaining witness, reporting a disturbance at her home. The complaining witness happened to work at the police station and called the responding officer as he was on his way to the scene. The officer could hear knocking and what he identified as a ringing doorbell in the background. The complaining witness told police that the defendant was the one causing the disturbance.

When the officer arrived, he saw the defendant outside the home and arrested him for disorderly conduct. Incident to the defendant’s arrest, the officer searched the defendant, finding methamphetamine and a pipe. The defendant tried to explain that he was trying to alert the complaining witness of a potential emergency. The complaining witness’s sister-in-law arrived on the scene, corroborating the defendant’s version of events.

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Last month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona assault case in which the defendant was also found in possession of methamphetamine. The appellate court’s opinion dealt with several issues, including the defendant’s claim that the officer illegally searched his vehicle without consent. However, because the court found the officer’s testimony more credible, it denied the defendant’s motion. The case illustrates the importance of credibility in criminal trials generally, as well as during a defendant’s testimony in a suppression hearing.

The Facts of the Case

According to the appellate opinion, a police officer pulled the defendant over for a traffic violation. During the stop, the officer asked the defendant for permission to search the car. According to the officer, the defendant agreed. The officer then found methamphetamine in a sunglasses case in a void underneath the steering column.

Although not relevant to this issue on appeal, the officer then asked the defendant to get out of the vehicle. Initially, the defendant complied, but then ran back into the car. As the officer reached into the door to grab the defendant, the defendant slammed the car door on the officer’s arm several times before the officer let go. The defendant then drove off.

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Possessory offenses, including Arizona gun crimes and drug offenses, often stem from an arrest where the contraband at issue is physically removed from the defendant or their property. While it may seem like there are no defenses when a police officer finds a gun or drugs on you, that is not the case.

A motion to suppress is one of the most common defenses to gun and drug crimes. In a motion to suppress, a defendant argues that the police activity that led to the discovery of the items violated their rights, under either the state or federal constitution. Motions to suppress are argued before a case goes to trial, in hopes of suppressing the evidence that the prosecution intends to use against the defendant. If a defendant succeeds in bringing a motion to suppress, the evidence cannot be admitted and, often, the prosecution has no choice but to withdraw the charges.

One of the more complex issues in search and seizure law involves whether a person has “standing” to bring a motion to suppress. Standing refers to a party’s legal ability to challenge another party’s actions. To litigate a motion to suppress, you must show that the police conducted a legally recognizable search of an area that you had both a subjective and objective expectation of privacy.

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Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals, issued an opinion in a defendant’s appeal of her conviction for the possession of dangerous drugs and drug paraphernalia. The case addressed whether the defendant experienced prolonged detainment and whether the detainment was supported by reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Those facing Arizona drug charges should understand how the law protects their rights in these cases.

In this case, the defendant was driving in the early morning hours when she pulled over because she began to feel sick. A deputy noticed her car and pulled over to see if the woman and her occupants needed help. The defendant told the officer that she was on new medication and felt like she might have a seizure; however, she declined the officer’s offer to call an ambulance. The officer inquired about any drugs or weapons; however, she did not answer and then responded that she just ate. However, the officer called for a drug-detection dog and a medical unit. The woman’s boyfriend and an ambulance arrived, and the officer asked the boyfriend to wait at a gas station. Soon after, a drug detection dog arrived and alerted the officers of the presence of drugs.

Under Arizona law, officers can conduct a brief investigatory stop, if the officer has a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that criminal activity is occurring. Reasonable suspicion requires that an officer explain some “minimal, objective” justification for the detention. Generally, courts must look at all relevant factors and review them collectively. Courts tend to provide deference towards an officer’s ability to determine whether a defendant’s actions were innocent or suspicious.

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Recently, an Arizona defendant appealed his conviction and sentence for the possession of a dangerous drug and drug paraphernalia. The defendant argued that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress. The case arose after a patrol officer in a “high-drug area” witnessed the defendant enter the parking lot of a closed grocery store to briefly talk to a man on a bicycle. The officer, believing that the defendant was engaged in a crime, called for backup. Meanwhile, the defendant entered a gym for a few moments and then left and drove away. The officers pulled the defendant over when they noticed that he did not have a license plate or license plate light.

The officers advised the defendant that they were stopping him because of his license plate issues, and they asked him for his identification, registration, and insurance. The officers noted that the defendant seemed nervous, continually tried to put his hands in his pockets, and denied having any drugs. The officers requested K-9 units based on the man’s evasive answers, perceived drug residue on his tongue, and the time of night and nature of the high-crime area in which he was driving. A search revealed methamphetamine, a metal spoon, glass pipe, measuring cup, ice cream scoop, and medical syringes. The trial court sentenced him to nine years in prison. The defendant argued that his stop was not “based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,” and even if the stop was reasonable, the length and duration of the stop was impermissible.

Under the Fourth Amendment, an investigative stop is a type of seizure. However, because they are less intrusive than arrests, they do not require the probable cause necessary to effectuate an arrest. Police officers only need to have a reasonable suspicion that a person violated a traffic law or is engaged in criminal activity to conduct an investigatory stop. In this case, the defendant argued that the stop was improper because he had a temporary license in his window. Here, the court found that the temporary registration was not “clearly visible.” Therefore, the court found that the trial court did not err in finding that the officers had reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant for his missing license plate.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona drug case discussing whether the defendant was eligible for probation under Arizona Revised Statute section 13-901.01. Section 13-901.01 is titled “Probation for persons convicted of possession or use of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia,” and states that “any person who is convicted of the personal possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia is eligible for probation.”

While section 13-901.01 provides a general rule that a person convicted of a possessory drug offense is eligible for probation, the statute outlines several exceptions. The question in this case was whether the defendant was eligible for probation despite his prior convictions. Under section 13-901.01, a person is not eligible for probation if they have three prior convictions for personal possession of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia in 1996, and solicitation to sell a narcotic drug in 2006. In 2017, the defendant was arrested and convicted for several drug offenses.

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