Practice Areas

Criminal Defense Lawyer Serving Tempe and Surrounding Areas

Arizona has enacted harsh laws criminalizing a wide range of conduct. Whether you are charged with a DUI, a drug crime, or another offense, it is crucial to retain an experienced attorney who understands the criminal justice system, the laws, and how to present a defense under the facts of your case. Tempe criminal defense attorney James Novak provides experienced legal counsel to people who are facing charges for DUI, drug crimes, assault, weapons offenses, burglary and related offenses, and Internet crimes, among other offenses. He is a former prosecutor who now puts those insights to work to assist people throughout the Phoenix area.


Very harsh penalties may be imposed for a DUI conviction in Arizona. If you drive in Arizona, you have given implied consent for the state to test your blood alcohol concentration if you are arrested under suspicion of DUI. However, you may be charged with a DUI even if your blood alcohol content is under the legal limit of .08%. Charges may be brought if you are impaired to the slightest degree while in control of a vehicle.

You should not assume that a DUI conviction is inevitable. We may be able to defend the charges on the basis of constitutional or procedural violations. For example, we will look at the circumstances surrounding the stop and the arrest and evaluate whether the officer had a reasonable suspicion that you were driving under the influence and whether there was probable cause for the arrest. We may also look at whether field sobriety tests were conducted properly and whether proper lab procedures were followed.

Drug Crimes

Under the Arizona Uniform Controlled Substances Act, there are five different schedules of controlled substances. These include prescription drugs, street drugs, narcotics, stimulants, and hallucinogens. The penalties imposed depend on which type of drug is at issue, the nature of the offense, and the quantity of drugs involved. A sentencing range is defined for each drug crime, which includes a presumptive sentence that may be increased to a maximum for aggravated and other circumstances, or that may be reduced based on mitigating factors down to a minimum penalty. For example, possessing a narcotic is illegal under ARS § 13-3408(A)(1), and it may be punished as a class 4 felony, which has a presumptive term of two years and six months imprisonment.

If we can get evidence of the drug suppressed in your case, we may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense. One way to accomplish this is to evaluate whether the police failed to abide by the constitutional protections provided under the Fourth Amendment. This assures that people have a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures in their persons, houses, papers, and effects. As applied to any given situation, the rules surrounding this right may be complex, and it is important to retain an experienced attorney who understands which rules apply to your case.

Assault and Aggravated Assault

Simple assault is a misdemeanor that may be charged if you are proved beyond a reasonable doubt to have intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly caused physical injuries to someone, have intentionally placed someone in reasonable fear of being physically injured, or have knowingly touched someone with an intent to injure, provoke, or insult them.

Aggravated assault may occur under many different circumstances. For example, it may be charged when there is a simple assault that results in a serious physical injury, disfigurement, or loss of function, or that was committed while the victim was bound and restrained, or that was inflicted by someone who was at least 18 years old against someone who was under age 15. Aggravated assault charges are serious and may result in a felony conviction. However, our firm can work to create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors and investigate whether self-defense may be an appropriate defense.

Weapons Offenses

Chapter 31 of the Arizona Revised Statutes defines most state firearm and gun offenses. There are also many weapons offenses that are prohibited under federal law. For example, under A.R.S. § 13-3102, misconduct with weapons may occur in a wide range of circumstances, including when someone possesses a deadly or prohibited weapon or carries a deadly weapon other than a pocket knife in a means of transportation in order to further a violent crime, felony offense, or serious offense. Factors that may affect the sentence for a conviction include whether there are priors, whether the victim was under age 18, and whether the offense resulted in a serious bodily injury or death.

Burglary and Other Theft Offenses

Burglary is prohibited under ARS § 13-1506 – 13-1508. You may be charged with first, second, or third degree burglary if you enter or stay in a structure with an intent to commit a theft or felony there. Defenses that we may consider raising on a client’s behalf include duress, necessity, renunciation, and justification. Other property crimes include larceny, arson, criminal trespass, and criminal damage.

Internet Crimes

Internet crimes include identity theft, credit card fraud, illegal downloading, Internet auction fraud, computer hacking, and pornography. Each of these crimes is governed by a separate statute. Identity theft under Arizona Revised Statute section 13-2008, for example, involves knowingly taking or otherwise stealing someone else's personally identifiable information without permission and with the intent of using the identity for an unlawful goal, to cause a loss to that person, or to obtain employment. A first offense of identity theft is charged as a class 4 felony. Like other crimes, Internet crimes must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and we can work to push back against the prosecution and undermine its case.

Retain a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tempe to Protect Your Rights

If you are charged with a crime under Arizona law, we can strategize to build and advocate for a defense that is appropriate for your circumstances. Tempe criminal defense lawyer James E. Novak represents people throughout the Phoenix area, including in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and other communities in Maricopa County. Call our office at (480) 413-1499 or use our online form to set up a free appointment if you need a DUI attorney or assistance in another criminal matter.

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