arizona criminal attorney

Former NFL Player Accused of Operating International Drug Trafficking Ring

Former NFL player and current Scottsdale resident Derek Loville has been accused of operating in an international drug trafficking ring.

According to court documents, Lovelle was in a federal grand-jury indictment that includes charges of:

  • Racketeering conspiracy
  • Drug trafficking
  • Illegal gambling
  • Money laundering

Led by Owen Hanson, a former athlete from USC, the operation went by the name of “ODOG”, which made fake companies to cover up illegal gambling and drug trafficking.

Along with other crimes, Hanson and others threatened someone to pay them a $2.5 million debt, according to the indictment.

The threat included a delivered package containing photos of the customer’s spouse and family. Allegedly, they also sent an email titled “Operation Shovel”. In the email, it contained a photo of the customer’s gravestone, implying they would die soon.

Later, “ODOG” sent a DVD showing a masked person beheading two men with a chainsaw and a knife. The DVD had a message that said “If you don’t pay us our money, this will happen to you.”

According to authorities, Loville sold illegal narcotics to someone in Phoenix for “ODOG”. Then, two days later, Loville transferred $1,150 to Hanson.

On January 13 the U.S District of Southern California issued a warrant for Lovell’s arrest. Loville then made his appearance in court on January 27 and then was released.

With more court dates to come, we will soon find out if Loville was a part of “ODOG” and whether he distributed drugs for Hanson.

Arizona Representative Aims to Change Photo Radar Requirements

Imagine getting a photo radar ticket for something you didn’t do. Arizona Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff is proposing a bill (HB 2366) that would do just that.

With this new bill, it would end the requirement for photo radar tickets to have a picture of the vehicle’s driver. The only thing the government would need is a picture of the license plate.

On its face, the bill’s main purpose is to put photo radar cameras on school buses. With a camera attached to a bus, Arizona law enforcement hopes it will be be able to catch drivers who don’t stop for school buses.

Under Arizona law, motorists must stop when a school bus has its flashing lights on and a stop sign extended. Anyone who violates this law must pay a $250 fine. If the violation occurs three times within a 36-month period, motorists can lose their license for at least six months.

If the bill is approved, however, the photo radar law will affect more than just school buses. Car owners will no longer be able to prove who was driving their vehicle. When a photo radar camera takes a picture of the license plate and not the driver, car owners will have two options; pay the ticket or provide the name of who was driving the vehicle.

Since it’s entirely plausible that a family member, friend or mechanic could drive someone else’s car from time to time, the threat of overreaching and unfair photo radar ticketing becomes a concern. If for some reason, the car exceeds the speed limit, the government won’t know who’s behind the wheel. The car owner will then receive the ticket and face the penalty unless they can provide another name.

As this new bill makes it way through the legislature, it’s clear it is more about making a profit than safety. Every year, photo radar companies and the government look to maximize their revenue from photo radar tickets.

As the process for prosecuting photo radar tickets continues to change, Corso Law Group is one of the few firms in Arizona that specializes in photo radar defense and understands how to fight them. Should you have questions about photo radar or any other moving violation, please contact us for a free consultation or call (480) 471-4616.

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.

Could Implied Consent Be a Thing of the Past?

If you’re pulled over, are you required to participate in sobriety testing like Breathalyzer and blood tests? For anyone with a driver’s license, the answer is yes.

Implied consent laws, which are in force in all 50 states, require anyone suspected of drunk driving to participate in tests that determine impairment, such as breath, blood and urine tests.

Drivers automatically give consent to this type of testing when applying for a license.

In general, the risk of getting charged with a DUI is magnified with the help of implied consent laws, as refusing tests automatically leads to license suspension and other penalties.

Several cases are challenging implied consent, some making it to the Supreme Court, which could lead to the elimination of these laws altogether.

Implied Consent

If a driver is pulled over on suspicion of DUI, they may be asked to perform a series of tests to determine impairment. These tests fall into two categories, field sobriety tests and chemical tests.

Field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line, reciting the ABCs, standing on one leg and more, are not required. Chemical tests such as Breathalyzer, blood alcohol content (BAC) and urine tests are required, and refusing any of these leads to automatic license suspension and other penalties depending on each state’s specific laws. 

Gaede v. Illinois

The trouble with implied consent was brought to light by Gaede v. Illinois, which has made its way to the Supreme Court and focusses on the Fourth Amendment.

In 2012, Christopher Gaede fled the scene of an accident after hitting a parked car with his motorcycle. He was intercepted by police and asked to perform several field sobriety tests, all of which he failed.

When asked to perform a breath test, Gaede refused. In addition to a 12-month license suspension, his refusal was also used against him at trial, which then resulted in a guilty verdict.

On appeal, Gaede’s attorneys argued that police should have to obtain a warrant in order to collect evidence, in this case biological evidence, instead of relying on the implied consent law.

Essentially, they argued that using implied consent instead of getting a warrant violates constitutional rights against unlawful searches and seizures.

The Supreme Court announced it will weigh a series of implied consent cases from Michigan, North Dakota and 11 other states to determine whether it’s illegal for police to require BAC tests without securing a warrant.

Depending on what the Supreme Court decides later this year, implied consent laws could be negated around the nation, allowing drivers to refuse a BAC or breath test without that decision having major consequences later on.

College Football National Championship Game Brings Crime to Phoenix According to Criminal Defense Attorneys at Corso Law Group

Thousands of football fans will flood the Valley for the College Football National Championship in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 11., leading to increased crime and police presence on game day, according to criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Christopher Corso, founder of Corso Law Group.

Approximately 72,000 fans are expected to attend the championship game in Glendale, and 20,000 more will be watching from surrounding bars and restaurants in Westgate, The Arizona Republic reports.

While this spike in visitors is great for the local economy and tourism, large crowds, parties and alcohol consumption bring crime to hosting cities. In some instances where games resulted in upset, crimes such as assault increased by 112 percent, according to a study examining the connection between college football games and crime.

“Large crowds can bring about security and safety issues. With so many people concentrated in one area, large-scale events like college football games become targets for accidents and criminal activity,” Corso said.

Police in Glendale, downtown Phoenix, where additional events will take place, and across the Valley know this to be true and aren’t taking any chances.

Officials in Glendale are planning to implement extensive security for the national championship game, which will take place at University of Phoenix Stadium. In Phoenix, the director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for the city said thousands of law enforcement and fire officials will be working the event, including 300 to 400 at the command post, KTAR News reports.

“Police will be on high-alert for any violation of the law, whether it’s assault, drunk driving or theft,” Corso said. “Arizona is becoming a destination for national events, and officials are doing whatever it takes to keep it that way.”

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.

Free consultations are available with Corso Law Group by visiting https://corsolawgroup.com or calling (480) 471-4616.

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

Arizona’s Civil Forfeiture Laws Receive Poor Grade

Arizona’s civil forfeiture laws rank as some of the worst in the country, with a D- rating from Policing for Profit, a national report card grading these laws in every state by The Institute for Justice.

What is Civil Forfeiture?

If police believe that a person’s property could be linked to criminal activity, they can seize the assets in question to use as evidence during a trial.

These laws are considered controversial because even if no one is charged or convicted, law enforcement can keep up to 100 percent of the seized assets unless, depending on the state’s specific laws, the owner can prove his or her innocence in the case.

Arizona’s D- Grade for Civil Forfeiture Laws

In order for the government to seize property in Arizona, it only has to show that the property is more likely than not linked to a crime.

Another contributing factor to the state’s low grade is the law’s requirement of innocent property owners to bear the burden of proof. Essentially, you are considered guilty until proven innocent. This means you must prove your innocence if you want to get your property back.

Due to considerable fees associated with filing to get items back, many are discouraged to even try. For example, an Arizona woman had to pay a $304 filing fee just to gain the right to challenge the seizure of her assets in court.

The Problem with Asset Forfeiture

Why would law enforcement want to keep seized assets even if no one was charged? According to the FBI, the purpose of asset forfeiture is to, “undermine the economic infrastructure of the criminal enterprise.” By taking away assets and property linked to a crime, police aim to discourage criminal activity and make it less profitable for those involved.

Although criminals and innocent property owners may never see their seized assets again, certain parties are definitely profiting from these laws.

Last year, Arizona earned $36 million in forfeiture revenue, and a significant proportion of this money paid for salaries and overtime for law enforcement officers.

From 2000 to 2014, the state collected $412 million in forfeiture revenue, with 28 percent, or $62 million, of that total spent on “administrative expenses,” which includes benefits, salaries and overtime, The Arizona Republic reports.

Currently, local and national organizations, including the Institute for Justice, are hoping to reform Arizona’s forfeiture laws.

Violent Crimes on Game Day: Are Football Games Dangerous?

How safe is it to be a fan at a football game? With emotions running high due to team loyalties, tense rivalries and alcohol consumption before and during the game, what seems like a fun sporting event can end in serious legal trouble.

Recently, three San Francisco 49ers fans were charged with felony assault for brutally beating a Minnesota Vikings fan after a Monday night game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

In 2014, Arizona police arrested two men on assault charges, and stadium security removed several others involved in the two fights that took place in the upper decks of the Cardinals stadium in Glendale.

While these incidents sometimes fly under the radar of stadium security, who can be overwhelmed by 70,000 screaming fans, others are taking notice.

An investigative report on stadium crimes by Seattle news station, KIRO-TV, reviewed approximately 10,000 incidents over two-and-a half seasons, finding hundreds of felony and misdemeanor crimes had occurred during this time.

KIRO-TV also revealed that the National Football League (NFL) keeps a detailed crime record for each stadium on game day, but doesn’t always share this record with police in hopes of protecting certain teams.

The NFL is reacting to growing awareness of violent fan crimes by facilitating communication between each franchise and local law enforcement and stadium security to focus on crowd safety, The Arizona Republic reports.

Currently, most NFL teams have a hotline fans can text to notify stadium officials of concerns and problems during a game, but is this enough to keep thousands of fans in line during a heated game?

Next time you’re watching your favorite team, be aware of escalating arguments, potential fights and drunk drivers.

Our attorneys know from experience that assault and DUI are common charges in Arizona after a big game or event.

Why You Need a Defense Attorney Instead of a Public Defender

No matter the crime, representation is a vital aspect of a criminal proceeding. Whether the charges are mild or severe, the repercussions of committing a crime could result in a range of outcomes from community service to years in prison. With such high stakes involved, the right defense is invaluable when it comes to protecting your rights and your future.

While anyone who has committed a crime has the option to defend themselves or rely on a court-appointed, public defender to represent their case, that doesn’t mean either of those options are a good idea.

Although both private criminal defense attorneys and public defenders have undergone years of higher education and testing to understand the legal system and different defense options, the differentiating factors between the two are specialized experience and workload.

Special Skills and Experience

Hiring a criminal defense attorney means you’re in charge of selecting a professional with the right experience and a specific set of skills that are beneficial to your case instead of settling for a public defender who has been chosen for you.

A private criminal defense attorney can work from a background of prior legal experience to provide optimal, individualized defense for your case, whereas a public defender who works with the same prosecutors and judges everyday might not be as comfortable with trying different defense strategies.

Excessive Workload

Private criminal defense attorneys have a say in not only the types of cases they take on, but also the number of cases they work on, allowing them more time to dedicate to each client from start to finish.

A major problem many public defenders face are excessive workloads. Many have huge caseloads to manage that exceed national standards. For example, the standard number of felony cases per year for public defenders is limited to 150, but it is not uncommon for them to have anywhere from 500 to 800 felony cases annually, according to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association. This can make it difficult for them to prioritize your needs and provide the most effective representation.

For the most effective and highest quality representation, it’s important to do your research. Hire an attorney with experience handling the charges in your case, who will take the time to get to know you and produce a specialized defense strategy.

At Corso Law Group, you can rely on our skilled criminal defense attorneys to do everything in their power to protect your rights and fight to defend your voice in the courtroom.

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.

Spooky Crime: Does Criminal Activity Increase on Halloween?

Ghoulish behavior, scary costumes and plenty of tricks are a given on Halloween, but should you expect an increase in criminal activity on October 31? If you live in Tempe, Arizona, you might.

Based on a look at crime rates on Halloween in 10 different cities across the U.S., including Tempe, these are the determining factors for Halloween crime rates:

  • Day of the week Halloween falls on. If Halloween occurs over the weekend, parties and other activities could contribute to an increase in crimes on that specific day.
  • Common crimes specific to the city at hand.
  • Any crime prevention programs in place by the city.
  • Whether the city is a college town. University-age students are likely to celebrate Halloween with drinking and partying, which could lead to increased criminal activity.
  • Whether any Halloween activities are available for kids and teens. If structured Halloween activities are available, this could reduce the chance of kids and teens getting into legal trouble with pranks, like toilet papering a house, which could be considered vandalism.

In Tempe, theft, vandalism and simple assault top the charts for Halloween crimes, followed by alcohol-related incidents. With Tempe being home to Arizona State University, the largest public university in the U.S., parties and heavy traffic in popular entertainment areas like Mill Avenue make incidents such as DUI and assault fairly common, especially during holidays and special events like Halloween.

Of course, whether criminal activity spikes on Halloween in Arizona depends on a variety of environmental factors. And while these specific crimes are at the top of the list to look out for on Halloween in Tempe, it’s important to look at these results with an analytical eye.

Tempe’s crime rates fluctuate due to a drastic change in population during the workday, which increases by 46 percent each day thanks to high numbers of people from all over the Valley commuting to ASU as well as Tempe’s many employment hubs. Tempe was ranked eighth most dangerous suburb in America in a 2014 crime-rate compilation by real estate company Movoto LLC, however, this does not necessarily mean that Tempe is a dangerous city.

Crime rates are determined by dividing the number of crimes reported by the city’s residential population, which means that Tempe’s inflated daytime population could skew its data, resulting in misleading crime rates. This same issue is also true for any special event or holiday that generates a crowd or celebration, like Halloween.

So, should Arizona residents be worried about an increase in crimes on Halloween? Not necessarily. Just be aware that there’s always a risk of criminal behaviour when crowds and parties are involved. Otherwise, following the same safety precautions practiced on an everyday basis, like locking up and keeping a close eye on kids, should do the trick.