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Arizona Criminal Law

What are the Types of Arizona Felony Classes

Types of Arizona Felony Classes

Felony Class Types in Arizona

There are six levels of felony classes in Arizona. Each class has its own guidelines for punishment if convicted. When looking at sentencing, the law presumes that everyone will start at the presumptive sentence however, this sentence can be increased or decreased if mitigating or aggravating factors are found by the Judge or jury. The following sentencing ranges apply to a person with no prior felony convictions.

  • Class 1 – The only crime that falls under a Class 1 felony is murder. Murder charges are divided into two categories: First or Second Degree. First degree murder is punishable by the death penalty or by life in prison without parole. Second degree murder requires a minimum prison sentence of 10 years up to a maximum sentence of 25 years.
  • Class 2 – A Class 2 felony allows for a minimum sentence in the Department of Corrections of three years. This can be increased to up to 12.5 years for aggravated. Probation, with up to one year in jail, is also available.
  • Class 3 – Class 3 felonies allows for a minimum of two years in prison with an aggravated sentence of up to 8.75 years. Probation is also available.
  • Class 4– If sentenced to prison on a Class 4 felony, you face anywhere between 1 to 3.75 years. Again, probation is available.
  • Class 5 – A Class 5 felony provides for a minimum of six months in prison however, can be increased to up to 2.5 years. Probation is available.
  • Class 6 – Although a Class 6 felony, an example could be a DUI in Phoenix, also allows for a probation sentence, if sentenced to prison the range allows for anywhere between .33 – 2 years.

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Civil Forfeiture Cases and Defenses

Civil forfeiture, also called civil seizure, or civil judicial forfeiture, is a controversial legal process in the United States in which law enforcement officers take assets from people suspected of being involved in a crime or some sort of illegal activity. The problem with forfeiture cases is that the person suspected of being involved with a crime or illegal activity will not be necessarily charged with a crime or wrongdoing.

Civil forfeiture is a controversial legal process. Sometimes, the law enforcement officers will simply threaten to seize property, or anything of value, such as gold, cash, real estate, a boat or a house. The actual act of seizure itself also falls under forfeiture if the officers suspect that it was being used in a crime. Those in favor of civil forfeiture see it as a powerful tool to thwart criminal activities and organizations. However, critics argue that the act itself leads to corruption and misbehavior by the law enforcement. There is an ongoing debate as to whether the overall benefits of forfeiture outweigh the drawbacks. (more…)


Pre-charge Investigation Stage Cases

‘Pre-charge’, also called the ‘Investigation Stage’ of a criminal case is the stage when someone is under observation for a criminal offense, but no formal action has been taken. When someone is involved in such a situation, it can have a significant negative impact on different areas of their life. This initial state precedes any formal charges. Usually, a person is considered to be involved in a pre-charge stage when they have been arrested by the law enforcement and have been questioned, but later released without facing any charges. This means that the person stands in imminent danger of getting arrested anytime if police find any evidence against them.

Even if the person has not been convicted, the arrest itself may be recorded and documented, which can have a negative impact on their personal life. Their story may make it to the newspaper headline, or it may be put up on any of the news reporting websites. The individual is stuck in the pre-charge stage after being arrested, until they are actually charged with the crime. Anyone who has been arrested in connection to a crime but was later released without charges, is advised to consult a qualified criminal defense attorney. (more…)


Arizona Wrongful Death Lawyer – What is a Lawsuit against Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

While we do not want to believe it was ever our loved one’s time to go, a wrongful death case implies there was negligence or intentional harm that resulted in the death of a family member. In a wrongful death lawsuit, a representative of the estate of the deceased, or a statutory beneficiary files a civil lawsuit against the defendant, claiming that as a result of their negligence, they wrongfully killed a loved one, or in some cases, the defendant caused intentional harm that resulted in death. As David Cantor from Cantor Injury Lawyers, a highly experienced Phoenix car accident attorney and wrongful death attorney mentions, one unfortunate example of a wrongful death could be the result of a motor vehicle accident.

Understanding if your loved one suffered a wrongful death can be a confusing and complicated process. Because of the complexity of the issue,  each Arizona wrongful death lawyer at Cantor Injury Lawyers can explain what constitutes a wrongful death case and make things a little easier.

When do Wrongful Death Lawsuits Happen?
The most common wrongful death lawsuits come in the form of medical malpractice lawsuits or accident fatalities. It is important to remember that a wrongful death lawsuit is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

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New Evidence Leads to Dismissal of Child Sex Abuse Charges

With trial scheduled to begin only nine days later, charges of child sex abuse against Robert Koenig, 63, were dismissed at the prosecution’s request, motivated by the discovery of new evidence following Mr. Koenig’s indictment some six months earlier.

Mr. Koenig faced two counts of gross sexual imposition and one count of rape under that indictment. Those charges stemmed from Koenig’s role as a foster parent, a role he and his wife had shared for five years by the time Mr. Koenig was first charged.

When it learned of the abuse allegations, the official licensing agency, Lucas County Children Services, began the process of removing the Koenigs from the foster care program. The Koenigs, however, withdrew voluntarily before that removal process was completed.

Robert Koenig - Public PhotoMr. Koenig had been a teacher for the Toledo Public Schools from 1975 to 2010, spending most of his career in middle schools. He worked as a substitute teacher in that school system for three years until his retirement in 2013.

According to Frank Spryszak, the assistant county prosecutor who sought the dismissal, his action was driven by the discovery of new evidence “that put us in a position that we no longer felt that we had sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.”

Lorin Zaner, the attorney defending Mr. Koenig, describes himself as a leading child sexual conduct with a minor lawyer with a particular interest in false abuse allegations. He said that the dismissal came as a great relief to his client. “We had the documentation to show that there’s no way our guy could’ve done what they said,” he said.

At the same time, he called attention to the negative consequences of the allegations for Mr. and Mrs. Koenig, a state of affairs that may be familiar to him as a sex crimes lawyer. “They truly had a desire to help children. To be in a position of being falsely accused because you put yourself out there to help children is a tragedy because these are good people. Their names are drug through the mud. Why do you want to put yourself in that position? It’s terrible.”

Mr. Koenig had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and he had been released on $300,000 bond after appearing before Court of Common Pleas Judge Ruth Ann Franks, the same judge who later heard the prosecution’s request to dismiss all charges.

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What are my Options After a Conviction?

Just because you have been convicted of a crime does not mean that you have lost your case entirely. There is a Post Conviction Issues/Appeals process that seeks to overturn your conviction or modify the terms of a sentence. If you have lost civil rights due to a conviction, such as the right to vote, these right can sometimes be restored. An experienced criminal defense attorney can appeal your case in order to seek a more favorable outcome.

Post Conviction Relief Arizona: Filing PCR Petitions:
If a Defendant feels that he had ineffective assistance of counsel (this usually occurs with public defender cases); newly discovered evidence has been found which supports his innocence; or there has been a substantive change in the law, then he can file a “Post Conviction Relief Petition” (PCR).


Read more on Post Conviction Relief in Arizona.

Appeals:
A Defendant has 14 days from the date of their sentencing to file a “Notice of Appeal”. Also filed along with that is a “Designation of Record”. This will designate all of the documents and court reporter transcripts which will be necessary for the appeal. The higher court then issues a “Briefing Schedule” which gives time limits on when the “Appellant’s Brief” is to be filed.


Read more on Appeals.

Habeas Corpus:
“Habeas Corpus” is a Latin term for “that you have the body”. A Writ of Habeas Corpus is a motion which is filed most frequently to ensure that a Defendant’s imprisonment or detention is not illegal. It is sometimes used to test the legalities of an arrest or a commitment.

Read more on Habeas Corpus.

Sentence Modifications:
A “Motion to Modify Sentence” or “Motion to Modify Probation” can be filed at any time after the original Sentencing has occurred. Sometimes this can be as simple as asking for monthly probation fee or restitution fee to be reduced due to the financial hardship on a Defendant. Other times, it can include the deferral or deletion of jail time which was scheduled to begin at a future date.

Read more on Sentence Modifications.

Petition for Early Termination of Probation:
It is possible to terminate the probation in many cases when the Defendant has served approximately 50% of his probation term. In some cases, this can be done at a much earlier date. In fact, we have had numerous cases where a person has been placed on “lifetime probation” and we have had them terminated at a much earlier date (in one case, after a mere year and a half (1.5 years) from the date of sentencing).

Read more on Petition for Early Termination of Probation.

Expungement / Restoration of Civil Rights:
In Arizona, there is no such thing as a “Expungement”. However, Arizona does provide for what is known as a “Judgment of Guilt Set Aside” and a “Restoration of Civil Rights”. In essence, if the Judge grants the Motion to Set Aside Judgment of Guilt, then a Defendant can tell people that he has not previously been convicted of a crime.


Read more on Expungement / Restoration of Civil Rights.

Arizona Rule 32:
Under rule 32 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, an individual may appeal a conviction for one of three reasons: ineffective assistance of counsel, newly discovered evidence, or substantive change of law. Ineffective assistance of counsel refers to situations in which a defendant’s lawyer provided unprofessional or substandard representation that materially affected the outcome of the court proceedings. It is not enough to prove that a defendant received poor representation; you must also prove that the outcome of the case would have been better had you received more effective counsel.


Read more on Arizona Rule 32.

If there is an avenue for an Appeal of your case or a way to modify the terms of a conviction, the Cantor Criminal Defense Attorneys will find it and utilize it to your benefit.

The Cantor Arizona Defense Lawyers Team – BEYOND AGGRESSIVE!!!

It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is an Arizona Defense Lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of it’s lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, P.C., the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Arizona Defense Lawyers know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 1-888-822-6867, or click here to contact us now.

The Criminal Defense Attorneys on the Cantor Team offer BEYOND AGGRESSIVE legal defense for Appeals and Post Conviction Relief issues in all courts in the Phoenix metro area, including Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, Glendale, Goodyear, Chandler, Gilbert, Fountain Hills, Buckeye, Avondale, Paradise Valley, Peoria, Surprise, Sun City, El Mirage and in all city, state and federal court jurisdictions throughout the State of Arizona.

Contact DM Cantor and speak to an Arizona Defense Lawyer about your case. We will assist you with your Post Conviction Issues.


The Dangers of File Sharing and Peer to Peer Networks

File sharing has been a big part of the counter-culture of legal and illegal music and movie downloads in the United States. Many file sharing programs that allowed the free flow of copyrighted files like Limewire, Napster, Bearshare, Frostwire, and the like have long been shut down by the U.S. Government (or switched their business models), but new software springs up all the time. For example, as soon as Limewire was shut down, Frostwire came out and today the most prevelant Peer to Peer software of today is bit Torrent. The cycle keeps repeating as bit torrent sites like The Pirate Bay, Demonoid, and others have faced government seizures of their physical servers located in other countries. The government may not be able to completely shut down all of the file-sharing software as it continues to morph into different models that make it undetectable. Many people praise these programs as means to download and own files for free that they would otherwise have to pay for, but what these people don’t realize is the inherent danger of downloading files from anonymous sources and sharing the same files out to strangers: namely, child pornography.

Helpful Link > Click the following links to view our Child Pornography Case Victories and view all of our Arizona Sex Crime Victories.

Here is a graphic showing the old way file sharing networks worked by each user connecting through a centralized server which is how the government was able to stop them, by legally choking off the central server:

(Images Courtesy of Vuze.com)

File Sharing Networks

And here is a graphic showing bit Torrent Peer to Peer networks where the user downloads and opens a torrent file which then connects the user to the peers who are seeding the files:

Peer to Peer Networks

One of the most important issues among the file sharing community in recent years has been the prosecutions relating to the possession and distribution of child pornography. Many of the defendants that have hired a child pornography lawyer in these cases said that they were not even aware of the images that were stored on their computers. Images of child porn can be downloaded to your computer through a series of Trojan horses or by blindly downloading an entire directory that is shared with you through one of these peer to peer services. One common method of sharing child porn is the intentional mislabeling of filenames. For example, you may download a video named “Die Hard” thinking that you are getting a movie about Bruce Willis. Upon download, you might open the file and instead of finding a movie you find that it is actually hundreds or thousands of images of child pornography. Images of child porn are sometimes inserted into otherwise normal video files and may even go unnoticed by the person downloading the file. This example proves that you cannot be sure what is actually contained in the files you are downloading, which increases the risk of using any peer to peer file sharing software or methods. Remember, there is no file certification process since most of these files (movies, ebooks, software, etc) are being downloaded and shared illegally.

The most common way people are convicted of possession of child pornography, is by their permanent storage on your hard drive even after deleting it in several locations. With file sharing programs, the downloaded files go automatically into two folders: “Saved” and “Shared”. A third folder is created for “Incomplete or Temp Files” that a lot of people are unaware of. Files are labeled incomplete when they are deleted halfway through. You may not even be able to open these files, but the government can, and will attempt to prosecute and convict you for the possession of illegal images of children regardless of the folder they reside in.

The second charge of distribution of child pornography comes when you allow the program to share your files with other users. You may be doing this unknowingly as most file-sharing programs select this sharing option as a default setting. Even if you are unaware that the files you are sharing contain child porn, this act of sharing constitutes distribution.

So how does law enforcement track the child porn files? The government tracks files and images of child porn by looking at hash values. A hash value is the number of pixels a file contains. The government and law enforcement often knows the hash value of popular or commonly-shared child porn images. Any time that file is shared or downloaded; the government is alerted to the IP address of the user. They thereby obtain a search warrant and go about finding said files on your computer, upon which they arrest the user.

There are conspiracy theories out there that the government uses images of child porn to set people up for conviction. People use this to explain the surge of conviction among political rivals and other important people in society. This ruins their reputation and labels them a sex offender for the rest of their lives. Though this rumor does not have much traction, it is wise to avoid the possibility altogether by abstaining from P2P file sharing sites.

Here is a video David Michael Cantor made when Limewire was in the news in Oct 2010:

Every state in the US has laws regarding the possession and distribution of child pornography. For example, here in Arizona the law is A.R.S §13-3553 Sexual Exploitation of a Minor” (i.e. “Child Pornography”) and it is a class two (2) felony.  In Arizona, the minimum prison term is 10 years per image, if convicted. If you are facing child pornography charges, it’s a good idea to find yourself a defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases and also works with a good computer forensics expert.

If you have legal questions about Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Child Pornography possession and distribution, please give our office a call at (602) 307-0808. If you are in the pre-charge phase or have already been charged, please call us for a free case review. The free consultation will last about 30 minutes and one of our defense attorneys will give you their professional opinion with your case.


Man arrested second time for stabbing stranger in Phoenix

PHOENIX – 27-year-old Christopher Gale was arrested on Sunday for a second time on suspicion of aggravated assault and attempted first-degree murder. The incident took place at a Phoenix Walgreens store.

According to police reports, the crime actually occurred in September 2013 when Gale stabbed a stranger using an eight-inch knife he had bought from a Walmart store just a few hours before the stabbing. He went to a Walgreens store about four miles away from the Walmart store, approached a woman who was shopping and stabbed her in the neck from behind. The woman started screaming and an armed off-duty federal agent, who happened to be in the store, ran over from the checkout line where he was standing and pulled the weapon away from the woman and ordered Gale to get on the ground and put the knife down.

Gale was arrested for a previous crime but was found incompetent to stand trial for the charges he was facing. The charges against Gale were dismissed in May 2013 by a court commissioner and he was ordered to receive treatment at a psychiatric facility which he did. After his release from Desert Vista Behavior Health, a mental health facility in Mesa, Gale was subsequently arrested for the stabbing. According to the court documents, when Gale stabbed the woman at the Walmart store, she turned around to face her attacker who told her, “I’m killing you to save the world.”

The woman suffered a puncture wound which needed several staples. She was able to push away her attacker.

Gale later told the police that he bought the eight-inch knife to “stab and kill” someone.

According to Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, it is not yet decided if any charges will be filed again against Gale.

Gale had a run-in with the law in 2012 also when he was arrested on the suspicion of indecent exposure and drug-related offenses. He pled guilty to the reduced charges in that case.

Gale appeared in Maricopa County Superior Court on Friday for an initial appearance and is being held on $1 million bond on charges of attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault. His lawyer , Roger Margolis, did not immediately return a call Friday for comment. The attorney was appointed on the orders of a commissioner to represent Gale in court.

Online court records did not describe the alleged crimes which Gale is facing. However, the commissioner who ordered Gale to undergo psychiatric treatment said in a May 29 order that Gale was a danger to others as well as to himself. He also said that he is unable to understand the nature of proceedings against him and needed assistance in his defense.


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