criminal defense

Arizona’s New Gun Laws

Although Arizona has been deemed one of the most lenient states on gun control, new gun laws are still difficult to navigate and if not followed correctly, consequences can be severe.

How will Arizona’s new gun laws affect citizens?
Governor Doug Ducey recently signed two new gun bills which go into effect on August 6, 2017, one allowing guns to be closer in range to schools and the other, discipling cities with harsher gun laws than Arizona’s.

What is Senate Bill 1266?
This bill states that opposing local regulations which go against Arizona’s statute to withhold the power of regulating firearms within the state’s counties and cities will allow courts to fine those counties and cities up to $50,000. The individual involved can sue a county or city and be awarded up to $100,000 in damages.

What is House Bill 2338?
This bill denies K -12 all the way up to university school governing boards from “banning someone from legally possessing a deadly weapon on a public right of way adjacent to campus,” according to AZCentral.

While the state’s new gun laws may seem simple, the slightest mistake can result in trouble and in Arizona, weapon possession charges are prosecuted aggressively.

Weapons charges include:

  • Concealing a weapon illegally
  • Possessing a firearm or other weapon illegally
  • Prohibited possessor under Arizona law
  • Using a firearm or other weapon during a crime

In the state of Arizona, an experienced criminal defense attorney is necessary when it comes to weapon possession.

Why?

  • The knowledge and experience of an Arizona criminal defense lawyer who has dealt with similar cases is crucial in fighting for the best outcome.
  • You need a criminal defense lawyer who will protect your rights along the way.
  • Consequences can be severe including:
  • Expensive fines
  • Jail time
  • Prison

Our criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience defending weapons charges in Arizona. Schedule your free consultation today and let us help you. Call (480) 471- 4616.

AAA Studies Reveal State’s THC Limits Have No Scientific Basis

In states where medical and recreational marijuana are legal, how much is too much when it comes to getting behind the wheel? In this post, we examine THC limits.

Recently, new data revealed that it’s difficult to put into place a DUI limit for marijuana stating that “legal limits, also known as per se limits, for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science,” according to the AAA Foundation for traffic safety.

As a result, the AAA Foundation suggests that legal limits for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), should be eliminated and police departments should train their officers to become certified drug recognition experts (DREs).

What would this mean to the public?
A DRE is there to prove that drugs are present in the defendant’s system. Just because a police officer is a certified DRE, doesn’t make him a medical expert. From a defense point of view, science trumps what a DRE says happened or what they saw while pulling someone over.

A highly qualified drug expert is still necessary as Marijuana DUIs can result in severe consequences. In Arizona, if the substance is recognized as a drug, it’s illegal to drive with it in your system. This ignites issues with the fact that marijuana lingers in one’s system.

How can a criminal defense lawyer help?
Although Arizona doesn’t have a set THC limit, this type of situation is still complex. In a marijuana DUI case, hiring an experienced Scottsdale defense lawyer is important. The right criminal defense lawyer will defend the rights of the client while aggressively and professionally defending their situation.

The way marijuana is treated by the courts is important for a defendant to understand. In a zero-tolerance state like Arizona, knowing the right steps to take is crucial.

Our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers handle cases like these everyday. We’re prepared, knowledgeable and known for our detailed defense strategies. During each step along the way we will treat with you with the respect you deserve, keeping you informed during the entire process.

It’s important to see what our other clients have to say about us too. Read our Corso Law Group reviews page for more information.

An Arizona marijuana DUI is not something that should be handled alone or by a public defender. Let us help. Schedule your free consultation today at (480) 471- 4616.

The True Cost of a Speeding Ticket

Have you ever received a speeding ticket? Did you wonder where the money went after you paid the ticket? Most likely you and many others in Arizona contributed tens of millions to government programs through unnecessary citation costs.

Instead of local and state taxes contributing to government programs, Arizona legislation has shifted the burden to those who have committed a crime.

Over the last two decades, Arizona’s state-mandated surcharges went from 56 percent to 83 percent, according to the Arizona Republic.

When you pay the state $95 for a speeding ticket, you’ll also be required to pay for programs and flat fees that could raise the price to as much as $243.

Because of these surcharges you’ll be paying:

  • $95 for the ticket
  • $79 for state programs
  • $13 for police training
  • $2 for a victim’s rights fund
  • $7 court-restitution fund
  • $27 for court technology
  • $20 for the county probation department.

Penalizing drivers with additional costs and surcharges should not be practiced by the state of Arizona. Government-run programs should receive their funding from taxpayers, without drivers picking up the remainder of the tab.

Along with the financial consequences, there also can be a personal impact from a criminal speeding ticket. In Arizona, a criminal speeding ticket is a class 3 misdemeanor. If you’re found guilty, every time you’re asked if you have a criminal record, you’ll have to answer “yes”.

At Corso Law Group, we understand the consequences and the true costs of a speeding ticket. If you are charged with speeding, the lawyers at Corso Law Group will fight for you and obtain the best possible outcome.

Click for a free consultation or call (480) 471-4616.

Former Prosecutor Disbarred After Presenting False Testimony in Death Row Case

Texas remains third on the list of states with the highest number of death row inmates. But in 2015, new death sentences reached their lowest point since 1976. This was the year that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Texas’ revised death penalty statute. However, prosecutors are still fighting for unfair death-row sentences in a completely illegal manner. One recent case of false testimony illustrates this.

Anthony Graves was sentenced to death in 1994 for the murder of six people. He spent 18 years in prison, with 12 of those years on death row. But Graves wasn’t guilty and he wasn’t the right person to be sentenced to death.

Although Graves conviction was overturned in 2006, he wasn’t exonerated till 2010. Several pieces of evidence lead to his exoneration.

The prosecutor in Graves’ case, Charles Sebesta “failed to provide several items of exculpatory evidence to the defense during Graves’ trial, presented false testimony to the jury, made a false statement of material fact to the trial judge and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Recently, the State Bar of Texas made the decision to disbar Sebesta. But yet, disbarring Sebesta can only go so far as to right the wrongs of Sebesta.

Corso Law Group knows the facts about death row sentences. They know why cases with certain evidence should be not be legal in the first place. In Graves’ case, the prosecution presented evidence that should have never been accepted.

Our firm seeks to fix this problem. It’s the main reason our criminal defense attorneys always fight for our client’s rights.

For life-altering, difficult situations, an experienced, aggressive defense attorney is crucial. Having a criminal defense attorney who also has prior prosecutorial experience is an advantage.

Our firm knows how prosecutors operate and we fight to defend your rights.

Graves experienced unimaginable suffering. He served 18 years in prison, thinking he was going to be executed for a crime he didn’t even commit.

Corso Law Group operates in a different way. Our focus is to help the person, not just the client.

Phoenix Officials Pushing for Body Cameras for All Patrol Officers

Body cameras for all Phoenix police officers might be on their way. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Councilwoman Thelda Williams have asked for all patrol officers to wear body cameras in the next three years.

However, this request comes with an expensive price tag. Last year, Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said equipping police officers with body cameras would cost more than $3.5 million.

Despite the high price, Stanton and Williams are asking for the proposal to move forward due to the camera’s success in the Maryvale precinct.

In a memo to City Manager Ed Zuercher, Williams and Stanton said:

“In the areas where cameras were used, Phoenix saw significant drops in complaints against officers, more effective processing of cases in court and improved evidence in the prosecution of domestic-violence cases.”

If the proposal passes, behavior among police officers might improve. With the potential to make police officers more trustworthy and transparent, body cameras seem ideal. The body cameras seem a natural fit in the courtroom as well. In court, it’s usually the police officer’s word versus the defendant’s testimony. With body cameras on every officer, cases could change for defendants in the Valley. By using video evidence, cases will become clearer since video footage will be available for review.

Putting body cameras on all police officers could move Phoenix toward a new generation of policing by building trust between the officers and the communities they serve.

The “Affluenza” Case: A 2016 Update

Criminal defense attorneys represent a range of cases, but recently, one case caught the media’s attention again, the “Affluenza” case. After killing four people in a drunk driving accident at the age of 16 in 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas, Ethan Couch was convicted of four counts of intoxication manslaughter but was not sentenced to any jail time.

Recently, Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch went missing after Ethan didn’t show up to a check-in with his probation officer. This resulted in U.S. Marshals releasing a wanted poster and announcing a $5,000 reward for details about Ethan Couch’s location.

After being found in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Ethan Couch and his mother were arrested. Tonya Couch was extradited back to the United States while Ethan remains in Mexico. Questions still remain as to why Ethan and his mother fled to Mexico in the first place.

Either way, the fault of the case seems to be with the prosecution. While the “Affluenza” defense is not common, Ethan’s lawyers presented a case that worked for their client and proved that due to Ethan’s upbringing, there were never any consequences associated with his actions because in his mind, wealth could fix anything.

The irritating factor is that the government seems to have given Ethan a better deal due to the fact that he had money.

It can be difficult to understand cases like this one. It seems that this case was given more consideration by the court due to the money behind it. Prosecutors work on statistics and there are only so many “get out of jail free cards”.

In this situation, the advancement of the arguments continued, then the case went to sentencing where most likely, several politically important people spoke, a crucial factor in any case. However, when looking at this case from a criminal defense perspective, it’s frustrating.

Corso Law Group works with clients all the time that ask, why not me? the end, the state’s decision will not help anyone.

As of now, Ethan Couch remains in Mexico. What will happen when he returns the United States is still in question. After a Mexican judge granted the “Affluenza” teen a temporary stay in Mexico which in return stopped transfer proceedings, it’s difficult to say if he will face jail time in the United States.

“Making a Murderer” Series Explained from a Criminal Defense Perspective

The newly famous Netflix series “Making a Murderer”, based on the life of Steven Avery, and the murder trials he and his nephew Brendan Dassey endured, questions the legal system, DNA evidence and the legitimacy of the justice system. The documentary took ten years to make, questioning, explaining and presenting each piece of Avery and Dassey’s cases and personal stories from beginning to end.

After spending 18 years in prison for a sexual assault crime he was innocent for, Avery was exonerated by DNA evidence. This is the first of the legal battles discussed in the non- fictional crime series, where not only was there no specific evidence to incarcerate Avery in the first place, but he also had an alibi for the crime he was convicted of. Avery was framed by the Manitowoc County but after his release, Avery questionably stayed in the same town.

Years later, the main case of the series begins, as Avery is charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach, by the same law enforcement that wrongly accused and sentenced him to prison the first time. From this point on, what’s interesting to a criminal defense attorney is how the state worked to collect, maintain and present the evidence they said proved Avery’s guilt.

Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group recently discussed the Avery case on Price of Business, where he gave his criminal defense point of view. In regards to the DNA portion, Corso spoke to the point that although DNA technology continues to improve, criminal defense attorneys are still skeptical.

In the Steven Avery case, the state was allowed to search Avery’s home without him there several different times for any evidence relating to Halbach’s murder. During one of the last searches, police found Steven Avery’s DNA on a car key in his home that they said belonged to Halbach. However, the DNA found in this case doesn’t fully make sense.

Christopher Corso went on the say that defense attorney’s skepticism lies in the fact that when labs pull DNA off of “evidence”, it’s difficult to separate the multiple strands present. This is not a new issue either, as prosecutors tend to be selective. While it depends on the region and the situation you’re in, crucial case outcomes have been determined by a simple strand of DNA. How is it that one DNA test can prove so much?

Prosecutors want to use this evidence because they feel it’s unique and strong towards their case. How can DNA be completely reliable? The level of the sophistication in the technology is good and advancements continue, but the true question is who is actually pushing the buttons? Who are the people facilitating this and is it fair?

Avery seemed to be the target for the murder of Halbach since the beginning. In his Price of Business segment, Corso goes on to say that the longer Avery stayed in that town, the more that circle of law enforcement profiled him. Avery was doomed, and he was going to be the first suspect Manitowoc County looked to for this type of crime.

Since the series began, a petition was started for Avery and his nephew Dassey to be pardoned for the murder. A response to the petition  was released on whitehouse.gov.

The statement says “Since Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are both state prisoners, the President cannot pardon them.”

Avery has since also written a letter from prison, declaring that “the truth will set him free.” Currently, Avery is serving a life sentence for the murder of Teresa Halbach.

10 Steps to Choosing the Right Defense Attorney

To achieve the best possible outcome for a criminal case, hiring an experienced, aggressive defense attorney is essential.

No matter the offense, criminal law is complicated, and the appropriate lawyer is crucial for a successful case. The attorneys at Corso Law Group know this to be true, and offer this 10-step guide to choosing the right defense attorney.

1. Decide which type of attorney you need. This is important because attorneys work in a variety of fields and offer various levels of experience. If you need help with a DUI charge, for example, you need a skilled DUI lawyer, not a family or civil rights attorney, and especially not a public defender.

No matter the charge, the repercussions of a crime can impact your life and livelihood. Although you have the option to represent yourself or settle for a public defender, neither of those are good choices if you want to protect your rights and your future.

An aggressive criminal defense attorney with specialized experience can make a world of difference for your criminal case.

2. Understand what an attorney does. Once you decide which type of lawyer you need for your case, learn about what that specific type of attorney does, understand the services they provide and the areas of defense in which their practice focuses.  

For instance, some of the responsibilities of a DUI defense attorney include helping you decide how to plea, creating a strategic legal plan, gathering and sorting through evidence to help your case and representing you in court.

3. Know the possible outcomes of your criminal case and how an attorney can help. Criminal law covers a vast range of offenses, including misdemeanors, felonies, DUIs, traffic violations and domestic violence, to name a few. All of these charges involve different laws and can lead to different outcomes in court.

A good defense attorney should be able to go over possible outcome of your specific case with you, and discuss plea bargains, how trial works and what happens if you’re found guilty or not guilty.

At Corso Law Group, our attorneys offer guidance, expert advice and sound representation to our clients during every phase of a criminal case, keeping each person well informed and involved in their case.

4. Do your research. If you’re facing potential criminal charges, you need the best possible representation. Don’t settle for just any attorney, and research viable options for your case.

Look at professional accreditation sites, like the Better Business Bureau to review trusted firms in your area.

5. Read specific client reviews. If the firm has client testimonials on their website, these reviews can offer helpful insight into how the attorney you’re considering has interacted with other clients throughout the legal process.

Here is an example of a helpful review from Corso Law Group:

The Best Lawyer in Town. I used this law firm and had a great experience. Great guys, owner stayed late and met with me when I hired. Took the time to explain. A real motivating group, they work hard at what they do. My attorney sat with me for over an hour. No consultation fee at all. Definitely keeping this phone number on my favorites. Thanks for all the hard work. Case Dismissed.” – Sandra R., Peoria, Arizona

6. Stay local. Specific laws and regulations can vary throughout the state, so finding an attorney who works in the area where your case is pending can make a difference as they have experience with that court’s procedures and personnel.

Christopher Corso has previous experience with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and other prosecutorial agencies, giving him invaluable knowledge of all side of a criminal case and first-hand experience with multiple aspects of Arizona’s court systems. With this specific knowledge and experience regarding criminal law, he’s able to vigorously defend clients and the range of criminal cases that come his way.  

7. Look for relevant specialties. A criminal defense attorney may work with a variety of criminal charges and specialize in specific areas.

Attorneys at Corso Law Group handle all types of criminal cases, and specialize in Arizona DUIs, photo radar tickets and more.

8. Prioritize experience. Your attorney should have extensive experience representing others who were charged with the same or similar offense as you.

Potential Corso Law Group clients needing a DUI attorney, for example, can see how many Arizona DUI cases have been handled and their results on the firm’s website.

9. Set up a consultation. Meeting in person will allow you to discuss your situation, get to know the attorney, better understand their services, determine who would be involved in your case and find out about cost.

Attorneys at Corso Law Group know how important the initial consultation is, and use this time to hear each client’s side of the story.

10. Match your values. After the initial consultation, decide if you and the attorney are a good match. Your lawyer should do their best to make you feel comfortable, show a genuine interest in wanting to help with your case and keep you closely involved.

Something that sets Corso Law Group apart from other firms is that our attorneys value each client as a person, not just a case. We make an effort to give each client and their families the respect and professional representation they deserve.

The team of skilled criminal defense attorneys at Corso Law Group are experienced in handling everything from DUI defense to felony cases, and we work tirelessly to defend the rights of our clients. Call today to schedule a free consultation (480) 471-4616.

Reducing Sentences Leads to Possible Criminal Defense Changes

Reducing sentences has been a common topic lately in the United States. Recently, a judge rethought a sentence that had a profound impact on an inmate named Francois Holloway.

Holloway was released from prison three years earlier than expected thanks to U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York.

Although federal trial judges don’t commonly possess extraordinary power when it comes to sentencing decisions as prosecutors rely on set in stone minimum punishment laws, typically new evidence or excessive legal error are the only ways a reduction on their part is possible.

However, judges can create a sense of public or personal pressure that causes prosecutors to rethink their sentencing decisions. When these types of situations occur, such as Holloway’s sentence reduction, it reveals attitudes continue to change in these types of circumstances, looking at the criminal justice system and its policies in a new light.

Holloway was sentenced to 57 years in prison in 1996 for being a part of armed carjackings, but Judge Gleeson who had put Holloway away, attempted to work with prosecutors for years in order to reduce Holloway’s sentence, before he was released early.

Which kind of cases does this deal typically happen to though? Thus far, these types of reductions have occurred for those who fought against sentencing that seemed underserved compared to the crime they committed.

In most cases, the defendant at hand decided against a plea deal and then lost during their trial. As a result, they were given a much more extensive prison sentence than if they were to have pleaded guilty.

These types of cases and this shift in the criminal justice system might be more common as 2016 approaches. Instead of focusing on a prison sentence, one might look towards court ordered rehabilitation if the consequence seems fitting for the crime.

However, not everyone agrees on this. In the same article, “Don Mihalek, vice president of law enforcement relations at the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association said that after the-fact reductions send the wrong message,” according to Joe Palazzo, author of the article “Judges Rethink Sentences.”

Said Mihalek: “Every criminal has their day in court, and that’s the bottom line.”

Phoenix Considers Body Cameras for All Police to Reduce Use-of-Force Complaints

Use-of-force complaints decrease significantly for police departments equipped with body cameras, but the cost could hold some, like the Phoenix Police Department, from taking advantage of this technology.

A year-long study evaluating the effect of body-worn video cameras in police patrol practices by the Police Foundation Executive Fellow, Chief Tony Farrar, found a 50 percent decrease in the number of use-of-force complaints against officers wearing the cameras.Police Using Body Cameras

It would cost at least $3.5 million to equip all first-responding Phoenix officers with body cameras, Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said. That price estimate includes the costs to gather and store footage, but wouldn’t cover the cost of personnel.

Many small and medium-sized cities like Austin and Minneapolis are utilizing these cameras to increase police accountability and transparency in light of growing tension between communities and local police departments around the country.

Phoenix, the country’s sixth most populated city, is moving toward using body cameras after an Arizona State University study found that complaints against officers decreased when actions of both officers and citizens were recorded.

A study of Mesa police officers who wore body cameras saw a 40 percent decrease in total complaints and a 75 percent decrease in the number of use-of-force complaints over the course of a year.

In order for Phoenix to implement this technology, police would have to create a policy that dictates how to manage and edit mass quantities of data, then share it with prosecutors.

In the near future, supporters advocating for Phoenix police to wear body cameras say that both citizens and officers would benefit. Officers would be protected from false allegations and citizens could rest assured knowing that all interactions with police would be recorded.