September 18, 2020
Finding a decent job is hard enough. Finding one with a criminal record can seem nearly impossible, especially if you have a serious felony or multiple convictions. And while certain organizations (like the National Employment Law Project) have been working to improve employers’ perceptions of hiring convicted workers, finding a job after serving time in prison is still a formidable challenge. You should expect to put in a great deal of effort and time into your job search. It’s still possible to get hired with a record, but it will take quite a bit of patience and persistence.
Understanding Your Rights
Nationwide, there has been a push to “ban the box.” This refers to the box that applicants are asked to check on an employment application if they have ever been convicted of a crime. In 2019, the federal Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act was passed that prevents federal employers and private government contractors from asking about an applicant’s criminal history right away. Note that this law does not apply to private companies that do not act as government contractors. In addition, all employers may still inquire about an applicant’s criminal history after a conditional offer of employment is made.
However, this “ban the box” law can be helpful in allowing former inmates to get their foot in the door. For this reason, don’t automatically assume that a government agency job is out of reach for you because of your record.
Landing a Job Through Networking
It’s often easier for someone with a criminal record to land a job through personal connections. For example, if your cousin’s boss is hiring, he or she might be more willing to give you a chance if your cousin vouches for your work ethic. Don’t hesitate to call family and friends, discuss the type of work you could do, and ask if they have any leads. You might also consider calling past employers to explain your situation and ask if they would consider rehiring you.
Checking Restored Citizen-Friendly Companies
Some companies have publicly announced a commitment to hiring former inmates (also called restored citizens) as long as they are otherwise qualified for the position and are willing to be diligent workers. These companies include PetSmart, Ace Hardware, Delta Air, Kohl’s, Olive Garden, Chili’s, Denny’s, and Sprint. These are just a few examples; you can check for others in your local community by doing a Google search or by contacting companies directly to inquire about their hiring policies.
Meeting Employers in Person
It’s easy for employers to shuffle job applications from the “Maybe” pile to the “No” pile, especially when they haven’t met the applicants. It’s a little harder for them to turn someone down whom they’ve met in person, especially if that applicant makes a favorable first impression. Look for local job fairs to attend, which allows you to meet employers directly. Treat the job fair as if it were an interview. That is, show up dressed respectably, bring copies of your resume and references, and be prepared to explain why you’re the best candidate for any given job.
Acing the Interview
It’s natural to feel nervous about a job interview, especially when you know that you’re at a disadvantage because of your criminal record. Do your best to stay calm and to project self-confidence. Note that if you’re asked whether you’ve ever been convicted of a felony, you’re legally required to answer honestly. (If the employer is a government agency or a government contractor, you’ll only be asked after a conditional offer of employment is made.)
During the interview, try to keep the focus of the conversation on how the company will benefit from hiring you. Emphasize any academic credentials you might have and previous training you’ve received. Discuss your skills and willingness to learn new skills, and emphasize that you’re a hard worker.
When the topic of your criminal record does come up, be honest about it, but try not to over-explain it. Do acknowledge that you understand you made some poor decisions, and that you’re trying to focus on your future now. Then, steer the conversation back toward why you’re a great candidate. You might also mention that the employer could be eligible for the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit for hiring a qualified ex-felon.
A direct impact on your employment prospects is just one of the many ways that having a criminal record can haunt you for years to come. Take a proactive stance for your future by hiring an exceptional criminal defense attorney in Tucson who will fight for your freedom. Call the office of Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, at (520) 247-1789 to request a consultation.
September 4, 2020
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense that can result in the suspension of your driver’s license, substantial fines, and time behind bars. However, an arrest does not always result in a conviction—especially if you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer will develop a defense strategy that fits your particular case.
Lack of Probable Cause for the Arrest
One effective defense strategy against DUI charges in Arizona is the assertion that the arresting officer did not have probable cause to arrest you. The refusal to submit to field sobriety testing does not constitute probable cause. You can—and should—refuse to submit to field sobriety testing, which typically consists of having to walk a straight line or stand on one leg. Even if you did agree to do these tests, however, failing them does not automatically mean you were impaired by alcohol. A skilled lawyer can find loopholes. For example, you may have failed to stand on one leg because you were wearing stilettos at the time or perhaps you have a medical condition that affects your balance.
Inaccuracies in BAC Testing
Unlike field sobriety testing, you must legally submit to a chemical test, such as the Breathalyzer. However, these tests are not 100% accurate. An experienced defense attorney knows how to challenge the results of BAC tests, such as by examining whether any of the following might be true:
- The breath testing device failed to pass monthly and quarterly maintenance and quality checks.
- The blood test was conducted using blood sampled with a contaminated needle.
- The blood sample was placed in a contaminated or expired container.
Lack of Physical Control of the Vehicle
It’s possible to be convicted of DUI even if you weren’t driving the vehicle at the time. The law states that a person must have “actual physical control” of the vehicle while impaired to be convicted of DUI. However, the law is vague on what physical control actually means. A skillful lawyer can argue that you were not in control of the vehicle because the car wasn’t running, the keys weren’t in the ignition, or you were sleeping off the alcohol in the backseat.
For an effective defense against misdemeanor or felony DUI charges, you can turn to the criminal defense firm of Janet Altschuler. Ms. Altschuler is a trusted defense attorney with well over 20 years of experience in and out of the courtroom. Request a free consultation by calling (520) 247-1789.
August 21, 2020
Jail terms tend to be much shorter than prison terms. However, no one wants to be behind bars any longer than they have to, and if you or a loved one is in jail, you’re probably already daydreaming about the release date. Fortunately, you might not have to wait that long. It is often possible to get released from jail early. Talk to a criminal defense attorney about your case.
Explore the possibility of post-conviction bail.
You probably already know that bail is a means of getting released from jail pending trial. But did you know it’s also sometimes possible to be released on bail after a conviction? If you’re having your criminal defense attorney file an appeal in an attempt to overturn your conviction, you may be eligible. When deciding whether to grant post-conviction bail, the judge will consider the seriousness of the crime, your past criminal history, and your ties to the community. The judge will also consider whether you’ve previously appeared for court hearings.
Take advantage of new legislation.
It’s worthwhile to periodically check for new legislation that might affect your situation. In Arizona, for example, legislation signed in 2019 can enable thousands of inmates to be released early from jail. When Gov. Ducey signed Senate Bill 1310, it allowed individuals who have been convicted solely on drug offenses to be eligible for an early release after completing just 70% of their sentence. (Other inmates in the state are required to serve at least 85% of their sentence.)
Request a compassionate release.
A compassionate release may be granted for medical or humanitarian reasons. For example, if you have a severe or chronic health condition, your lawyer may ask for an early release based on the grounds that it is difficult or impossible to properly manage your condition while incarcerated. In recent months, many inmates have been granted a compassionate release in an attempt to reduce jail populations that are vulnerable to the coronavirus.
With well over 20 years of criminal defense experience, Janet Altschuler has the in-depth knowledge and practical skills necessary to fight for favorable outcomes for her clients. Contact our law firm in Tucson at (520) 247-1789. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case.
August 7, 2020
Arizona allows the possibility of house arrest for certain offenders. House arrest refers to a period of incarceration that is served at the defendant’s home. Typically, defendants are required to serve a certain amount of time behind bars, followed by a term of house arrest. House arrest is an important program for state and local jails because it helps relieve overcrowding in detention facilities. It also enables defendants to more easily transition back into everyday life once they have served their time. Talk to a criminal defense attorney about whether you might be eligible for house arrest.
Eligibility for House Arrest
House arrest is only an option for those convicted of certain offenses. Generally, it’s reserved for those convicted of misdemeanor offenses. However, certain felony convictions can also be eligible, as long as the defendant had not previously been convicted of any type of felony. Those convicted of sexual offenses are not eligible for house arrest. (However, in Tucson, those convicted of prostitution can be eligible.) The following are situations that could disqualify a defendant from serving house arrest:
- Determined to be a risk to him-or herself or to other members of the community
- Prior history of violent behavior
- Prior conviction of assault or any domestic violence charge
- Prior conviction of child abuse
- Determined to be residing in the U.S. without proper documentation
Your criminal defense attorney can take a closer look at your case to determine if state or local laws enable you to petition for house arrest.
Costs of House Arrest
In addition to relieving overcrowding in jails, another reason why house arrest is an attractive program for state and local officials is its impact on municipal budgets. It’s expensive to house and monitor inmates. Home confinement is far more cost-effective. Furthermore, the defendants are required to pay some of those costs. Before you ask a defense attorney to request house arrest on your behalf, be sure you can afford it. The electronic monitoring device generally costs between $10 and $30 per day. If you’re unable to pay, a sliding scale may be available. In addition, you may be required to undergo multiple drug and alcohol tests, which you must also pay for. If you were convicted of DUI, you must also participate in a substance abuse/alcohol treatment program. You’ll be required to pay for this as well.
Requirements of House Arrest
You must abide by all requirements of your term of house arrest or you will be arrested and placed back in jail to serve the remainder of your term. The main requirement is to wear an electronic monitoring device at all times. This device informs the authorities of where you are. The authorities will know if you attempt to remove or tamper with the device. Other restrictions and requirements vary from one case and jurisdiction to the next. Defendants may be required to:
- Abstain from drugs and alcohol
- Attend court-ordered counseling
- Attend court-ordered drug or alcohol treatment programs
- Meet with probation or parole officers
- Fulfill community service requirements
In addition, you may or may not be allowed to have visitors at your home while on house arrest. It’s essential that you carefully review and understand the requirements of your house arrest. Don’t hesitate to speak with your attorney if anything is unclear, as the consequences of violating the conditions of house arrest include being sent back to jail.
Exceptions to House Arrest
For most of the time that you’re on house arrest, you’re expected to remain in your home. However, there are times when you may be permitted to leave. For example, you may be required to leave your home in order to complete court-ordered treatment programs, counseling sessions, or meetings with your probation/parole officer. You might also be permitted to leave for medical appointments and school or work. However, you must always have permission to leave; do not leave your home unless you are specifically permitted to do so. If you are allowed to leave, you will be expected to return immediately to your home after your appointment.
Employment While on House Arrest
It is sometimes permitted to work while on house arrest, pending the court’s review of the appropriateness of your place of employment. Your employer will be notified that you’re on house arrest. If you do not show up for work without calling in sick or if your employment is terminated, then your employer is required to promptly notify the court.
Criminal defense attorney Janet Altschuler will explore all possible avenues for keeping you out of jail, including the possibility of house arrest. Regardless of whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, your future and your freedom is at stake, and you need reliable legal counsel you can count on. Call the office of Janet Altschuler in Tucson at (520) 247-1789 to request a free initial consultation.
July 24, 2020
Unfortunately, domestic violence is a problem that affects millions of adults in the United States. While it is becoming a more commonly recognized issue, there is still a long way to go in terms of resources and legal pathways for domestic violence victims. One particularly overlooked group of victims of domestic violence is men. One in seven men has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. While this is less impactful than the one in four women in the same situation, this statistic still represents millions of American men, many of whom suffer abuse in silence. Continue reading for a closer look at the facts about domestic violence committed against male victims.
Men are often victims of domestic violence.
In both heterosexual and same-sex relationships, men are often victims of domestic violence. This type of violence may take several forms, including verbal and psychological abuse, physical abuse, and possessive, jealous, or manipulative behavior from a partner. While physical violence is easiest to recognize in an abusive relationship, other types of abuse may be just as impactful and damaging. For example, about one third of men who have experienced any type of domestic abuse from an intimate partner have had long-term mental health impacts, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are also common effects of the different types of domestic violence.
Men may have a more difficult time identifying domestic violence in their relationships when physical abuse is not a factor. Here is a closer look at some telltale signs of domestic violence beyond physical and sexual abuse:
- Frequent accusations of being unfaithful, demanding to know where you are at all times.
- Control over physical space and movements, e.g. your partner hides the car keys to prevent you from leaving the house.
- Threats to leave you and prevent you from seeing children, friends, family members, or other loved ones.
- False accusations about your behavior.
- Control over finances, limiting your independence, or preventing you from having personal bank accounts.
- Verbal abuse, such as belittling you in front of friends or talking down about you on social media.
- Verbal threats of physical harm.
- Blames you for anger or violent tendencies, makes you feel at fault for their actions.
- Threats to disclose your private information to coworkers, friends, or others.
The above list is not exhaustive. If you feel that you are the victim of domestic violence, you should not ignore your partner’s behavior or make excuses for it. However, men can find it more difficult to find the help they need.
Men are less likely to seek help for domestic violence.
It’s likely that the problem of domestic violence against men is even more serious than the statistics indicate. That’s because many men are not quick to seek help when they are victims in abusive relationships. There are a few reasons for this trend. First, there are limited resources available for male victims of domestic violence. In addition, many men worry that their complaints will not be taken seriously by police or other authorities. However, all victims of domestic violence have the same legal rights and should try to get help—it’s often best to seek the aid of a trusted loved one to get out of an abusive relationship.
One thing you should never do if you are a man experiencing domestic violence is attempt to retaliate physically or otherwise. Instead, do what you can to document the abuse you are experiencing and bring this evidence to the authorities.
Men face many misconceptions and stereotypes in combating domestic violence.
Another complicating factor when it comes to men and domestic violence is the stereotypes and misconceptions that exist on the subject. Unfortunately, many men view being the victim of domestic violence as a sign of weakness in themselves. Thus, they may feel ashamed reaching out for help. There is also bias that exists among the general public. Many people are unaware that domestic violence is such a prevalent issue among such a wide range of the population. However, anyone may be the victim of domestic violence regardless of gender, race, financial standing, sexual preference, or occupation.
Having worked on hundreds of domestic violence cases throughout her 20+ year career in criminal law, Janet Altschuler understands the unique complexities and nuances of domestic violence accusations. If you have been arrested due to domestic violence related charges or you are the victim of violence yourself, call Ms. Altschuler’s office at (520) 247-1789 to understand your options.
July 10, 2020
DUI laws are notoriously strict and harsh in the state of Arizona. Even on the first offense, you will find yourself facing a minimum jail sentence of 24 hours behind bars as well as a license suspension of up to one year. Even once you get your license back, you’ll still have restrictions on how and when you may drive. Here’s a closer look at what you can expect as you get back on the road after a DUI conviction.
Attend Court Mandated Alcohol Education Courses
Most first-time DUI offenders will have their licenses suspended for 90 days. However, you may shorten this window to 30 days by attending court mandated alcohol education courses as required by AZ law. With a reinstated license given after 30 days, you can only drive to and from home, work, and school. Applying for this restricted license requires you to file a petition with the court when you are eligible.
Visit the MVD
After 30-90 days, you can go to the MVD to complete necessary paperwork and apply for a new license. Part of the paperwork you’ll need to file includes proof that you’ve installed an interlock device on your vehicle. You’ll also need to provide proof of insurance, proof of current address, and be prepared to pay a $50 reinstatement fee.
Install an Interlock Device in Your Vehicle
After you get your license back, you can only drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device. This device requires you to pass a breathalyzer test prior to starting your vehicle. You must have an interlock device installed on any vehicle you regularly drive, even if you are not the vehicle owner. All associated costs are your responsibility. In addition, you can face further penalties if you tamper with the interlock device or are pulled over driving a vehicle without one.
If you’re arrested for a DUI, don’t chance your future appearing in court without the right legal representation. Call Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law to defend your rights and help you comply with all the terms of your sentence. You can reach her office in Tucson at (520) 247-1789.
June 26, 2020
Appearing in court can be an intimidating experience, even if you aren’t the individual on trial. If you have been called as a witness in a criminal trial, you may be wondering if your compliance is required. There are numerous reasons someone may wish to abstain from testifying in a court of law. However, there are only a few circumstances in which a witness may be exempt from doing so.
Why Witnesses May Be Forced to Testify in a Case
If someone is a potential witness in a civil or criminal court case, they may be forced to testify with a subpoena. This is a written order from the court (it is typically hand delivered to the witness) that serves as a legal obligation to appear in court and share any relevant information during the trial.
When a Witness May Be Exempt from Testifying
There are several reasons that an individual may be exempt from testifying in a court of law, even if they are subpoenaed. If an individual is the defendant in a criminal case, he or she does not have to testify as a witness. Exemptions are also made for spouses of individuals involved in the case, individuals deemed not competent to testify due to age or mental disorders, or individuals with special protections regarding privileged information, such as attorneys or psychotherapists. In addition, a witness may refuse to testify if doing so would reveal self-incriminating evidence—this protection is granted under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In situations where a witness is scared to testify due to retaliation, arrangements may be made through the court to have additional protection for the witness, such as a police escort, sealed court records, and limited access to the courtroom during the trial.
If you have been served a subpoena to testify in a criminal court case, consult Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law to understand your rights. Ms. Altschuler is an experienced, trusted criminal defense attorney in Tucson, AZ. Call her office for a consultation at (520) 247-1789.
June 12, 2020
Capital punishment has long been a hot button legal issue across the U.S. While the death penalty is not explicitly outlawed by the U.S. Constitution, there have been several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court that have shaped how the death penalty is implemented in Arizona and across the nation. Currently, capital punishment is legal in Arizona under certain specific circumstances, such as first-degree murder. While sentences including capital punishment are not the most common, it is helpful to understand the laws surrounding these sentences. To do that, it’s helpful to look back on the history of the death penalty in the state.
1910s – Arizona’s First Prison
The state’s first prison was erected when Arizona was still just a territory. Florence Prison, located in Florence, AZ, was the sight of the state’s first execution in 1910. The execution took place by hanging, as did all state executions until 1931.
1916 – The Death Penalty Is Suspended
Throughout its history, the death penalty has faced many legal challenges in Arizona. 1916 marked the first, when an initiative passed to outlaw the death penalty in December of that year. However, capital punishment quickly returned to Arizona in 1918. Nineteen executions by hanging followed with the last taking place on June 30, 1931.
1934 – Lethal Gas Execution Is Introduced
Execution by lethal gas replaced execution by hanging beginning in 1934. Two brothers, Manuel and Fred Hernandez, were executed at 5:00 a.m. on July 6, 1934. Lethal gas execution is still legal in Arizona, and those who are sentenced to the death penalty may choose between lethal gas and lethal injection.
1972 – U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Furman v. Georgia
1972 was a landmark year for state laws surrounding the death penalty in the United States. While the Supreme Court did not rule that the death penalty itself is unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia, it did find that found the sentencing authority was not adequately guided in its discretion when imposing the death penalty, resulting in the death penalty being meted out in “arbitrary and capricious” ways. This meant that many states, including Arizona, had to rewrite their capital punishment laws to continue issuing this sentence.
1978 – Death Penalty Suspended Again
In 1978, the death penalty statute in Arizona was deemed unconstitutional, and all executions were stayed in the state. However, a subsequent court case in the same year would determine that Arizona’s death penalty was constitutional except for a limitation on the presentation of mitigation. In 1979, Arizona reinstated the death penalty with a small revision and previous sentences again became effective. The next execution in the state took place on April 5th, 1992 when Donald E. Harding was killed by lethal gas. In 1992, Arizona voters approved execution by lethal injection.
2002 – Further Refining National Laws on Capital Punishment
In 2002, the Supreme Court further defined laws regarding capital punishment. More specifically, it ruled that execution of mentally incompetent criminals is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional. This case, Atkins v. Virginia further defined that mentally incompetent in this context means that a mental disease or defect is preventing a person who is sentenced to death from understanding that he or she is to be punished for the crime of murder and is unaware that the punishment for this crime is death.
2014 – Lethal Injection Spikes Controversy
In 2014, the death penalty again came into the spotlight following the execution of Joseph R. Wood III by lethal injection. Executioners allegedly injected him 15 times with the standard dose of a sedative and a painkiller during a procedure that lasted nearly two hours before their client was declared dead. While this did cause a temporary halt to state executions, it has not to date altered state laws on capital punishment.
If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, defend your rights with representation from Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law. Ms. Altschuler has dedicated her 20-year career to criminal law, and she is well versed in Arizona state laws as well as the local court system in Pima County. Whether you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, Janet Altschuler will work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Call our office to schedule a confidential consultation at (520) 247-1789.
May 1, 2020
If you have ever been arrested for a domestic violence (or DV) offense, you might recall the cop or deputy giving you some unsolicited advice about diversion. “Oh don’t worry”, he or she may have said, “you will get diversion and the charge will go away.” You might also have heard something similar from some well meaning person sitting next to you in jail. At first glance, diversion sounds wonderful!
However, it’s important to remember the following: please don’t take criminal defense legal advice from law enforcement, and you definitely shouldn’t take it from a person who’s in jail! There is no substitute for the expertise of a lawyer, so it’s much wiser to talk to a lawyer experienced in criminal defense instead of taking advice from people who have never gone to law school!
You might be wondering: “But why?”
Simple: Because every jurisdiction does diversion differently, and what you don’t know might hurt you.
Diversion can indeed result in your charge being dismissed, meaning that you will have no conviction on your record. In this instance, conviction means you either plead guilty to a jury or were found guilty by a judge (or jury) after a trial. Despite the fact that you can get a charge dismissed, the mere reality of having been arrested and booked into the jail and charged with a crime will likely appear during any criminal background check that searches state or federal databases. There is a means by which to have this record “cleared,” but that is a topic for another article.
Anyway, back to diversion. Unfortunately, diversion isn’t just an instantaneous dismissal of your domestic violence charge. Some diversion jurisdictions require a person to enter a plea of guilty, then the plea is held in abeyance while counseling is completed. Counseling for domestic violence involves 26 sessions at a court approved provider. Counseling isn’t cheap, and very few providers take insurance.
Naturally, different jurisdictions have different requirements when it comes to diversion. While diversion generally requires 26 counseling sessions with a court-approved domestic violence counseling provider, some jurisdictions like Tucson City Court mandate which provider you go to while others like Pima County Justice Court do not.
In addition, other jurisdictions don’t require you enter a plea of guilty, they simply allow you to continue the case alone until you are done with counseling and then they dismiss the case. The importance of this difference comes about when you encounter a question on a job application that asks if you ever “pled guilty” to avoid a conviction. If you were charged in a district whose diversion program requires a guilty plea, you would have to answer “yes,” to that question, and if you lied, the truth would likely show up in a background check. To those with immigration concerns, such a plea is also very important.
Diversion programs differ in how they monitor you as well. Some require more frequent in person or phone check-ins while others do not. Some programs allow you to reside out of the county or out of state while others do not. Sometimes, these are negotiable with the prosecutor, and this ability to negotiate the terms of a diversion program is a big reason why having an attorney represent you in domestic violence cases is so important.
Is diversion right for you if you’re charged with domestic violence? Maybe, maybe not. But no matter what, one thing’s for sure: you should only be taking legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney. There may be other methods that can help you resolve your case successfully, and attorneys like me are the only people who can uncover those methods for you. If you’re facing a domestic violence charge, don’t waste any time: call Tucson criminal defense attorney Janet Altschuler today. I’ve spent the last 20 years helping Southern Arizonans beat their charges in court, and I have the skills and knowledge to help you do the same! Call my office at (520) 408-1122 or contact me online to find out more information.
May 22, 2020
Not all crimes come with jail time. In fact, many people who are arrested for a misdemeanor on a first offense will not be required to serve time behind bars. However, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Most often when jail time is waived in sentencing, probation is required instead. During probation, you must follow a certain set of behavioral guidelines while under supervision from a probation officer for a set period—generally six to eighteen months. If part of your sentence includes a period of probation, here are the steps you need to take to stay out of trouble with the law.
Understand the Terms of Your Probation
The terms of your probation will vary depending on the crime you were convicted of as well as your personal criminal record. For example, if alcohol played a role in your arrest, you may be instructed not to drink alcohol while on probation. You may also have to comply with drug screenings at regular or randomized intervals.
The most important aspect of your probation will be following the law to the letter. If you commit a crime on probation, you are much more likely to serve a lengthy jail term upon conviction. Even traffic stops can be problematic. A simple moving violation won’t likely affect your probation, but a DUI or combined factors such as driving with expired tags or an out of date license could land you back in a courtroom.
Stay in Contact with Your Probation Officer
Typically, your probation officer will set up a schedule of appointments. If you know you will be late or unable to attend, contact your probation officer as soon as possible. You also are responsible for letting your probation officer know if you change your address, contact info, or employment status. This should happen right away; don’t simply wait until your next appointment. If you aren’t required to meet with your probation officer and have not heard from them in a while, check in at least once per month to make sure you are following all necessary steps to comply with your probation terms. Don’t ever assume that no news is good news when it comes to hearing from your probation officer.
Keep Your Own Contact Records
Unfortunately, probation officers often have significant case loads and limited resources, so they may not always have accurate records on every point of contact that exists for your case. To resolve any potential issues later, keep a record of every call and visit you make to your probation officer, counselor, and any other required contacts you need to keep in touch with. This way, if there is uncertainty about your compliance later on, you will be prepared with written documentation.
Trim Your Social Circle
For some people, probation may be a wake-up call that inspires some significant life changes. If you find that it’s difficult to avoid reckless or destructive behavior around certain members of your social group, then you may need to rethink your social contacts. Similarly, if drugs and alcohol were part of your arrest, you may need to refrain from contacting friends who encourage you to drink more often or provide access to illegal drugs.
Be Aware of Your Online Presence
Modern technology makes it much easier to stay in touch with your probation officer, pay court fees, and take other necessary actions for compliance. However, it also makes it easier for your probation officer to spot a probation violation. For example, snapping a photo of yourself having a beer with a friend could get you in trouble if you have been instructed not to drink alcohol while on probation. Always be aware of any posts you publish on social media as well as others you might be tagged in by friends. Remember, even if your accounts are set to private, your posts and tags may still be seen outside your friend group.
Stay in Touch with Your Defense Attorney
Your criminal defense lawyer is a great resource for helping you comply with your probation. While you will need to be accountable for taking steps mandated by the court and attending all appointments with your probation officer, your attorney can help you with questions and concerns during your probation as well as any potential violations. If your probation officer does inform you that you’ve violated probation, talk to your lawyer before addressing the situation any further.
Working with Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law, you can defend your rights and work toward the most favorable outcome possible for your case. Ms. Altschuler is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has been practicing in Pima County and Southern Arizona for more than 20 years. Call (520) 247-1789 to schedule a consultation for your case.