Will You be Charged with a Federal Drug Crime if You Have Mental Illness in Arizona?


Many drug crimes are dealt with by the federal authorities. When the accused is dealt with in a federal court he or she often faces more severe treatment and longer prison time. If you have a mental illness in Arizona, you can face a federal drug crime.

Drug crimes fall under either state or federal jurisdiction. Although the majority of drug crimes are handled by the state, the feds will prosecute in some circumstances.

mentally ill people may receive a federal drug charge
Mental illness will not derail a federal drug charge

If the offender was arrested as part of a federal investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the FBI, or another federal agency, the offender will be dealt with in the federal courts.

The federal courts handle more serious drug offenses. Given Arizona’s proximity to Mexico, drug trafficking is high on the radar of federal drug prosecutors. People charged with drug possession are often also charged with trafficking or even manufacture. The federal courts get involved in drug offenses that cross state or national lines.

Federal offenses carry strict penalties and minimum sentences. If you are convicted of a first offense of trafficking more than 100 kilos of marijuana you face a minimum sentence of five years in prison.

Drug offenders and other people who suffer from mental disorders face many challenges in federal prisons. The Marshall Project has warned of suicides of people with mental disorders in prisons.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons faced increasing criticism of its treatment of inmates with mental illness five years ago. It published a new policy to help those with mental health problems. However, research by the Marshall Project found rather than expanding its treatment, the bureau lowered the number of prisoners designated for help by more than 35 percent. The department decided some prisoners with long histories of psychiatric problems did not require any routine care at all.

The Marshall Project noted how federal prisons classified just 3 percent of inmates as having a mental illness serious enough to require regular treatment. This compares with more than 30 percent of inmates in some U.S. states.

Nonviolent first-time drug offenders typically avoid prison sentences if they are dealt with by state courts in Arizona. Arizona passed Proposition 200 in 1996. It means judges can no longer send first or second-time nonviolent drug offenders to prison until their third conviction. However, you can be imprisoned for a first meth offense.

Drug crimes and the interplay between the state and federal systems can be confusing. If you suffer from a mental illness, the system may be bewildering. Please contact experienced Phoenix-based attorney Bernardo Garcia as soon as possible for help.

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A woman who Sent More than 159,000 Text Messages to a Man is Found Mentally Incompetent


The rapid growth of online technology has been accompanied by a rise in cases of cyberstalking and other electronic threats. A recent case in Arizona highlights how people with mental health issues can incriminate themselves online. It also illustrated how Rule 11 works in Arizona when defendants are mentally incompetent.

A woman from Paradise Valley is fighting charges over stalking and criminal trespassing. She is accused of sending more than 159,000 text messages to a man who she went out on a single date with.

Police claim Jacqueline Ades sent a man more than 159,000 text messages after she met him on a dating site. Investigators said some of the messages sent over a 10-month period were threatening. 

Prosecutors said Ades started threatening her former date after Paradise Valley officers escorted her from the man’s property in July 2017. Texts appeared to threaten mutilation, and cannibalism according to police.

Ades has being held in Maricopa County’s Estrella Jail without bond since May 2018. Her case attracted national media attention.

A report in AZCentral noted how her attorney requested a Rule 11 competency hearing. The request for the hearing in January followed concerns that Ades did not understand the charges and the proceedings against her and was unable to assist in her own defense.

Ades was deemed mentally incompetent at a Rule 11 hearing in March. According to report, she rejected a plea deal that would have released her from jail because she had already served the required time. She insists on pleading not guilty.

Media reports stated two of the three mental-health professionals found the defendant mentally incompetent to stand trial, but restorable. One thought she was mentally competent. The trial was delayed for at least two months.

Ades said in an interview the whole episode was a joke. The New York Post reported she claimed the jury would order her to marry the man she allegedly bombarded with text messages and she was previously abducted by Walt Disney.

Police said they arrested Ades when she took a bath in the man’s home while he was out of the country.

The competency rule or Rule 11 is important. It protects people with mental illnesses who cannot understand the proceedings they are facing and are not able to consult with a lawyer. Defendants with mental illnesses often make a recovery and are able to face charges when they are of sound mind.

At the Garcia Law Firm, our attorney has considerable experience in these cases. Please contact the firm at (602) 340-1999.

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Can a Lawyer Insist on an Insanity Defense Against a Client’s Wishes?


The question of whether a lawyer can insist on an insanity defense against a client’s wishes was recently examined in a case heard before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a lawyer cannot insist on an insanity defense against a client’s wishes, even if the defendant shows clear signs of insanity.

Can a lawyer insist on an insanity defense?
A lawyer cannot insist on an insanity defense even when the alternative may keep a defendant in jail, court rules

The case involved an Arizona man who said he stabbed his cellmate numerous times because demons drove him to it. The justices granted Jonathan Read a new trial after ruling his lawyer wrongly pressed an insanity defense against his wishes.

Arizona has a guilty except insane defense. On occasions, our attorney will recommend a defendant uses this defense. However, it’s important to secure the consent of the accused.  The decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates why.

The panel said Read’s lawyer violated his Sixth Amendment rights by entering the insanity plea on his behalf in stabbing of Read’s cellmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Phoenix in 2014.

Read was indicted in 2015 on a count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and another count of assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm. He stabbed his cellmate 13 times with a knife on May 31, 2014.

Read said he wanted to represent himself. The judge in his case appointed a lawyer to represent him. The judge said Read’s actions were “decidedly bizarre.” He said Read’s arguments in defense to the charges against him were “nonsensical.”

The 9th Circuit panel ruled that the trial judge made his decision without the benefit of a 2018 Supreme Court case. That case established while attorneys are responsible for the legal strategy in a case, they must still comply with the defendant’s wishes.

Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins wrote that the trial judge faced a difficult dilemma.

He said he had to decide whether to allow a mentally ill defendant to eschew a plausible defense of insanity in favor of one “based in delusion” that had no chance of success.  

While Read’s defense of demonic possession would have been ineffective, the circuit court ruled it was what he wanted.

The Circuit Court decision was backed by University of Arizona law professor Barbara E. Bergman. She said the appeals court did the correct thing.  She said the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution gives the right to the effective “assistance of counsel.”

However, even in cases in which the defendant suffers from a mental illness, the attorney is still an assistant. The final decision rests with the defendant.

 Read said he had no memory of the attack on his cellmate. Court record said they had no disagreements before the attack.

Read was initially ruled incompetent to stand trial. He was later found competent after another evaluation. When his attorney confirmed he would pursue an insanity plea, Read underwent another evaluation.

In three evaluations, doctors found Read had a schizotypical personality and a “cannabis-use disorder.”

If you or a family member with a mental disorder is accused of a crime, you should consult our Arizona criminal defense lawyer. Bernardo Garcia can discuss the insanity defense and your options. Please contact us as soon as possible.

Posted in Mental Health Defenses | Tagged |

Arizona Locks Up More Mentally Ill People than it Hospitalizes


Arizona’s safety net for mentally ill people is a flimsy one. The state locks up more people than it hospitalizes and services for people with disorders are under fire.

An AZBigMedia report looked at how the state can improve its mental health services. In 2016, Mental Health America’s annual State of Mental Health Report placed Arizona at the foot of a table for mental health services. The report noted the high incidence of mental illness in the state and low access to mental healthcare.

Arizona locks up mentally ill people
Arizona locks up people with mental illnesses

Mental Health America noted factors like soaring poverty, low high school graduation rates, and elevated levels of toxic chemical release. Poor access to mental healthcare services elevates these issues.

Experts say Arizona needs more mental health professionals to address the lack of resources.

The Treatment Advocacy Center said Arizona failed to provide the number of beds needed to provide adequate treatment for people with mental illness.

AzBigMedia reported 50 beds per 100,000 people is the national standard. In 2016, there were just 4.4 beds per 100,000 people, ranking Arizona 48th nationally in terms of beds per capita.

The article noted a link between states with better access to mental health care and less violent crime, less unemployment, lower rates of child malnutrition and better high school graduation rates.

In contrast, Arizona locks up more people with mental illness than it hospitalizes. The article alluded to a 9.3-1 chance of being incarcerated versus being hospitalized if a person is mentally ill, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center.

When experts discuss the dramatic problems Arizona faces in dealing with its mental health crisis, a theme that reoccurs throughout the conversation is the increasing need for mental healthcare specialists.

Mental Health America’s report highlighted a particular issue with young people who suffer from mental health problems.

Arizona ranked 32nd in the nation for mental healthcare for adults and 47th for mental healthcare for young people. The report noted a lack of specialists able to treat infants, children and young adults.

Young people’s access to mental healthcare was significantly worse than that of adults according to the report.

The finding is alarming because more young people are coming up through the criminal justice system. People with untreated and undiagnosed mental health problems are more likely to end up breaking the law.

While many studies disprove an automatic link between mental health and crime, people who suffer from conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders are more likely to offend if these conditions go untreated. If you or a family member is facing Arizona criminal court proceedings and suffer from mental illness, place contact the Garcia Law Firm at (602) 340-1999.

Posted in Mental Health | Tagged |

Report Considers How Arizona Heat Fuels Crimes Committed by the Mentally Ill


When temperatures rise in the summer months in Arizona, people who suffer from mental illnesses often experience an uptick in problems.

A recent report in AZCentral highlighted how the Arizona heat may fuel crimes committed by the mentally ill in the state.

The reporters spoke to Teresa Jimenez Dupee, a woman from Yuma who hears voices in her head when the mercury rises. She spoke of her elevated problems during the summer.

Arizona heat fuels a mental heath crisis in the state
Mental illnesses is exacerbated as summer heat takes hold

Yuma is one of the hottest places in Arizona. It is often listed as one of the hottest places in the United States.

According to Sylvia Flores who runs the Yuma office of Hope Inc. a non-profit health center that helps people with a range of mental illnesses including bipolar disorders and schizophrenia, the summer heat has a detrimental effect on center users. She said heat takes an additional toll on people who suffer from mental illness.

The summer can pose a grave danger to the mentally ill, particularly those who are homeless, and it may have an impact on crime.

Out of people who died of heat-associated causes in Maricopa County in 2016, around 15 percent suffered from mental illness, according to an analysis of autopsy reports by Arizona Republic.

The Arizona heat appears to be contributing to the deaths of mentally ill people. Just over 4 percent of people who died across the nation that year had a medical history of schizophrenia. Nationally, 1.1 percent of the U.S. adult population has schizophrenia, the National Institute of Mental Health states.

Dr. David Eisenman, a professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told AZCentral, certain medications including antipsychotics and antidepressants can block the body’s ability to regulate its own temperature. This means people with mental illnesses may face a higher danger of heatstroke and other illnesses related to rising temperatures.

Dupee who takes the antidepressant desvenlafaxine and the antipsychotic haloperidol said she has suffered heatstroke on four different occasions.

Yuma has a homeless community by the Colorado River. It’s particularly vulnerable in the summer when the heat becomes unbearable.

A report in PsychCentral pointed to a potential link between hot weather and increased violent crime.

A team of researchers suggested violent rates are consistently higher near the equator compared to other parts of the world because of hot temperatures.

PsychCentral developed a new model, called CLASH (CLimate Aggression, and Self-control in Humans).

The research went beyond the theory that heat is linked to aggressive behavior. It indicated a hot climate combined with less variation in seasonal temperatures can lead to more hopelessness and less self-control, contributing to aggression and violence.

The model was outlined in the journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Lead author Dr. Paul van Lange, a professor of psychology in Amsterdam said people living in hot climates have less hope for the future.

At the Garcia Law Firm, our attorney has helped mentally ill people charged with crimes for decades. We are aware of some of the factors that can contribute to mental stress such as extreme heat. Please call our attorney for a consultation at (602) 340-1999.

Posted in Arizona, Mental Health | Tagged , |

Mental Health is the Focus of Anti-Gun Legislation Move in Arizona


Arizona has one of the worst ratios of students to school counselors in the nation. Concerns that a lack of intervention sparks potential gun violence led high school students in the state to make mental health concerns the focus of an anti-gun legislation move.

March for Our Lives Arizona, a movement led by teenagers, called for reforms earlier this year. It has over 65 clubs in schools across the state as well as seven regional groups, and members in every single congressional district.

March for our Lives Arizona supports anti-gun legislation
School shooting sparks support for anti-gun legislation

The teens brought a bill to the state capitol in February, reported The Nation. The legislation called for school districts to be required to draw up school-safety plans.

The plans would outline how each school would help students facing mental-health crises. The legislation would require schools to develop partnerships with agencies and outside community organizations. Students wanted partnerships to allow them to be referred for help when counselors cannot provide long-term care.

The legislation ended up stuck in the House Rules Committee. The students pledged to keep pressing for mental health reforms in schools.

Jordan Harb and Emma Rowland, members of March for Our Lives Arizona who wrote the article, said the students would keep pressing for change a year after 17 staff and students were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. They wrote:

“The mental-health crisis cannot be solved with one bill. But it is a step in the right direction, and we will keep fighting for better support in schools, because ignoring students’ mental health is a threat to school safety. We showed that when we introduced our bill on February 6, that we have a voice.”

Shootings at Virginia Tech and Aurora in Colorado were carried out by mentally disturbed people. However, the connection between mental illness and gun violence is tenuous, according to some studies.

James Holmes, the shooter who killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012, reached out for psychiatric help before the shooting. Court-appointed psychiatrists said he was mentally ill. He was not successful in claiming an insanity defense in his murder trial. The psychiatrists told the court he was mentally ill but not insane.

People often wrongly assume mentally ill people are likely to be violent. If you or a mentally ill family has been arrested, please call attorney Bernardo Garcia at (602) 340-1999.


Posted in Mental Health, Uncategorized |

When Can an Employer Ask About Your Criminal History in Arizona?


It’s hard to put your criminal past behind you in Arizona. Job and college applications ask you about previous offenses and a potential employer can quiz you about it from the outset.

Earlier this year, a bill that would have shielded job applicants from questions about their criminality early in the application process, failed to progress.

When can an Arizona employer ask about your criminal history?
When an employer can ask about your criminal history

Senate Bill 1437 was also known as “ban the box” legislation. The legislation would have prevented employers in the private sectors from asking job applicants about their criminal histories until employers gave applicants a job interview. The judiciary committee killed the “ban the box” bill in March, reported AZMirror.

The bill would also have limited questions to criminal records within the preceding seven years only. SB1437 stipulated job applicants would only have to reveal convictions directly related to the job. The bill passed the Senate and was assigned to the House Rules Committee, but never received a hearing.

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee questioned the ability of the legislature to govern private employers.

Rep. John Allen, R-Phoenix said he did not believe the bill was constitutional and predicted the courts would strike it down. He questioned the authority of the state to restrict private sector employers in asking about criminal records. He said:

“I know a lot of states do it with government entities, but I don’t know if we have the legal ability to go into a private company and tell them what they can’t look at.”

The failure of the bill to progress means an employer can ask you about your criminal history in Arizona from the outset.

The bill was known as the “ban the box” legislation because the applicant must check on job applications if they’ve been convicted of a felony.

The legislation was restricted to companies with over 15 employees. It would not have applied to jobs that require fingerprint clearance from the state, positions at public airports, jobs in firefighting, law enforcement, prosecutorial agencies, emergency medical services transport, court security or probation offices.

Other criminal justice bills died in the legislature this session. They included House Bill 2424, a measure that would have addressed an ongoing issue with Class 6 undesignated felonies. It would have automatically designated them as Class 1 misdemeanors.

Class 6 felonies are the lowest level felony in the state. Under the existing law, they are automatically considered felonies unless otherwise designated as a misdemeanor.

The bill aimed to change the law so as a defendant would only be convicted of a felony if he or she failed to complete the required programming. The bill unanimously passed on the House floor but did not appear on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda.

Your criminal history in Arizona can seriously impact your job prospects. Talk to our criminal defense lawyer today about the best course of action if you have been charged with a crime at (602) 340-1999.


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Brain Scan Evidence Plays an Increasing Role in Criminal Trials


Brain scan evidence is a fast-evolving area of science. Although it’s still developing, these techniques are playing an increasing role in criminal trials.

Research by Duke Law found hundreds of cases over the last 10 years were influenced by the results of brain scan analysis. The results of MRI and CAT scans that can point to brain abnormalities were used to make a case for leniency in about 5 percent of murder cases, Phys.org reported.

However, the use of brain scan evidence rose to a quarter of all cases in death penalty trials. The evidence is often used to support a claim that the defendant lacked the capacity to control his actions.

Brain scan evidence plays important role in criminal trials
Brain scan evidence plays key role in criminal trials

It’s not clear if this evidence is beneficial or detrimental to the defendant in these cases.

Some supporters of brain scan evidence argue it may make a judge or juror less likely to want to punish a defendant for his or her crime. Evidence of a brain disorder suggests the defendant had less intent to commit the crime.

Alternatively, brain scan evidence may make the offender appear to be more predestined to violence and more dangerous. Under this argument, he or she would be more likely to re-offend in the future.

A survey by Phys.org found the use of neurobiological evidence like MRIs is more likely to lead to shorter prison sentences and longer involuntary hospitalization terms than the equivalent psychological evidence.

The evidence suggested brain scan evidence is more effective in establishing an insanity defense. People found to be guilty except insane in Arizona face a term of confinement in a secure institution equivalent to the length of time they would have served in prison if they were found guilty.

Brain scan evidence can play an important part in criminal cases but there is a limit to the ability of MRIs and CAT scans to pinpoint complicated mental disorders.

When mental illness is a factor in a criminal proceeding it’s important to talk to a lawyer who is well versed in these issues. If you or a family member with a mental illness has been arrested in Arizona, please call me at (602) 340-1999.

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