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Post-Conviction Remedies

In Arizona, a defendant who pleads guilty cannot file a direct appeal. Instead, his only remedy is filing a Rule 32 Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Most of my clients think that winning a petition for post-conviction relief is always a good thing. Unfortunately, in some cases, people may end up being worse off for having filed a successful petition. If I file a rule 32 petition arguing that a trial court did not have jurisdiction because the statute of limitations had expired, the case essentially goes away if the court of appeals agrees with me. Similarly, the state likely will not bother with a case if essential evidence is suppressed due to constitutional issues or if a criminal statute is held unconstitutional. However, a number of clients … Read entire article »

Filed under: Post-Conviction

Is the Town of Gilbert in the Business of Stealing Cars?

If you are caught driving and have a revoked or suspended driver’s license, Gilbert will impound your car. The same is true if you never had a driver’s license, if you are arrested for Extreme DUI or Aggravated DUI, if you are under the legal drinking age and have any alcohol in your body, or if you are operating a vehicle without a certified ignition interlock device and you’re supposed to have one. Gilbert’s policy isn’t uncommon in Arizona. What is uncommon, at least as far as I can tell, is what Gilbert does after it takes your car. Take a second and read this. To me, it sounds like all you have to do to get your car back is show up on the 30th … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, Government Rants

Felony Flight

In Arizona, a driver who “willfully flees” or “attempts to elude” a pursuing official law enforcement vehicle using an audible signal and lights is guilty of a class 5 felony. The only in-depth analysis of what “willfully flees” and “attempts to elude” mean came in a 1993 opinion from the Court of Appeals of Arizona, Division One. In State v. Fogarty, an officer tried to stop the defendant, who had been passing other traffic in a forty-miles-per-hour zone. The officer thought the defendant was going about fifty miles-per-hour and caught up with him at a red light. The light turned green, and the defendant drove ahead at about forty-five miles per hour. The officer turned on his flashing red lights, and after the defendant failed to … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes

No Current Registration

When an officer stops you and requests to see your registration, there are a number of possible outcomes. If you give the officer your registration and everything checks out, you’re obviously okay. On the other hand, if you do not have proof of registration because the car is not registered, you will owe hundreds of dollars. If you don’t have your registration in the vehicle but it is registered, you will likely owe well over a hundred dollars even if you provide the court with proof of registration. Although I personally think it’s absurd to fine someone for not having proof of something an officer could easily look up, the law is at least logical. You were obligated by law to carry something in your vehicle, … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes, Government Rants


I could make a very long list of idiotic misconceptions police officers have about drugs, but my favorite by far is the legendary marijuana green-tongue. Believe it or not, police officers are actually trained to look for a green tongue as an indicator of marijuana use. In fact, the dreaded green-tongue even made it on the NHTSA’s website. I couldn’t make this stuff up. I seriously doubt there is any real scientific research supporting that theory. Sure, the NHTSA claims it’s true and cites plenty of studies, but I’m not about to read every single resource they cite to see how exactly they came to the conclusion that a green-tongue means recent marijuana use. Can anyone point me to the specific study? If there … Read entire article »

Filed under: Government Rants


People often call me to see if I can “expunge” an old criminal conviction for them. In Arizona, it’s called “setting aside” a conviction, and it’s a fairly simple process in most cases. Interestingly, it’s usually more difficult to seal a record of an arrest than it is to set aside a conviction. The only statutory provision on point merely permits a court to enter on the record that the person has been cleared and order that law enforcement agencies and courts no longer release the record. It seems a little strange to me that it takes more work to to seal a wrongful arrest than it does to set aside a rightful conviction. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Statutes

The Court's Mistakes

Imagine a case where the prosecution and defense reach an agreement by the first pretrial conference. At that pretrial, the defendant enters a change of plea in front of a judge who sets the matter for sentencing. The defendant, who is in custody, will be released at sentencing if things go according to plan, and all of the parties involved are extremely satisfied with the result. At sentencing, the judge can’t find the plea in the file. The court, on its own, continues the matter for a brief period of time. However, at the next sentencing, the court still has not found the plea. Another brief continuance. At the next sentencing, when the defense attorney tries to take issue with parts of the probation … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

Juror Questions

Every once in a while I come across a ruling that’s so unfair I can hardly believe what I’m reading. State v. Detrich, a 1997 Arizona Supreme Court case, contains one of those rulings. The defendant argued that the trial court erred in refusing to use his proposed jury questionnaire, which included questions about jurors’ racial attitudes, biases, and prejudices. The Court ruled against the defendant because he did not show that the trial judge’s failure to submit his questionnaire to the jury “resulted in a biased jury or rendered his trial fundamentally unfair.” The Court claimed the defendant offered no evidence of bias or prejudice of the jurors. Although the defendant argued there was no way of knowing whether they might have had some kind of racial … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases

Internet Research

Sometimes, doing research on Lexis, Westlaw, or in a law library can be needlessly time-consuming. Treatises, handbooks, and encyclopedias are helpful, but they aren’t always organized intuitively or updated often enough to provide guidance when I’m dealing with a rapidly-evolving issue. Although it’s essential to verify everything and ultimately base any argument or advice on proper sources, occasionally I’ll use a simple internet search to get an overview of an issue. This is one of my favorite legal websites. It’s very interesting and seems to turn up frequently with Google search terms relevant to the confrontation clause. The sixth amendment is a fairly tricky area of law, and new cases tend to pop up relatively often. It’s nice to know that I can keep abreast … Read entire article »

Filed under: Practice in General

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 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arizona Cases, Arizona Statutes, Procedural Rules

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