Friday, August 2, 2019

How Is a Sex Crime Defined in Arizona?

How is a sex crime defined in Arizona? It is a serious matter if you are charged with a sex crime in this state. It may even come with potentially life altering consequences. You could be looking at a lifetime of monitoring, probation, and a lot of hassle. Sex Crime

What Charges are Considered Sex Crimes?

In the state of Arizona, there are a lot of criminal charges that fall under the category of sex crimes. Many of these require registration in the sex offender database of the state. Here is a list of some of the charges that are defined as sex crimes:
  • Sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Child sex trafficking
  • Luring a minor for sexual exploitation
  • Commercial sexual exploitation of a minor
  • Unlawful disclosure of explicit images
  • Taking a child for the purpose of prostitution
  • Voyeurism
  • Violent sexual assault
  • Unlawful sexual conduct
  • Sexual misconduct by licensed professionals
  • Continuous sexual abuse of a child
  • Bestiality
  • Child molestation
  • Sexual assault
  • Sexual conduct with a minor
  • Sexual abuse
  • Public sexual indecency
  • Indecent exposure
  • Kidnapping (with intent to inflict sexual abuse)
  Note that there are other charges that also fall within the category of a sex crime in Arizona. The sentencing varies from minor misdemeanors all the way to a serious felony that could require a lengthy prison sentence that can last up to 27 years or, in some cases, life imprisonment. At any rate, you will need the aid of an experienced criminal defense attorney in order to deal with any charges of this kind. We recommend Robert A. Dodell, Attorney At Law, in case you find yourself charged in the state of Arizona.

Defining the Terms

In the state of Arizona, a sexual assault is defined as an event where a person knowingly and intentionally engages in oral or sexual contact or intercourse without the consent of the other party. This act is also commonly referred to as rape. What if an act does not meet all of these conditions? If that is the case, then the charge falls under sexual abuse. Take note of the following details:
  • There must be a penetration of the penis, vulva, or anus using anything bodily or otherwise for it to constitute sexual intercourse.
  • The intercourse is without the consent of the other party involved.
  • Oral sexual contact involves any oral contact with the anus, penis, or vulva.
  • Intimidation, fear, and threats may be used by the assailant when a sexual assault occurs.

Age of the Victim

The age of the victim at the time of the incident is a huge factor considering the sanctions and penalties levied on abuses committed toward children. If the victim was under the age of 15, then that translates to longer sentences. A rape conviction in Arizona will require prison time anywhere from 5 to 14 years. However, if the victim was under the age of 15 then the defendant will likely face a sentence that could last anywhere from 13 to 27 years, or even life.

Aggravating Circumstances

There are items or acts that may aggravate the sentence under Arizona law. For instance, if a date rape drug was used then an additional 3 years will be added to the sentence. If a serious physical injury was inflicted on the victim during the commission of a sex crime then the sentence can be raised to 25 years to life in prison.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

Sexual exploitation of a minor is also known as child pornography under state law. It occurs when an individual purchases, transports, sells, develops, duplicates, photographs, receives, transmits, films, or records any depiction of a minor engaged in sexual acts. This charge is considered as a class 2 felony. It carries with it a sentence that lasts 10 to 24 years.

Indecent Exposure

An indecent exposure can occur when people expose themselves to others inappropriately or even recklessly. That exposure is without regard of whether the other parties will be alarmed or offended. Note, however, that this charge does not cover mothers who are breastfeeding.

Need Legal Advice

There are plenty of offences that fall under the term sex crime in the state of Arizona. If you have been charged with any of these, then you will need legal advice from an experienced and results-driven sexual crimes defense attorney. We recommend Robert A. Dodell, Attorney At Law. With more than 30 years of experience, the nuances of criminal laws and statutes in Arizona will be explained to you as clearly as possible and you may even work your way toward reducing your sentence.  

The following blog post How Is a Sex Crime Defined in Arizona? is available on write up on the Robert Dodell Blog

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment in Arizona

Is there a difference between an order of protection and an injunction against harassment in the state of Arizona? Note that both of them are protection orders, but there is a particular difference between them in Arizona law. Threatening or Intimidating Criminal Defense  

Order of Protection vs. Injunction Against Harassment

The biggest difference between these two protection orders is to whom the order applies. An Order of Protection will apply if you have a familial kind of relationship with the other party. For instance, this kind of order applies to spouses, former spouses, a person you have lived with or are currently living with, a person with whom you had a child, and other relatives that are related to you because of marriage or through blood. On the other hand, you can file an Injunction Against Harassment only on people with whom you have no familial relationship. If there is no family relationship between the two parties, then this is the protection order that you should be seeking. This means that this protection order can be used against your coworkers, neighbors, club members, people in school, and even acquaintances.

How to Complete a Petition for These Two Protection Orders

You basically follow the same procedure when you file a petition for either an Injunction Against Harassment or an Order of Protection. The following are the steps that you need to complete:
  1. Submit your contact information and other relevant information. This includes your address and your phone number. In case the defendant (i.e. the person who you need a protection order from) would request a hearing, the court and your attorney can contact you. This information will be kept confidential.
  2. You must have the address of the defendant. It has to be a physical address and not just a PO Box. The order must be served to the defendant for it to be effective. You can request an injunction but it will still be ineffective if the order is not served to the defendant.
  3. Remember that filing something in court simply means that you have filled out and submitted to the court all the necessary paperwork. It does not mean that the protection order you petitioned is already effective. Once the judge grants the order, and it is served, the protection order is effective.  The defendant can challenge the order and ask for an evidentiary hearing on the order. It is the judge at that hearing who will decide if your protection order should continue in effect or cancelled.
  4. Note that you will not have to pay any kind of filing fee. However, there are other fees that you will need to pay for. There is a fee for the private process server and there may be another fee that you have to pay to the constable.
  5. Once the judge issues your Injunction Against Harassment or your Order of Protection it needs to be served to the defendant before it can be effective.
  6. What happens if the defendant violates either of these two orders of protection? If that happens you may immediately contact law enforcement who will enforce the protection order. Law enforcement officers and the prosecutor will decide whether or not to file charges.
  7. Remember that it is only the court who can dismiss Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment in Arizona. The court is also the only party that can change its terms. If you feel that certain terms need to be modified, then you need to contact the court for either dismissal or modification of any of these protection orders.
  8. Note that both an Injunction Against Harassment and an Order of Protection in Arizona are only effective for one year after they have been served on the defendant.

Understanding Harassment Laws

Note that a single incident does not necessarily constitute an act of harassment. It may be troubling to you, but it needs to be a repeated act or event for it to be classified as a form of harassment. Under Arizona law, harassment doesn’t have to be physical in nature. It can be in the form of verbal aggression or any other form of altercation. Therefore, many things could be considered a type of harassment. If you need to file a petition for an Order of Protection or an Injunction Against Harassment in Arizona, we highly recommend the law offices of Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law. Take advantage of my 30 years of experience in both prosecution and defense.  

Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment in Arizona is republished from www.azcrimlaw.com

Saturday, July 27, 2019

How Effective is Rule 11 in Arizona?

Rule 11 can be used in the state of Arizona if it is suspected that a defendant is mentally incompetent. However, there is some debate today if Rule 11 is truly effective in this state. Why is that? According to the ACLU (American Council of Civil Liberties), more than half of the population in Arizona prisons are actually suffering from mental disorders. That has led some to believe that Rule 11 doesn’t really apply or isn’t at all effect in this state.

What is a Rule 11 Hearing?

Simply put, a Rule 11 hearing in Arizona is a proceeding where a doctor will determine if a defendant is truly mentally incompetent to stand trial. To identify such a mental deficiency, the doctor will have to determine 2 things:
  1. The defendant is really unable to understand the court proceedings that are being undertaken against him.
  2. The defendant lacks the mental capacity to assist his own attorney with his defense in the proceedings.
The doctors who participate in the hearing will ask some probing and searching questions. They will ask the defendant to state what he understands is the role of the judge in the hearing. They will also ask if the defendant knows what the duties of the jury are. Other questions include a test of understanding for the role of both the defense and prosecuting attorneys. Here are a few sample questions:
  • Do you understand what a jury trial is?
  • What is your level of understanding of the current court proceedings?
  • Do you understand what a plea agreement is?
  • Are you aware of the charges made against you?

What Can a Defendant Do?

If you are the defendant in this case or if your loved one is, and it is suspected that Rule 11 applies in this situation, then you should talk to your defense attorney. The defense attorney will gather evidence of mental deficiency or determine if the required criteria are present. After that, a motion will be filed in court so that the defendant can be evaluated. The court will then send the defendant to two different doctors. The doctors will evaluate the defendant according to the procedure that was described above. After that, they will each render their own opinion. Their opinions will then be sent to court.

Agreement/Disagreement between Doctors’ Opinion

If the doctors agree that the defendant is competent to attend trial, then the defendant goes back to court. If their competency opinions are split, then the defendant will need to go to another doctor. The third doctor’s opinion will determine if the defendant goes back to court or not. If the doctors agree that the defendant is not competent then he or she could be sent a mental health institution for care. There is also the possibility that the doctors will believe the defendant is not competent ‘at the time of the trial’. However, in this case, they may determine that the defendant can be treated or educated and then restored to full competency. If that is the case, the defendant will be sent for treatment via therapy, education, or potentially through medication. This could last for up to 6 months, after which the defendant will be sent back to court and the judge will inquire how the restoration process is going. After successful restoration the defendant will have to answer for the charges.

Dusky v. United States

The US Supreme Court set out the scope of Rule 11 in this case. Dusky was a schizophrenic who was charged of kidnapping and rape. He was afterwards convicted, but the Supreme Court sent him back for retrial. The justices determined that a short mental status exam is not enough to determine competency. It is only fair that a full evaluation should be made. It should also be noted that people with mental illnesses can still be aware of the court proceedings and be able to consult with their attorneys in their defense. Note that Rule 11 can be used in the following proceedings:
  • Entering a plea
  • Standing trial
  • Assisting a lawyer in one’s defense
Remember that having a mental illness is not a way for anyone to “play” the system. You can’t use it as an excuse so that you won’t have to answer for charges in court. However, if a defendant is truly mentally incompetent then Rule 11 may apply in the State of Arizona. If you believe that Rule 11 applies to you or a loved one, then you need competent legal advice from a lawyer with decades of experience in Arizona law. The law offices of Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law is experienced in handling many different criminal cases.    

The following article How Effective is Rule 11 in Arizona? was first published to Choose Robert Dodell Law Offices

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Arizona Lawmakers Approve Ban on Cellphone Use While Driving

In April of this year, Arizona became the 48th state to prohibit the use of mobile phones and other handheld mobile devices while driving. The bill was signed on April 22, 2019 by Republican Governor Doug Ducey, which will give effect to a statewide ban on using handheld devices while driving starting January 2021. While police officers are not yet allowed to issue tickets to violators, they can already issue warnings. Once the law takes effect on the first day of January 2021, first-time violators will be issued tickets that will require them to pay a civil penalty from $75 to $149. Violators will have to pay a civil penalty between $150 and $250 for a second ticket. Want to make sure you’re well-informed of this new law? Here are some things you should know about the statewide cellphone ban for Arizona drivers.

Are You Allowed To Talk While Driving In Arizona?

The law specifically states that any kind of cellphone use—talking, texting, sending emails, accessing social media accounts, etc.—will be prohibited unless their devices are in hands-free mode and are activated by voice.

Here are the specifics:

  • It is prohibited to hold the phone in any way, including holding it up on the shoulder or supporting it with any body part.
  • Any text-based communication or activity, including emails, instant messaging, and texts is not allowed.
  • Recording or watching videos is not allowed.
  • It is also prohibited to take or view photos on a cellphone while driving.

The following information highlights exemptions:

  • Swiping mobile device screens to accept or make calls is allowed.
  • Talking on the phone is allowed when using an earpiece or any headphone device. Using a wrist-worn device is also allowed.
  • Voice-based communications are allowed (i.e. speakerphones, typing text through mobile voice function, etc.)
  • Using a built-in GPS device while driving is allowed.
  • Using handheld mobile devices are allowed while the vehicle is stopped. The vehicle can either be parked or stopped at a traffic light.
  • Using a handheld mobile device to call 911.
To be clear, this ban will apply not only to mobile phones but also to other portable wireless devices used for communication, such as tablets. Certain exemptions apply to officials who are responding to emergencies and to people who are in need of emergency help. The law does not include two-way radios, built-in devices, in-vehicle security devices, or navigation devices.

What About City Laws?

Even before the ban on cellphone use was approved, there were cities in Arizona that already prohibited the use of mobile phones while driving. Some of the cities that prohibited using handheld devices are El Mirage, Fountain Hills, Glendale, Phoenix, Surprise, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Tempe. These laws will remain in effect until the new state law replaces them in 2021.

What Other States Prohibit Texting While Driving?

For more than a decade, there were a number of proposed laws that sought to ban the use of mobile phones while driving. There was already an anti-distracted driving law in place in Arizona, but it didn’t specify the use of mobile handheld devices. Texting while driving was prohibited only for newer drivers, particularly teenagers. Now that Arizona has taken this step towards banning all cellphone use, there are only two remaining states that still don’t have a statewide texting ban for all drivers—Missouri and Montana. Using a mobile phone while driving is a serious safety issue and now a civil traffic offense.  Arizona has been added to the list of states that had already implemented a statewide ban. Although it is a civil traffic offense, this does not mean that a driver cannot be charged with a criminal offense when the mobile phone violation results in an accident or other serious misconduct.  If you have been charged with an offense, Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law is there to assist you through your troubles.    

Arizona Lawmakers Approve Ban on Cellphone Use While Driving is available on call Robert A. Dodell at (480) 860-4321

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

How Can I Get My License Back After a DUI?

Partying is not a crime. However, drinking and driving is not a good combination. In the US, it is estimated that 28 people die every day from car crashes caused by alcohol consumption. This roughly translates to one person dying every 51 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The statistics are bad enough to understand why driving while intoxicated is strictly enforced and why the law requires the suspension of a driving privileges. Drug Use Lead to a DUI

What Is DUI?

DUI means driving under the influence. Depending on which state, it may be called other names such as Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired (DWI), Operating Under the Influence (OUI), or Impaired Driving.

How Do You Get Arrested For DUI?

Most of the people who drive under the influence of alcohol or other substances violate speed limits or drive erratically. Once a police officer spots an offending vehicle, the officer trails that vehicle and signals to the driver to pull over. Once pulled over, they question the driver. If driver is suspected to be intoxicated, he or she is subject to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. The legal limit for BAC in Arizona is 0.08 percent, though even smaller percentages may already impair a person’s ability to drive. In fact, a 2015 report from NHTSA found that 1,809 people were killed in car crashes related to alcohol intoxication where the drivers’ BAC was less than 0.08 percent. If the person is found to over the BAC legal limit, his or her driver’s license will be taken away and he or she will be charged with a crime. Even if a driver refuses to get his BAC tested, the officer will likely get a warrant for a blood test and driver’s license and driving privileges would still be suspended anyway. Upon conviction, a person may be sentenced to receive punishment —monetary fine, community service, or jail / prison. This depends on the severity of the incident and whether or not the person being convicted is a first-time or repeat offender.

How to Get Back Your License

Once a DUI offender gets released, their license isn’t immediately reinstated. They may have to undergo several steps depending on which state they’re in. For first-time DUI offenders, police officers will replace the offender’s license with a temporary one. The offender must  request a hearing from the Motor Vehicle Department or the license will be suspended in 15 days.The temporary license will be go until the ruling from the administrative law judge of the validity of the suspension.  Note that failure to request a hearing will lead to a suspension of the driver’s license, after the 15 day grace period. Suspension of a driver’s license varies in time.  It may last from 3 to 12 months depending on several factors: (1) the level of intoxication of the driver, (2) whether or not the driver has had previous DUIs, and (3) whether there was a refusal to take the blood test. There may be multiple steps to follow for people to get their license back after a DUI.  Each case is different. Basically, the person will be required to complete all the requirements set forth by the Motor Vehicle Department, which could include payment of any fines that caused a license to be suspended; proof of insurance from the vehicle; an ignition interlock device; completion of an alcohol rehabilitation program; and reinstatement fees. Note that alcohol rehabilitation programs vary depending on the level of intoxication at which the driver was arrested, alcohol history and prior DUI history.  It could range anywhere from attending an alcohol safety education for a several hours to signing up and committing to a long term alcohol rehabilitation and detox program. This may seem like a strict form of punishment, but it’s a good way to remind people to drink responsibly to avoid consequences that result from a DUI.

When You May Need To Hire A Lawyer

Scottsdale Courts take DUIs seriously, particularly because it often proves fatal to other motorists. Being convicted of a DUI means potentially losing your license, paying a large fine, or sometimes serving time in jail or prison. An experienced DUI lawyer may not guarantee that your DUI case is dismissed, but he or she could play a role in gaining you a reduced sentence. In case you need one at some point, Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law is an excellent choice.    

How Can I Get My License Back After a DUI? Find more on: call Robert A. Dodell at (480) 860-4321

Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law

10601 N Hayden Rd, #I-103

Scottsdale, AZ 85260

(480) 860-4321

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Monday, June 10, 2019

When You May Want to Waive Your Right to a Jury Trial

The US Constitution recognizes and protects the right of every citizen to a jury trial (Art III, Sec. 2, and the Sixth Amendment). But, you can also waive your right for a jury trial if you prefer a bench trial, where only the judge decides on the verdict. In general, people would not want to waive their right to have a jury trial. But, there may be cases when that will be the best option to take.

When to Waive Your Right to a Trial by Jury

According to the courts, any person can waive his or her right to a trial by jury in a voluntary and intelligent manner.  A conviction will discarded if it is shown that a defendant was not informed clearly of the difference between a jury and bench trial. Thus, you must show the court that you are aware of the implications of your actions if you are waiving your right to a trial by jury. For instance, you may need to confirm your understanding that a jury will be composed of a dozen people from your community. You may also need to confirm that you understand your right (through your lawyer) to participate in selecting the members of the jury, and that all the jurors must be unanimous in convicting you for the crime. If you waive your right, the decision on your innocence or guilt will be in the hands of the judge. Once you convince the court that you have full understanding of what you’re doing, it will be then be up to the prosecutor to agree to have a bench trial instead. There are various reasons you may consider waiving your right to be tried by a jury of your peers. Some wish to waive the jury trial because they believe that the jury will most likely not be sympathetic or compassionate; some believe the judge will follow the law more closely and not be swayed by emotion and then some just feel uncomfortable with a jury.  Whatever the reason, this should be fully discussed with the attorney before you decide whether to waive the right to a jury trial.

Waiving Your Right to Be Tried by a Jury

As mentioned, the court will only allow you to waive your right in a voluntary and intelligent manner. Likewise, the court will show that you have been well-informed about the differences between a bench trial and jury trial.  The prosecutor must also agree. If he disagrees, the trial by jury will proceed, as the State has the same right to a jury trial as the defendant. When considering waiving a jury trial for your criminal case in Arizona, contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney At Law to help you plan your next move. Coming up with a sound strategy is perhaps the hardest part of defending a criminal case. After all, your freedom and reputation are at stake. Having an experienced and reputable lawyer by your side can help you achieve the best possible outcome.

The following article When You May Want to Waive Your Right to a Jury Trial Find more on: azcrimlaw.com

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Arizona Helping Hands, Foster Care and Adoption

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” With that powerful quote in mind from Charles Dickens, The Law Office of Robert A. Dodell and staff toured Arizona Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that helps families with children in foster care.  President & CEO, Dan Shufelt, kindly escorted us through their facility. Law book and wooden judges gavel on table in a courtroom or law enforcement office. Lawyer Hands holding business card with text Foster Care Our law office works on multiple adoptions a year for families who are either foster parents or relative or non-relative placements of children who are wards of the court and in the legal custody of the Department of Child Safety (DCS). It’s fulfilling to assist bringing families together via adoption, but we wanted to take it one step further and make sure these selfless families knew about organizations like Arizona Helping Hands.   So, what does Arizona Helping Hands help with?  Well, it seems like everything!   If a foster family or DCS placement needs a bed or crib for a child, Arizona Helping Hands provides one with an incredible donation from Mattress Firm. Over 2900 beds were donated in one year alone.  But that’s not all! Arizona Helping Hands also assists with clothing, diapers, books, etc., for foster families and DCS placements in need. These families need only bring their Notice to Provider from DCS, fill out the Arizona Helping Hands’ “in need” application or call for a service appointment for this assistance.  https://www.azhelpinghands.org/basic-2/   Our tour of the Arizona Helping Hands facility blew us away. The quiet and modest office in front completely belied the magic in back. The large warehouse, where donations of all kinds are stored in neatly packed aisles, was abuzz with activity and excitement. Volunteers lined up, assembly-style, chatted and laughed as they efficiently packed goods at long tables between the aisles. Some volunteers packed backpacks filled with school supplies for kids transferring to a new school. Over 6,500 backpacks were filled last year with age-appropriate supplies and given to foster children as the result of requests made by DCS placements, court appointed special advocates (CASA’s), DCS and tribal caseworkers.   Other volunteers packed personal care kits filled with basic toiletries such as shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc., for foster kids frequently placed in care with literally nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s harder still, when you’ve been removed from the only family you’ve ever known and it’s your birthday. Arizona Helping Hands thought of that too. We watched in awe as personalized birthday gift bags for kids in DCS care were swiftly assembled with gift-wrapped goodies including toys, books and other treats. Sometimes even a bicycle accompanies the birthday gift bag!  Families can apply online for a birthday donation at https://www.azhelpinghands.org/birthday-dreams/ 2-4 weeks in advance of the child’s birthday. Of course, Arizona Helping Hands does not stop at birthdays; holiday toy drives are a must as well. Over 30,000 toys were donated last year! https://www.azhelpinghands.org/toydrive/   Whether you’re a DCS placement in need or you want to donate your time, goods or money to Arizona Helping Hands, reach out to them. They’re wonderfully organized and accomplish so much with just over 7% overhead and virtually no government support. Aside from corporate donations, most of the support is from individual donations via the Foster Care tax credit program, where a taxpayer receives a dollar-for-dollar tax credit against their Arizona State income tax liability for annual contributions. The credit is $1000 for a married couple or $500 for a single person.  https://www.azhelpinghands.org/aztaxcredit-html/ It is a wonder thing when you have a foster child in your home, or when you give of yourself to an organization that lightens a foster child’s burden. Check out how the Robert A. Dodell adoption team can help you and your family.

Arizona Helping Hands, Foster Care and Adoption was originally published on get in touch with us