Criminal Defense Lawyer Arja Shah

How can an Arizona Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Your Case?

The criminal justice system is very complex and is confusing for most people when they are charged with crimes. Learning how to navigate through the processes and rules can be difficult for people who are not represented by a criminal defense lawyer.

Within the court system, criminal defense attorneys offer guidance to their clients to help them understand each step of the process from bond hearings to jury trials. Throughout their representation, a defense lawyer works to protect their clients’ interests and serve as their confidants.

Criminal defense lawyers fall into two main groups, including those who are appointed by the court and paid for their services by the government and those who are privately retained by people who are facing criminal charges.

At the Shah Law Firm, we offer private criminal defense representation to people who are facing all levels of criminal charges.

Private Criminal Defense Lawyer vs. Court-Appointed Public Defender

People who can afford to hire attorneys for their defenses retain private criminal defense lawyers. Those who are unable to pay for an attorney are not left to navigate the criminal court process alone, however. Indigent defendants can ask the court to appoint public defenders to represent them. A very small percentage of defendants opt to represent themselves and are known as pro se defendants.

Private criminal defense attorneys are directly contacted by the defendant while public defenders are assigned cases by the court. Public defenders are lawyers who are paid for their services by the public defender’s office on a salary basis. These lawyers often have large caseloads and are paid lower salaries than what private criminal defense attorneys earn.

Because of the fact that a majority of criminal defendants are indigent and the court referral process, public defenders often do not have as much time at their disposal to spend on each case.

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Arizona Police use dog to search vehicle

Do Police Need a Search Warrant to Search a Car in AZ?

In Arizona, people are protected against an unlawful vehicle search or seizure by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. While the Fourth Amendment requires officers to get search warrants before they search your property, there are several exceptions to the warrant requirement that allow them to search without a search warrant.

Vehicle searches are treated differently than searches of your home,and police are generally allowed to conduct warrantless searches of vehicles as long as they have probable cause.

Several other exceptions also allow police to search vehicles without warrants, including consent, searches incident to an arrest, inventory searches, plain view searches,and searches based on reasonable suspicion. We’ll take a brief look at each of these exceptions below.

Warrantless Searches Based on Probable Cause

In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court established the mobile conveyance exception to the search warrant requirement in Carroll v. United States. In their decision, Supreme Court distinguished vehicles from homes, noting that vehicles can easily be moved away from a traffic stop, and evidence could be destroyed.

As long as police have probable cause, they can search your car without a warrant under the mobile conveyance exception without it being considered an unlawful search.

An officer has probable cause when a reasonably prudent person in the same situation would believe that evidence of a crime is likely located inside of a vehicle. However, only the areas in which the suspected evidence would likely be located can be searched.

For example, if a police officer has probable cause to believe that you stole your neighbor’s 60-inch television and that it is likely hidden in your car, he or she can search your vehicle’s trunk. However, the officer would not have probable cause to search your glove box since a television would not fit inside.

If a police officer pulled you over for a minor traffic violation, he or she will generally not have probable cause to support a warrantless search of your vehicle. However, if your conduct following the stop allows the officer to develop probable cause that evidence might be located in your vehicle, he or she can search without a warrant.

Consider this, if you are stopped for speeding, the officer will not be able to search your car based only on that. However, if he or she smells alcohol on your breath, he or she can search your car for open containers of alcohol.

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Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Arizona?

Are DUI Checkpoints Legal in Arizona?

Removing drivers who are under the influence off of the road is a key goal for law enforcement authorities in Arizona. However, officers are required to respect certain rights of motorists when they conduct traffic stops, including having a reasonable suspicion that the motorists have engaged in illegal activity or are doing so before they can pull them over. To stop a driver for a suspected DUI, an officer must observe some type of indicator that the driver might be intoxicated or is driving dangerously.

DUI checkpoints, or sobriety checkpoints, allow police officers to stop vehicles without first observing any indication of dangerous or intoxicated driving. While this might seem to contradict the general rule for police officers and their requirements for stopping drivers, DUI checkpoints in Arizona have been found to be constitutional as long as they are conducted properly.

Police officers must carry out checkpoints under an advanced plan that provides neutral and explicit limitations on the actions of the officers. This is to prevent police from making pretextual stops on the basis of race. The courts believe that taking away the officers’ discretion about which vehicles to stop in a DUI checkpoint can reduce the likelihood that motorists will be chosen based on an officer’s biases.

What Makes a DUI Stop or Checkpoint Legal?

Under normal circumstances, a police officer will need to have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated the law before he or she can pull you over. This suspicion cannot be an inarticulable hunch. Instead, the officer must observe you engaging in some type of activity that makes him or her reasonably suspect that you have violated the traffic laws or are driving drunk.

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Is a Fingerprint Evidence Enough for a Criminal Conviction?

In many movies and television shows, a defendant will be identified and subsequently convicted of a crime after a detective finds his or her fingerprints at a crime scene. However, fingerprints are often not enough by themselves to result in a conviction. Instead, fingerprint evidence is often presented as one piece of evidence rather than the only evidence against a defendant.

When detectives discover fingerprints at a crime scene, they are commonly used in investigations to identify potential suspects or persons of interest. However, because of their limitations, police officers and prosecutors will often want to find additional types of evidence to secure a conviction.

If an officer finds your fingerprints, they will connect you to the crime scene. However, there is no way for the police to determine how long your fingerprints have been there. Interpreting fingerprints to match them may also result in a mistaken identification.

While fingerprints might not have the evidentiary strength of DNA evidence, they are still used in criminal cases. Fingerprints are generally considered to be reliable, and juries understand what they mean. Every person has a series of ridges on their fingers that are ostensibly theirs and no one else’s.

How Fingerprints are Matched to a Suspect

Two principles inform prosecutors about how to handle fingerprint evidence. The first principle is that the friction ridge patterns on your fingertips will not change during your life. The second principle is that every person has a unique pattern of friction ridges, including identical twins.

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Domestic Violence Charges During Holidays

Do Domestic Violence Charges Increase During the Holidays?

Many people think that incidents of domestic violence charges spike during the holidays. The holidays can be stressful and cause people to take their anger out on those who are closest to them. Several factors can lead to domestic violence incidents during the holidays, including financial stress, unrealistic expectations, increased alcohol use, and being shut inside with immediate family members for extended periods.

During this holiday season, all of these factors are compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the added layers of stress and financial problems it has wrought. While domestic violence cases do happen, some people also lash out at their family members by filing false reports.

People who are charged with domestic violence crimes should talk to a domestic violence attorney at the Shah Law Firm as soon as possible.

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Increase in Domestic Violence Charges During the Holidays

The holidays bring a lot of added stress to families in Arizona. People can be overwhelmed when they have to plan holiday celebrations. They might also be facing increased financial stress and have unrealistic expectations of their experiences. Holidays can always be overwhelming. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has added even more stress. Many families are struggling financially and simply do not have the means to celebrate in the way in which they would like.

According to data from the Phoenix Police Department, domestic violence homicides increased by 180% year-over-year during the first eight months of 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019. This demonstrates that people were already under significant stress even before the holiday season got started.

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Mesa Police at Mesa DUI Checkpoint

6 Things Police Won’t Tell You When Pulled Over for DUI

Arizona DUI laws have drastically changed over the past few decades. While law enforcement agencies have engaged in numerous approaches to minimize impaired driving, cases involving driving under the influence of drugs have been increasing. Because of the increase in drugged driving, how officers investigate suspected DUI cases has changed.

Most people do not understand the complex nature of DUI arrests and might not understand how they are affected when their blood alcohol concentrations are 0.08% or higher. Many people have unrealistic beliefs about how DUIs are investigated.

Here are six things that police officers will not tell you about how they investigate people for suspected DUIs.

1. Many people who are arrested for DUIs are initially only stopped for minor traffic offenses.

Police officers do not necessarily know that a person has been drinking or using drugs at the time that they stop their vehicles. While an officer might believe that you could be under the influence because of the time of day or the location of your stop, he or she does not know if you have been drinking before you are stopped.

Most DUI reports refer to a minor traffic offense as the reason for the stop. For example, the driver might have failed to use a turn signal while turning or moving lanes, might have been speeding, or may have committed other types of traffic violations.

Few reports list the officer’s suspicion that the driver was driving while impaired as the reason for a stop. It’s much more common for a different traffic offense to serve as the opening for a DUI investigation.

 

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Post Bail at 4th Ave Jail in Phoenix

How to Post Bail at 4th Ave Jail in Phoenix

If your friend or family member is arrested in Maricopa County, Arizona, he or she may be booked into jail. After he or she arrives at the jail, he or she will be processed and then will either wait in jail to appear in court or until someone bails him or her out of jail.

People who are arrested for misdemeanor offenses might be booked into the 4th Avenue Jail while those who are arrested for felony offenses will likely be booked into that facility.

Below is information from the Shah Law Firm about posting bail at the 4th Avenue Jail in Phoenix.

What are Bail and Bond?

Bail is a conditional release of a defendant in exchange for a financial arrangement that someone else makes for the defendant. To secure the release of the defendant, a person or bail bonds agent will post the money or collateral. Bail is set by the court.

The person who posts bail for a defendant will be responsible for ensuring that he or she attends his or her court appearances. Bond is an agreement that the full bail amount will be paid. Some courts will accept a 10% down payment of the total bail amount.

Posting a Bond for someone at the 4th Avenue Jail

To post a bond for someone at the 4th Avenue Jail, you will want to know the forms of payment that the facility accepts. The 4th Avenue Jail only accepts the following types of payments for bond:

  • Cashier’s check
  • Postal money order
  • Western Union money order
  • U.S. currency in the exact amount of the bond
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover

Whichever of these forms of payment that you choose, they must be made out to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. If the transaction is for $10,000 or more, your Social Security number will be required because of Internal Revenue Service rules.

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dui charge under 21 in Arizona

Underage DUI in Arizona (Charged while Under 21): Zero Tolerance

The state of Arizona has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage DUI (underage drinking and driving), and that policy means that if you are caught drinking and driving, regardless of how low your blood alcohol concentration level may be, you will be charged with a DUI in Arizona. But what else does this mean? Well for one, it also means you will face criminal charges if found guilty of drinking and driving if you are under the legal drinking age of 21 in Arizona.

Let’s Discuss Arizona’s Zero Tolerance policy, what it means if you’ve been caught drinking and driving underage, and what Arja Shah can do to help.

Penalties for Underage DUI – Drinking and Driving in Arizona

Unfortunately for some underage drivers who are caught drinking and driving — even those who may have only had a glass of champagne to celebrate a friend’s college graduation — those who are found to be in actual physical control of the vehicle will face severe penalties for drinking and driving underage in Arizona.

According to Arizona Revised Statute ARS 4-244 (34), underage driving under the influence comes with some hefty penalties and fines.

To begin, even if your blood alcohol concentration barely registered on the breathalyzer, you will face the same consequences as an of-age driver found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater.

For first offenses of underage driving, you can expect the following penalties:

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for two years
  • Up to $500 in court fees and other fines
  • Court-ordered education on substance abuse
  • Regular drug and alcohol screening
  • Court-mandated drug and alcohol counseling
  • Community service as ordered by the judge in your case

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diseases that cause a high BAC

Can Medical Conditions Affect BAC Readings? False DUI Arrest

Contrary to what many people are aware of, there are a variety of medical conditions that can cause your BAC level to register higher than it really is, or register falsely — as well as a host of different medications, both over the counter and prescribed. And, in addition to that, there are other factors, such as in some people, an intolerance to the minute amount of alcohol found within some medications, both prescriptions and otherwise.

Let’s discuss some of the factors and medical conditions that can cause you to have higher-than-normal and even false BAC readings.

Medical Conditions that Affect Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Levels

Acid reflux

Acid reflux is the process by which your body pushes up acids from within the stomach and from around the stomach lining up into the back of your throat. Unfortunately, in some instances, these acids do contain alcoholic content, and while it is not the same kind of alcohol you would drink at a bar or party, it nonetheless has the ability to make you fail a breathalyzer test because it can contain enough ethanol to fool the breathalyzer into showing you have imbibed alcohol, even when you have not.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause you to fail a DUI breathalyzer test because this illness causes alcohol derived naturally from your body to pool within the large intestine and stomach, and from there it is pushed into the back of your mouth. This natural alcohol, which can cause tremendous pain for the sufferer, as it sits in the back of your mouth and throat, will make a breathalyzer result inaccurate and is in no way an indicator that you have been drinking or that your ability to drive is in any way impaired.
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Actual physical control in Arizona

What does Actual Physical Control Mean when Arrested for DUI?

According to the Arizona DUI laws, the term, “actual physical control” refers to the person who was driving the car at the time it was pulled over by police or other authorities, but actual physical control goes a good deal deeper than just being the person behind the wheel of the motor vehicle — it is also determined based on a couple of other factors, the most important among these being whether the vehicle was running, whether the ignition was on, where the keys to the car were located at the time of the incident, and in what position the driver was found at the actual time of the incident.

All of the following factors of actual physical control can be used as a strong defense by your DUI attorney to help get your charges reduced or even dismissed completely.

Other Factors That Determine Actual Physical Control

What’s more, actual physical control also makes reference to a list of other factors, including:

  • Whether the driver was awake or asleep
  • Whether or not the vehicle’s headlights were on (or off)
  • Whether or not the vehicle was stopped, be it legally parked or on the side of the road, or someplace else
  • Whether or not the driver had successfully pulled over in a voluntary manner (to the side of the road)
  • What the time of day was, and what impact this may have had on other factors listed above
  • Whether or not the air conditioning or heater was on
  • Whether the windows of the vehicle were up or down
  • What the weather conditions were at the time of the incident

Finally, another important factor for the authorities who are making the determination of who is in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the incident will be the explanation of the above circumstances. These will be part of what would be discussed in a court of law if the case ever goes before an Arizona judge.

As is reported in advance of a court hearing, what is said by the person in actual physical control of the vehicle will be important, and authorities will notate it in preparation for court.
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