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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.

Clients of an Arizona Drug Crimes Lawyer Can Benefit from Drug Rehabilitation Counseling

The client of a drug crimes lawyer in Arizona might well be able to benefit from the Bureau of Prisons Residential Drug Abuse program. While those who underwent treatment originally received no reduced sentencing as a result, the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, among other provisions, allowed the court to provide an up to 1 year sentence reduction for the clients of a drug crime lawyer who completed the now 500 hour drug and alcohol program.

The law also required the BOP to provide treatment to all inmates who were eligible. A provision in 1995 required the client of a drug crimes lawyer to provide documentation of a drug abuse problem to be eligible.

Program’s high demand causes time pressure
Due to the ability to lose 12 months of a sentence, as well as spend 6 months in a half-way house, the program was understandably in high demand. In evaluating eligibility, a clinical interpretation of a drug abuse problem must be made by the BOP. The diagnosis must be made in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Associates Diagnostic and Statistic Manual. This leaves open the possibility that the BOP fails to make a diagnosis, even if substance abuse history has been a part of the past of the client of a drug crimes lawyer in Arizona.

The clinical interview for evaluating eligibility for the program is ordinarily conducted no less than 24 months prior to release. This time is highly significant. Why? The high demand for the program means classes are only available every 2 to 3 months. Even with a court recommendation, there is a possibility that a client of a drug crimes lawyer may spend the last 24 months of their sentence in a facility that doesn’t service such a program. (more…)

Drunk Driving Impacts of US v. Herring on DUI Defense

Any lawyer for drunk driving should be well aware of how Herring v. United impacts DUI defense. In the case, a warrant check revealed there was an active warrant for the suspect’s arrest. For that reason alone, the police followed the defendant’s vehicle, pulled him over and arrested him. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed illegal drugs and an illegal pistol. This type of situation can easily apply to any number of cases a lawyer for drunk driving could be involved in.

The catch is that there was a problem with the warrant, which had been recalled 5 months earlier. This was due to a bookkeeping error, and officer attempted to corroborate the warrant, which lead to the discovery of a mix up within 5 to 15 minutes. Either way, the suspect was nailed and in need of a lawyer for drunk driving. If you can prove that the police record system has so many problems that even the police can’t rely on it, your lawyer for drunk driving might be able to make a case.

The court concluded that a 4th amendment violation occurred, creating a precedent that helps a lawyer for drunk driving protect his or her client. The issue was whether the exclusionary rule was an appropriate measure. Courts have previously ruled that the “fruits of an illegal arrest should not be suppressed.”

The exclusionary rule is not a given right that a lawyer for drunk driving can use to protect clients. It applies only to cases of appreciable deterrence. Plus, the benefits to deterrence must outweigh the costs.  The extent to which the exclusionary applies also depends on the culpability of the law enforcement conduct. To trigger the exclusionary rule, police must act sufficiently deliberate that exclusion can momentarily deter it, and sufficiently culpable that such deterrence is worth the price paid by the legal system. (more…)

DWI Defense Lawyers Should Look at the Impacts of Arizona v. Gant on DUI Defense

DWI defense lawyers should be well versed in how Arizona v. Gant impacts DUI cases. In this case, the court reconsidered and modified its holding in New York v. Belton, which applied to the search incident to arrest exception to the 4th amendment warrant requirement to vehicle searches.

In Gant, the court decided that when an officer has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of a motor vehicle, he may also search the passenger compartment of the vehicle. Of particular interest to DWI defense lawyers, it follows that the officer may also search any containers within the passenger compartment that is within the reach of the arrestee, whether it is open or closed. The court ruled that Belton had been too far reaching, resulting in countless unconstitutional searches of many clients of DWI defense lawyers that had taken place over the 28 year period the ruling held.

The court ruled that an officer’s ability to search all items in a vehicle violated the 4th amendment, giving police officers the right to just rummage through the personal property of anyone they’d like. Before the Gant ruling, a mere traffic violation could result in violations of personal privacy. DWI defense lawyers have more to work with as the personal privacy rights of motorists are better protected.


DUI Attorney Offices Should Look at the Impacts of Melendez vs. Massachusetts on DUI Defense

Any DUI attorney worth his legal fees will know how Melendez vs. Massachusetts impacts DUI defense. The defendant was charged with possessing and trafficking cocaine, evidenced by several bags that the prosecution held as evidence. The defense had 3 certificates of analysis that said the mentioned evidence was cocaine. The defense argued against the inclusion of the evidence, as its validation came through certificates and not a presentable witness who could be cross examined, as a DUI attorney might cross examine an arresting office in a DUI case.

The objections were overruled. The issue was whether the Crawford case applied in the Melendez case and whether the affidavits would be testimonial and whether the defendant had the right to cross examine this testimony under the 6th amendment. The court ruled that affidavits were testimonial statements, and that analysts served as witnesses under the 6th amendment. These analysts could therefore be cross examined by a DUI attorney.

More specifically, the Melendez case does illustrate that there are better ways for a DUI attorney to challenge or verify the results of a scientific test, as the Constitution guarantees only a single way- that of confrontation. A DUI attorney still does not have the right to suspend the Confrontation Clause when a preferable trial strategy is available. In this regard, the court rebuffed the state’s claim that scientific testing is both “neutral” and “reliable.”

As any DUI attorney knows, forensic science is not free from manipulation. It shouldn’t be taken at face value. In the issue of a DUI case, the level of intoxication forms the crux of the trial. This evidence needs to be based on more than police officer testimony, but other factors such as breathalyzer and performance of sobriety tests. A DUI attorney has the duty to question all available evidence in a court of law in the interest of his or her client.

Confrontation is designed to weed out not only fraudulent testimonial evidence, but incompetent evidence as well. The Melendez decision rejects the notion that the documents in question qualified as traditional official or business records. The court decided that by requiring testimonial evidence to substantiate the scientific determinations that “the sky won’t fall.”

A DUI attorney knows how the Melendez case makes it clear that the operator of the state’s chemical test is a necessary witness. However, the court does not make people who routinely work and maintain the lab equipment expert witnesses. The court does not need to hear the testimony of anyone who tested the sample or the testing equipment.

In the case of DUI law, the testimony of the acting police officer is often all a DUI attorney has to work with. When it becomes a matter of one word against the other, a conviction becomes that much more difficult. Police testimony can be called into question if not backed up by empirical evidence such as a Breathalyzer.

A good DUI attorney will know how to use the conclusions of the Melendez case to question key evidence in a DUI trial. Put your rights first by knowing how the court has decided in the past.

A Good Criminal Lawyer Saves You the Hassle of an Ineffective Assistance of Trial Counsel

Any criminal lawyer will tell you that the ineffective assistance of trial counsel is one of the most frequently raised claims in state and federal post conviction petitions. Considering the state of most state funded counseling these days, this is hardly surprising. Many state attorneys refuse to investigate their cases before trial, never meet with their clients before the trial, or fail to file any motions or object to inadmissible evidence during the trial. The circumstances of your case come down to the quality of your criminal lawyer. Choosing one may be the most important legal decision you make.

The American Bar Association released a recent conclusion that indigent defense in this country has reached a state of crisis. Many defenders are forced to handle well over a thousand cases a year, more than 3 times the ABA says a criminal lawyer can adequately handle. In this challenging tax economy, public defenders in many communities simply don’t have the funds to give their clients the adequate defense the Constitution demands.

Added to this burden, the very structure of our state and federal post conviction review systems further contributes to the problem instead of providing a solution. Procedural efforts to review it make it difficult for defendants to challenge the effectiveness of their criminal lawyer. As a result, there is really no way of prosecuting criminal lawyer incompetence, which leads to a system of unaccountability on the part of a community funded criminal lawyer.

Problems with State Post Conviction Review Procedures
Many states require defendants challenging the ineffective assistance of their trail counsel must do so through post conviction review, rather than on direct appeal. Most states limit direct appeal to statements and actions directly reflected by the trial record. Because proving ineffective assistance of trial counsel often depends upon a criminal lawyer and his or her failure to do something, the legal proceedings need to take in more than just the direct appeal.

Defense attorneys are given very short time windows to file such motions (often in as little as 30 days), so the defense they get to represent them is often the same one who is the subject of the motion, which creates a conflict of interest. It is very difficult to make a case in such the limited time period allowed.

Clients also have difficulty making legal claims asserting ineffective assistance of trial counsel because they have no Constitutional right to counsel on post conviction review. A client who must then represent himself during a post conviction review has to blindly deal with filing deadlines, substantiating evidence and prosecuting the case, which is beyond the capabilities of most of the accused.

The value of a quality criminal lawyer
The solution is to be represented by a reputable criminal lawyer from the beginning. While state funded lawyers may fulfill the state’s need to provide legal counsel, it is far from adequate legal counsel. If you need a criminal lawyer, any investment you can make in your case is worth the effort. A good lawyer can create a much more beneficial outcome that will make post conviction review completely irrelevant.

Money for quality legal advice is money that is well spent. When considering your future, get the best criminal lawyer you can afford, even if it means taking out a loan or other investment to fund the means.

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