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Arizona Criminal Law

Federal Racketeering and the RICO Act: Examples, Penalties & Defenses

Federal Racketeering and the RICO Act: Examples, Penalties & Defenses

Racketeering (ARS 13-2314 04) covers a wide range of activity with different people, groups and organizations. It is a very serious federal criminal offense that is punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Originally, racketeering was criminal activity that law enforcement limited to organized crime. A “racket” is an organized business or a group of people that conducts business illegally for monetary gain.

Drug trafficking, money laundering, embezzlement of funds are all forms of racketeering. However, due to infiltration of organized crime into the legitimate corporate world in exchange for money, the lines have blurred over the decades, casting a wider view of racketeering and white collar crime in general.

What Is Racketeering?

The classic Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of racketeering, or a racketeer, is someone who illegally gets money from someone, normally via intimidation. A broader definition of the term is the illegal methods of getting money or offering false services in exchange for money. Extortion, blackmail, bribery, kidnapping for monetary ransom…all of these falls under the racketeering umbrella.


RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization)

The Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 as a whole became law on October 15, 1970. The original purpose of the creation of the RICO statute was to stop the infiltration of organized criminal activity into legitimate businesses. An example of this is the timeless film, The Godfather. The Corleone family was a major crime family in New York City. However, they used an olive oil company as a family business to cover their illegal business practices.

The first documented RICO conviction was a La Cosa Nostra boss in New York City named Frank Tieri. Mr. Tieri was convicted on November 21, 1980 of racketeering charges that included threats to a restaurant owner, loansharking (extortion), and fraudulent activity at the Westchester Premier Theater with proven affiliation to the Genovese crime family. Since this time, however, the RICO act has expanded to include any group that is conducting illegal activity under the racketeering umbrella. This can include corrupt police officers and politicians, street gangs, even businesses and corporations.

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Charges of Illegal Insider Trading

Charges of Illegal Insider Trading

What is Insider Trading?

Illegal insider trading is defined as follows: “the illegal use of information available only to insiders in order to make a profit in financial trading” – Merriam Webster

‘Illegal Insider Trading’charges can result in a maximum fine of $5,000,000 for individuals ($25,000,000 for companies) and a federal prison sentence of up to 20 years! With all charges, if you have been accused of this, the first thing to do is to speak with a white collar crimes attorney.


Why is Insider Trading Illegal?

Insider trading is considered illegal for a few reasons. First, when an employee or a broker for someone is a fiduciary of said person, corporation, government, etc., he or she gives his or her trust and loyalty, acting in the best interest of the person, business or government he or she is representing. Giving clandestine information to someone for financial gain that conflicts with one’s fiduciary duties is not only illegal, but also unfair.

Second, the stock market is supposed to be an even playing field for everyone (hence the term, “gone public”). For someone to have secretive information that no one else has and use it for their own financial gain is very unethical. Stephen Cutler, who is the Director of Enforcement of the SEC eloquently made the following statement in reference to the Martha Stewart case:

“It is fundamentally unfair for someone to have an edge on the market just because she has a stockbroker who is willing to break the rules and give her an illegal tip. It’s worse still when the individual engaging in the insider trading is the Chairman and CEO of a public company.”

It is similar to being the only person to have the answers to a major test, and you win a scholarship to an Ivy League university because of it. It is cheating, unless it cannot be proven.

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Penalties for Possession of Drugs for Sale in Arizona

Penalties for Possession of Drugs for Sale in Arizona

In the state of Arizona, if you are caught using or in possession of a drug such as meth (methamphetamines) or other narcotics, you can be charged with a class 4 felony. This includes drugs like hallucinogenic drugs, prescription medications, and amphetamines.

What is Dangerous Drug Possession in Arizona?

According to Arizona Revised Statute, ARS 13-3407 prohibits the use and possession of dangerous drugs. It also prohibits:

  • The sale of dangerous drugs.
  • The possession of any chemical and supplies that are used in the production of making drugs.
  • The manufacturing of dangerous drugs.
  • Giving the drugs to someone else, regardless of whether or not you made a profit off of it.
  • Getting dangerous drugs by misrepresentation, deceit, and fraud.
  • Transporting the drugs into Arizona or within the state.

What are the dangerous drugs outlined in this law? Well, they are broken down into several categories, and they are:

  • Any type of amphetamines, this includes meth.
  • Any type of hallucinogenic substance. For example, acid and mescaline.
  • Any type of drug that gives off a depressant effect on the central nervous system.
  • Any anabolic steroids. This includes the use of testosterone.

One important thing to remember in the state of Arizona is that if you have any drug, no matter what form it is in, it is illegal to possess unless you have a doctor’s written prescription. In certain ways the laws are worded, you could have a small ingredient of a particular drug that could make you responsible for having the drug in your possession. You could face punishment for it just like you would if you had the entire drug in front of you.

Here at DM Cantor, we see these types of felony drug charges frequently and can help you to get your drug charge dismissed, reduced, or another positive outcome. We have many years of experience in drug cases and can help you to beat your charges. If you have been charged with possession of drugs for sale or transporting drugs in Arizona, contact our office today so that we can help you.

 

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What are some Causes of False Positives for DUI Breathalyzer Tests

What are some Causes of False Positives for DUI Breathalyzer Tests

We have all been there with that unsettling feeling that you get when you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror and hear a patrol car’s siren coming upon you. However, what happens next can be life changing. If that officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, the results can have a monumental effect on your life, liberty and freedom. Failing a breathalyzer test means that you are over the legal limit for your blood alcohol content (BAC) and criminal prosecution will ensue. The following talks about the accuracy of breathalyzer tests and your defense against these seemingly infallible results.

What is a false positive breathalyzer test?

While most prosecutors and law enforcement officials would have you believe that the results of a breathalyzer test are infallible, that is a bit of a stretch on the truth. Generally, breathalyzer tests are only accurate approximately 40% of the time. Factor into that statistic that the testing equipment itself has an inherent margin of error between .005 and .02% in its BAC readings. Taken into consideration, these various characteristics can lead to a false positive reading by a breathalyzer test. That false positive reading means that you will be charged with driving under the influence (DUI), a very serious crime which can have wide ranging implications on your daily life.

Appropriate and qualified administration of a breathalyzer test

The appropriateness and administration of a breathalyzer test is a very important factor in determining what your true BAC actually is. In terms of appropriateness, timing makes all the difference. One instance of timing making a difference is with your blood alcohol being “on the rise.” This rising occurs because it can take anywhere between fifty (50) minutes to three (3) hours for your system to fully absorb any alcohol that you may have imbibed. Thus, your blood alcohol level could have been within the legal limit while driving, but between the time you were stopped and the test administered, your BAC could have risen just enough to put you over the legal limit.

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Arizona Laws for Legally Cultivating Marijuana

Arizona Laws for Legally Cultivating Marijuana

You might think that because Arizona and Colorado are neighbors, that Arizona might adopt the same laws as Colorado when it comes to marijuana. However, this is not the case. Arizona has some of the strictest laws in the country. In November of 2016, there was a measure that would have legalized marijuana. It was called Proposition 205. It failed by a narrow margin, and Arizona still has some of the strongest laws known in the United States.

Rules for Possession of Marijuana

The only way that you can legally grow marijuana in the State of Arizona is if you have a medical marijuana ID card. This must be given only by a licensed MD., DO, or N.D. in Arizona. When you have a medical card, this will allow you to possess 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana (the dried flower, mixtures or preparations, such as resin or hashish, made from 2.5 ounces of dried flowers) every 2 weeks, and you will be allowed to grow up to 12 plants as long as you do not live within 25 miles of a dispensary.

Arizona marijuana is also known as cannabis. It is labeled as a Schedule 1 controlled substance. This law also includes all the different forms of marijuana, including concentrates and edibles. If you are caught with any form of cannabis, you will face a felony charge under the ARS 13-3405. The charges for possession of marijuana will depend on how much you have, and what the specific charge is.

Medical Marijuana in Arizona

Proposition 203 was first defeated in 2002 but the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act eventually passed in 2010 by the voters in Arizona. If you want to use medical marijuana in Arizona, you will have to be registered with the Arizona Department of Health Services, and have a registry identification card. To qualify you must:

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Penalties for Hit and Run Charges in The State of Arizona

Penalties for Hit and Run Charges in The State of Arizona

Automobile accidents can be traumatizing, stressful and expensive. In Arizona, when an accident is caused and either the party responsible or not responsible has left the scene of where the accident happened, that is called “fleeing the scene of an accident”, or more popularly known as a “hit and run” or ARS 28-662.

Even if the vehicle that was struck was unoccupied, the person that hit the vehicle is responsible for attempting to locate the owner. If unable to find the owner, a note with the driver’s contact information must be left in a visible location. If this is not done, serious penalties can happen.

What are the Penalties for a Hit and Run in Arizona?

Of the 50 states, Arizona ranked number 5 in a study conducted by AAA that ranks the states on their hit and run fatalities of 2018. Below we outline the different types of hit and run accidents and their potential penalties. They range due to the severity of the accident and those involved. In any case, it is always recommended for those that left the scene to seek legal advice from a hit and run attorney to investigate the incident and look for the best possible outcome.

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Is Caught “Sexting” a Sex Crime in Arizona?

Is Caught “Sexting” a Sex Crime in Arizona?

The popularity of sexting continues to increase amongst the adult population in the United States. According to CBS News, a research project was conducted at Drexel University with U.S. adult residents between the ages of 18 and 82. Of the 870 participants, 88% admitted to sexting once, and 82% admitted to sexting within the past year. While this study proves that adult texting is quite popular, sexting among minors has actually decreased between 2008 and 2013. Nonetheless, minors are still sexting, making it a criminal act.

The question of is sexting a sex crime amongst adults in Arizona varies from case to case because the sexting act can be linked to other offenses, which then can make sexting a crime. Generally speaking, sexting between two consenting adults is not a crime in the State of Arizona. However, if either one of the involved parties does not give consent to the sexting act, charges like harassment, emotional distress and obscenity can be filed. Harassment examples of adult sexting are someone who sends unwanted explicit messages and images to someone, or someone who asks or demands nude pictures or messages from someone.

What Is Sexting?

To be clear on the definition of the term, sexting is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone. While this is the exact definition of the word in the dictionary, sexting is not limited to cell phones. Sexting can be done via e-mail, instant messenger chat rooms, and social media as well. It is a combination of the two words; sex and text. Sexting can be between a married couple who exchange sexy messages and pictures to entice their spouse and give them something spicy to look at to get them through the day. It could also be a man and woman who just met and are mutually attracted to one another. They may want to consensually exchange suggestive pictures and messages for both to enjoy at his or her discretion.

However, there are other forms of sexting that are seen as betraying, perverse, and demoralizing. When minors are involved, the act is criminal, regardless of the conditions. General examples of sexting gone wrong is an exchange of pictures and messages between adults and minors, someone sending sexual messages and photos to someone without the recipient’s consent, or someone using sexting as a coercion tactic, like blackmail. In determining criminality (with the exception of juvenile involvement), this is where it can get murky because the act of sexting can easily spill over into other issues.

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Charged for DUI Drugs as a Medical Marijuana Card Holder in Arizona

Charged for DUI Drugs as a Medical Marijuana Card Holder in Arizona

Even though recreational possession and use of marijuana remains illegal in Arizona, it has been legalized in the neighboring states of California, Nevada, and Colorado. The possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes in Arizona is perfectly legal though for patients who qualify and are approved for it. What comes to issue for medical marijuana patients are Arizona’s impaired driving laws. It’s illegal to drive impaired in the state when under the influence of marijuana. A conviction is equivalent in seriousness as driving under the influence of alcohol.

Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence Laws

As per ARS 28-1381 (A)(3), a driver could be found guilty of DUI Drugs if he or she is determined to have been driving or was in actual physical control of a vehicle and was “impaired to the slightest degree” by any drug or its metabolite. That’s equivalent to a “zero tolerance” law. Under ARS section 13-3401, the definition of drugs includes marijuana. As per the Arizona Supreme Court, actual physical control is defined as having “current or imminent control” over the vehicle and presenting a “real danger” to yourself or the public. Current or imminent control over a motor vehicle is determined by a totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding a case.

Supreme Court of Arizona v. Hon. Harris (Shilgevorkyn) Case

On December 11, 2010, at about 10:30 p.m., Hrach Shilgevorkyn was stopped by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department for allegedly speeding and making an illegal lane change. Police believed that Shilgevorkyan might have been impaired, and he was asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests. After performing the tests, Shilgevorkyan said that he had smoked “weed” the night before. He was not using it for medical purposes. He was asked to submit to blood tests which he voluntarily submitted to shortly after midnight. It was determined that carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol (carboxy-THC) was in his blood sample. Our criminal defense attorney from DM Cantor represented Shilgevorkyan against these dui charges. What the case turned on was whether Carboxy-THC was an impairing metabolite. In a four to one decision, the Arizona Supreme Court determined that it was not. Here is a summary of the court’s decision and rationale. It focused on the interpretation of section 28-1381(A)(3).

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