Phoenix Criminal Law News - Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney

August 2010 Archives

The Consequences of Imitating a Controlled Substance

Most people in Phoenix are aware that possession and distribution of a controlled substance is illegal in Arizona. However, few people may realize that it's also illegal to distribute (or possess with the intent to distribute) or manufacture an imitation of a controlled substance. So, a person in Arizona can actually face serious legal trouble if he or she sells a mixture of fake cocaine that is perhaps comprised of a mixture of salt, sugar, and energy powder. Such a substance would be considered an imitation of a controlled substance.

Arizona Revised Statute 13-3453 states that any person who manufactures, distributes, or possesses with intent to distribute an imitation controlled substance as a controlled substance is guilty of a class 5 felony. In Arizona, class 5 felonies are punishable with up to one and one half years in prison, if the person has no prior convictions.

The Process of Arraignment in Maricopa County

The first stage of a courtroom-based proceeding in a criminal case is the arraignment. It's common for a defendant to be nervous during the arraignment, but there's no need to be since the process is very simple. Sometimes, the arraignment lasts just a few short minutes in Maricopa County.

During a typical arraignment, a person charged with a crime is called before a criminal court judge. FindLaw states that judge then reads the criminal charges against the defendant and will ask if the defendant is in need of a court-appointed Phoenix criminal defense attorney.

What is Negligent Homicide?

In the state of Arizona, a person commits negligent homicide if there was criminal negligence in a case that resulted in the death of another person. Many Phoenix criminal lawyers find it interesting that negligent homicides in Arizona can apply to an unborn child, even though unborn children are not usually protected under the law in many U.S. states.

Section 13-1102 of the Arizona State Legislature provides a definition of the negligent homicide crime in the Grand Canyon state. A negligent homicide is considered the least severe of murder and manslaughter charges because the killing of another person is usually seen as unintentional in negligent homicide cases.

Community Members Surprised by Albert Guzman's Arrest

Albert Guzman, from Scottsdale, was arrested this week after police received phone calls saying that the man was molesting a young girl in public view. However, the Arizona Republic reports that Albert Guzman is a well-known community member  with a good reputation as a father and volunteer at Kiva Elementary School.

The 63-year-old man was booked on one count of sexual conduct with a minor and public sexual indecency after a witness called 911 to report an incident at the Scottsdale greenbelt in which the caller told police that the man had the little girl up in a tree with her underwear and pants off.

Police Arrest 40 people in Tempe Heroin Bust

Tempe police officers concluded their seven-month long investigation in what they call Operation Dark Carnival, named after the tiny balloons that drug dealers are using to stash one-fourth grams of heroin. The Arizona Republic reports that this time around police were able to arrest 40 people in the heroin sting, including 15 suspected heroin dealers from 10 different trafficking organizations.

Heroin certainly seems to be hot trend on the drug market these days. According to the Arizona Republic, heroin dealing has skyrocketed in the state of Arizona and across the country over the last few years. Since 2007, Arizona heroin seizures have reportedly soared by more than 50 percent. Authorities confiscated 342 pounds of heroin in 2007, compared to 297 pounds in 2008 and 105 pounds in 2007.Across the border, Mexican heroin production has shot up by 342 percent with 8.6 metric tons being produced in 2004 compared to 38 metric tons in 2008.

Police Arrest Richard Schrodt on Suspicion of Identity Theft

A 21-year-old from Mesa has been accused of stealing the identity of a soldier in Iraq to rent an apartment and buy a new car. According to the Arizona Republic, the suspect Richard Schrodt allegedly got a duplicate driver's license in Richard Burke's name. Police say that the suspect knew Richard Burke from high school and knew that he was away in Iraq. Because the two men looked very similar, the suspect was allegedly able to get away with getting the duplicate driver's license from DMV.

Halloween Burglar Justin Pare Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

The man that pistol-whipped two people in a Phoenix apartment complex last Halloween has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars and three years of probation after his release from prison. Perhaps the city of Phoenix can breathe a sigh of relief for Halloween 2010.

Associated Press reports that the sentencing took place on Tuesday after 34-year-old Justin Pare was found guilty of first-degree burglary, aggravated assault and unlawful flight. The man was reportedly wearing a black and white skeleton mask on October 31 when he entered an apartment through a window and demanded money from a man. The victim was struck in the head with a gun once he told the masked man that he did not have any money. The same thing happened again to another victim that was in the courtyard of the Phoenix apartment complex.

Shari Tobyne Confesses to Killing Husband

Shari Tobyne, of Scottsdale, confessed that she accidentally shot her husband near 87th Street and Mountain View Road in the Northeast Valley. The Arizona Republic now reports that the woman has been charged with first-degree murder and abandoning a human body since her confession.

The case of Dwight Tobyne's death in 2009 has been a mystery for quite some time. The man was reported missing on July 21 of this year after the couple's three adult children said that they had not heard from their father since November. The mother had told her children that their father was in Mexico because of a pending legal separation from their marriage. Yet after an investigation, Shari Tobyne said that she accidentally shot her husband of 35 years when she was attempting to shoot herself.

Donald Steen Sentenced in Sexual Abuse Case

Donald Steen was found guilty of nine out of the 15 sexual abuse counts that he was charged with. However, the 40-year-old man will still likely spend the rest of his life in prison, even though he was found not guilty of six of the criminal charges.

Associated Press reports that the Phoenix-area man was actually sentenced to seven consecutive life prison terms  after he was convicted of several charges involving the repeated abuse of a young girl. He was found guilty of nine counts of sex crimes that included sexual abuse, sexual conduct with a minor, child molestation, and furnishing obscene material to a minor.

Tucson Bank Robber Turns Himself In

After 27-year-old Kenneth Thompson was accused of robbing a bank on the north side of Tucson earlier this month, the Arizona Daily Star reported that the man decided to turn himself into the Tucson Police Department.

The man now reportedly faces charges of robbery and unlawful means of transportation in connection with the incident, in which the man was suspected of robbing a Bank of the West branch. Employees of the bank said that the suspect entered the bank and demanded money from a teller through a note. He then allegedly fled the area with an undisclosed amount of money.

Judge Rules Alleged Murderer Incompetent for Trial

Joe Sauceda Gallegos has been accused of murdering two children in Phoenix with a baseball bat two days before Christmas in 2008. However, the man has so far avoided first-degree murder charges because Maricopa County Judge Warren Granville recently ruled that the suspect was incompetent to stand trial.

The Arizona Republic reports that the man accused of murdering 7-year-old Jesse Ramirez and 10-year-old Edwin Pellecier did not understand the charges against him and could not assist in his defense, according to the judge's ruling. Yet the court found that Joe Gallegos is a danger and that he is likely to suffer or inflict serious physical harm on himself or others if he wasn't immediately hospitalized. Hence, the man was ordered to go to the Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center for an inpatient evaluation.

Couple Arrested After Having Sex in Parking Garage

A man and woman were caught bumping uglies in a Scottsdale parking garage earlier this month and could be facing criminal charges over the incident.

ABC News reports that a security guard at the Scottsdale Quarter's parking garage asked the couple to leave the garage twice before calling police to the scene, but that the couple refused to leave and simply moved to another floor of the garage when approached by the security officer.

Phoenix Business Owner Juan Bojorquez Suspected of Identity Theft

Identity theft is perhaps one of the most scariest offenses for crime victims, mostly because there are many people in the United States who are unaware that they've been targeted with such a crime. Identity theft suspects also face serious consequences for such an offense, but may not realize the severity of the crime that involves using another person's personal information. The Phoenix region sees many identity theft crimes each year.

The Arizona Republic reports that the business Bojorquez Pool Service LLC, near Van Buren Street and 43rd Avenue in Phoenix, had numerous employees using fake Social Security numbers to secure their jobs. Last week, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested the business owner Juan Bojorquez who had also been accused of using another person's Social Security number. The suspect reportedly told investigators that he was from Mexico and that he was in the U.S. illegally.

Woman Accused of Weird Form of Shoplifting

When using the self-checkout aisle at Home Depot, an easy way to cheat the system is to simply switch the bar code on the product you're buying with a new bar code for a cheaper product. However, this is a form of theft and an offender of such a crime can face serious consequences.

Jamie Miller is one person who has come to realize this, since she has been accused of placing new bar code stickers on four items at a recent trip to the Home Depot in Surprise. The Arizona Republic reports that the 31-year-old woman allegedly saved about $635 when she checked out of the store. A $209 heater reportedly dropped to $3.98 while a $98.97 biological pump filter dropped to the price of $4.94. She also allegedly paid $5.87 for a $189 water heater and $5.97 for a $159 leaf blower.

Man Accused of Giving Minors Tattoos in Exchange for Sex

The Avondale man that was charged with unlawful tattooing is now facing criminal charges that are much more severe, including charges of sexual conduct with a minor, child prostitution, and attempted child prostitution. The Arizona Republic reports that 38-year-old Juan Lara Jr. has been held at the Fourth Avenue Jail on $50,000 bond since his indictment on June 23.

In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for a minor to get a tattoo without the physical presence of the minor's parent or legal guardian. However, Avondale police records show that Juan Lara agreed to give a girl a tattoo in exchange for sex. A second girl reportedly told police that the man had propositioned her to have sex in exchange for tattoos, but that she instead paid for the tattoos in cash. The indictment also names two other minors that Juan Lara allegedly tattooed and propositioned for sex.

Father Charged With Murder After Son Dies

A father in the Tucson area was arrested on child abuse charges after an investigation stemming from an incident in which deputies responded to a call about a boy being injured. Associated Press reports that the San Xavier District dad told authorities that his 6-year-old son had fallen down a flight of stairs when the deputies arrived at his home on August 3.

However, the Pima County Sheriff's Department said that a further investigation concluded that the boy's injuries were not consistent with the supposed fall down the stairs. Investigators had apparently become suspicious after they found the boy with bruises and a head injury.

Mother Megan Serrano Arrested After Drugs Were Found in Home

Twenty two year old mother Megan Serrano said that she sold methamphetamine from the Pinal County apartment she shared with her twenty month old daughter to help pay for her rent. The Arizona Republic reports that after a search warrant was executed at Megan Blaine Serrano's home, she was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment and various drug charges, including possession of marijuana, of drug paraphernalia and dangerous drugs for sale.

NFL Player Mark Fields Arrested For Domestic Violence in Az

Former NFL player Mark Fields was arrested earlier this week in Goodyear after allegedly beating the mother of his 6-year-old daughter outside the child's daycare. The Arizona Republic reports that several witnesses told police that Mark Fields beat his ex-girlfriend and had her in a choke hold.

The NFL star, who used to play for the Carolina Panthers, was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on felony counts of aggravated assault and interference with education, and misdemeanor counts of endangerment and disorderly conduct. Booking documents stated that the football player has had a history of domestic violence and that the frequency and intensity of incidents is increasing. The couple also has had an ongoing legal dispute over child custody.

Robert Wiesner Arrested in Murder of Lorraine Long

Do orders of protection prevent a victim from another attack? FindLaw states that there are studies that show issuing a protective order or arresting a person who commits an act of domestic violence does reduce future incidents of attacks. However, a recent case in Arizona shows that even with a protective order, acts of violence can still occur.

The Arizona Republic reports that 62-year-old Lorraine Long was pronounced dead after being shot in a Sierra Verde Ranch home in Seligman. Detectives arrested Robert Wiesner, from Scottsdale, in the shooting. Apparently, the alleged murder victim had obtained an order of protection earlier this year to restrict Robert Wiesner's contact with her.

Surprise Teacher Accused of Stealing From School Drama Club

A drama teacher named Don Evelyn Fuller at Valley View High School in the town of Surprise allegedly stole $1,300 from the school's drama club. ABC News reports that the teacher has been arrested and could be facing criminal charges over the reported theft.

The suspect Don Evelyn Fuller reportedly confessed to police that she stole the money during a school performance but said that she had been trying to return the money. Now, it looks like she'll need a Phoenix criminal lawyer to be defended of any theft charges that she may face.

Teen Alen Belford Shot in Phoenix Shooting

ABC News reports that 18-year-old Alen Belford was shot in a South Phoenix parking lot last Saturday and that an off-duty police officer working at a business complex heard the nearby gunshots, which led to the officer becoming involved in a foot pursuit.

Yet police officers have still not been able to identify the suspects involved. Phoenix police officers detained and questioned two people who they believe could have been involved in the shooting, but the two people were released pending a further investigation. Authorities are not asking from the public's help in identifying the people responsible for Alen Belford's death. People who know information about the shooting have been asked to call Phoenix police or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS.

Bleacher Theft Becomes Problem in Mesa

School bleachers aren't an item that most thieves would even think of stealing, but Mesa police officers say that people have made off with more than $20,000 in seating sections of the aluminum grandstands since last May in the Mesa Unified School District.

The East Valley Tribune reports that high schools and junior high schools on the east side of Mesa have been targeted by the bleacher thieves. Some of the schools that have had their bleachers stolen include Mesa and Skyline high schools along with Brimhall and Taylor junior high schools. Police say that people are unscrewing the metal bleachers from the main portion of the grandstands or the metal steps leading up to them.

Avondale Police Arrest Young Suspects in Graffiti Case

Avondale police officers arrested a 12-year-old boy in connection with a nearly two-month graffiti spree and are still searching for an 18-year-old suspect involved in the case. According to the Arizona Republic, the suspects have been accused of vandalism in the Coldwater Ridge neighborhood between the intersections of Avondale Boulevard and 119th Avenue, and Buckeye Road and Durango Street.

Teenager Arrested For Burglary

Scottsdale police officers received a phone call yesterday about a burglary that occurred in the area of 10000 East Gilded Perch Drive around 1:00 a.m. The Arizona Republic reports that police were then able to link a 17-year-old boy to the crime when police located the car that he was allegedly driving in an elementary school parking lot near the burglary victim's home.

Why would a vehicle be parked in an elementary school parking lot at 1:00 a.m.? This is probably what the responding officers were wondering, as they said that the car seemed out of place in a school parking lot. After the 17-year-old suspect supposedly made incriminating statements, he was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Judge Finds Marissa DeVault Competent to Stand Trial

A Gilbert woman accused of beating her husband to death with a hammer was found competent to stand trial for a first-degree murder charge based on a doctor's report. But was the slaying a form of self-defense?

The Arizona Republic reports that Marissa DeVault allegedly beat her husband with a hammer to the head, but only after enduring years of physical, sexual and mental abuse from her husband Dale Harrell. The woman claims that she attacked her husband after he had raped and strangled her that same evening.

AZ Border Agents Find 43 Pounds of Cocaine Stash

Federal border agents working at a Highway 95 checkpoint in Yuma found a large cocaine stash in one man's vehicle. The man's vehicle and drugs were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for processing, while the suspect Jose Jhonathon Rivera was arrested.

The Arizona Republic reports that the Arizona border agents seized 43 pounds of cocaine, which is worth an estimated $1.4 million. Authorities were able to recover the drugs after a drug-sniffing dog at the Yuma checkpoint led the agents to a hidden compartment in the vehicle, which reportedly had 18 bundles of cocaine.

William Willis Indicted in Child Porn Case

As we stated in an earlier blog post, the state of Arizona is known to have some of the strictest and most heavily enforced child pornography laws in the United States. The possession of child pornography is illegal almost everywhere, but in Arizona a person can be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor when he or she is found to be in possession of child pornography, which is considered a class 2 felony under Arizona Revised Statute 13-3553.

Yet the Arizona Republic reports that another resident of the Grand Canyon state was recently indicted on 10 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor after a large stash of child pornography was found at his Glendale home last month. Authorities were able to find the child porn in William Keith Willis' home after police obtained a search warrant.

Mary Slutz Accused of Shooting Her Husband

A neighbor of a Phoenix couple said that she heard what sounded like fighting, furniture being thrown, and gunshots in the home. It seems like a domestic dispute got way out of hand, where a woman could face criminal charges over the incident

The Arizona Republic reports that a Phoenix woman was arrested on Tuesday morning after police suspected that she shot her live-in boyfriend during an argument. The 49-year-old woman Mary Slutz and her 26-year-old boyfriend when the argument started. When police arrived at the Phoenix home, Mary Slutz told the law enforcers that she had shot her boyfriend multiple times. However, the victim told police that he had actually shot himself

Gilbert Police Arrest Car Burglary Suspects

Gilbert police officers are now warning residents to lock their cars and keep valuables in their cars out of sight, since a string of car burglaries recently occurred in the area. According to the Arizona Republic, officers arrested three suspects in connection with the car burglary, theft, and criminal damage, after the police department received a tip from a resident who claims that he saw three men trying to break into his neighbor's vehicle in the 3400 block of East Elgin Street.

Chandler Police Officers Shot in Undercover Operation

Five people have been charged with first-degree murder in connection with an incident in which three Chandler police officers were shot in a Phoenix home, one of which was killed in the shooting. Associated Press reports that the five suspects are now being held on $3 million bond at the Maricopa County Jail. Two additional suspects died during the incident and one other suspect was critically wounded.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Makes SB 1070 Arrests in Sweep

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is cracking down on illegal immigration by enforcing the state's new immigration law SB 1070, but such efforts might be difficult to conduct since a federal judge blocked a portion of the law last week that would have made it a misdemeanor offense for immigrants in Arizona not to carry registration papers.

But the Arizona Republic reports that the portions of the law struck down by Judge Susan Bolton are not stopping Joe Arpaio from netting SB 1070 arrests. Last week, the sheriff's department conducted a two-day Valleywide enforcement effort, which led to 36 arrests that included six people who were suspected of being in the country illegally.

Many Arrests Among SB 1070 Protesters

Arizona's new immigration law, which took effect, last Thursday, has been quite controversial across the state of Arizona and across the entire country as well. Some Arizona residents are still outraged with the passage of SB 1070 and are voicing their opposition to the law with protests in the streets.

Yet ABC News states that there have been several protesters arrested, many of which could be facing a great deal of legal trouble if they are formally charged with a crime. On July 29, when the law took effect, police arrested 13 people in the city of Tucson for blocking downtown streets. Tucson police officers said that 12 of the protesters were cited for failing to disperse following police commands.

Justin Thrasher Found Guilty of Fatal Hit-and-Run

Leaving the scene of an accident is never a good idea. Whether you're involved in a high-impact crash or simply hit a parked vehicle, it's best to stay at the scene and obey the law so that criminal charges can be avoided.

One Scottsdale man could be spending many years in jail from charges that all stem from a hit and run incident. The Arizona Republic reports that a Maricopa County jury found 27-year-old Justin Thrasher guilty last week of second-degree murder, hit and run with death/injury and one count of endangerment. The defendant will be facing a stiff sentence at his hearing scheduled for August 30 in Maricopa County Superior Court.