Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. From
our disclaimer at the bottom of the page you will note that we are not
permitted to give legal advice. What I am sharing with you is a matter
of published law and more than two decades of personal experience.
What you described certainly sounds like a litany of offenses.
However, your situation may not be as desperate as you imagine. In
Arizona the various offenses you mentioned are typically lumped into
one violation, under one statute: ARS § 28-693. You can read the
statute yourself to see what I mean.
ARS § 28-693
Don?t get me wrong; this IS still a serious offense. Upon conviction a
judge may suspend the license for up to ninety days and impose hefty
fines and court costs. On just the second offense there is a MANDATORY
revocation and also a MANDATORY jail sentence of no less than twenty
days in jail, so you can see just how seriously this significant first
offense is viewed by the court.
Typically on the initial appearance the court merely expects the
defendant to declare his guilt or innocence. If he pleads ?guilty?
future hearings are usually suspended and the matter is settled with
an immediate imposition of sentence. If the defendant pleads ?not
guilty? the matter is usually set off to another date for a hearing of
the facts in the case. This gives the court time to summon the officer
to court and prepare any witnesses that the defendant or state may
have. This is also the time that a defendant usually retains counsel.
On the other hand, depending on the caseload of the court, if, on the
initial appearance, if there is time enough to hold a hearing, the
court may immediately summon the officer to court and the hearing
could theoretically be held that same day. It would be wise to be
prepared for that eventuality should it occur, but usually courts will
allow you time to retain counsel if you request to be represented, or
the court will appoint a public defender to handle your case.
So here are your options:
You can go to court and plead guilty on your initial appearance and
hope the penalties are not too stiff. (usually not a real good idea in
You can go to court and plead not guilty without an attorney with the
reasonable expectation that they will set your hearing for another day
until you can retain counsel. (not really a bad idea in my opinion
because it does involve a measure of risk)
You can retain counsel now (which I recommend) and be prepared for any
The bottom line is this - you have a 17 year old, somewhat disabled
son. For all intents and purposes he is a juvenile and his diminished
mental capacity, attention span, behavior issues, OCD or what-have-you
that often comes with Asperger?s and other forms of autism, may even
abundantly qualify him as such. A clever and knowledgeable attorney
may be able to keep the case in Juvenile court where penalties are
often lower, or have it remanded back to Juvenile court should it be
bound over to adult court. And attorney may actually even be able to
present the facts on the day of the initial arraignment and prevent
you from having to endure other court dates.
Having been in law enforcement myself for just short of 25 years now,
I can tell you that in most jurisdictions lawyers and prosecutors and
judges all know one another relatively well, and some of them
communicate outside of court as well as in. It isn?t uncommon then for
some matters to be influenced by these relationships. I?m not saying
that the system is broken and all the people in it are crooked; quite
the contrary. Unbeknownst to most people these folks are often quite
sympathetic to families who have disabled family members and they
often do what they can to keep your plate from becoming over-filled.
If you are fortunate enough to get a lawyer that has this kind of
relationship with other court officials it would not come as a shock
to learn that they had discussed the case well in advance of the
arraignment and the matter might easily be put to rest with a
frightening trip to court and a stern admonishment from a judge. The
fact is, if you don?t TRY to get such an attorney you will never know,
Finally, assuming the worst case scenario and your case begins to look
like you are going to be convicted. You can also get an attorney to
help you get into a defensive driving course. These course usually
result in the rapid restoration of a suspended license or a drop in
the number of derogatory points which ultimately helps keep your
insurance rates from going through the roof (or in this case perhaps,
a defensive driving course may actually help keep the boy from
becoming uninsurable altogether.)
These reasons are why I recommend getting counsel before the initial
arraignment. It isn?t absolutely necessary, but clearly it is the wise
thing to do in this instance.
I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher
ARS § 28-693
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