Six Reasons Why You Need to Obtain a Medical Marijuana Expert

Recently, I was asked to comment on the reasons why your case needs a medical marijuana expert. It’s a great read and incorporates plenty of other experts in the field.

Those who know me will tell you I always advocate for hiring the best expert you can find. It holds true when you build a home, have your car repaired and especially when you’re facing a criminal conviction. In a court of law, you can’t afford to go it alone. That’s why we’re here – to provide the best legal defense possible for you and your family.Recreational Marijuana in Colorado

So why do you need a medical marijuana expert? Here’s why:

A medical marijuana expert understands impairment.

In Arizona, our firm has seen landmark cases in which the expert’s opinion was a crucial deciding factor for the jury. Arizona is creating legal precedent with cases like Darrah v. Hon. Mcclennen/City of Mesa where we, as lawyers, are literally breaking new ground every day in the defense of individuals charged with marijuana possession or driving under the influence.

As with any new battleground in the legal field, the quality of your case can many times rely on the quality of the experts you choose to support your case. Experts on the effects of marijuana are commonly retained for DUI cases in order to first determine if the drug was present in the defendant’s system, and secondly, to quantify if the percentage found in the defendant’s blood was significant enough to prove impairment.

Experts responsible for supporting arguments involving impairment are typically highly educated criminalists and doctors who specialize in internal medicine – professionals well versed in the effects of marijuana and with extensive experience testifying in court.

marijuana expert can bolster your defense – and weaken the prosecution’s case.

Typically, the prosecution has no problem seeking a conviction for drug possession if they’ve proven the individual was in possession of marijuana. In this case, a marijuana expert can’t do much to bolster the defense. However, the defense can argue the individual legally obtained a medical marijuana card, and should not be convicted for drug possession based on state laws. Depending on the prosecutor and judge however, this argument won’t necessarily be impactful.

If a DUI is involved, the situation becomes much more complex, and the support of an experienced marijuana expert is crucial. Unlike alcohol, marijuana traces, or metabolites, remain in the system for longer periods of time. An expert is needed to discuss how metabolites affect the body and whether these trace amounts of the drug resulted in impairment.

Drug identification “experts” aren’t doctors.

Unlike marijuana experts such as criminalists and internal medicine doctors who defense attorneys call upon to help with a case, drug recognition experts (DREs) or drug identification experts typically focus solely on proving that drugs were present in the defendant’s system at the time of the arrest.

DREs aren’t nearly as qualified as doctors to speak on impairment, and aren’t highly educated on the medical aspect of whether the driver was impaired. They have undergone training and courses to “recognize” impairment based on their previous experiences as well as a person’s behavior and actions. That’s why highly qualified drug experts are so crucial if your client is ultimately charged. For us, science trumps what a DRE might see on the side of the road.

 

 

Arizona DUI Lawyers at Corso Law Group Predict Increased DUIs Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is one of America’s most cherished holidays, but it’s also one of the deadliest. This time of year marks an extremely busy travel period, and more people on the road means more accidents overall – especially drunk driving accidents, according to Corso Law Group.

“Most people assume New Year’s Eve is the most dangerous time of the year for drunk driving accidents, but that’s not true,” said Christopher Corso, owner and founder of Corso Law Group. “Thanksgiving is deadlier due to a significant amount of drunk driving crashes that occur over the holiday weekend.”

Drunk driving accidents increase by 30 percent during the four-day period spanning Thanksgiving Eve through the following Sunday, MADD reports. In fact, Thanksgiving Eve is a particularly dangerous time to drive and is commonly referred to as “Blackout Wednesday” or “Drinksgiving”.

“Police are well aware of the increased DUIs this time of year, especially during the holiday weekend, and they won’t hesitate to pull people over, make arrests and give out citations for drunk driving and any other traffic violations they witness,” Corso said. “Having an experienced and aggressive Arizona DUI lawyer on your side can make a difference.”

With millions of people expected to travel during Thanksgiving, Corso expects a high number of drunk-driving related accidents will take place this year based on data from previous Thanksgiving weekends. Last year, the National Safety Council estimated 418 traffic fatalities and 44,700 injuries took place over the holiday weekend.

Corso Law Group is an experienced team of legal professionals who have handled thousands of Arizona DUI cases. Founder Christopher Corso is a former Maricopa County prosecutor who can help with drunk driving cases as well as other criminal defense needs such as criminal speeding, CDL tickets, photo radar tickets, felony charges, drug possession, weapons possession, violent crimes and more.

To schedule a free consultation with Corso Law Group, please visit https://corsolawgroup.com or call (480) 471-4616.

Corso Law Group, PLLC is located at 14500 N. Northsight Blvd., Suite 116 in Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260.

A Shortage in Truck Drivers Leads to Potential Industry Changes

Not many people outside the trucking world are informed about the requirements, issues and current laws surrounding truck driving. Our firm works diligently with these individuals to help them find solutions when it comes to traffic violations, license issues and much more.

Recently, there have been several public scandals related to over-the-road commercial driving, and currently the industry is experiencing a shortage in drivers.

A recent study completed by the American Trucking Association revealed the shortage of U.S. truck drivers will increase to 175,000 by 2040 if no changes are made. Over the last several years, the number of licensed drivers has ebbed and flowed, according to Bob Costello, the American Trucking Association economist and leader of the study. According to Costello, the industry witnessed an improvement last year but has experienced yet another decline in 2015.

As a result of high retirement rates and continuous growth, the industry must find almost 90,000 drivers to meet growing demand.

The job isn’t an easy one though. Truck driving typically means time away from one’s family and long hours, a difficult sacrifice for many parents to make.

Kevin Poulter, a current truck driver says drivers “must be able to deal with the stress of traffic”, too. He knows a variety of weather, road conditions and driving laws can take a toll on drivers.

Long hours can mean good pay but in order to fix the shortage the American Trucking Association is suggesting changing the industry’s requirements and guidelines. The association is questioning specific requirements currently in place.

The current age requirement for long-haul driving is 21 years old, but the American Trucking Association suggests lowering it. They also suggest increasing the amount of time drivers are allowed to spend at home and suggest exploring hiring more military veterans.

According to the association, another piece of the problem is the view the outside world has of truck drivers and the lifestyle it permits. Improving the industry’s reputation will attract more drivers.

Corso Law Group knows truck drivers are passionate about their jobs, and need valid commercial driver’s licenses and a clean driving record to make a living. To learn how to protect yourself, please contact us today.

How Will Campus Carry Impact You?

Ever since the Campus Carry bill was signed into law in June, we’ve discussed how this controversial piece of legislature is being received. The law allows those who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses. As expected, not all Texans are showing their support.

University of Texas professor Daniel Hamermesh recently sent University President Gregory Fenves his letter of resignation due to the new law. Hamermesh strongly believes this law will not only bring more danger and violence to campuses, but specifically to his classroom, a large auditorium of more than 400 students.

In Hamermesh’s letter to Fenves he states, “I cannot believe that I am the only potential or current faculty member who is aware of and disturbed by this heightened risk.” He also believes the new law will make recruiting students and staff to attend and teach at the University of Texas much more challenging.

In ending the letter, Professor Hamermesh touches on one of the University’s most important aspects – its reputation. “Applying this law broadly will detract from the…national and international reputation of this University.”

While Hamermesh feels the risk of gun violence is now enhanced, he’s not the only one who has voiced his opinion publicly on the matter. Several student groups and other Texas professors have spoken out about the potential dangers this new law could bring.

On the other hand some say that students are already bringing concealed weapons onto campuses, this law is just making it legal. Texas state representative Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress) stated that even though those on campus are not allowed to do so, they already carry concealed weapons on them because it is legal outside of campus.

Big business is also getting involved, including national fast food chain Whataburger.

Campus Carry is set to go into effect at the start of the year on January 1, 2016. A separate license will not be required for those who already have licenses to carry a concealed weapon and no additional fee will be charged.

Can You Be Held Criminally Liable for What You Post on Facebook?

In today’s culture, people post information on social media that can be shocking and revealing. Behind a screen, users seem to feel safe and protected from the consequences of their publicly shared stories, photos and videos, even if they are illegal.

This raises the question of whether you can be legally liable for what you say on social media? Is a photo, video or status enough evidence for law enforcement to deem your action illegal?

While it depends on the case, the answer is yes. If what you post on social media is illegal, you have a significant change of essential incriminating yourself.

Whitney Beall, a 23-year-old from Florida recently received a DUI after live streaming herself driving drunk on Periscope. Police were able to track her location and arrest her while committing the crime. Hawaii resident Richard Gerlad Godbehere, Jr. wasn’t live streaming but similar to Beall’s actions posted a video of himself online driving while drinking. After the police were informed of the video, Godbehere was arrested for Possessing Liquor While Operating a Vehicle as well as Driving Without a License.

In cases such as Godbehere, although police didn’t physically catch him breaking the law, the video presented substantial evidence revealing illegal actions. This was also the situation with Jacob Cox-Brown, an 18-year old Oregon resident who posted a photo on Facebook of a parked car he had crashed into while intoxicated then left behind.

He captioned the photo “Drivin drunk…classic;) but to whoever’s vehicle I hit I am sorry. :P”, complete with careless character faces. Facebook friends of Cox-Brown soon informed authorities and due to his posted evidence, he was later charged with failure to perform the duties of a driver. Cox-Brown was not charged with drinking and driving though as the photo posted did not prove the teenager’s physical state at the time of the incident.

There have been several of these cases and the outcomes are typically similar, if you are presenting evidence of a crime you committed online in a public virtual setting, it’s essentially the same as you presenting the evidence to a law enforcement officer in person.

The digital age is still evolving and now more than ever, the online community is consistently growing. Law enforcement uses Facebook and other social media channels to solve cases, catch criminals and gather evidence for prosecution. A confession is still a confession, no matter where it takes place.

Arizona REAL ID Update

With 2016 just a few weeks away, Arizona identification cards and driver’s licenses are undergoing big changes to meet Federal REAL ID standards, and those that don’t will become much less usable.

Some of the newest and most important updates have to do with license photos.

Due to a new facial recognition software, ID photos must comply with a new facial recognition software that requires clear, high quality photos.

Those who wear eyeglasses everyday will need to go in for an updated, lens-free photo as the new software will not allow facial features to be covered in ID photos. Facial hair and religious items, like hijabs, are still allowed as long as they are worn daily and don’t cover up the eyes, nose or mouth.

This new facial-recognition system will examine photos of those applying for driver’s licenses and ID cards at Motor Vehicle Division offices and alert workers if one of the new photos matches with a photo that already exists in the database. Additionally, Arizonans will now need to get a new license photo every eight years.

This is intended to notify officials if multiple names are being used for one photo, for example, to help detect fraud, identity theft, and more. However, some believe that the new software could be violation of privacy.

The American Civil Liberties Union supports getting rid of the REAL ID, arguing that the new licenses are a “tremendously destructive impact on privacy,” The Phoenix New Times reports.

Although older Arizona licenses with existing ID photos will still be valid forms of identification in several cases, such as for voting, they will not be accepted forms of ID for traveling, even domestically. Those without a REAL ID will need to use a passport or other form of ID to get through airport security. The date for when this transition will take place has yet to be announced.

REAL-IDs are predicted to be available in Arizona in April.

2015 Holiday Shopping Forecast: Fraud

With Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the winter holidays approaching, what do shoppers need to know in terms of crowds, safe online shopping and credit card security as the year’s biggest retail season approaches?

Black Friday may traditionally represent the start of holiday shopping, but this year expect to see crowds earlier in the season. Early holiday shopping is a continuing trend from last year when one in four shoppers purchased a Christmas gift before Halloween, and approximately 48 percent were done with holiday shopping before Cyber Monday.

While some holiday shoppers will have finished by Thanksgiving weekend, others prefer to do a majority of shopping online during Cyber Monday. This year, 44 percent of the average consumer’s shopping will be done online, according to the the National Retail Federation.

With that many people shopping online, is it safe to trust websites with sensitive information like addresses and credit card information?

It depends. It’s generally safer to use a credit card instead of a debit card when purchasing online or over the phone. Debit cards are directly linked to an account and credit cards are not, making credit cards less vulnerable to instances of fraud and cyber crimes online. Many credit card companies also offer more security features compared to debit cards.

Other ways to stay safe from fraud, identity theft and scams while shopping online this season include only purchasing from reputable brands and companies, frequently checking bank statements and being extra cautious with what information is shared online. For example, no company needs a social security number to process a purchase.

Retailers are also taking precautions when it comes to cybercrime. In the wake of major hacks at companies like Target and Home Depot in recent years, large companies are doing more to protect customers and themselves.

Thanks to new chip-technology credit and debit cards that offer a higher level of security for shoppers, many large companies are incorporating devices that work with these new cards to make stealing credit card information more difficult for hackers.

Merchants that don’t accommodate for chip technology at the register will be liable for any fraudulent activity.

Gun Violence in America – Are Mass Shootings on the Rise?

For Americans, it’s a basic right to bear arms, but at what cost? The U.S. has a significant number of gun-related deaths each year, including an increase in mass shootings.

This type of public, violent crime takes place every two weeks on average, according to Sherry Towers, a research professor at Arizona State University. She estimates 20 to 30 percent are inspired by previous attacks. This is triple the number of public mass shootings since 2011.

When it comes to the total number of firearm-related deaths in America, some of the most striking statistics revolve around how common these deaths are compared to other countries around the world.

When compared to Canada, Australia or France, Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by a gun, according to David Hemenway, professor of public health at Harvard School of Public Health.

In fact, more than 30,000 people are killed by guns across the country every year, and this number is considered a low estimate due to the fact that many gun-related deaths are unaccounted for as some shootings slip through the cracks and are not reported by the Centers for Disease Control.

How is this possible? One argument could be the availability of guns in the U.S.

In Arizona, for example, state law mandates that any resident over the age of 21 who is not a prohibited possessor may purchase a gun from a retailer and carry a weapon openly or concealed without a license.

They must undergo and pass a federal background check, unless they already have a permit or license, when purchasing from a retailer, but that’s not the only way to obtain a gun.

Firearms are often sold privately, auctioned, passed down or acquired illegally, which are all processes that don’t require background checks or licensing.

As a result of this increase, gun control laws are being questioned by Americans. After the mass shooting in Oregon, CNN released a poll that found 52 percent of people in the U.S. are opposed to stricter gun control.

Will these numbers inspire lawmakers to revisit current laws? That remains to be seen.

Driving on the Holidays is Dangerous, But Which Holidays Are The Worst?

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year, and brings not only drunk drivers, but widespread opportunity for a range of traffic violations.

Law enforcement is well aware of this increase and makes a significant number of arrests each year starting on Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. How many people does this affect? In 2013, Texas DPS cited almost 390 DWI arrests, just over 700 child seat belt citations, over 800 lack of insurance citations and issued almost 6,850 speeding violations during the Thanksgiving period alone.

As experienced DWI and traffic attorneys, Corso Law Group understands the challenges of holiday travel. A combination of holiday stress, alcohol use, adverse weather conditions and increased law enforcement on the roads results in more arrests, accidents and traffic violations during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations than any other time of year.

Thanksgiving

Increased travel during the Turkey holiday creates high-risk situations for drivers on the roads. Last year, AAA predicted 46.3 million people would be driving on the roads nationwide, averaging a travel distance of at least 50 miles from their homes.

Additional drivers can lead to a higher number of accidents and sometimes, deaths. Based upon previous data and research, The National Safety Council estimated 418 traffic fatalities during the 2014 holiday.  As for alcohol-related crashes, 40 percent of highway deaths were due to drunk driving during the holiday period according to MADD. In Texas specifically, more car crash fatalities occurred on Thanksgiving than any other holiday with a total of 55 deaths.

Christmas

Shortly after Thanksgiving, yet another period of celebration arrives – Christmas. While most of us regard the holidays as a fun time, studies have found that not everyone is stress-free during this holiday. According to a survey completed by State Farm, 32 percent of drivers in the U.S. showed greater signs of either road rage or aggression during the holidays.

Drinking also increases during Christmas and the days following. From just the few days spanning between Christmas to New Year’s Eve, studies show a 12 percent increase nationally in traffic related deaths involving a drunk driver than for the entire month of December.

New Year’s Day

The New Year is often celebrated with parties and alcohol, which can lead to dangerous roads when people don’t take the proper precautions and plan ahead. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New Year’s Day presented the highest percentage of alcohol-related deaths with 42 percent of traffic deaths having to do with drinking and driving. The first day of the year is technically even worse for drunk driving accidents than New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Day is also listed as the number one day for holiday car theft, with Christmas ranking last.

Holidays are a busy time of the year, especially falling on weekends where alcohol-related accidents are more common. With an increased amount of law enforcement out during the holidays, DWIs and other traffic violations are more likely to happen. At Corso Law Group, we deal with these types of cases every day, helping our clients fight for their rights. If the holidays have you in a difficult position, we’re here to help.

What are the Possible Outcomes of a Criminal Case?

Criminal law encompasses a wide variety of topics. At Corso Law Group, our attorneys work on cases involving DUI, criminal speeding, CDL tickets, photo radar tickets, felony charges, drug possession, weapons possession, violent crimes and more – all of which can yield different outcomes in court.

The following is a guideline illustrating the basics of a criminal case and the possible outcomes.

What is a plea bargain and what happens if you take one?

A plea bargain is a proposed agreement between the defense and the prosecution that involves sacrifices and benefits for both sides. The defendant gives up their right to a jury trial by pleading guilty but gains some form of leniency such as a lighter sentencing. The prosecution loses the opportunity to go to trial but is guaranteed a conviction.

Leniency may include pleading guilty to a less severe crime, less jail time or lower fines.

A plea bargain is made official in court by a judge who ensures the defendant has willingly chosen the plea bargain and understands the rights he or she is waiving. A judge may also adjust the proposed sentencing at this time.

What happens if you go to trial?

If a plea bargain isn’t reached, or if the defendant doesn’t plead guilty or not guilty, the case can be taken to trial where the defense and the prosecution will argue either sides of the case in order for a verdict to be reached.

There are several trial options, but the two main ones are a jury trial and a court trial. During a jury trial, which is the default option, a jury will examine evidence from the case and come to a conclusion. During a court trial, this is done by a judge.

What happens if you’re found guilty?

When a trial is concluded with a guilty verdict, the next step will be sentencing.

A specific date will be chosen when a judge considers a variety of influences such as the crime at hand, the person’s criminal record and more to determine an appropriate sentencing, which could include jail, fines, probation, community service and more.

If you’re found guilty but believe there is a legal reason to appeal the verdict, you can work with an attorney to begin the appellate process.

What happens if you’re found not guilty?

When a trial is concluded with a not-guilty verdict, the defendant is released from custody and there is no criminal charge. However, the arrest and trial verdict still exist, but can be expunged in some cases so they no longer appear on a permanent record.