Arizona Court of Appeals Contradicts the Medical Marijuana Act

The Arizona Court of Appeals decided State v. Jones in a questionable 2-1 decision that appears to ignore the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (“AMMA”).   Defendant Rodney Jones was a registered qualifying patient under AMMA allowing him to possess under 2.5 ounces of usable marijuana.  Despite having a valid medical marijuana card, he was arrested and charged for possessing a jar containing 0.05 ounces of cannabis.  Considering Mr. Jones was a medical marijuana patient, he was convicted for possession of a narcotic drug and drug paraphernalia.  Mr. Jones was sentenced to 2.5 years of prison–for that 0.05oz jar of marijuana resin.

You can read the full opinion here: http://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Div1/2018/CR16-0703%20OP.pdf

Writing for the majority,  Justice Thompson distinguished the resin extracted from the marijuana plant as different from marijuana itself.  This distinction is based on old case law prior to 2015.

Medical marijuana is defined as “all parts of any plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, and the seeds of such plant.”–not excluding resin.  This incredible decision seems to make their own conclusions, ignoring case law,.

Avoid DUI’s, Domestic Violence and Other Crimes this Halloween

Halloween is not just for kids, especially in 2018. People, dressed up or not, look forward all year to dressing up and going out. Festive Halloween themed drinks and parties are looked forward to all year. 

While there is nothing wrong with having a few drinks in the spirit of Halloween, there will likely be an issue with drinking too much and what it can lead to. Every year, criminal damage, domestic violence, criminal assaults and other crimes that can be associated with over drinking spike. While this can arguably be good for Criminal Defense lawyers, it’s never good for clients and their families.  

If you plan to drink, you will require some way to get home.  Simply using Uber of Lyft if your city offers their services is responsible and practical. For those who neglect the dangers of drinking and driving the consequences can be severe. You can lose your license, spend time in jail and possible lose your job. All of this can be avoided.

Secondly, if not planning on driving, there is another danger far scarier than any haunted house you will find… other people who have had too much to drink. Who hasn’t had the pleasure of interacting with someone who has far exceeded their alcohol intake? Tempers can flare, words can be misinterpret, events can escalate in chaos. Almost like clockwork, criminal damage and disorderly conduct charges spike around 10/31. Penalties and restitution can easily exceed $3000 and typical lawyers charge over $3000 on top of this to handle the case…

By this point in the blog, you may be thinking that we recommend you stay home and barricade the doors. Which is absolutely not the case. Life is meant to be lived. Celebrations and parties are one of life’s great pleasures and should be enjoyed (pumpkin flavored beer is delicious!). The reminder is, plan ahead and make responsible arrangements to avoid a lasting party favor or court fees and other ramifications. Life calls for celebration, but it also has a way of throwing the unexpected into the picture. The lesson is simple. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Make sure that your group has a driver who hasn’t been drinking or utilize the services offered in your area. Your last drink could cost you more than the bar tab you’ve rang up.



Types Of Domestic Violence: What Defendants Should Know

Types Of Domestic Violence: What Defendants Should Know

Sexual violence includes physical violations consisting of pushing sexual contact, rape, and prostitution, in addition to any unwanted sexual advances consisting of dealing with somebody in a sexually demeaning way or other conduct of a sexual nature, whether physical, spoken, or non-verbal. Sexual assault likewise consists of actions that restrict reproductive rights, such as avoiding use of contraceptive approaches and requiring abortion.

Mental abuse is typically identified as intimidation and seclusion. Examples consist of instilling worry in an intimate partner through threatening habits, such as a harmful home or abusing family pets or managing exactly what the victim does and who they talk with. Spiritual abuse might also be considered a kind of mental abuse. It includes the abuse of spiritual or religions to control or put in power and control over an intimate partner (i.e., utilizing bible to validate abuse or raising the kids in a faith or spiritual practice the partner has actually not consented to).

Not all types of domestic violence are criminalized and, in fact, drafters of legislation are motivated to think about restricting intervention to cases including physical and sexual violence, the danger of such violence, and severe acts of coercive control from which the victim can not quickly leave. While some nations consider mental and financial abuse in criminal law, doing so can develop a danger that violent abusers will control the system to impose actions versus their partner or to validate physical violence as a proper reaction to their partner’s insults.

Batterers utilize a wide variety of coercive and violent habits when dealing with their victims. A few of the violent habits utilized by batterers lead to physical injuries. Other methods used by batterers include mentally violent habits. While these habits might not lead to physical injuries, they are still emotionally harming to the victim.

Batterers utilize various violent habits at various times. Even a single occurrence of physical violence or the risk of such violence might suffice to develop power and control over a partner; this power and control is then enhanced by non-physical violent and coercive habits. A diagram called the “Power and Control Wheel,” determines the different habits that are utilized by batterers to get power and control over their victims. The wheel shows the relationship in between physical and sexual violence and the strategies of intimidation, browbeating, and control that are typically utilized by batterers. The Power and Control Wheel is offered in lots of languages.

Economic abuse includes making or trying to make the victim economically depending on the abuser. Examples of financial abuse consist of avoiding or prohibiting an intimate partner from working or acquiring an education, managing all funds, and withholding access to financial resources.

Psychological abuse includes weakening a person’s sense of self-regard. Examples of psychological abuse consist of continuous criticism, name-calling, and being dealt with like a servant.

The different kinds of domestic violence can consist of physical violence, sexual violence, financial control, mental attack (consisting of risks of violence and physical damage, attacks versus residential or commercial property or family pets and other acts of intimidation, psychological abuse, seclusion, and use of the kids as a means of control), and psychological abuse.

Physical violence includes making use of physical force versus another. Examples consist of striking, pushing, biting, limiting, shaking, choking, burning, requiring drug/alcohol usage, and attack with a weapon, and so on. Physical violence might or might not lead to an injury that needs medical attention.

Since they take place in intimate relationships, lots of abuse is not acknowledged as violence– by the law or by victims. In lots of locations throughout the world, marital rape is not deemed sexual assault since a spouse is considered to have a right of sexual access to his spouse.

When is a DUI considered a felony?

To be caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over the legal limit is a grave legal problem that can have extremely severe consequences. However, in most cases, a first time DUI charge is still a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor offense is a crime for which the maximum jail sentence is less than one year. This is less serious than a felony offense, for which the maximum jail sentence can exceed one year.

DUI charges can and do become felony offenses, depending on the circumstances of the case. In many states, a DUI is only considered a misdemeanor offense, with even a single additional charge turning it into a felony offense. There are a number of additional circumstances and aggravating factors which can turn a first time DUI offense into a felony charge.

DUI Aggravating Factors

Drunken driving laws vary from state to state, but these are some circumstances which can compound the legal issues in a drunken driving case anywhere in the United States. These issues are listed below:

Prior DUI conviction – In any state in the USA, penalties are greater for a drunk driver with a prior DUI conviction. In most states, there is a time window during which a DUI remains on the perpetrators criminal record, which can be 5 to 10 years, depending on the laws of that state.

Exceptionally high BAC – Certain states have begun to increase the penalties for drivers who have comparatively high blood alcohol concentration levels when compared to other DUI cases. Some states place enhanced penalties on drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or more while other states begin enhanced penalties on a BAC level of 0.20 or more.

Refusal to take a breath test – Refusing to take a breath test can increase your legal penalties in most states. In some states, refusing to take a breath test can result in immediate revocation of your driver’s license. In other states, refusing to take the breath test itself is a crime with mandatory jail time.

However, as of July 2016, the police can no longer demand a urine or blood test without a warrant, as ruled by the United States Supreme Court.

Child endangerment – In most states, having a child with you in the car while you are driving with a BAC over the legal limit can increase the DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony charge. This can happen even if it is your own child and he or she is in the car of their own free will. In most states, this charge applies to persons under the age of 18. In some states, having a person under the age of 14 with you in the car can have even greater penalties.

Bodily injury, death or property damage – Infringing on someone else’s right to safety or damaging their property can increase the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. Injuring another person can bring about other charges such as reckless endangerment, and that persons death can result in a charge of reckless homicide.

Apart from the above mentioned points, there are other circumstances that can result in an immediate increase in penalties including not having a valid driver’s license, being on probation for another crime, not having an interlock ignition device on the car or having multiple previous convictions. Whatever your case, make sure you contact a DUI defense attorney right away to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

What are the different classes of drug possession?

Possession of illegal narcotics and mind altering substances is a crime throughout the United States. However, all drug crimes are not the same, and the classification of drug crimes and the penalties for drug crimes vary depending on the drugs in question, the quantities of said drugs and whether or not the offender was involved in a conspiracy to distribute the said drugs for commercial gain.

Possession of paraphernalia used for the manufacture, preparation or consumption of illegal drugs can also result in a possession charge. Paraphernalia in this regard can refer to bongs, syringes, rolling papers and a variety of pipes among other items.

Drug Possession (for personal use)

According to the Controlled Substances Act 1984, if it is proven in court that someone is guilty of any of the following offenses, they can be convicted of a simple possession offense. These are:

  • To have possession of a controlled drug
  • To smoke, consume or administer to him or herself, or to allow another person to administer to them, a controlled drug
  • To have possession of any piece of equipment for use in connection with the smoking, consumption or administration of a controlled drug
  • To have possession of any piece of equipment for use in connection with the preparation of a controlled drug for smoking, consumption or administration

Maximum penalties for a simple possession offense are $2000 in fines or imprisonment for two years or both for drugs other than cannabis. For cannabis, the penalties can depend greatly on the state, since attitudes about marijuana and the legal status of the drug is changing around the country these days.

Drug Possession (with intent to distribute)

An individual cannot be charged with possession with intent to distribute unless the possession and the intent to distribute have occurred at the same time. So, if an individual is only in possession of a small amount of an illicit substance that cannot be of any viable commercial value, but is more likely to have been kept for personal use, then that person cannot be charged with intent to distribute.

Similarly, if a person or group of persons have a conspiracy to acquire drugs to sell to make a commercial profit, but have not yet acquired the drugs in question, they cannot be charged with possession (with intent to distribute). However, they can be charged with the crimes of conspiracy to possess and attempt to possess, depending on the circumstances.

Drug possession for sale is usually charged as a felony offense. The specific penalties can vary depending on the state where the crime is charged, the previous criminal record of the accused and any evidence that the accused has ever sought treatment for a drug abuse problem. In some states, possession with intent to sell schedule II drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can lead to sentences of 2 to 4 years in a federal prison and fines of up to $50,000. In certain states, the occurrences of certain aggravating factors, like previous drug offenses or the illegal possession of firearms at the time of arrest, can lead to sentences of up to 40 years in prison.

Assault Charges: May I know My Rights?

An assault charge is a grave legal predicament. To be convicted of assault in the United States can result in stark penalties such as jail time, probation and heavy fines. The laws regarding assault vary from state to state but the general definition of assault across the United States is any act that seeks to cause bodily or mental harm to another person without their consent. There is a common misconception that physical contact is necessary for an assault conviction. However, even gestures and verbal threats can constitute as assault.

Types of Assault Charges

Assault charges can vary depending on the type and severity of the violation the victim claims to suffer.

Simple Assault – Any injuries sustained from the assault are minor and no weapon was used to commit it

Verbal Assault – Oral and non-physical in nature, resulting in fear, distress or emotional anguish

Sexual Assault – Sodomy, molestation, rape or any other kind of sexual offense or act committed without the victims consent

Aggravated Assault – Use of force against another individual as well as use of a weapon

Physical Assault – A serious physical attack on someone resulting in grievous bodily harm

Felonious Assault – Considered to be the most serious of all assault charges, it can include the use of a weapon, an assault that results in serious bodily harm and exercising force over another person against their will

Know Your Rights

When you have been accused of assault, it is necessary that you understand how serious your situation is and act appropriately. Your best bet would be to understand your legal rights in the given situation and act in a way that will maximize the utility that you can get from those rights.

  •  You have the right to secure the services of a qualified and professional attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to be defended by a lawyer paid for by the state.
  • You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. It is always better to exercise this right if your lawyer is not present. If you are arrested by the police right after the assault charge has been placed, and you are taken to the police station, it is always better to stay quiet until your attorney arrives. Anything you say to the police can be misconstrued to improve the chances of your conviction. An experienced lawyer will know this and will know what kind of language to use when talking to the police to minimize the risk of this happening.
  • You have a right to present your own witnesses. This is an important right and can steer the outcome of the accusation in your favor. It is best for you to start compiling a list of potential witnesses as soon as you know you have been charged with assault.
  • If you have been accused of sexual assault, you have the right to scientific testing which can disprove the allegations made against you.

Shoplifting charges? What to expect in court?

Most people who find themselves in trouble for crimes like shoplifting or petty theft often think that the item they are stealing is of too little value to land them in big trouble. However, the consequences of illegally taking something that is not yours can still result in significant penalties. Depending on the value of the item shoplifted and the circumstances surrounding the theft, a petty shoplifting crime can still result in a jail sentence for up to one year and up to $2000 in financial penalties.

How to proceed in a shoplifting case?

There is no standardized way to predict a shoplifting case because the value of what was stolen could be very little, like a piece of candy, but it could also be very large, like a piece of expensive jewelry. Shoplifting laws also vary greatly from state to state. Since the nature of shoplifting cases see so much variation and are generally complicated, if you find yourself charged with shoplifting, your first course of action should be to hire an experienced and reliable criminal defense attorney.

Your attorney will most likely proceed by asking you a series of questions to gain an overview about the case at hand. You should answer all these questions as truthfully as you can so your attorney can help you. These questions will most likely be:

  • What is the value of the item or items you stole?
  • Were you intoxicated when the incident occurred?
  • Are the items you stole related to a substance abuse problem?
  • Was someone else involved in the plan to commit the theft? How many people were they? Were they minors? People with developmental disabilities or elderly?
  • Is there any video or audio evidence of the crime?
  • What is your criminal history?

Severity of shoplifting charges

In the same way as other theft or larceny related charges, the severity of shoplifting charges depends on the value of the items stolen and the items themselves. Certain items like firearms, explosives, incendiary substances, large quantities of a controlled substance (such as prescription drugs with a potential for abuse like Adderall or Oxycodone) or materials used in the manufacture of a controlled substance can lead to more severe penalties.

In most states, the spectrum of shoplifting charges runs from a low level ‘infraction,’ to a ‘misdemeanor,’ and in certain cases, even to certain degrees of ‘felony’ charges.

Where the charges against you will lie depends on your previous criminal record. Prior convictions and prior theft convictions in particular will generally make the charges against you harsher. In certain states, prior theft convictions result in more severe charges automatically. These can even be felony charges known as “petty with a prior.”

If your crime is relatively insignificant, for example if you have stolen a small perishable food item worth less than $20 and it’s the first crime on your criminal record, but the state does not want to drop the charges completely, you may have the option to participate in a pretrial diversion program or deferred prosecution. This is a type of plea bargain in which you will be required to pay a fine and most likely also complete community service.

If you are facing a shoplifting charge, get in touch with a criminal defense attorney immediately to defend your case and protect your rights. Taking the matter lightly will only complicate the issue and result in an increase in the penalties.

How to Protect Your Rights When You Are Arrested for a Crime in Arizona

Being arrested and charged with a crime is a stressful and confusing experience. One minute you are free and the next you may find yourself placed in handcuffs and transported to jail for processing.

During this period of mental and physical exhaustion, prosecutors will likely try to get you to plead guilty to a crime or make statements to incriminate yourself before you’ve had an opportunity to speak with an attorney.

The key to protecting your rights and defending yourself against criminal charges is knowing how to handle this type of situation responsibly. At the Shah Law Firm, we fight every day to make sure our clients’ constitutional rights are protected. We compiled the following guide to help you know what to expect if you ever find yourself accused of a crime. Read more

Some Useful Facts About Boating Under the Influence

We are all-too-familiar with driving under the influence (DUI), what with all the road mishaps and the injuries and fatalities they bring every year. But many do not know there are also laws against boating under the influence or BUI. Of course, not too many people own or drive boats, which is probably why awareness about BUIs is not that widespread. Nevertheless, learning the ins and outs of BUI is just as important, because roughly half of all deaths in boating accidents involve alcohol according to the U.S. Coast Guard, and you wouldn’t want to be caught up in one. Read more