Every year brings New Laws which include:
- Minimum wage increase
- $32 per vehicle fee for public safety
- Mandating 2 recesses for students K-5th Grade
For more information see this 12 News Report
Fake Identification – Class 1 Misdemeanor
This past week Governor Doug Ducey’s son allegedly used a fake identification to purchase alcohol.
Arizona is tough on minors trying to purchase alcohol using a fake ID. Contact an attorney immediately if you know someone caught in this situation. Using or borrowing a fake ID is a misdemeanor under section 4-241(N).
While this is considered a minor offense, and it is, a misdemeanor conviction can affect college applications and applications for future jobs requiring a security clearance. Call me today for a consultation in dealing with a fake identification charge!
FEDERAL JURY TRIAL WIN
A federal jury unanimously found that the West Hayden Estates Home Owners Association violated the rights of the Jeremy Morris and his family under the Federal Fair Housing Act. The jury found that that HOA violated the religious liberties of Jeremy Morris and family, in four ways: 1) by discriminating against them before the sale of their home, 2) after the sale of their home, 4) through threats and intimidation, and 4) finally in a writing. The jury awarded the Morris family compensatory damages in the amount of $60,000 and punitive damages in the amount of $15,000. See the story here:
UNDERSTANDING CRIMINAL COURT
In order to charge a person with a crime, there must be a determination of probable cause. Probable cause means that the evidence against the defendant is more likely true than not. The initial determination of probable cause is found by a magistrate judge. But like most things in the law, there is a check against potential abuse through either a grand jury or a preliminary hearing.
A grand jury is a group of individuals selected from the community to hear cases. Arizona law according to Rule 12.6 requires that at least 9 grand jurors concur in a finding of probable cause. If at least 9 grand jurors concur, then the Court must prepare a notice of a supervening indictment.
What does this mean? A grand jury is a secret hearing, where the prosecutor presents evidence. You will have no idea what information was presented, if it was fair, or who testified until your attorney requests a transcript of the proceeding. Once your attorney receives the transcript, the grand jury can be challenged in accordance with Rule 12.9.
The main way a grand jury can be challenged is if there is a violation of a substantial procedural right. Rule 12.9(a). A substantial procedural right normally is if the evidence was not presented objectively, or if the prosecutor does not present a valid defense to the particular charges. The best way to know if either of these circumstances exist in your case is to call an attorney who has presented at grand juries or understands the possible defenses in your particular case.
If a defendant is charged in a complaint with a felony, then under Rule 5.1 the defendant has a right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days if in custody, and 20 days if not in custody. A preliminary hearing is essentially a short trial, except that hearsay is allowed. So more often then not, the prosecutor calls just a single witness to testify about the events. The investigating officer is allowed to testify as to what people told him/her.
The advantage of a preliminary hearing for you is that the investigating officer has to testify under oath and your attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine him/her. This means that your attorney can get information related to the case at an early stage of the case.
The arraignment is the hearing that is often depicted on television. It is where the defendant stands with his attorney in front of a judge and either pleads guilty or not guilty. It is often a very short hearing, but it is extremely important. It is important because often the prosecutor offers a plea agreement prior to this hearing that must be accepted at the arraignment. It is the prosecutor’s policy in Maricopa County that any plea offered after arraignment will be harsher. In other words, for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, they offer their best plea prior to the arraignment.
What is a plea agreement? This term is often thrown out but it is not often explained. A plea agreement is a contract between the defendant and the State.
The State is under no obligation to offer a plea agreement. And the State cannot be forced by either the defense counsel or the judge to force a plea agreement. Even so, pleas are still negotiations between the State and the defendant. This means that just because the State offers a particular plea, doesn’t mean that the defendant cannot counter or negotiate the terms of the plea.
In certain cases the State may offer a defendant a better plea agreement if there is a factual error, legal error, or the defendant is willing to offer reliable, usable information to the State.
These circumstances occur more often then most think. This is where a good, analytical attorney can really assist you. Make sure to hire an attorney who has tried enough cases to a jury to understand what the issues are to the people who will be deciding your fate.
UNDERSTANDING COURT SERIES
Over the next few months, I will take you through the basics of criminal court. This series will help you understand the process of criminal court so if you have a current case or if you know someone going through it, you will have some understanding about what that person is facing.
GOING TO COURT FOR THE FIRST TIME
Going to Court for the first time can be extremely scary, especially when facing criminal charges. The first court appearance is call the Initial Appearance (“IA”). At the IA, the judge sets a person’s release conditions. But before going into what that means, I want you to understand that a criminal case is broken up into three parts.
- Initial Appearance until Trial.
- Post-Trial Proceedings.
The judge at the Initial Appearance decides where a person will spend their time until trial. The judge is supposed to impose the least onerous release conditions to ensure a person will appear at trial. Criminal Rule of Procedure 4.1 governs the initial appearance and it reads that “If the initial appearance does not occur within 24 hours after arrest, the arrested person must be immediately released from custody.”
CONDITIONS OF RELEASE
The judge has numerous options at her disposal governed by Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 7.1.
Those options include own recognizance, unsecured appearance bond, secured appearance bond. Own recognizance means that a person will be released with no supervision since he can be expected to attend trial. The second type of release is an unsecured appearance bond, which is essentially a promise to pay a certain sum of money of the defendant doesn’t appear at trial. Finally, a secured appearance bond is an amount of money or property secured by deposit with the clerk of court in the amount of the bond given by the judge.