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What’s On Deck, Legally?

Springtime—it’s our favorite time of year in the Valley of the Sun, filled with spring training games, music festivals, and this year, the NCAA basketball finals!  It’s also a time for fresh changes and new ideas, and our Arizona state legislators are busy trying to make decisions on proposed amendments to our laws.  As criminal defense attorneys, we try to keep you updated about developments in our courts and laws, so here are a few things that are brewing down at the capitol.

Did you hear about the public protest bill?  This bill proposed that individuals who organized public protests would face conspiracy charges if those protests resulted in rioting or damage—even if those individuals were not the same as those being violent.  If you were worried about your First Amendment rights after reading that, you’re not alone.  Lots of concerned citizens spoke up this past weekend, and Governor Ducey is now stating that the proposal is dead.  Planning on rioting, breaking windows, or setting cars on fire in a fit of rage over a governmental agent’s plan of action?  Yeah, you’re definitely not off the hook.  Expect criminal damage and disorderly conduct charges.

What’s still on the table?  Potential changes to who could be held in custody without bail while their cases are pending.  Our Arizona Supreme Court recently decided that the way our laws had been drafted and interpreted violate Due Process rights because they focused on the charges, and not the danger that the accused presents to another person or the public at large if he or she were released on bail.  Proposed Senate Bill 1163 aims to fix our law by requiring a judge to make a determination about the risk of danger that the accused presents and that no release terms would ensure the safety of others.

Another bill that has been gaining attention is “Joe’s Law,” proposed in memory of a young man who passed away in a car crash last year.  This bill would require testing for controlled substances or alcohol if police determined that a driver was at fault for an accident that resulted in the death of another person.  As DUI attorneys, we are concerned about the implication of citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure.  Blood and breath testing is a search according to Arizona law, and if police do not have probable cause to believe that someone was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there is no basis to require submission to such a search.  Be sure to watch this one, as there is a lot at stake on both sides of the debate.

Finally, what about those pesky photo radar cameras that commemorate some of our finest moments in life?  Arguments can be made on either side of the constitutionality of these speed and red light cameras, but the fact is, if you’ve ever gotten one of these $260+ citations in your mailbox, it pretty much ruins your day.  Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet, but the Arizona House of Representatives has voted to ban future use of photo enforcement devices.  The bill will now head over to the Arizona Senate, so we will wait and see what happens!