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State v. Mr. M (DMC No. 12321)

(40 COUNTS) FELONY COMPUTER TAMPERING, TAMPERING with PHYSICAL EVIDENCE, ACQUISITION of a NARCOTIC DRUG, THEFT and FRAUD SCHEMES REDUCED to 3.75 YEARS in PRISON – State v. Mr. M (DMC No. 12321) (Maricopa County Superior Court CR2012-007417): Our office was retained after Mr.  M, a former Phoenix Police Detective, was arrested and extradited to Arizona. Initially, we were retained for just the Initial Appearance which involved a 40 count indictment for Computer Tampering per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2316, Tampering with Physical Evidence per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2809, Acquisition of Narcotic Drugs per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-3408, Theft per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-1802, and Fraudulent Schemes per Arizona Revised Statute ARS 13-2310. Subsequent to this, the client retained us for the entire case.

At the not guilty Arraignment, a brief discussion was had with  the  assigned  prosecutor, who  advised  that  there  was  over  5000  pages  of discovery. He advised he would be filing a motion to designate the case “complex.” After this hearing, which was attended by my partner, Certified Criminal Law Specialist Christine Whalin, she and I met to discuss the motion to modify release conditions that had been filed and the anticipated voluminous discovery that was forthcoming.

In Court, co-counsel and I appeared to address the bond on the matter. We ascertained a $50,000 secured bond, which the client’s family subsequently posted. At the initial pretrial conference the, Commissioner granted the State’s motion to designate the case “complex” and reset the last day. An additional motion to modify release conditions had been filed at this time and a hearing was set to address that two weeks after the IPTC date. Subsequent to this court hearing co-counsel and I met with Mr. M to discuss his options in this case and the strategy that would be taken. During this meeting, we determined the best strategy would be for us to try to negotiate the best plea offer possible and  potentially  have  our  client  speak  with  the  Prosecutor  and/or  Detective.  Soon after this meeting, we received our first offer from the Prosecutor, which was five years in the Department of Corrections with a probation tail.  On Two weeks later, myself and co-counsel appeared to address our additional motion to modify release conditions – specifically requesting that Mr. M be able to reside in Pennsylvania while the case was ongoing. This motion was granted by the court.

After having received the voluminous discovery on this case, both co-counsel and I spent hours reviewing and summarizing the accusations being made by the State. We also spoke with our client about sending information to provide in a deviation letter to the Prosecutor.

A deviation letter was prepared and submitted to the Prosecutor for review. Although the deviation was denied, the Prosecutor indicated he was open to reconsideration with additional information. Subsequently, interviews began to commence. Soon after this, the Prosecutor approached us regarding a potential “free-talk” with our client. A free-talk occurred another free-talk occurred shortly thereafter. After the second free-talk, a modified offer was extended to either five years in the Department of Corrections or a range of three to seven years. After conveying this new offer to Mr. M, he requested we counter with a request for intensive probation for a stipulated term of seven years with counseling, community service and a fine of $10,000. This counter-offer was requested and staffed by the Prosecutor and ultimately we were successful in getting a meeting scheduled with the elected Maricopa County Attorney and the Prosecutor. We met at the County Attorney’s Office in an effort to have a probation offer extended. Unfortunately, there was no agreement on that, however, the State advised that we could pick a judge for change of plea and sentencing and they would not oppose whoever we chose.

Eventually a settlement conference occurred before a settlement Judge. At this time, Mr. M entered the plea agreement that allowed for a range in the Department of Corrections of anywhere between three to seven years. The plea was not accepted at the time that it was entered, in order to allow Mr. M to remain out of custody pending sentencing. I appeared for the sentencing and argued mitigating factors. Mr. M was sentenced to the low end of the range at 3.75 years in the Department of Corrections, and given credit for 53 days of presentence incarceration. He was placed on probation for 3 years following that term in the Department of Corrections.

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