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» Entries tagged with "plea"

Wasting Scottsdale’s Resources

If I lived in Scottsdale and paid city taxes, I’d be picketing the city attorney’s office right now. Some of their policies waste public money like it’s going out of style. I’ve complained before about prosecutors offering pleas with no benefit and defense attorneys enabling them by letting their clients plead, but Scottsdale elevates the non-bargain to an art. They’ve institutionalized extreme ignorance about the concept of bargaining altogether, and the results are amazing. If you’re charged with regular DUI and your blood alcohol falls in the uppermost part of the range, they offer you a plea to 3 days of jail. You’d get 1 day losing at trial. When they aren’t anti-negotiating, they typically offer you the same thing you’d get at trial. Across … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors

This Ain’t Texas

D.A. Confidential put up a post yesterday about the role of a judge and the widely held belief among criminal defendants that speaking to the judge might somehow help their case. The judge he appears in front of apparently gives a speech instead of taking a side in plea negotiations. D.A. Confidential concludes his post with these words: A long docket this morning, and I bet at least one inmate will ask to speak to the judge, hoping he’ll sweeten the deal and take the defendant’s side in plea negotiations. The judge won’t, of course, he’ll give his usual speech. But think about it the other way around. Imagine if the judge weighed in on our side, pressured the defendant to take our deal. That possibility, I trust, makes it … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Courts, Prosecutors

Rethinking the Plea

I work with all kinds of different prosecutors. When it comes to plea bargaining, the differences often become particularly apparent. A lot of prosecutors send out a letter with the first plea offer saying how any subsequent offers will be substantially harsher. They tell you the first offer goes away as soon as they have to do work, and they may view counter-offers as rejections. They have to think about your proposal, don’t they? Plea negotiations are a game where the plea isn’t intended to fairly resolve the case based on its unique facts and the unique history of the defendant, but to minimize workload and maximize the efficient use of state resources. Some prosecutors make offers that plainly indicate they fear trial and will do almost anything … Read entire article »

Filed under: Prosecutors

Quit Enabling Them

I’m often disappointed with other defense lawyers, but I keep it to myself. Not this time. What I’ve been seeing over and over again in city and justice courts is just too embarrassing to tolerate. I’ve written before about prosecutors offering pleas that no defendant in his or her right mind should ever accept. I’ve also written before about Arizona’s DUI drug statute. I haven’t written about how defense lawyers are enabling and even encouraging prosecutors to offer worthless pleas to defendants in drug DUI cases. A plea should give a defendant some benefit. Otherwise, there’s little if any reason not to go to trial. Prosecutors seemed to know that before, as the standard offer for a first time drug DUI in many courts used to … Read entire article »

Filed under: DUI, Prosecutors

A Victim of the Drug War

I recently had a settlement conference for a client I really like. He’s a nice guy who never ceases to make my days a little brighter each time I see him. When I first met him and asked if he had any criminal history, he told me, “I have a terrible criminal history…terrible!” He said it like he was Richard Pryor in the middle of a stand-up routine, but it turned out he was right. Indeed, he was no stranger to the system. Based on his honesty, however, I knew was going to like him. He had a lot of prior felony convictions. Looking through his past, though, I could see that he never really hurt anyone except himself. He was an addict, and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Clients, Government Rants

Judges Aren't Always Right

A week or two ago, I saw a judge make a ruling completely contrary to the law. It happens, but usually not so obviously. The judge was hearing a number of pleas at once. Two of the defendants were in custody and pleading to aggravated DUI. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 28-1383(D) and (E), certain types of felony DUI require that a defendant spend a certain amount of time in prison before being placed on probation. In Arizona, prison and jail are different. Jails are run by counties and cities, and felony defendants spend their time in county jail pending resolution of their criminal matters. Prisons are run by the state. You can only go to prison if you are sentenced. Both of those pleading defendants were in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, Courts, DUI

Wasting Tax Dollars

I currently represent a client charged with possession of marijuana. By itself, that’s not unusual. What is unusual, however, is that the state claims he had weed in prison. He just finished serving his 18th year, and he’s got a little over 56 years left to go. He’s middle-aged. Why would the state choose to prosecute such a case? What else can they do to him? He’s going to enjoy his field trips to court. If he goes to trial, it’s going to feel good to wear street clothes and take the restraints off, even if it’s just for a little while. What kind of plea is a “lifer” going to want to take? The prosecutor knows all of this because I told him. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Courts, Prosecutors

Worst. Plea. Ever.

Until last September, if you were convicted of extreme DUI in Arizona, you would have to do thirty days in jail, all but ten of which could be suspended. Now, you must do the full thirty days. On top of that, if you’ve had another DUI within the past seven years, you are looking at a whopping 120 days of jail. None of it can be suspended. I recently had a client who got a DUI just before the law changed and had a prior DUI slightly over seven years old. By “slightly” I mean a matter of days. Because of the date of the offense, hers was a typical extreme DUI. No special enhancements applied, and neither did the crazy new law. Based … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, DUI, Prosecutors

Arizona's Unusual Statute of Limitations

Although Arizona courts have on multiple occasions explained that statutes of limitations are to be construed liberally in favor of the accused and against the prosecution, in practice, that doesn’t make an awful lot of difference. According to at least one Arizona court, our criminal statute of limitations is explicit. Unlike most states’ statutes of limitations, which begin running at the time of the offense, it doesn’t begin to run until the state actually discovers or should have discovered the offense. The law allows some serious injustice to take place as long as it isn’t the state’s fault. A victim can wait as long as he or she pleases before going to authorities, and as long as there’s no reason the state should have known earlier, charges can … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, Procedural Rules

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