Interviewer: With a prescription medication case, do you think are jury’s more empathetic to that?
Michael Munoz: I think they are, yes. I believe that if you don’t have any substance in your body other than the prescribed medication and you have proof of the prescriptions, I believe that juries are very sympathetic to that type of defense because at the end of the day, the person was taking the drug that the doctor told them to take and they were taking it the way they were supposed to, and I believe those cases have much more jury appeal for the defense than other types of cases.
Prescription Drug Related DUI Cases Are Easier to Handle for Defense Attorneys
Interviewer: So you have alcohol related DUIs and you have drug related DUIs, and then within the drug related DUIs, you have someone who had a legitimate prescription. Which of those are the most difficult to deal with?
Michael Munoz: If you have a prescription for the drug, then you legally were allowed to be taking the drug and so a DUI based on that is going to be a much more difficult case for the state to prove because you are going to show that the person was allowed to take that drug. As far as alcohol, where alcohol is legal, but if you drink enough alcohol and you are intoxicated, then while that case is still defend able, it is not as easy to defend as the prescription drug case where a doctor told you to take it, you have a prescription and as long as you can show that you took it the way that you were supposed to, then that’s a much better case for defense. Every case is different with different circumstances, different facts, different nuance, so there really isn’t a one that takes longer than the other, but alcohol and a prescription drug or illegal drug DUI could take equally as long. It really just depends on the circumstances of the case.
Repeat Prescription Drug Related DUI Offenders in the State of Arizona
Interviewer: Have you had cases where someone had multiple prescription drug DUIs?
Michael Munoz: I’ve seen people who have been charged with a second time prescription drug DUI. Yes I have seen that before. well, depending on if the second DUI arrest is within 7 years of the first case, and in the first case the person was convicted, then they treat it like a second time DUI which triggers more severe consequences potentially, higher fines and fees, potentially more jail time, loss of license for 1 year. So if you are convicted, of a second DUI, regardless if it’s a regular alcohol or prescription drug DUI, they are both going to have more severe consequences because it is a second DUI within 7 years.
The Process of Expungement Does Not Exist in the State of Arizona
Interviewer: So could you get a drug related DUI expunged or set aside?
Michael Munoz: Well there is a difference between expungements and set-asides. Expungement is like taking an eraser to your criminal history and Arizona does not have expungements, they do not exist. Arizona does have a process called a motion to set aside judgment and what that means is, after a case is resolved, and a person has done and completed everything that they were supposed to based on their sentence, a person can apply to the court, do a motion called a motion to set aside judgment and vacate the guilty judgment. They can do that. If a judge signs it, it does not erase your criminal record.
A Motion to Set Aside Does Not Take Away From the State’s Ability to Use a Charge Against You in the Future
Your criminal conviction is still on your record but also on your record you should have the order that says it was set aside. So it does not erase it, it is next to it and for some people, they like that. They want to be able to show that to maybe their future employer or their family like, ‘Hey, I did get that conviction but it was set aside by a judge.’ Motions are set aside if granted. It does not mean that the criminal history has been erased, what I mean by that is if someone were to get in more trouble later, or maybe another DUI, they would still be able to use that DUI against that person, even if it was ordered to be set aside. So it does not take away from the states ability to use it against you later.