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DUI Charge with Marijuana in Arizona

The Court of Appeals in Arizona ruled in February 2013 that upholds the right of prosecutors to move forward with charges against marijuana smokers in the state for driving under the influence regardless of the presence of physical evidence. As reported by the Associated Press, authorities in Arizona need only blood test or urine sample results showing the presence of chemical compounds known to be in marijuana as present in the body at the time of arrest. Regardless of your level of impairment, or how long ago you may have used marijuana, police can arrest you for driving under the influence. Any amount of marijuana or its metabolites in your system could be sufficient to bring marijuana DUI charges in Arizona. A DUI for Marijuana charge can also be known as one of  the following: Metabolite DUI, Pot DUI, or Weed DUI.

Impairment to the Slightest Degree

To prove that you were under the influence of marijuana at the time of your traffic stop, authorities must show what is known in Arizona law as “impairment to the slightest degree.” In other words, prosecutors must show marijuana use impaired your driving, even to the slightest extent. Any traffic citation – as evidence of a driving error – issued by the arresting office could be sufficient to overcome this burden. Officers might also ask you to perform field sobriety tests during the traffic stop as a means of determining impairment.

By law, you do not have to submit to field sobriety tests. Politely decline the request. This right doesn’t usually extend to providing breath, urine or blood samples. If you choose not to cooperate, officers may obtain a warrant for your bodily fluids, which you cannot legally refuse.

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Penalties for Marijuana DUI in Arizona

First Time Marijuana DUI Offense: misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of one day to a maximum of six months in jail. Fines and associated court fees are a minimum of $1,470, but may be more depending on judicial discretion. Mandatory participation in substance abuse program and required installation of an interlock device on vehicle ignition. One-year suspension of driver’s license.

Second Marijuana DUI Offense: Misdemeanor level offense with a mandatory minimum of 30 days in jail, minimum $3,340 fine, and a minimum of 30 hours of community service. License suspension for 18 months and required installation of interlock device on vehicle.

Third Marijuana DUI Offense: If the third marijuana DUI offense occurs within seven years of the last conviction, there was a child present in the vehicle or your license is suspended, you could be charged with a felony level offense. You may face a lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentence and heavy fines.

 

If you have any questions about the State of Arizona and the DUI laws, please give our offices a call (602) 307-0808. Our offices are available 24 hours a day and we offer free consultations. Call or email us now.

Overview of Possession of a Dangerous Drug Laws in Arizona

A question we get from clients quite often is What is Possession of a Dangerous Drug in Arizona?

In this short video, David Cantor explains Dangerous Drug charges in Arizona:

Arizona law defines a dangerous drug as a prescription narcotic that is not marijuana. Usually, dangerous drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine or prescription drugs used as antidepressants or pain medication.

A.R.S. §13-3407, the statute that addresses the possession or use of a dangerous drug in Arizona, establishes a variety of parameters regarding dangerous drugs. In addition to defining dangerous drugs, the statute categorizes the offense as a class 4 felony. However, if the offender has no prior felony convictions and if the drug is not an amphetamine or a methamphetamine, the judge could reduce the offense to a class 1 misdemeanor.

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Proposition 200, enacted by Arizona voters in 1996, made many offenses for possession of drugs punishable by only probation, including first and second non-violent crimes. This means that offenders will receive no time in custody unless they violate their probation terms and are arrested. In that event, the defendant could need to wait in jail until the courts reinstate probation, which could take up to a month. However, possession of methamphetamine does not qualify for Proposition 200 designation.

Drug offenders who are charged with a misdemeanor could receive up to six months in custody for probation violation. Sometimes, another option for first-time drug offenders is TASC, which defers prosecution for one to two years until the defendant fulfills all the requirements of the program. While the program is strict and well-structured, it enables defendants to qualify for a complete dismissal of the possession of dangerous drugs charge.

For six months, TASC candidates must attend a weekly group counseling session and attend two support group meetings a week, such as AA or NA. They must also complete a three-hour substance abuse education class and submit to drug and alcohol testing as scheduled. Finally, they must report for at least one office visit every month. Offenders are responsible for all program costs, which range from $2,000 to $2,500.

A class 4 felony that is determined ineligible for Proposition 200 can mean a sentence ranging from probation with no time in custody up to a prison sentence of between 12 months and 45 months. For an offender who has a prior felony record, the time in custody increases accordingly.

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Our offices are available 24 hours a day at (602) 307-0808.


Can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana Card?

With the recent approval of the Medical Marijuana program in Arizona there are a lot of questions out there regarding Marijuana and DUI charges. One of the questions we get asked a lot is ‘Can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana card?‘ David Cantor answers this question in the short video below:

So, can I get a DUI in Arizona with a Medical Marijuana Card?

Yes, under Arizona law the important thing is ‘are you impaired by the drug’. If you are found to be impaired, you can be arrested for a Drug DUI.

If you have a drug in your system and don’t have a prescription, you are looking at a DUI with a metabolite of an illegal or illicit drug in your system.

If you have a medical marijuana card, you can still be charged with DUI if the officer thinks you are impaired by the marijuana.

Now there has been some debate, with marijuana there are two types of metabolites, active and inactive. Active metabolites effect your brain and would make you impaired to drive, in this instance you would have just smoked marijuana or have smoked it within the last couple of hours.

Inactive metabolites show up a day or two after you’ve smoked and will also show up in your urine up to 30 days later. The inactive metabolite is the one that can get you arrested for DUI if you do not have a medical marijuana card.

But if you do have the card, there are arguments you can make that you were not impaired at the time of arrest and there is an actual defense to the Marijuana DUI charge. So if you have gotten a DUI for Marijuana and have your Medical Marijuana Card, call us at (602) 307-0808 because we can help you. For more information regarding a Drug DUI in Arizona, click here.

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Drug-Sniffing Dogs at Your Front Door? Florida SC says it IS a Search.

Drug-Sniffing Dogs at Your Front Door? Florida SC says it IS a Search.

Picture of Drug Police DogThe Florida State Attorney General asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Florida Supreme Court case holding that police officers are required to have probable cause to use a drug dog to sniff outside your door. This case arose out of an investigation of a Miami house, where police were tipped off that the owner was growing marijuana. Surveillance and traditional investigation did not reveal anything, however the police then used drug sniffing dogs on the front porch which alerted them to the presence of marijuana emanating from the inside of the home. The Attorney General is arguing that the Florida decision is inconsistent with the Court’s jurisprudence in Illinois v. Caballes, holding that a dog sniff of a persons’ car was not a search within the 4th Amendment.

What does this all mean for you?

Well, as of right now, if police officers want to use a drug dog in their investigation of you, they don’t have to have probable cause that you have committed a crime. However, if the Supreme Court grants certiorari, here are the options (in an overly simplified form):

  1. Worst Case Scenario: The Supreme Court could reverse the Florida Supreme Court, and affirm Illinois v. Caballes, and state that police officer’s don’t need probable cause to use a drug sniffing dog on your front door, because you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy, and therefore there is not a search.
  2. Best Case Scenario: The Supreme Court could affirm the Florida Supreme Court, and could reverse their own decision in Illinois v. Caballes, and hold that drug sniffs by dogs do implicate the 4th Amendment, and require probable cause.
  3. Acceptable Scenario: Supreme Court could affirm Florida Supreme Court, and limit their holding to drug sniffs of the home require probable cause, or alternatively, refuse to hear the case at all.

Obviously, drug sniffing dogs have better senses of smell than humans; thus, they are a very powerful tool in police investigations. They can be used to alert the police to the presence of drugs in places that the police would not be able to enter without getting a search warrant. The drug dogs alert to their handler of the presence of drugs can also serve as a basis for these search warrants. It seems preposterous and counter-intuitive that police dogs are constitutionally allowed to be able to search somewhere or something that police officers cannot without a warrant. Hopefully someday soon, the Supreme Court will recognize that these dogs are a “search” within meaning of the 4th Amendment no matter where and when they are used.


Arizona Criminal Law Attorney David Michael Cantor on What to Do if You’re Charged with Manufacture of a Dangerous Drug

If you have been charged with Manufacture of a Dangerous Drug, you’re going to require a skilled Arizona Criminal Law Attorney.

The key to defending Possessing Manufacturing Equipment is demonstrating that you did not “knowingly” possess the equipment (i.e., “Lack of Knowledge”). In other words, if you live in a household with multiple roommates and you were unaware that your roommates were engaging in this type of activity, then this can be a defense to the charge. It will need to be shown that your fingerprints are not on the chemicals or the manufacturing equipment itself. These defenses also apply to Manufacturing of Dangerous Drugs (not just possessing the equipment). Even if a Defendant has knowledge that his roommates are engaging in this type of activity, as long as they do not knowingly participate and facilitate the illegal enterprise, then they are not guilty of Manufacturing Dangerous Drugs, nor are they guilty of Possessing the Manufacturing Equipment. This of course assumes that the equipment is not in their actual bedroom and it was located out in a garage area or other separate location.

Click here to learn more about possible defenses and/or punishment for a Manufacture of a Dangerous Drug charge.

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


An Arizona Drug Lawyer Can Gain an Argumentative Advantage with Drug Penalty Discrepancies

If you are in need of an Arizona drug lawyer, you’ll be happy to know that some sense is coming to this nation’s current mindset when it comes to drug laws, but realize that this is a slow dawning realization. In 2007, the US Sentencing Commission lowered the crack cocaine penalty that many argued was racist and draconian in nature. Previously, one gram of crack cocaine received the same penalty as 100 grams of powder cocaine, so that even a small amount meant serious prison time. It’s these sorts of discrepancies that can be used in arguments that may prove useful to your client.

Many critics argued that these were racist guidelines, as crack, being a more affordable drug, was predominantly used by a poorer, African American community, where as cocaine cost a fortune and was limited to the white suburbs. Essentially, both drugs are the same substance, though cocaine users typically can afford a better drug lawyer than their crack smoking counterparts.

While the new laws ease the penalties, they don’t erase the disparity that exists in penalties associated with these drugs. Instead, those convicted of crack possession receive a lower base offense level for each quantity range to the next lowest base offense level. The commission also adjusted the ratio to determine the “marijuana equivalency” for crack cocaine, consulted in any case involving crack and at least another type of drug. Unfortunately, simply lowering this base level created varying ratios between crack and powder cocaine, and crack and marijuana; a challenging dilemma for any drug lawyer.

The wide ranging ratios used by the commission create anomalies that negatively impact the clients of a drug lawyer, often those whose offenses involve a lesser amount of drugs. These anomalies have so far been reviewed and rejected by at least 3 courts. Judges have argued that no rational basis exists for treating similarly guilty individuals so widely different, simply based on the substance for which they were found in possession.

Let’s start with an example. Suppose you are an Arizona drug lawyer, and your client is accountable for 75 grams of crack and 10 grams of powder cocaine. Under the existing conversion guidelines your client would be found under a base offense level for 75 grams of crack, which is level 30. The guidelines than require the court to multiply each gram of crack by 14 grams of marijuana. That adds up to 1,050 kilograms of pot your client is held accountable for. Even before considering the 10 grams of power cocaine, your client has moved up from base offense level 30 to level 32. If your client had only been found guilty of the crack alone, it would take an additional 75 grams of crack to reach level 32.

The client of a drug lawyer is therefore penalized at a higher rate for a lesser amount of crack, simply because the conversion tables apply such an inconsistent ratio between crack and marijuana. This opens up a number of different arguments that can be made.

An Arizona drug lawyer could argue that the guidelines are only advisory. A point could be made that the guidelines are irrelevant because they were designed for cases far more serious. The court should not follow such guidelines without the basis of a full study, backed by empirical data. The court should also dismiss the guidelines based on the poor judgment of the US Sentencing Commission.

About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona drug lawyer, visit our site.


Arizona Drug Possession Lawyer and the Legal Classification System for Methamphetamines

If you need a drug possession lawyer in Arizona for a methamphetamine legal complication, it’s a good idea to understand some sentencing statistics and ethics. You should also be aware of the different forms and effects different varieties of street meth have. It’s the specific type methamphetamine in question that can lead to someone seeking the services of a drug possession lawyer to wind up with a much stiffer penalty than they actually deserved.

A look at the Statistics
The US Sentencing Commission reported more than 72,000 guideline offenses in 2006. About a third of those involved drug trafficking, and meth was the primary substance in more than 5,000 cases. It can safely be said that methamphetamine was also a factor in over 1,300 cases involving multiple types of drugs. Do the math, and you’ll find that methamphetamine were the subject of least 21% of all drug trafficking offenses, and 8% all guideline cases in 2006.  Methamphetamine users often find themselves in need of a drug possession lawyer in Arizona.

How does Methamphetamine affect the User?
Methamphetamine is a synthetic controlled substance, a white, odorless, crystalline powder primarily consumed by snorting, smoking or injected intravenously. It goes by the names of crank, speed, chicken feed, crystal, glass ice, and strawberry quick. It’s a highly addictive substance that affects the central nervous system. It affects the neurotransmission release of dopamine, and also prevents the reuptake of excessive dopamine. Combined with a string of adverse psychological and physical effects, meth deforms and kills brain cells. Besides the related issues that could involve a drug possession lawyer, methamphetamine poses serious risks to your health.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Ask any drug possession lawyer. When it comes to methamphetamines, the prosecutor need only prove the existence of methamphetamine. She doesn’t need to prove what type was used. However, the type of methamphetamine can have drastic effects on the sentencing imposed. Federal guidelines classify methamphetamines into 3 types: ice, which has 80% purity; actual methamphetamine, which refers to the weight of the meth itself, contained in the mixture or substance or methamphetamine, which is a substance that contains methamphetamines.

The government bears the burden of proving what type of methamphetamine was found on a client of a drug possession lawyer. It must be more than just a descriptive effort, but a quantified, lab-performed test that justifies the stiffer penalties of higher classified substances.

Type Ratios
What does it mean when the government imposes sentencing according to type? If meth is determined to be ice, the entire weight of the meth and remaining substances are used to determine the offense level, therefore punishing at a 10 to 1 rate in relation to a simple mixture containing methamphetamine. If the meth is treated simply as part of the mixture, it’s the entire weight that is used to classify the severity of the offense.

A drug possession lawyer can advise you on your rights when it comes to the determination of what type you were caught with. Though the categorization falls on seemingly minute factors, the type of meth found will have a very significant impact on your sentencing. The classification process may provide legal leverage of your attorney can argue that the sentencing overwhelms the nature of the offense.

About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona drug possession lawyer, call our offices at (602) 307-0808 to schedule a free consultation with a drug defense lawyer.


Arizona Drug Attorney: Wanted for Chocolate Possession? The Real Deal on False Positives

It’s a strange world where even those caught possessing chocolate can wind up needing the services of a drug attorney in Arizona. Yes, this has actually happened. Recently, Ron Obadia and his partner Nadine Artemis, who owned an organic products business, found themselves arrested, handcuffed, and interrogated for hours at a Toronto Airport by officials who suspected they had smuggled hashish inside their organic chocolate. A brick size sample of organic chocolate tested positive with THC for the most widely used color reagent test. Suddenly, the business owners were consulting with a drug attorney, all over a brick of chocolate!

Granted, the chocolate did resemble hashish. While that might make for creative package advertising, it is not against the law. The business owners were locked in separate rooms, and their one year old baby was taken away from them. Each person was told they faced life in prison and that the other confessed. Both individuals adamantly denied the chocolate contained nothing but chocolaty goodness and no marijuana. Eventually, the couple was released and had their child returned to them. As they explained, they were not the type of people to have a drug attorney on speed dial, and it was just chocolate.

Still eager to market organic chocolate in New York, the couple tried 3 weeks later to again enter the United States, this time by car near Buffalo. Knowing they were already suspected drug smugglers, they hired an immigration lawyer (rather than a drug attorney) to drive ahead of them to let US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement know they were entering the country on legitimate business interests.

Agents were waiting with drug dogs, which seemed to like the couple’s tea tree oil, an organic plant product from Australia. The oil tested “positive” for THC. Knowing that the couple had already been suspected of smuggling “hashish” chocolate, officials assumed the body product was hashish oil. Again, they had more chocolate on them that also tested “positive.”

Subsequent tests found that none of the products contained marijuana. Yes, the couple protested, this was good chocolate, but not “good” in the illegal way. Nevertheless, the couple found themselves facing $20,000 in drug attorney legal fees, all over chocolate and body products.

What in the world?
Many argue that the widely marketed field test kits are next to worthless. Worse, even when they are properly used, they can cause irreparable harm to innocent individuals. These people face a damaged reputation as well as expensive drug attorney fees just because they get caught with items as harmless as chocolate, laundry soap or even perfume.

According to recent reports, there are thousands of products, ranging from food to beauty to household items, falsely test positive for the drug test kits used by many police forces. This opens up a Pandora’s Box of legal questions and issues that is sure to eventually find its way before the Supreme Court.

The likelihood of false positives seriously compromises America’s legal ethic of “innocent until proven guilty.” Using today’s field tests, many innocent Americans are found guilty of chocolate and beauty products, losing careers, racking up drug attorney in Arizona fees, all because the police didn’t take the time to make sure they had it right.

About the Author
David Michael Cantor is an AV rated (the highest possible rating) lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. For more information about an Arizona drug attorney, visit our site.


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