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The Risks of DUI Without Driving


In many states, those accused of driving under the influence can face severe legal penalties. For most individuals, being accused of driving under the influence usually conjures up the notion that driving a vehicle must be involved. However, like many states, Arizona has altered its DUI laws. Now, to be guilty of a DUI, you only need to be “controlling” a vehicle. To protect your interests, it is important to understand what constitutes a DUI and the risks involved in being accused of a DUI. So our staff of DUI lawyers in Flagstaff, Arizona, help explain.

The Non-Driving DUI

Under Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381, to be accused of a DUI, you need to only be in “actual physical control of a vehicle” while intoxicated. The source of intoxication can be liquor, drugs, a vapor-releasing object containing a toxic substance, or any combination of these substances. The main issue with the element of “control” is that the state of Arizona has had some difficulty in defining exactly what “controlling” a vehicle means.

In a recent Arizona Supreme Court decision in State v. Zaragoza, the court attempted to clarify the statute. In the decision, the court identified that a person’s intent in regard to driving the vehicle is irrelevant. The relevant element is whether there is actual and imminent danger to the driver or to others while the person is in control of the vehicle. Other important considerations are whether the car was running, the radio was on, the keys were in the ignition, the heater or air conditioner was running, and if the driver’s seat was reclined. Overall, the court will typically examine all of the facts to determine whether you were in control of the vehicle.

The Legal Risks of a DUI

Those accused of a standard DUI often face severe legal consequences if found guilty. You face penalties from both the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles and Arizona’s criminal court. The most likely immediate consequences are license suspension and hefty fines. In terms of legal consequences in criminal court, standard DUIs can lead to 10 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,250, required alcohol screening, community service, and an ignition interlock device.

The legal risks of a DUI increase if you are found guilty of an extreme DUI. According to Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381, an extreme DUI is when you have a blood alcohol level above .15. The penalties for this type of DUI include at least 90 days in jail, a fine of $3,000, driver’s license revocation for 12 months, completion of a drug and alcohol screening program, community service, and an ignition interlock. Another significant factor in terms of legal risk is whether the DUI is your first or second offense. If the DUI is a second offense, the legal risks increase.


If you have been accused of a DUI, getting the right legal support is crucial to your case. A Flagstaff DUI attorney will be able to analyze your case and help you avoid the severe legal consequences involved in being found guilty of a DUI. If you are looking for a DUI lawyer in the Flagstaff or Northern Arizona area, then the law firm of Gonzales & Poirier can provide you with the legal support you need. With our


The Dangers of Misdiagnosis


Receiving medical care from a medical professional is meant to be a safe and positive experience. However, according to the National Center for Policy Analysis, an estimated 10 to 20 percent of cases are misdiagnosed, and a large percentage of these diagnostic errors are life-threatening. Another common problem is delayed diagnosis. Each of these categories is characterized as medical negligence. In and around Flagstaff, medical malpractice occurs when medical professionals fail to apply a standard of care in handling a client’s health needs, and they can be held legally liable for their actions. To help you better understand these issues, below is an overview of such failure to diagnose and delayed diagnosis.

Failure to Diagnose

When you visit your medical care professional, you are entrusting him or her with the responsibility to diagnose any medical issues you may have and provide you with adequate care. While there are some cases where a failure to diagnose is trivial, there are other cases where a medical care professional can be held liable. More serious instances include those that involve diabetes, cancer, and other commonly understood medical problems. The risks involved with misdiagnosis can include serious health implications and emotional distress.

Claims involving a failure to diagnose require the patient to prove three elements. The patient must prove the existence of a doctor-patient relationship, that the medical professional was negligent, and the negligence directly caused the patient harm. To help satisfy the burden of proof, expert witnesses are a highly valuable resource that may be used.

Delayed Diagnosis

Delayed diagnosis also accounts for a number of medical negligence claims. This type of issue occurs when a medical professional fails to correctly diagnose a serious medical condition. Typically, delayed diagnosis occurs due to negligence on behalf of the medical professional. The risks involved with delayed diagnosis are similar to a failure to diagnose. For instance, victims of delayed diagnosis can experience an injury or a stage of disease that would not have occurred had the medical professional diagnosed the disease in a timely manner. The most devastating consequences of a delayed diagnosis are severe physical consequences or even death. Similar to a failure to diagnose, the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. The plaintiff must provide sufficient evidence that the medical professional’s negligence in delaying diagnosis caused a loss of chance or further injury.

Statute of Limitations in Arizona

Medical negligence claims are most effective when they are filed immediately after the injury or as early as possible because evidence of injury is often still clear. To help protect the interests of the parties and to curtail the need for expert testimony, Arizona Revised Statute 12-206 requires malpractice actions to be filed less than two years after the date of injury.

If you are the victim of medical negligence or a wrongful death, seeking the help of a legal professional at the onset of your injury is to your benefit. The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier are dedicated to providing you with the legal support you need, and our trustworthy Flagstaff malpractice lawyers serve the Northern Arizona area. Reaching out today can help you gain a better tomorrow.


When Intimacy Gets Complicated


Victims of sexual assault face devastating consequences for their ordeal. Oftentimes, victims struggle to regain a sense of physical and emotional security, and they can develop a range of disorders and depression. If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual assault, then understanding how your state treats the crime against you can help when it comes to seeking legal recourse. Every state tends to treat sexual assault differently by providing its own guidelines as to what constitutes sexual assault and what does not. If you have been the victim of sexual assault in the state of Arizona, below is an overview of what conditions constitute sexual assault.

Perpetrators of Sexual Assault

According to Arizona’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Program, the state has seen a rise in the total number of sexual assault arrest charges. In the past 10 years, there has been a 24 percent increase in sexual assault charges, which means that victims are gaining the empowerment and support they need to take the necessary legal recourse against their assailants. Current statistics also indicate that, unfortunately, two-thirds of assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. Furthermore, 44 percent of victims are under the age of 18, and 80 percent are under age 30.

In the state of Arizona, sexual assault is treated as a criminal offense. Under Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1406, sexual assault is a class 2 felony. First-time offenders can face a minimum of 5.25 years in prison and a maximum of 14 years in prison. Prior convictions warrant much more severe penalties, which typically lead to an increased prison sentence.

Intimacy or Sexual Assault

Differentiating between intimacy and sexual assault can be very difficult. However, there are two significant factors that affect whether an encounter is intimate or sexual assault. These factors are the victim’s consent and his or her age. First, an individual is a victim of sexual assault if the assailant knowingly engages in sexual intercourse or oral sexual conduct with them without their consent. The second instance, which involves age, is characterized as statutory rape if the victim is a minor under the age of 15 and the assailant is an adult.

The Burden of Proof

When it comes to cases of sexual assault, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. The prosecution must provide evidence and witnesses to prove that the defendant committed a crime. One major difficulty that most courts and victims face is navigating this dilemma when alcohol is involved. Alcohol makes satisfying the burden of proof more difficult, because intoxication tends to cloud judgment and prevents parties from recounting the exact course of events that led to the assault.

Legal Recourse

If you or someone you love has been accused of or is the victim of sexual assault in the state of Arizona, the Law Offices of Gonzales and Poirier can provide you with the legal support you need. Our Flagstaff criminal law firm caters to clients throughout our community and the Northern Arizona area. We can help you navigate through this difficult period to help you get the justice you deserve.

Arizona Criminal Probation Information & Details

Open Handcuffs

Supervised probation is ordered by judges in Arizona as an alternative to jail time, and it enables the convicted individual to remain within the community. It begins at the end of a prison term and allows the judge to issue a more lenient jail sentence. Supervised probation has three purposes:

  1. Ensures public safety.
  2. Offers rehabilitation to the offender.
  3. Ensures the court’s orders and requirements are met.

Supervised Probation Periods

The length of probation is at the judge’s discretion, though there are certain maximum limits to adhere to depending on the crime:

  • Class 2 felony: seven years.
  • Class 3 felony: five years.
  • Class 4 felony: four years.
  • Class 5 or 6 felony: three years.
  • Class 1 misdemeanor: three years – DUI convictions are an exception, with a five-year maximum.
  • Class 2 misdemeanor: two years.
  • Class 3 misdemeanor: one year.

In instances where the court has ruled that you must make economic restitution as part of the probation order, an extra 12 months can be added to the probation period if you have not met the court’s requirements.

What Happens During Probation?

Once the court imposes a sentence of supervised probation, a probation officer will be assigned to you, and he monitors and assists you. You may be ordered to pay fines, participate in substance abuse or counseling programs, abstain from alcohol, and submit to breathalyzer testing depending on the circumstances of your probation. Your probation officer will interview you and make the relevant arrangements before monitoring you to ensure the conditions of probation are met.

You are required to fully cooperate with the probation officer when it comes to adhering to the conditions of your probation. If you violate the terms of your probation, your officer can initiate a petition to revoke your probation and send you back to prison. He will testify against you in court as a witness during these proceedings.

Probation Violations

Violation of probation is a serious matter, and examples of this behavior include:

  • Failing a breathalyzer or urinalysis test.
  • Committing a new crime.
  • Possession of a firearm.
  • Consuming alcohol.
  • Failure to show up for mandatory appointments.

If your probation officer issues a petition to revoke probation, a warrant will be issued for your arrest immediately, and you will be arrested and held as non-bondable until the hearing has been completed. The term “non-bondable” means it is impossible for you to be bailed out.

It is also possible to have early termination of your probation once more than half of your allotted time has been completed. For this to happen, you will need the support of your probation officer.

If you have been in prison and are in danger of having your probation revoked or you wish to have it terminated early, you will need the help of qualified legal minds in Arizona. Contact The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, and we can help you regain your freedom and ensure you get the opportunity to move on with your life.

Arizona Restitution & Fines for Criminal Acts

Court fines Arizona

Once you have made a plea and have been found guilty of a violation, you are obligated to pay your fines on the day of sentencing. The fines handed out in Arizona are among the strictest in the country, and this can place a severe financial strain on you.

If you have been charged with a crime and are worried about the financial impact of being found guilty, it is imperative to contact a knowledgeable Arizona attorney to help you win the case. The fees charged by attorneys are a fraction of what you can expect to pay with a guilty verdict.

Summary of Fines

  • Felonies: Because the sentences for felonies in Arizona are so severe, few defendants ever think about the financial consequences. However, it is possible for you to be forced to pay out up to $150,000 in fines; this is the case even for Class 6 felonies.
  • Misdemeanors: You can expect to pay up to $2,500 for a Class 1 offense, up to $750 for a Class 2 offense, and up to $500 for Class 3 offenses. If you are found guilty of a petty offense, the fine could be as much as $300.
  • Fines against enterprises: The fines are even stricter for enterprises, and your company could be fined up to $1 million for a felony offense. Class 1 misdemeanors can cost $20,000, Class 2 can cost $10,000, and Class 3 can cost $3,000.
  • Drug offenses: The fines for drug offenses are relatively lenient in Arizona, with a standard $750 fine in place for most offenses. Possession or manufacture of hash and concentrates can land you a $2,000 fine. On the flipside, prison sentences are extremely tough and range from four months for possession to 12.5 years for trafficking.
  • DUI: Given Arizona’s get-tough stance on DUI, it is no surprise that the financial penalties are harsh. The base fine for a first offense is $250 and is $750 for a third offense, but this doesn’t tell the full story. By the time you pay all the fines, bills, and insurance, the total cost of a DUI can rise to $10,000!

Civil Cases

If you are convicted in a criminal proceeding, you are unable to subsequently deny any civil case brought against you by the state or any victim of your crime as long as the aforementioned case contains the essential allegations of the criminal offense for which you were found guilty. Even if you are ordered to pay restitution during a criminal trial, this does not stop a victim of your crime from launching civil proceedings against you for damages. Civil cases can result in the award of huge sums of money.

Keep Your Bank Balance Intact!

If you are accused of a crime in Arizona and are brought to trial, hiring a reputable Arizona defense attorney could be the best investment you ever make. At The Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, we forensically examine all aspects of the case to increase your chances of success and help you avoid having to pay huge fines or civil court settlements.

Stethoscope & Gavel

The Basics of Medical Malpractice and Negligence

Medical malpractice is defined as improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a medical professional. Negligence is defined as a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances. It is important to know and understand what these terms mean for anyone who comes in contact with medical professionals. As a patient, it is your responsibility to make sure you are aware of your rights when dealing with medical professionals.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Stethoscope & Gavel

Medical malpractice occurs when errors are made in the treatment of a patient. This can occur for many reasons, but some of the primary ones are as follows:

  • A doctor making an incorrect decision, either intentionally or unintentionally.
  • A medical professional practicing medicine outside of his or her field.
  • Failure to obtain the proper consent required by law.
  • Negligent treatment of a patient.

When any of these situations arise, the patient has the legal right to sue the appropriate medical professionals. In Arizona, according to the statute of limitations, a patient has two years after the cause of action accrues to file a medical malpractice case. Arizona does not limit the amount awarded for recovery of damages, as it is unconstitutional according to the state constitution.

What Is Negligence According to Arizona Law?

Negligence is a form of medical malpractice. It occurs when a doctor does not care for a patient in the way he or she should. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Expectations of a patient are two-fold: Doctors and hospitals are expected to provide medical treatment with all the knowledge and skill at their command, and secondly, they will not do anything to harm the patient in any manner either because of their negligence, carelessness, or reckless attitude of their staff.” When one of these expectations is not being met, it is possible that negligence has occurred. Negligence cannot be committed by a careful person who is being mindful and thoughtful in their duties.

One way a doctor can be guilty of negligence is failing to obtain the proper consent. Patients are required to give informed consent before procedures are performed unless they are not able to do so. In that case, usually a family member or delegated person is able to provide consent for the individual. In emergency situations when no one is available to provide consent, there is implied consent to save a person’s life unless the patient has documentation indicating other instructions, such as a DNR.

In conclusion, it is important to keep yourself well-informed as a patient. Knowing what to expect from your doctor and understanding his recommendation is not just important, it is your right in the state of Arizona. Staying educated and informed will ensure that you are getting the best care possible and that you have not fallen victim to medical malpractice.

Man Shaking Hands with an Attorney

Should I Hire an Attorney?

Man Shaking Hands with an Attorney

Depending on your circumstances and the severity of the charges you’re facing, you may need to obtain professional legal counsel. Seek a free consultation from a lawyer to know for sure.

Reasons Why You Should Hire an Attorney

After you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to payment for damages. Injuries may require medical and chiropractic care that cost money. In addition, the law allows people to recover money for their pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, lost wages and loss of enjoyment of life. The insurance company for the responsible party should be paying the damages. So the question that always follows an accident is, “Do I need a lawyer?”

Hiring a lawyer to help you work through your injury case may be the best decision you make. Trying to handle your case yourself will not serve your interests. Lawyers will act as a consultant and provide you answers to any questions you may have after an injury. When you are done treating for your injuries, your lawyer will make a demand for payment from the other party’s insurance company.

It is important to hire a lawyer with experience in the courtroom and experience with arbitration and mediation. Hiring a lawyer without experience will cause insurance companies to undervalue your case. You may be thinking, “Where do I look?” Some people look in phonebooks and search Google for lawyers. This may not be the best way to find a lawyer. Ask your doctor or chiropractor who they would recommend. You want a lawyer that will be fair and honest, and one whose main concern is putting money in your pocket. Lawyers often lose sight of the fact that they were not the ones injured – the client was injured. This is why you need to rely upon the referrals of others who have been through the same ordeal or who have treated those in similar situations.

Should I Hire an Attorney?

The lawyers at Gonzales & Poirier have successfully represented hundreds of clients. Each case is handled with extraordinary care. The client’s interests are priority, not the lawyers. We almost always cut our fee to make sure you receive as much money as possible in any settlement. Sure there are times that our firm will not reduce our fees, but these are cases where we expend hundreds of hours of attorney time. Otherwise, we want you to have a good experience. Our firm handles all types of accident cases such as automobile and motorcycle accidents, truck and bus accidents, slip & fall, medical malpractice, wrongful death and other types of personal injury cases. We handle cases in Flagstaff, Holbrook, Winslow, Williams, Sedona, Cottonwood, Prescott and other parts of the State.

Call the Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier at 928-664-5400 to talk to one of our attorney’s or to schedule an appointment in our Flagstaff or Cottonwood office. To learn more visit our website.

Review Card with Poor Selected

Yelp Me! I Got a Bad Review On Social Media

Review Card with Poor Selected

If you or your business has been slammed by a former customer on a major review website, you may be able to take legal action to prevent the slanderous comment from being seen by others.

As the saying goes your reputation precedes you. In today’s online world the potential new customer might know everything about you because of your cyber reputation. We all use them—social applications to help us find a good place to grab a burger, lay our tired heads, balance a messy check book or fix that fussy faucet. Mixed in with the great reviews are the bad ones that make you cringe, but more importantly they may make you question if you should patronize that business. Whether it’s a complaint about long lines, dirty linens, high prices and small portions, or just total incompetence, you wonder should I really spend my hard earned money there.

Since Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press only the internet has rivaled the printing press’s ability to mass communicate thoughts, ideas and opinions. For example, is a popular website where, according to Yelp, 71 million users read reviews before making a purchasing decision. But what happens when a business owner disagrees with that bad review or believes it to be a lie? If I were an owner of a business, the first thing that would go through my mind would be “let’s sue Yelp because that’s defamation”. In Arizona for a statement to be defamatory the “publication must be false and must bring the defamed person into disrepute, contempt, or ridicule, or must impeach plaintiff’s honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation.” Godbehere v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. , 162 Ariz. 335, 341, 783 P.2d 781, 787 (1989). Of course, the truth will set you free in a defamation lawsuit.

If you disagree with that review, you might think you can sue Yelp because they published the review. You might be chasing good money with bad. In 1996, Congress recognized the importance of protecting online speech, passed section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, commonly known as “Section 230”. Section 230 was passed with the intent to protect Internet services providers from materials provided by users. The gist of Section 230 provides interactive computer services federal immunity from liability for publishing false or defamatory material provided by a third-party user. In plain English, Yelp as an interactive service provider is immune from liability for defamatory or false review so long as that review was posted by a third-party user. The reasoning for this was to extend the internet the highest level of First Amendment protection against government regulation. The last several years have seen many lawsuits by business owners against Yelp, alleging defamation, libel, deception or legal arguments trying to circumvent Section 230. To sum up these cases, the Court’s continually reaffirm that Yelp is protected under Section 230.

You might think “Well if I cannot sue Yelp, I will sue the critic for defamation”. You could, but you have to prove the statement was false and was made with reckless disregard, which usually is an issue of fact that will be decided by a jury. Furthermore, Congress is considering passing a Federal anti strategic lawsuit against public participation or Anti-SLAPP, legislation. Such a law would prevent a business from filing meritless defamation suit for the purpose of intimidating critics with a prolonged and expensive court procedure. If Federal Anti-SLAPP lawsuit passes, it would result in the dismissal of the lawsuit and the business paying the opposing party’s attorney’s fees. My thought for a small business, is do not go there. Potential lawsuits are expensive and the resulting negative attention could be worse than the comment itself.

My grand-father who ran his own business for 50 years would tell me, “The customer is always right” and in the same breath say, “You can’t please everyone every day”. My interpretation was customer service was priority number one but sometimes no matter how hard you try nothing will make that customer happy. So the moral of the story, is ask happy customers to post positive comments about your business and try to resolve customers complaint either privately or publicly through a Yelp Business Account. If that does not end happily, we all know you can’t please everyone. Remember most customers are not turned off by a couple of bad reviews mixed in with a bunch of good reviews.
Daniel Tom, Esq.

Daniel is an attorney with Gonzales & Poirier and was a prosecutor with Coconino County Attorney’s Office for six years. Daniel’s focus at Gonzales & Poirier ranges from civil litigation to criminal law, you can contact him at 928-774-5400.

Man Under Arrest Completing Fingerprint Card

Motion to Set Aside or Expungement

Man Under Arrest Completing Fingerprint Card

If you’ve been convicted of a crime in the past, it doesn’t have to haunt you for the rest of your life. Contact Gonzales & Poirier, PLLC today about a motion to set aside your conviction(s).

In Arizona, and most states, there is no such thing as expungement. Once a person is charged with a crime in Arizona, that police report and charging document will always exist as public records. If an HR department or any other entity wants to find it, it can. Even if the case is dismissed or someone is completely acquitted at trial, that charging document and the police reports will always exist. Nevertheless, there are still ways of “cleaning up your criminal record.”

The attorneys at the Law Office of Gonzales & Poirier have vast experience dealing with motions to set aside convictions. Our office files these motions weekly and understands how the process works. It is important to understand that these motions are not granted haphazardly.

On the other hand, for most criminal offenses in Arizona, one may move to have his or her conviction set aside under A.R.S. 13-907. If the motion to set aside is successful, it is similar to having the case dismissed after the fact. The sentencing judge recognizes that this person has fulfilled all requirements of the sentence and remained law-abiding. Setting aside the conviction may help the person move on with life with career advancement or improving immigration status. See A.R.S. 13-907 below.

​13-907. Setting aside judgment of convicted person on discharge; application; release from disabilities; exceptions

A. Except as provided in subsection D of this section, every person convicted of a criminal offense, on fulfillment of the conditions of probation or sentence and discharge by the court, may apply to the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate who pronounced sentence or imposed probation or such judge, justice of the peace or magistrate’s successor in office to have the judgment of guilt set aside. The convicted person shall be informed of this right at the time of discharge.

B. The convicted person or, if authorized in writing, the convicted person’s attorney or probation officer may apply to set aside the judgment.

C. If the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate grants the application, the judge, justice of the peace or magistrate shall set aside the judgment of guilt, dismiss the accusations or information and order that the person be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction except those imposed by:

  1. The department of transportation pursuant to section 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307, 28-3308 or 28-3319, except that the conviction may be used as a conviction if the conviction would be admissible had it not been set aside and may be pleaded and proved in any subsequent prosecution of such person by the state or any of its subdivisions for any offense or used by the department of transportation in enforcing section 28-3304, 28-3306, 28-3307, 28-3308 or 28-3319 as if the judgment of guilt had not been set aside.
  2. The game and fish commission pursuant to section 17-314 or 17-340.

D. This section does not apply to a person who was convicted of a criminal offense:

  1. Involving a dangerous offense.
  2. For which the person is required or ordered by the court to register pursuant to section 13-3821.
  3. For which there has been a finding of sexual motivation pursuant to section 13-118.
  4. In which the victim is a minor under fifteen years of age.
  5. In violation of section 28-3473, any local ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle or title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of section 28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as section 28-693.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Gonzales and Poirier, PLLC carry vast amounts of experience and provide aggressive and affordable representation aimed at attaining the best possible results for our clients. Approaching each case with an individualized strategy tailored to the circumstances surrounding that case allows our lawyers to achieve optimal results while building meaningful relationships with our clients during what is often a very difficult period of time. Call us today for a free initial consultation at (928) 774-5400; or email us at We help clients in motions to set aside convictions across the State, including Flagstaff, Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Prescott, Holbrook, & Winslow.

Remember each criminal case is unique and this article is not a substitute to consulting an attorney and does not predict or guarantee a certain result in your case. If you have questions contact us at 928-774-5400

Bully Picking On Kid at School

Arizona Bullying Law

Bully Picking On Kid at School

If your child is being bullied at school, don’t sit back and wait for teachers or the kids to sort it out. Take legal action and put an end to your child’s torment immediately.

Schoolteachers, administrators and parents often ignore bullying. It is often seen as a rite of passage, harmless pranks, and kids being kids. Furthermore, bullying is not gender specific. Children are often reluctant to tell teachers or parents about bullying for many reasons.

School Bullying

Often the child does not seek assistance because they want to handle it on their own, they do not want repercussion of being a tattletale, and they feel like nobody cares and/or they feel that the adult figure will reject them as weak. However, schools and parents should take bullying seriously because it can have negative side effects. Countless studies have shown that bullying can lead to negative emotional and psychological problems that progress to adulthood. Furthermore, bullying can lead to self-destructive behavior such as depression, running away from home, self-harm and suicide.

Bullying is defined as aggressive, unwanted behavior among children involving either a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior must be aggressive and include an imbalance of power and repetition. An imbalance of power includes physical strength or popularity, which is used to control or harm others. Repetition means that the bullying behavior occurs more than once and has the potential of occurring again.

Bullying includes but is not limited to these situations:

  • verbal bullying, such as name calling and threats;
  • social bullying, such as attacking a child’s reputation with rumors; and,
  • physical bullying includes physically injuring a child.

Bullying can occur anywhere but most reported incident of bullying occurs during school and before and after school. In the past, children could avoid bullying by going home and avoiding places and situations where bullies tend to congregate. However, technology has changed how and where bullying occurs. In the past, bullying was isolated to places like school, playground, the bus and travelling to and from school. Now bullies are using technology. Bullies will harass, intimidate and embarrass children using instant message, text messages, email, picture messages, videos and social media. The use of technology to bully is called cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying is much different from direct bullying. Cyber bullying and bullying usually occur hand in hand. However, what makes cyber bullying different is that it can occur at anytime. Traditional bullying tends to happen at specific places, such as school, the bus or the mall. Cyber bullies cans use technology to harass attack and embarrass a child at all times of day. Furthermore, the cyber bullies is usually anonymous and the message, picture or video can be distributed quickly and can be difficult to delete once posted. Cyber bullying is different from traditional bullying because a child can feel that they have nowhere to retreat and feel safe.

In a national survey over 4,080,879 children admit to being victims of bullying and 3,892,199 children admit to bullying. While 56%, of children have experienced or witnesses some form of bullying in school and 90% of children between 4th and 8th grade report being a victim of bullying. In Arizona, a survey of almost 1 million children between the ages of 5 through 18 revealed that 90,000 children reported being the victims of bullies and 71,000 reported being bullies.

If you believe bullies are targeting your child, the best thing to do is to talk and support your child. The next thing to do is bring the situation to the attention of the school administration and show a commitment of ending the bullying. Arizona does have an anti-bullying law that directs schools to create policies to prevent bullying. Under, A.R.S. § 15-341.37 states the school district needs to:

Prescribe and enforce policies and procedures to prohibit pupils from harassing, intimidating and bullying other pupils on school grounds, on school property, on school buses, at school bus stops, at school sponsored events and activities and through the use of electronic technology or electronic communication on school computers, networks, forums and mailing lists that include the following components:

A procedure for pupils, parents and school district employees to confidentially report to school officials incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying. The school shall make available written forms designed to provide a full and detailed description of the incident and any other relevant information about the incident.

A requirement that school district employees report in writing suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying to the appropriate school official and a description of appropriate disciplinary procedures for employees who fail to report suspected incidents that are known to the employee.

A requirement that, at the beginning of each school year, school officials provide all pupils with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to a pupil who is an alleged victim of an incident reported pursuant to this paragraph.

If an incident is reported pursuant to this paragraph, a requirement that school officials provide a pupil who is an alleged victim of the incident with a written copy of the rights, protections and support services available to that pupil.

A formal process for the documentation of reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying and for the confidentiality, maintenance and disposition of this documentation. School districts shall maintain documentation of all incidents reported pursuant to this paragraph for at least six years. The school shall not use that documentation to impose disciplinary action unless the appropriate school official has investigated and determined that the reported incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying occurred. If a school provides documentation of reported incidents to persons other than school officials or law enforcement, all individually identifiable information shall be redacted.

A formal process for the investigation by the appropriate school officials of suspected incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying, including procedures for notifying the alleged victim on completion and disposition of the investigation.

Disciplinary procedures for pupils who have admitted or been found to have committed incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

A procedure that sets forth consequences for submitting false reports of incidents of harassment, intimidation or bullying.

Procedures designed to protect the health and safety of pupils who are physically harmed as the result of incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying, including, if appropriate, procedures to contact emergency medical services or law enforcement agencies, or both.

Definitions of harassment, intimidation and bullying

Furthermore, Arizona statute A.R.S. 15-341(A) (12) and (13) require that the school board hold children responsible for disorderly conduct to and from school and on school property.

These laws make it the responsibility of the school district’s administrators, employees, staff and teachers to make a safe environment for your child. The schools are required to protect their students from bullies and provide proper supervision during the school day. If your child is a victim of bullying and the school has not responded to your demands, you may need to talk to an attorney. A legal action may be initiated to force the school district to address and take action on bullying issues.

Contact the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400 for a free consultation. Depending on the facts of your case, our attorneys can discuss your rights, legal remedies and how to best protect your child from bullying. We have convenient offices located in Flagstaff and Cottonwood, Arizona. We have experience dealing with school boards and districts throughout Northern Arizona.


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