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CRIMINAL CASE INFORMATION
"A criminal defense lawyer is the only thing standing between a defendant and the unlimited resources of the government." - S. Silva
If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Maricopa County, Arizona, or have questions about a felony or a misdemeanor offense, Mr. Silva would be happy to provide you with a free consultation.
For information of DUI Offenses, see our DUI Cases page.
Felony offenses are, by definition, serious offenses. In Arizona, a felony offense is an offense that has a potential punishment of one year or more in the Arizona Department of Corrections (prison). Felony convictions can have a serious impact on your record and can cause you to lose your civil rights, lose your job, and can prevent you from traveling to other countries. There are many felony offenses in Arizona, including homicide, violent offenses, sexual offenses, drug offenses, white collar crimes, and theft.
All felony offenses in Maricopa County are handled by Maricopa County Superior Court and most of them are prosecuted by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. In recent years, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office has changed its policies to be much more aggressive towards people charged with felonies--even first-time, non-violent offenders are being offered very harsh plea bargains. Although probation is often available to first-time offenders, a person can still be ordered to spend up to 1 calendar year in the Maricopa County Jail as a condition of probation. It is imperative that you consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing felony charges.
Mr. Silva has successfully handled hundreds of serious felony cases, including capital murder, first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, fraud, organized crime, drug trafficking, aggravated assault, sexual assault, felony theft, white collar crimes, and more. Mr. Silva knows exactly what issues to look for and what defenses are available in felony cases.
If you are convicted of a non-DUI, misdemeanor offense, such as Misdemeanor Assault, you may be exposed to variety of possible punishments. In most misdemeanor cases, however, the harshest punishment that can be imposed is 6 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine (plus surcharges).
Jail time is not required in many misdemeanor cases, so courts will often impose other punishments such as community service and classes. Although misdemeanor convictions are not as serious as felony convictions,
they can still cause people to lose their jobs. Also, some countries (like Canada), will not allow an American to enter the country with misdemeanor convictions, like DUI, on their record.
Mr. Silva has successfully handled thousands of misdemeanor cases. Many misdemeanor cases will proceed to a bench trial before a judge, and Mr. Silva has tried hundreds of bench trials in his career.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENSES
Domestic violence offenses involve any criminal offense that occurs between family members or people that have lived together. To see the exact definition of "domestic violence" in Arizona, refer to A.R.S. 13-3601. If a person is convicted of a domestic violence offense, there are additional sentencing requirements that a judge must impose. One requirement is that the person will be required to complete domestic violence counseling. This requirement cannot be deleted or ignored by the judge, no matter how minor the offense. Another consequence of a domestic violence conviction is that the person will be prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law. This is true even if the domestic violence crime did not involve the use of weapons.
Probation violations occur when a person has been placed on probation for a criminal offense and violates a "condition" of that probation, such as not keeping in contact with a probation officer. All probation periods include the "condition" that a person remain a law abiding citizen during the period of probation.
If a person is charged with violating a condition of probation, that person can be taken into custody by law enforcement and held for a probation violation hearing. If a person was on felony probation, they may have a hold placed on them which prevents them from posting bond, and being released from jail, until the case is concluded. Some people are released on their own recognizance or are released on bail pending the hearing. If the person is found to have violated probation, the probation can then be revoked and the person can be sentenced to additional punishment, such as additional jail or prison time.
All people in Arizona are entitled to legal representation for probation violation proceedings. An attorney can help you get released from jail and can fight the accusations in a hearing. Also, an attorney can help you have your probation reinstated, rather than revoked. Mr. Silva has represented hundreds of clients who have been charged with violating probation and always works to get his clients reinstated on probation with no additional jail time.
When a person has been convicted of a crime by a jury or a judge, that person has a right in Arizona to appeal the conviction to a higher court. If the conviction occurred in a city court, the appeal is heard by Superior Court. If the conviction occurred in Superior Court,
the appeal is heard by the Arizona Court of Appeals. In order for a person to prevail on appeal, they must convince the higher court that there was a legal error in the case and that this legal
error was "not harmless." Plea agreements cannot be appealed. Normally, you can only file an appeal if you lost your case in a trial.
Appeals can be very complicated because there are specific rules that govern how an appeal must proceed and what paperwork must be filed. Appeals can also be very time consuming because an attorney must review the entire court record to determine what legal issues are relevant for appeal. It helps if the attorney is already well-versed in the case law that applies to those issues.
Mr. Silva has handled numerous appeals on behalf of people convicted of crimes, and has filed briefs in the Arizona Court of Appeals. Mr. Silva has even worked on appeals in homicide cases. If you have been convicted of a crime in a trial, and you want to appeal that conviction, Mr. Silva would be happy to talk to you about your case.
RULE 32 PETITIONS (POST-CONVICTION RELIEF)
Rule 32 Petitions are petitions that can be filed by defendants after they have been convicted of an offense. That is why they are also referred to as Petitions for Post-Conviction Relief. Unlike appeals, Rule 32 petitions are filed with the original trial court, not an appellate court. They are called "Rule 32" petitions because it is Rule 32 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure that allows for these motions to be filed. If the trial court grants the Rule 32 Petition, the conviction is overturned and the case usually starts all over again.
There are specific, and complicated, rules that govern when, and on what grounds, a Rule 32 Petition can be filed. Usually, these petitions are filed in situations where an appeal to a higher court cannot adequately address a legal issue. For example, if a defendant was convicted of a crime, and there is new evidence that has recently been discovered than can prove the defendant's innocence, a Rule 32 Petition should be filed. Mr. Silva has filed numerous Rule 32 Petitions on behalf of his clients and can advise you as to whether or not there are post-conviction relief issues in your case.
Federal offenses involve crimes in violation of United States Code and are handled in U.S. District Courts and are prosecuted by United States Attorneys. They can involve either misdemeanor or felony charges and these crimes are different than those crimes outlawed by the State of Arizona. An attorney must be licensed in Federal Court to handle these types of cases.
Mr. Silva is licensed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona and has represented numerous people accused of federal crimes. In fact, Mr. Silva began his career in criminal law in 1997 as a certified student attorney with the United States Attorney's Office in Phoenix, Arizona. At that time, Mr. Silva was prosecuting federal crimes under the supervision of the Assistant U.S. Attorney. Mr. Silva has since devoted his professional career to defending people accused of federal crimes, not prosecuting them. Mr. Silva knows exactly what issues to look for in federal criminal cases and what defenses are available.
Although you can never have prior convictions erased completely from your record, Arizona has a law that allows people to have their prior convictions "set aside" and the original charges "dismissed." (See A.R.S. 13-907). For example, if you were convicted of Misdemeanor DUI and had to serve time in jail, you can still have that prior DUI conviction "set aside" and "dismissed" from your record.
Why is that important? For many people, getting the conviction set aside and dismissed can help them get a job they want. For others, getting the conviction set aside and dismissed allows them to travel to foreign countries for business and vacation (Canada, for example, can refuse to allow Americans into the country if they have DUI convictions on their record that have not been set aside and dismissed).
Many criminal convictions can be set aside and dismissed, even felony convictions. In fact, the only convictions that cannot be set aside are crimes that involved the infliction of serious injury or the use of a deadly weapon, most sexual offenses, crimes involving a victim under 15 years of age,
and most traffic offenses (except DUI and Reckless Driving, which can be set aside).
But remember, prior convictions can always be used against you by the courts and the judicial system, even if they have been set aside and dismissed. Also, your prior criminal charges will still show up in criminal background checks. Unfortunately,
there is nothing that can be done to prevent that from happening because there is no way to completely erase your prior arrest history.