Articles Posted in Drugs

In a recent court of appeals case in Arizona, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction and sentence related to possession of dangerous drugs for sale. When the defendant was originally charged, he filed a motion to suppress incriminating evidence on the grounds that the detective’s search warrant that led to his arrest was legally insufficient. The court denied the request, the trial went forward, and a jury found the defendant guilty. The defendant appealed, arguing the court wrongly denied his motion to suppress.

The higher court agreed that the defendant’s argument should have been given more consideration, and it sent the case back down to the lower court. The trial court then held a hearing and denied the defendant’s motion to suppress for a second time. Again, the defendant appealed the lower court’s decision.

Facts of the Case

The main officer involved in this case received an anonymous tip that the defendant was selling drugs from his home, and the officer began to investigate. After some initial investigations, the officer requested a search warrant from the court, which would allow him to go into the defendant’s home without the defendant’s permission. The court issued the search warrant, and the officer went to the defendant’s house and found evidence of drug operations happening inside. The defendant was quickly arrested for possession of dangerous drugs for sale.

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Last month, an Arizona court of appeals reversed a lower court’s decision not to expunge a marijuana conviction from a defendant’s record. The defendant had asked for the conviction to be stricken from his record, but the trial court originally denied the defendant’s request. Looking more closely at the case, however, the court of appeals reversed this decision and directed the lower court to remove the conviction from the defendant’s record.

Facts of the Case

In 2013, the defendant in this case and one of his acquaintances were driving one night when a police officer stopped them and began questioning them about where they were headed. Upon further investigation, the officer discovered marijuana in the car, and he learned that the defendant was going to California to buy more marijuana. The officer arrested both the defendant and his acquaintance.

The defendant was charged and convicted of conspiracy to transport marijuana for sale, and he finished the terms of his parole in 2018. In 2022, the defendant filed a petition to expunge, or remove, the conviction from his record. The trial court denied that petition and the defendant promptly appealed.

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In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals, the defendant asked for his 2017 plea deal to be vacated and reconsidered. Five years ago, the defendant pled guilty to several crimes and was sentenced with a marijuana conviction on his record. Given the 2020 legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona, the defendant argued that his original sentence should be reconsidered. Looking at the facts of the case, the higher court ultimately agreed with the defendant and ended up sending his case back to the lower court so that it could recalculate the defendant’s sentence.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant pled guilty in 2017 to two counts of sex trafficking. When the defendant and the State were negotiating his plea deal, the defendant admitted that he had seven previous felony convictions on his record – one of these offenses was possession of marijuana in 2004. Because of the combination of these previous convictions and the 2017 convictions, the defendant was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In 2020, however, Arizona voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. As part of that new law, adults that had been previously convicted of marijuana use could be eligible to have those convictions removed from their records. Here, the defendant filed a petition before the court after this 2020 law passed, arguing that his 2004 marijuana conviction should be vacated. If the 2004 conviction were removed, he argued, the defendant’s overall sentence would be less than the 12 years he received.

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In a recent case before an Arizona court of appeals last month, the defendant asked that the court reconsider an unfavorable verdict from the trial court. Originally, the defendant was convicted of selling or transporting dangerous drugs. On appeal, she argued that the lower court unfairly denied her motion to suppress; because the officers that found drugs in her car did not actually have the right to conduct a traffic stop, she argued, the evidence should not have come in at trial. After reviewing the record of the case, the court of appeals affirmed the original verdict.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, investigators had been looking into the defendant and her acquaintance for months, suspecting they were engaged in the sale of dangerous drugs. While the investigators were conducting surveillance, they watched one day as the two individuals loaded their SUV and got on the highway. Because the investigators had been looking into these two people for a while, they did not want to make it obvious that they were following the car or that they suspected there were drugs in the car.

The investigators asked local police officers to conduct something called a “whisper stop”, which is when a law enforcement agency can ask another agency to find an entirely different reason to stop and search a vehicle so that the driver and passengers are not clued into the fact that they are under surveillance. Here, the local police officers received the call that the investigating agency needed a whisper stop, so they followed the car and suspected it was speeding by 5 miles per hour.

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Many state and national campaigns attempt to combat driving under the influence; however, they primarily focus on alcohol and illicit drug use. As such, many people are unaware that Arizona law permits prosecuting individuals for driving under the influence (DUI) involving legal prescription medications. The cases generally focus on the person’s impairment rather than the drug’s concentration in their system. The penalties for prescription drug DUI in Arizona can range and may involve:

  • Jail time
  • Probation
  • Driver license suspension
  • Community service
  • Ignition interlock device installation
  • Treatment programs
  • Traffic school
  • Fines and assessments

Even those taking the medications as directed may face Arizona DUI charges. Two DUI statutes, ARS § 28-1381(A)(1) and ARS § 1381(A)(3), govern prescription medication DUIs. ARS § 28-1381(A)(1) refers to cases involving “impairment to the slightest degree.” This statute makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired by any drug or alcohol. This zero-tolerance law strictly prohibits driving under these conditions, regardless of whether the driver has a legal prescription. ARS § 1381(A)(3) involves “driving with an illegal drug in one’s Body” and generally refers to non-prescribed prescription medications and street drugs.

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An appellate court recently issued an opinion in an appeal stemming from a case involving a woman convicted of an Arizona drug DUI offense. According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was sentenced to concurrent prison terms after a jury convicted her of several drug and driving offenses. Amongst several issues, the defendant appeals arguing that the trial court improperly admitted an inflammatory photograph of the victim. The case arose from an incident where, while allegedly under the influence of several intoxicants, the defendant drove her vehicle around Tucson, causing several collisions. The accidents resulted in damage to seven vehicles, injuries to one victim, and the death of another.

The defendant argued that the trial court abused its discretion by admitting a photograph of the victim. The photograph was a picture of the victim when she was alive and unrelated to the accident. The defendant contends that the photograph “inflamed the jury,” resulting in a prejudicial error. In this case, the trial court did instruct the jury not to be “influenced” by sympathy or prejudice.

Under Arizona law, a defendant may establish a fundamental error by proving that the error:

Recently, a state appellate court issued a hard-to-swallow opinion in an Arizona drug possession case. The case illustrates police officers’ power when conducting a traffic stop, especially while investigating DUI charges.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, two women were leaving a casino by car. A police officer noticed that the vehicle had only one working headlight and pulled the driver over. The defendant, who was the front-seat passenger, sat and waited as the officer conducted the investigation.

Initially, the officer asked if he could search the car. The driver declined, explaining that it was her son’s car. However, the driver allowed the officer to search her purse, where he found nothing. Then, the officer informed the driver that he suspected she was under the influence. He removed the driver, performed field sobriety tests, and determined that she was not impaired.

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In Arizona, it is against the law to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Routinely, clients facing Arizona DUI charges are surprised to see that their blood or breath contained as much of a substance as the test results indicate. Thus, this post is dedicated to informing motorists about the length of time that many of the most common drugs stay in the human body. To start, it is important to note that alcohol is the only drug that police can detect through a breath test.

Thus, if police officers suspect someone of driving under the influence of alcohol, they may ask the driver to take a breath test. However, if police suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs, they will most often take a blood test. Blood tests will detect both drugs and alcohol but breath tests will only detect alcohol.

The next critical fact to keep in mind is that someone can be found guilty of driving under the influence of prescribed medication. Occasionally, therapeutic doses of some prescription medications will not put someone in jeopardy. However, certain prescribed medications, if found in sufficient levels, can result in a DUI conviction.

An Arizona appeals court recently affirmed a defendant’s DUI convictions in a DUI case involving the use of prescription drugs, that the defendant claimed were used as prescribed. According to the evidence presented at trial, the defendant was driving down a two-lane road one evening while speeding and passing other vehicles. At some point, the defendant lost control while passing two cars, and crashed into two motorcycles. At the scene, an officer asked the defendant to submit to a blood draw, and he agreed. His blood tested positive for lorazepam and methadone. The level of both drugs in the defendant’s blood were within the therapeutic range.

Lorazepam is a prescription drug, often used to treat anxiety. It can impair driving, by making a driver drowsy and slowing the driver’s reaction time, even when taken as prescribed. The defendant testified that he was prescribed lorazepam, and had taken it two days before the crash. Methadone is a narcotic, generally used to treat heroin addiction. It also can cause sleepiness and can slow reaction time, even when taken within the therapeutic range. The defendant took a dose of methadone at a clinic on the morning of the crash. There is also evidence that the combination of the two drugs can also compound their effects.

At the conclusion of the trial, the defendant was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault, two counts of criminal damage and two counts of driving under the influence. The defendant appealed his convictions and sentences. On appeal, the defendant argued that the evidence at trial did not support the DUI convictions, because, while he had both lorazepam and methadone in his body, he was using the drugs as prescribed.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona drug case involving allegations that the defendant possessed methamphetamine with the intent to deliver. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss whether the results of a blood test that was administered to the defendant on the day of her arrest were admissible. The court concluded that they were.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was pulled over after a police officer noticed that the car the defendant was driving did not have a temporary registration tag displayed. During the traffic stop, the officer noticed that the defendant exhibited signs of intoxication. The defendant was placed under arrest for driving under the influence.

After the defendant’s arrest, the officer conducted an inventory search of the car, which was registered to the defendant’s sister. During the search, the officer located an eyeglasses case inside a coat pocket. Inside the eyeglasses cases was a pipe and some methamphetamine. The defendant was taken into the police station, and her blood was taken. The results came back showing that the defendant had methamphetamine in her blood. The defendant was then charged with transportation of a dangerous drug for sale, possession of a dangerous drug for sale, possession of a dangerous drug, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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