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Scottsdale Criminal Law Blog

Justice Dept. revives some efforts to validate forensic evidence

The Department of Justice has just announced that it will revive a forensic science initiative that was begun in 2012, during the Obama Administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a halt to the initiative in April, in order to invite public comment.

Also in April, as we discussed on this blog at the time, Sessions allowed the authorization for the National Commission on Forensic Science to expire. That group has not been reinitiated.

Fighting back against a DUI in Arizona

Criminal charges of any kind have the potential to bring serious repercussions upon your life. You may think because it is your first drunk driving offense that you do not really have any consequences of significance to worry about, but that is not the case. In reality, even a first-time DUI could have serious consequences, and it is worthwhile to defend yourself and your interests.

Arizona drivers can face various penalties for a drunk driving conviction, even if it is the first one. No matter your criminal history, you would benefit from knowing how to protect yourself and possibly mitigate some of the potential penalties that could have a negative impact on your life.

Arpaio found guilty of criminal contempt for racial profiling

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, 85, has been found guilty of criminal contempt by a federal judge. The criminal misdemeanor could cost him a fine and land him in jail for six months.

Arpaio's supporters have said the criminal case was brought against "America's toughest sheriff" for political reasons and were hoping the Justice Department would drop the charges upon the change in administration, according to NPR. The Trump Administration did not drop the charges, however.

Justice Dept. appears poised to crack down on marijuana crimes

Over the past decade, the tide on marijuana seemed to turn. Over half of U.S. states, including Arizona, have legalized the drug for at least medical purposes. Eight states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized it for recreational use.

In support and recognition of that trend, Congress passed an amendment to the Justice Department's budget preventing the agency from interfering with state laws that "authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana." Under President Obama, federal prosecutors were urged to limit their use of harsh mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent, low-level marijuana offenders. They were also ordered to limit their use of civil forfeiture.

A robbery conviction can steal your future

Robbery is a crime that the state of Arizona does not take lightly. If you are facing robbery charges, how you handle your case and who you have on your side matters. A conviction on such a charge could steal your future from you.

As is common for anyone who is facing criminal charges, you likely have a lot of questions. Some of these might be: What is the definition of robbery? What elements must prosecuting attorneys establish to achieve a conviction? What are the consequences, and is there any way to successfully defend myself? All of these are good questions that deserve answers.

9th Circuit conference urges more skepticism of forensic evidence

A large number of common forensic techniques including bite marks, hair analysis, ballistics, fingerprint IDs and footprint analysis were called into question last year. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a nonpartisan group established by Congress in 1976, issued a report that debunked the evidence produced by the techniques as unscientific.

Unfortunately, TV shows like "Law & Order" and "CSI" tend to paint forensic evidence as virtually infallible. Popular culture ignores the scientific flaws in the techniques, along with natural human biases and human error, according to the dean of the UCLA School of Law.

Beer mogul arrested for flying while drunk, breath test negative

The former CEO of Anheuser-Busch breweries was arrested earlier this week on suspicion of flying his helicopter while drunk. A portable Breathalyzer test found no alcohol in his system, but police are still seeking blood or urine test results.

No charges have been filed, but he was held overnight on allegations of reckless conduct, being intoxicated "in or about an aircraft" and unlawful use of a weapon. According to the Chicago Tribune, the helicopter was noticed Monday afternoon in a parking lot in south-central Illinois near St. Louis. About eight hours later, a caller reported an "intoxicated male was getting into the helicopter and attempting to fly away."

Violent crimes can happen in Arizona after fights

A quiet summer afternoon in Arizona was interrupted recently by the sound of gunfire. The scene was a hot shopping mall parking lot. Witnesses say that the violent crimes occurred in mid-afternoon and appeared to include only one man and the victim of the fatal incident.

According to a report, the shopping mall parking lot was where the two men involved in the case began to argue. Early investigations led authorities to believe that both men were fighting before the shooting. However, at some point in the altercation, the accused man is believed to have taken out a gun and shot the other man during the fight. The victim died at the scene after rescuers and bystanders tried to save him.

Understanding what fraud means and how it occurs

Like many other Arizona residents, the trust of your family, friends and co-workers means a lot to you. When accusations of fraud jeopardize that trust, more than just the potential criminal or civil penalties could greatly affect your life. Dealing with such accusations, along with any charges, needs your attention right away.

Before you can move forward to defend yourself, however, it may be beneficial to understand what you face. Fraud comes in many forms and knowing exactly what fraud means and how it occurs could provide you with helpful insights as you plan your defense.

ACLU: Defendants not being told when evidence derived by wiretap

Federal criminal defendants are being denied their full right to confront the evidence against them, according to a lawsuit recently brought by the American Civil Liberties Union. This is because the U.S. Department of Justice doesn't notify defendants when evidence against them was obtained via secret wiretaps and other surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or the Wiretap Act.

The lawsuit follows a Freedom of Information Act request the ACLU filed in February, which sought records related to a Justice Department policy memo entitled "Determining Whether Evidence Is 'Derived From' Surveillance Under Title III or FISA." That memo supposedly outlines the DOJ's understanding of when it must notify defendants that information about them was obtained without a warrant.

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