Things You Should Never Say to a Police Officer

There are few feelings worse than the sinking feeling in your stomach when you see flashing blue and red lights in your rearview mirror.

When getting pulled over, the last thing you want to do is get yourself into even more trouble by putting your foot in your mouth or saying anything offensive to an officer. Being difficult, aggressive, or condescending will only land you in deeper trouble with an officer and can even result in he or she tacking on extra charges to your ticket. When interacting with an officer, avoid all of the following behaviors and phrases if you want to stay on an officer’s good side.

“I wasn’t doing anything wrong”: It’s generally a good idea not to argue or don an aggressive tone with a police officer, because an officer’s penal decisions can often be based on how cooperative or accommodating a citizen is. To insist that you haven’t done anything wrong implies that the officer doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that condescending implication can sometimes land you in even more trouble.

“Baby/ Sweetheart/ Honey”: Sweet-talking an officer with these sort of affectionate nicknames undermines their authority and gives the appearance that you lack respect. Professionalism is key when interacting with an officer, so stick with “sir,” “ma’am,” or just plain-old “officer” when interacting with a cop.

“I was just trying to keep up with traffic”: This and similar statements invoke the classic “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you, too?” idiom, and coming up with excuses only betrays your nerves. A police officer does not view laws as flexible, so blaming your violations on the actions of others won’t change his mind about the illegality of your actions.

“My taxes pay your salary”: This indignant claim won’t carry much weight with an officer. Chances are, he or she won’t perceive you paying your taxes as a personal favor, considering the fact you as a citizen are legally mandated to do so. These sorts of statements also run the risk of sounding like bribery or a leveraging of the situation to get yourself out of trouble, which will only serve to irk and offend the officer.

“I’m in kind of a hurry here”: Insinuating that your time is more important than a police officer’s will only come across as offensive and condescending. Officers do not base their charges on situational context like if the violator in question is running late for something, and showing any sort of impatience or annoyance will put you on an officer’s bad side.

Any jokes about having a body in the trunk, a gun in the glove box, etc: These comments make it seem like you aren’t taking the situation seriously and belittle serious offenses. Officers are on guard at all times for any major trouble or potential violence in a criminal setting and take everything very literally, so they don’t take kindly to you belittling or making light of a serious situation.

Tip: Always keep be honest. Police officers are trained to detect giveaways that someone is lying, like blinking, touching one’s face, and avoiding eye contact. Testing an officer’s ability to tell if you’re lying is a dangerous game, and the repercussions for lying to an officer, which can include inordinate fees and even jail time, just aren’t worth the risk. Your best bet for getting out as hassle-free as possible is to comply with the officer’s demands and maintain a patient, polite tone at all times.

The experienced attorneys at Corso Law Group serve clients throughout Arizona, including the cities of Ahwatukee, Avondale, Buckeye, Chandler, El Mirage, Gilbert, Glendale, Goodyear, Mesa, Peoria, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sun City, Surprise, Tempe, Tolleson and Youngtown.

To schedule a free consultation, please visit www.corsolawgroup.com or call (480) 471-4616. Corso Law Group, PLLC is located at 14500 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 116 in Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260.

States Take Action Against Powdered Alcohol Substance Palcohol

Parents and politicians are up in arms over a powdered alcohol that they worry will find its way into the hands of underage children.

Approval was erroneously given to powdered alcohol by The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on April 18, and was voluntarily withdrawn 13 days later due to public outcry. However, Palcohol remains to be a concern for many states, several of which are banning it altogether.Palcohol

Palcohol is a lightweight powdered alcohol, originally developed by Arizona resident Mark Phillips, which is added to liquids or foods to make alcoholic substances anywhere, any time.

The Palcohol website has been cleared of its original content since the approval error in April, but it previously suggested that it should be sold just like any other alcoholic drink, meaning that it would be sold where liquid alcohol is sold, and buyers would have to be of legal drinking age to purchase it.

Despite these restrictions, opponents are worried that the powder will fall into the hands of minors who will abuse the alcohol by loading up drinks or snorting it.

“What’s to stop somebody from mixing two or three packets with that amount of liquid and really beefing up the alcoholic content,” Ohio State Representative Jim Buchy, (R) 84th District said regarding a proposed ban of Palcohol in Ohio according to ABC 22.

According to Gawker, the Palcohol website originally addressed the topic of snorting the product by admitting that it can be done.

“Yes, you can snort it,” the Palcohol website stated, “And you’ll get drunk almost instantly because the alcohol will be absorbed so quickly in your nose. Good idea? No. It will mess you up. Use Palcohol responsibly.”

Teens around the country are already experimenting with new ways to get drunk using vapors and powdered alcohol, which isn’t sold in the U.S. but can be found for purchase online from other countries, and suffering the consequences, CBS Denver reports.

“We’ve had a few patients that have been very intoxicated. One that I know of had to have a breathing tube put in and we had to breathe for them for a period of time because they were not breathing adequately on their own,” said Dr. Christopher Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at Denver Health in an interview with CBS Denver.

Growing concern for abuse of powdered alcohol and its effects have been grounds enough to ban Palcohol altogether from Alaska and South Carolina. New York, Vermont, Minnesota and Ohio are currently proposing legislation to ban it as well, ABC 22 said.

So what could the increasing popularity of powdered alcohol mean for Arizona residents?

For starters, regulation of the powder would be tough considering the substance is easy to conceal, leading to DUI arrests and even deaths from Palcohol abuse.

Arizona tied with Wyoming for the fourth-highest rate of alcohol-related deaths among its working-age population from 2006 to 2010, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, AZCentral reports.

And in 2012, the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility reported 227 total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in Arizona, with 29 fatalities reported as minors.

While it seems powdered alcohol could negatively affect Arizona and other states that are already troubled by alcohol abuse, the impact of powdered alcohol on Arizona citizens and law enforcement remains unclear, but it is important to understand your DUI rights and laws despite these uncertainties.

The Arizona DUI defense attorneys at Corso Law Group do everything in their power to protect defendants and advocate for their rights. They have the experience and expertise to deal with DUI charges in Arizona and will fight to get the charges dismissed.

Arizona Supreme Court Overturns Vague Marijuana DUI Laws

In April, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that drivers with traces of marijuana found in the body after a drug test can not receive DUI charges if the existing chemical compounds do not cause impairment.

This overturned the Court of Appeals decision from last year that gave prosecutors the right to charge marijuana users with DUIs without proof that they were physically impaired at the time of arrest.

Attention to this issue was brought to the higher court when an Arizona man was pulled over by police for speeding and unsafe lane changes. He admitted to smoking marijuana the night before and consented to a drug test where marijuana metabolites were later detected.

Chemical compounds left in the man’s body from previous marijuana intake were carboxy-tetrahydrocannabinol, or carboxy-THC, a non-impairing metabolite of marijuana that can remain in the body for up to 30 days after marijuana use, the Huffington Post reports.

The man was charged with two counts of DUI for driving while impaired and for driving with drugs in his system although the marijuana metabolites were non-impairing, the Arizona Department of Health Services said.

His case was appealed and the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the Arizona DUI law,A.R.S. 28-1381 that says it is unlawful to operate a vehicle while there is marijuana and its metabolite in the body, is too ambiguous because it does not distinguish between the different marijuana metabolites.

“We do not believe that the legislature contemplated penalizing the presence of a metabolite that is not impairing,” the court said of the DUI offense according to the AZDHS Medical Marijuana Program newsletter.

With states like Colorado and Washington, where recreational marijuana is legal, and 23 other states including DC that have legalized medicinal marijuana, including Arizona in 2010, legislation concerning DUI charges and how they should be applied to marijuana users are topics worth discussion.

For example, the Arizona Supreme Court ruling affects the 40,000 medical marijuana users in Arizona and out of state visitors who use marijuana by protecting them from wrongful DUI charges, the Arizona Capitol Times said.

Now, medical marijuana users in Arizona can drive without their legal actions being criminalized by law enforcement, however it is always important to understand your DUI laws and rights.

The Arizona DUI defense attorneys at Corso Law Group do everything in their power to protect defendants and advocate for their rights. They have the experience and expertise to deal with DUI charges in Arizona and will fight to get the charges dismissed.

Legislation Proposed to Keep Mentally Ill From Buying Guns

Lawmakers are wrestling with keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, but in doing so they walk a fine line between public safety and gun control.

Measures have been taken by members of Congress to prevent mass gun violence by preventing the mentally ill from purchasing guns and increasing police training on how to handle mental health crises.

Recently, new bills have come forth to reexamine current gun laws and the mental health aspect of current background checks used for prospective gun owners – but don’t call these bills gun control restrictions.

Although these efforts deal with guns and who gets to use them, Congress has had little success moving forward with gun control reform, so representatives are focusing instead on mental health reform and improving background checks.

“It’s not about what’s in their hand; it’s about what’s in their mind,” Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a practicing psychologist and chairman of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations said during a recent interview in the Washington Post.

“If guns caused mental illness, then we would treat that; mental illness needs to be treated, and it is not,” Murphy said.

Recent tragedies involving mentally ill offenders, like the Isla Vista shooting in California and previous mass shooting incidents in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut have signaled red flags to lawmakers that mental and behavioral issues of the people behind these tragedies desperately need to be addressed.

Under current federal statute, people with mental illnesses are only prevented from buying guns if they have been involuntarily institutionalized or if they have been deemed as mentally ill by a judge, The Hill reports.

This statute is too vague to keep many mentally ill people from buying guns, including the Isla Vista gunman Elliot Rodger, 22, who had a history of mental illness, but didn’t meet the criteria to warrant an involuntary hold (which would have deemed him unfit to buy a gun) by authorities despite alerts to police made by Rodger’s parents, the Hill reports.

Representative David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has proposed a bill that will add another preventative step to the gun purchasing process to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill. Cicilline’s legislation would prevent those who have been determined by a mental health professional to cause harm to themselves or others from purchasing guns.

Representatives Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) have also proposed a bill to expand the list of people prohibited from buying guns to include more mental health patients and convicted criminals, like spousal abusers and stalkers, according to The Hill.

In June, the House increased funding for the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, (NICS) by $19.5 million to help states enforce current laws used to determine which records should be entered into the background check system.

In Arizona, and other states including Ohio and Missouri, training of police officers on how to manage crisis situations involving the mentally ill has increased so that law enforcement and behavioral health professionals can work together in an emergency.

The 40-hour Phoenix Police Department training program will discuss how to defuse crisis situations and how to get the mentally ill the proper treatment from the behavioral health system rather than the criminal justice system when needed, Crisis Intervention Training Coordinator for the Phoenix Police Department Nick Margiotta said in an interview with KJZZ.

Rather than focusing on the firearms themselves, the mental health of the people buying and operating them are gaining attention in hopes of preventing gun violence and mass shootings.

Excessive Court Fines & Fees Leave Defendants Helpless

Thanks to an overhaul of legal cases that leave public defendants drowning in work, individuals charged with crimes are now drowning in court fees and facing jail time far more severe than is warranted.

Courts are scrambling to rake in defendants’ money by tacking on extra fees and charging interest, leaving people with lower incomes who are incapable of paying these inordinate amounts no choice but to compensate by accepting extensive jail time.

Public defenders in Missouri, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky have responded to modern avalanches of defendants in need of legal help by refusing to take on new clients. Louisiana especially struggles with funding crises thanks to the fact that most funding for their public defense comes from court fees and fines–an unreliable, mercurial source of income for a citizen’s legal right to a public attorney.

Numerous cases demonstrating these discrepancies between crime and punishment have been uncovered over the past year, like the case of Tom Barrett, who was sentenced to 12 months in prison for stealing one can of $2 beer after he couldn’t scrape together the money to pay court fees.

Other eyebrow-raising cases include that of 19-year-old Kyle Dewitt, who caught a fish out-of-season and was sentenced to three days in prison; and Iraq war veteran Stephen Papa, who spent 22 days in jail for public intoxication because the $25 he had to his name couldn’t cover the cost of court fees.

In these cases, the jail-time punishment is not a direct persecution for the original crime; rather, it is a manufactured, mandatory alternative for poorer defendants without the means to support themselves, let alone pay court fees. As a result, modern inmates are persecuted minorities, mentally ill individuals, and lower-class citizens, all of whom have no financial option but to accept jail time as an alternative to these inflated court fees.

In states like Louisiana, public defenders and prosecutors have incentive to push for inordinate fines and court fees; without this income, the public defense system loses its funding, and the system’s foundation collapses. Similar issues also reach the national level, as well, with 41 states that can charge room and board for jail and prison stays, 44 states that can bill offenders for their own probation and parole supervision, and 43 states, plus the District of Columbia, where it’s legal to bill defendants for their public defender.

These modern legal and fiscal discrepancies are giving lower-class citizens incentives to skip hiring an attorney altogether, leaving their legal fate in their own hands, or else carry around years’ worth of debt from court-appointed lawyers. Without a redesign of these legal structures that allow for punishment alternatives that leave money out of the equation–like court-mandated community service, for example–incarceration rates and personal debt will only increase among citizens with lower incomes who find themselves in U.S. courtrooms.