Snader Criminal Defense Blog

AFTERMATH OF A CRIMINAL CASE: HOW TO SURVIVE PROBATION

9June
2014

The majority of felony prosecutions are resolved with probation.  But when one receives probation, what does it really mean?

FELONY PROBATION

Felony Probation can take many forms.  In most counties, you can receive unsupervised probation with compliance monitoring, standard probation, standard probation with specialized caseloads (sex crimes, white collar and gangs to name a few) intensive probation, or interstate compact.  When convicted and sentenced for most felonies, a court has the option of sending one to prison, or ordering a term of probation. 

Many people believe that probation means no incarceration.  If you receive probation, you could receive up to one year in the county jail. Simply stated, probation may result in jail, but not prison.  If you violate probation, then prison is again possible.

As additional conditions for felony probation, the court can also order community service, restitution fines, counseling, drug testing, sex registration, financial oversight and many other potential sanctions.  The length and terms of probation may be negotiated in a plea agreement, or left to be decided by the judge. 

MISDEMEANOR PROBATION

By definition, one cannot go to prison for a misdemeanor.  But as a term of probation, you could be jailed for up to 6 months. In most cases, there is no supervising probation officer.  Rather, the court monitors compliance.  (a few city courts do have probation departments) But just like a felony probationary grant, the court can also impose fines, restitution, community service, sex registration and other potential sanctions.  And, like felonies, the terms of probation may be negotiable in plea agreements.

JAIL: WORK RELEASE V. WORK FURLOUGH

If sentenced to prison, you are not on probation.  However, you could receive a probation “tail” that would begin upon your release from prison.  Regardless of when you serve your jail term on probation, you may be eligible for work release or work furlough.  If not immediately eligible, a request for either may be made at the time of sentencing. 

Work release is common for misdemeanor convictions.  With work release, there is NO oversight.  There is usually no verification of employment. Normally the court will permit work release for 5 days a week, up to 12 hours a day.  The 12 hours includes travel time.  You can’t be late for jail or your privilege will be revoked. When work release is available, you only need to have the court provide a specific order for you to take to jail.

Work furlough is actually ordered by the court, but monitored by probation. You must be employed and approved by probation to participate in work furlough.  If allowed to participate, probation actually receives your paycheck, takes their portion first and provides you the remainder. 

Even if approved by probation and ordered by the court, the jail may prohibit certain individuals from participating in work furlough: violent offenders, people with medical issues, people with insufficient or the wrong type of employment, and sex offenders.  Any issues regarding the terms of probation and work release or furlough must be addressed by your attorney  before or during the sentencing phase of your case.  

The court is not permitted to tell the sheriff how to house his prisoners.  And, if you are not placed into the work furlough yard, you may have an impossible task of obtaining actual release into the work furlough program.

PROBATION VIOLATIONS

When probation believes you have not complied with any term of probation, they will file a petition to revoke (PTR) your probation. When a petition is filed, the court has an option of reinstating the person to probation with additional sanctions, or revoking one’s probation and sending them to prison.  When a PTR is filed, you may not be eligible for release from custody until the matter has been resolved.

When a PTR is filed, it is your word versus the probation departments as to whether you violated ANY term of your probation.  Some terms are worse than others, but it only takes a violation of one term to send you to prison.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF IN THE FACE OF A PTR

KEEP COPIES: Protecting yourself begins the day you are on probation. Courts make mistakes all the time.  It is extremely difficult to prove you have made all payments or attended all classes unless you keep accurate records.

I recommend that you copy ALL paperwork you receive from the day of your sentencing.  The paperwork includes your plea agreement, the sentencing paperwork, the presentence report and all probation documents.  You need to copy ALL receipts for any payment of fines, restitution and even counseling and drug tests you may be responsible for.  In many cases you may receive certificates for completing programs.

The original documents should be filed where you keep your important papers.  A copy of everything should be in a Ziploc bag and placed with your spare tire.  If you are ever stopped and advised a warrant issued, please remember to have the officer verify the warrant and review your paperwork.  Assuming there is no contraband in your trunk, politely request the officer allow you to obtain your paperwork.  It may make the difference in being arrested or otherwise not going to jail on the warrant. 

COMMUNICATION:  Any telephone contact with probation should be by cell phone. In that manner, you will always have a record of your calls and their duration.  But you must follow up any contact or request you made by keeping a written log and confirming your contact with probation by letter or email.  Believe me…they are keeping records on you.  If you don’t have something to support your claims, you will lose your PTR.

Keep a log book with the date and time of calls, the duration, who you spoke with, and the content of the conversation.  Any time you obtain permission from the probation officer to do anything, send a thank you note noting the date and time of the request.  If any reasonable request is denied, send them a letter indicating the date and time of your request, indicate you will comply with their directive, AND ask them to again explain why they denied your reasonable request. With your probationary term, you will be required to comply with each term. 

MAKE PAYMENTS:  If the only issue is failure to pay, probation will be required to show you had an ability to pay and you failed to pay anything. At the very least, pay something timely every month and request probation modify your payments.  Especially where restitution is substantial, keep track of your income and all expenses. Keep the receipts in weekly or monthly envelopes.  The better your records, the less likely you will be revoked.

PROBATION MUST BE YOUR PRIORITY: Other than being in the hospital, there are no excuses for failing to comply with probation. Follow your directives.  If you have probation concerns, don’t wait for the PTR to be filed. Please contact me.

Howard Snader is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist. If you or anyone you know has been accused of any crime, please give him a call at 602.957.3300 or visit his website at http://www.SnaderLaw.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized |

Deadly Crash at West Valley Bus Stop

14April
2013

Late last month at 6:30 in the morning, three people were boarding a bus at 67th Avenue and Indian School Road when a driver heading west on Indian School Road lost control of his truck, crossed the center line and careened into them.

Tragically, one man, Jesus Antonio Martinez Chavez, 47 years-old, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by emergency crews.  Another 43-year-old man was taken to a local hospital where he died during surgery.  Fortunately, a 36-year-old man at the bus stop was able to dodge the truck and received only minor injuries.

Sgt. Trent Crump of the Phoenix Police Department, stated the driver of the Nissan truck, 43-year-old Raymond Barela, was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries.  According to Sgt. Crump, Barela may have been under the influence of drugs when he crashed his truck into the bus stop.  “He has admitted some drug use to our officers from last night,” said Crump.

This is not Barela’s first brush with the law as he was driving on a suspended license.  He now faces two counts of manslaughter, one count of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated DUI.

An arrest for driving under the influence can be a shocking as well as a confusing experience. It is essential when charged with a DUI, to immediately enlist the assistance of an experienced, aggressive Phoenix criminal defense attorney.  An experienced DUI lawyer will answer your questions, give you guidance and build a strong defense to protect your rights.

Original story found here.

Posted in DUI |

Man Kills Brother-in-Law to Prevent Domestic Abuse

7April
2013

A Phoenix woman called 911 on Easter Sunday to report a shooting.  The phone was passed to the shooter, who then spoke to the 911 operator and admitted he shot his brother-in-law, and to emphasize the crime, while speaking to the 911 operator, he shot the victim once more.

Phoenix police report that Steven Lomax, Jr., was arrested for murdering his brother-in-law, Richard Swann.  When officers arrested the 33-year-old suspect, he said, “I intended to kill my sister’s husband.”

Officers learned that once Lomax  made the decision to kill Swann, he made sure  no one would be in the home when the crime was committed.  He told everyone to go for a walk, retrieved a gun from his bedroom, and then went into the victim’s bedroom and shot him multiple times.

According to court documents, Lomax shot Swann to prevent his brother-in-law from further abusing his sister.  Lomax stated  Swann had been “mentally and physically abusing his sister for years” and felt killing him was the only way to end the abuse.

Swann was found inside a home near 83rd Avenue and Indian School Road with multiple gunshot wounds.  The critically injured man was transported to a local hospital where he later died.

The probable cause statement submitted by police reports that Lomax entered his brother-in-law’s bedroom with the intent to kill him. Because Lomax planned out the murder of his brother-in-law – a premeditated murder -  he is now facing a first-degree murder charge.

Original story found here.

Posted in Domestic Violence, Violent Crime |

Mesa Police Make Multiple Heroin Arrests

31March
2013

Earlier this month, Mesa Police arrested several people in separate incidents for suspected heroin use and intent to sell.

According to azcentral.com, the Mesa Police Department reported  officers responded to a 911 domestic disturbance report that a man was attempting to lure a woman into his vehicle near Greenfield and Broadway Roads.

Police stopped the vehicle, and found a woman inside crying saying she and the man had been arguing on the road.  While speaking with police, the man tried to grab something out of the woman’s purse.  After receiving permission to search the purse and vehicle, police found a syringe, a small piece of plastic containing a gray, chalky substance that was later identified as heroin, two glass pipes with burn residue consistent with methamphetamine use, a prescription bottle with various pills, several straws and spoons and a liquid prescription  bottle labeled methadone that was not prescribed to either the man or the woman. 

Ronnie Harb, 23, was arrested and booked on counts of possession of narcotic drugs and drug paraphernalia, according to police records.  Harb admitted to smoking methamphetamine and injecting heroin earlier that day. 

Earlier that same day, officers arrested Thomas Schertz, after  a traffic stop near Baseline and Alma School Roads.  Officers stopped Schertz for having a white light in the rear of his vehicle and while talking with him,  noticed a syringe on the floor of the car and track marks on Schertz’s arm, as well.  When officers asked him where his heroin was, Schertz pulled out a small baggie containing a substance that was later identified as heroin. Police records show that Schertz was booked on counts of possession of narcotics for sale and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Posted in Drug Crime |

MCSO Arrest Mesa Man on Child Pornography Charges

24March
2013

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) arrested a Mesa man on Tuesday for downloading and sharing child pornography.  MCSO officials report officers served a warrant for Christopher Clark’s personal computer last Tuesday and after finding child pornography files, he was arrested and and detained in jail.

The 54-year-old Mesa man is accused of downloading child porn using a file-sharing program, and then sharing an estimated 920 pornography files using Limewire, a file-to-file sharing website.  Sheriff’s detectives report Clark shared these files during a four-month period in 2012 and 2013. 

Clark admitted to MCSO deputies that he did download and share files, but did not commit any sexual offenses against children.  The files on Clark’s computer showed sexual acts being performed on children between the ages of eight to ten. 

MCSO deputies find the  discovery of child pornography on Clark’s computer  disturbing because not only does his wife watch neighbor’s children at the Clark home, but according to court records, he has minor grandchildren, as well.

Clark faces ten counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and is being held in the Fourth Avenue Jail in Phoenix.

Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (Child Pornography) is a Class 2 felony and is committed if an individual knowingly records, receives, films, photographs, sells or transmits any image of a minor engaged in sexual conduct or exploitive exhibition.  When the images include children under the age of fifteen, the crime is then considered a Dangerous Crime Against Children (DCAC), and can result in serious penalties.  An image of child pornography in your possession can result in at least a ten year prison sentence.

When you are facing such a serious crime, it is extremely essential to be represented by a knowledgeable Arizona criminal defense lawyer experienced in defending people charges with sexual exploitation of a minor.

Full story found here.

Posted in Sex Crimes |

Suspected Car Thief in Hospital After Shootout With Officers

17March
2013

The Arizona Vehicle Theft Task Force, had a known car theft suspect under surveillance early Thursday morning in the San Tan Valley, which is in the very southeastern portion of the Valley of the Sun.  The suspect, who remains unidentified at this time, was seen driving a blue Ford pickup truck, and according to information received by investigators, was armed and dangerous.

When officers tried to pull over the suspect, he tried to escape.  Unfortunately for the suspected car thief, when he engaged in a shootout with officers in the parking lot of a park,  he made a big mistake. 

Bart Grave, DPS spokesman, stated the suspect was shot and wounded in the shootout and was transported to a local hospital. His condition is unknown at this time.  Fortunately, no officers were injured in the shootout. 

The shootout happened in a parking lot of a park near Circle Cross Ranch School, near Empire Boulevard and Gary Road in San Tan Valley, and took place around 7:00 a.m.  Michael Ranney, who lives next to the park, said, had the shootout taken place one hour later, students would be headed to the elementary school nearby.  “Thank God there were no kids,” he said.

DPS oversees the state’s vehicle theft task force.  However, several agencies are part of the task force, which is also known as RATTLER, Regional Auto Theft Team Law Enforcement Response.  The task force was established in January 1997 and since that time, the agency has recovered more than 30,300 vehicles valued at more than $323 million.

Original story found here.

Posted in Theft, Violent Crime |

Trial Set for Woman Accused of Abusing Niece

10March
2013

Ame Deal was just ten-years-old when she died of abuse at the hands of several relatives in July 2011.  One of those relatives, her aunt, has been charged with abusing Ame and will be tried next month on those abuse charges.

Although Ammandea Stoltzmann is charged with abusing her niece, she is not charged in the death of the child.  What she is accused of is scrubbing the child’s face with a wire brush, kicking her in the face and placing hot sauce in her niece’s mouth. 

In all, six of Ame Deal’s relatives have been charged with child abuse and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against two of those relatives charged in the girl’s death.  According to azfamily.com, all of the child’s relatives have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Ame died after being placed in a footlocker for misbehaving last summer. What did Ame do to warrant being locked in a footlocker in the middle of July?  She took a Popsicle from a freezer.

According to investigators, at first those relatives in charge of caring for Ame stated the child’s death was an accident as  Ame made a habit of hiding in the footlocker when playing hide and seek with other children.  However, after police investigated the incident, the conclusion was reached that Ame’s death was not an accident and her death was ruled a homicide.  Investigators  found that confinement in a box was commonly employed when Ame misbehaved.

Those relatives accused of and arrested for abusing Ame are John and Samantha Allen; Cynthia Stoltzmann; Judith Deal; Ammandea Stoltzmann; and David Deal, her father.  Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for John and Samantha Allen, the two relatives who admitted placing Ame in and locking the footlocker so she could not escape on that hot July day.

Posted in Violent Crime |

Three Arrested in Police Chase

3March
2013

A random license check led to a police pursuit through Phoenix and into the desert north of the valley and ended with the arrest of three people.

On Wednesday, February 27, a Phoenix police officer conducted a random license check on a yellow Honda Civic and discovered the car had been stolen from Tempe on Tuesday.  According to police spokesman Officer James Holmes, a police pursuit ensued when the driver failed to stop for the officer.

The driver fled the area by traveling west on Peoria Avenue toward Interstate 17.  While attempting to enter the interstate, the Honda struck five vehicles.   The suspects drove north and then exited the highway on Bumblebee Road to avoid stop sticks placed on the highway by law enforcement officers.

According to the police report, while attempting to flee from officers, a suspect in the back seat was seen throwing an object out of the window.  The police report did not state if officers found the object thrown from the window of the vehicle.

The police pursuit ended with the car careening  off the road when the driver failed to navigate a turn on Crown King Road and lost control of the vehicle.

The driver of the Honda, Ryan Tsosie, 22, and his two passengers, Shane Johnson, 19, and a 17-year-old unidentified female, were taken into police custody.  The two males were booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail and the female was detained at the Juvenile Corrections Center.

The driver of the vehicle, Ryan Tsosie, faces charges of auto theft, felony flight, five counts of aggravated assault from hitting  five vehicles when attempting to enter the interstate, and numerous felony warrants.  Shane Johnson and the unidentified juvenile face auto theft charges.

Original story can be found here.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Theft |

Another day, Another Teacher Sex Crime

28February
2013

It really is amazing that every day, there is another report of teacher involved in some form of sexual conduct with a minor. As reported by the Arizona Republic, today’s suspect is Nicole Wooten, a phys ed teacher in the Phoenix Elementary School district. Ms. Wooten was arrested for sexual conduct with a minor for acts committed against an 8th grader in 2005-2006. If convicted, she is facing a lengthy, mandatory prison term. And, in most cases, the prison term is followed by lifetime probation and registration as a sex offender.

An arrest is not proof of anything.  Once an allegation is made, or you become aware law enforcement is involved, you must fight for your freedom.

If you are ever investigated for an allegation of any sexual crime, you need a Specialist in Criminal Law fighting for your rights. Don’t hesitate to call a Criminal Law Specialist and Expert in Sex Crimes at the  Law Office of Howard A. Snader.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes | Tagged , |

My Case was “Scratched”: Now What?

26February
2013

SCRATCH

Scratch is not a legal term. However, it’s used in the Courts to identify when a complaint was not filed. It is not to be confused with the word dismissed. If you case is “scratched,” it means the County Attorney has not filed a complaint against you within the time set forth by law (48 hours) from the time you saw the jail court commissioner.

The County Attorney’s office has 7 years in which to file a felony complaint (although generally within 12 months) there is no way of knowing if or when the County Attorney will or won’t file a complaint. If a complaint is filed they will decide if a criminal summons will be issued and served to your last known address, or whether to have a warrant issued for your arrest. There is no way of knowing whether the County Attorney’s office will request a warrant or criminal summons.

Having defended thousands of felony matters over the past 20 years, I have developed ways of obtaining the information about the charging process in most cases. If retained, I can usually discover the charging attorney and try to convince them to not file charges. Alternatively, if you are to be charged, then I can normally prevent a warrant from issuing.

If you desire my assistance to continue working with the prosecutor and/or law enforcement, please let me know.

VACATED

When your case is vacated, it means the matter has been removed from the calendar and will likely be rescheduled. Although there are many reasons that happens, in most cases it means that the matter proceeded to the Grand Jury and an indictment was issued.

When an indictment issues, you will normally be notified by mail (if out of custody). Please make sure the Court has your current mailing address. If you move from the physical address between the time of your arrest and any pending court date, you can go to the Maricopa County Superior Court and under the tab labeled “filing,”select the “court form” option, then select “eforms on demand” and select form #108-New Address/name change and information.

You can also complete the form personally by going to the court at 201 West Jefferson, the Central Court Building during normal business hours. Check with the information desk as to where you can go to complete the form.

You may also be able to telephone the Criminal Court Administrator (602.506.8575) after 2 pm on the following day to determine if they have received the update.

One final Note: BOND MONEY IS NOT EXONERATED OR RELEASED AT THAT TIME. As far as the court is concerned, the case is still open and court date pending.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged |