Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio was charged with federal, criminal contempt of court on Oct. 25. US District Court Judge Susan Bolton signed off on the federal charge, which was recommended by prosecutors earlier in October.
The lawman from Maricopa County, AZ has gained national prominence, and notoriety in some circles for his anti-illegal immigration policing techniques, which include patrols that the judge said is racial profiling.
Aripaio was originally found guilty of contempt of civil court in May 2016 when his office would not comply with reforming its policing practices. On Oct. 11, federal prosecutors stated that they would press criminal charges against him.
According to the Arizona Republic, the sheriff could get up to six months in jail if he is convicted.
His Democratic challenger for sheriff, Paul Penzone, stated this week that his acts of political defiance have led to his criminal charges, and that he has no person to blame other than himself. Pezone also said that it is another example of Penzone putting his personal biases ahead of the interest of the community he serves.
However, Arpaio’s lawyer stated that the sheriff plans to fight the federal criminal contempt charge. His lawyer stated that he thinks that the sheriff will be acquitted of the federal charges eventually.
The criminal contempt charges came from a racial profiling case that the sheriff lost in 2013 that turned into a federal contempt case later on. The sheriff was accused of standing in defiance of 2011 court order to cease with his patrols along the Mexican border.
Arpaio stated that he did violate the order from the federal judge, but that the disobedience was an accident. Snow did not agree, and she concluded that the sheriff deliberately continued doing the patrols because he thought that the efforts to enforce the law against illegal immigration would help him to get reelected in 2012.
In past years, Arpaio has gotten out of criminal investigations without any charges filed, and he still was able to reelected.
He also faced a federal investigation in 2012 when allegations came out that he retaliated against to Arizona officials as well as a judge, by accusing them of public corruption.
His sheriff’s office also has been investigated for misallocating funds of more than $100 million intended to build jails. Some of those funds involved investigations into other officials who oppose him and his immigration patrols that target illegal immigrants.
Taxpayers in his Arizona county are estimated to have spent $48 million to defend the sheriff in this particular profiling case. Experts say the cost may reach $72 million in 2017.
Arpaio’s criminal case will be put to trial on Dec. 6, 2016.
Given that Arpaio has been a controversial figure for years in Arizona politics, the above case could cause him to lose his upcoming race to be reelected sheriff. He cruised to easy victory in his first five campaigns for the last 20 years, but in 2012, he only got a bit over 50% of the vote in 2012. As of today, Penzone is leading in the sheriff’s race for 2016. Currently, Penzone has 46% of the vote and Arpaio has 31%.
However some experts have questioned the sample of that particular poll as well as the timing. The poll above was taken right when the Justice Department announced that it was going to file criminal contempt charges against Arpaio.
Arpaio still maintains that the charges are ‘garbage’ and he noted that it was not a coincidence that the charges were filed right before early voting commenced. He noted as well that his opponents include the entire Obama administration and George Soros, as well as immigration activists. All of them, he says, are working together to defeat him.
About Federal Charges in Arizona
If you are convicted of criminal contempt in Arizona at the federal level, you will receive your sentence by a federal judge. Federal sentencing guidelines are used to determine what your sentence will be. You should know that if you are convicted of some federal offenses in Arizona, such as drug charges, you could be required to serve a mandatory minimum sentence.
The length of the sentence for a federal charge of criminal contempt in Arizona will depend upon your criminal record in the past. Keep in mind that if you are charged with a federal crime in Arizona, you still may face state charges.
If you are charged with criminal contempt in Arizona or any other federal charge, you would be strongly advised to seek the advice of an experience federal charges defense lawyer. You are very likely to be convicted by aggressive federal prosecutors with vast resources, so you will need the best lawyer you can afford.