It’s not rocket science and, in fact, it’s pretty basic. Yet, few
criminal defense attorneys in Arizona understand what a Form 4 is - let alone its value in defending
clients facing serious felony charges.
When someone is arrested in Arizona, whether it’s for a
sex crime, a
white collar offense, a drug conspiracy charge, or even something as minor as littering, the
arresting officer must complete a Form 4. Although many people have been
mystified over the origin of this important document’s title, the
truth is that the term Form 4 is derived from the fact that it originated
in a book of criminal law forms, somewhere between Form 3 and Form 5.
Amazing, isn’t it?
What’s Contained In a Form 4?
When the arresting officer completes the document, some of the things that
are typically included about the person who was arrested are:
- Residence and length of time at the that address
- Injuries to any victim
- Prior convictions
Domestic violence issues
Information applicable to
- Probable Cause Statement
This last item is perhaps the most important. I’ll get back to that
in a moment, so please bear with me.
Who Reads a Form 4?
When someone is arrested in Arizona, they must have an initial appearance
within 24 hours and have their release conditions determined by a judge
or magistrate. The first thing the judge will do is review the Form 4
to see if there is probable cause for the arrest.
The probable cause statement is generally a summary of the conduct that
the officer believes constitutes a crime and forms the basis for an arrest.
Sometimes the statement has minimal detail and other times it looks like
a full police report. If the judge does not find probable cause for the
arrest, the person must be released on the spot.
If the judge
does find probable cause after reading the Form 4, then the Court must set release conditions.
The Court will utilize the other information in the Form 4 to determine
how much bond is necessary to ensure that the person will appear at all
future court dates. In some cases, the person can be released on their
own recognizance, i.e. their promise to appear.
How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Use a Form 4
Let me first say that I love to utilize a Form 4 for my client’s
defense. Very few other criminal defense attorneys in Phoenix do and,
for the life of me, I just can’t understand why they don’t.
Not only can a Form 4 be chock-full of information about an investigation
that police don’t necessarily want to reveal right away, but they
are also submitted by the officer under penalty of perjury.
If the officer later makes statements or gives testimony that is contrary
to the Form 4, he or she can be
cross-examined about the inconsistencies between their respective statements. And even in the worst case scenario
(or the best case scenario for my client), it is unlikely that perjury
charges will be brought against the officer (remember that we are in Arizona),
but the jury will almost never take kindly to this sort of thing and will
think poorly of the officer’s credibility. That only assists in
getting a not guilty verdict.
If you or someone you love has been arrested or charged with a serious
contact us at (602) 663-9100 to speak with our experienced and successful Phoenix criminal defense