Protect yourself, protect your rights. It isn’t just a misdemeanor. 520-247-1789 or 520-200-5003

Why You Can’t Bring Recreational Cannabis Back from States Where It’s Legal

November 22, 2019

If you’re planning an upcoming vacation to Nevada, California, Colorado, or Oregon (or any state where recreational marijuana has been legalized), then you may be planning a trip to a dispensary during your stay. However, you shouldn’t plan to purchase any more product than you plan to use on your vacation, since you can’t bring anything from the dispensary home as a souvenir. While you may have purchased those cannabis products legally, you cannot bring them back to Arizona. Here’s why. 

State marijuana laws are localized. 

The federal government has largely shown that they will not interfere with states’ laws concerning medical and recreational cannabis. However, each state’s laws are highly localized. Marijuana and other cannabis products sold in state dispensaries are all produced within that state. That means that you can’t bring marijuana from one state to another, even if it’s legal in both states. The moment you cross state lines, you are breaking the law. 

Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. 

While the federal government has backed down on marijuana enforcement at the state level, they still have strict rules and enforcement in areas where they have full jurisdiction—such as interstate commerce. Air travel is also regulated by the federal government, so you should never try to bring any cannabis, edibles, or other THC-containing products through airport security. 

Arizona has strict marijuana laws. 

In Arizona, any type of marijuana possession is considered a felony offense. That means that you could face up to 4 years in prison just for bringing back a few edibles from your California vacation. Quite simply, it’s not worth the risk. 

If you are facing drug possession charges, call Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789. Ms. Altschuler is a trusted criminal defense attorney in Tucson who has been representing clients for more than 20 years. She is ready to advocate for your rights. 

Understanding How Bail Works

November 8, 2019

Within the criminal justice system in the United States, accused parties are presumed innocent until proven guilty. It is not until a verdict is delivered at a trial that a person’s guilt will be determined and his or her sentence delivered. However, it can take several weeks or even months for a trial to be set in a criminal case following an arrest, but most people will not sit in a jail cell until their court date arrives. Instead, they will be released following their arrest on the condition that they return to court for their trial. For many people, this agreement comes with an insurance policy in the form of a refundable payment to the court: Bail.

If you’ve ever been arrested or know someone who has—or if you’ve ever watched any crime show on network television—you are likely familiar with bail. Posting bail means surrendering a sum of cash (or property of equivalent value) to the court, which will be held until the defendant’s trial. If the defendant shows up to court at the scheduled time, the bail will be returned. Otherwise, an arrest warrant is issued for the defendant and the court may keep the bail payment or property. 

Setting Bail 

The cost of bail will vary depending on a few factors, most importantly the type of crime in question. For minor crimes, you may not even be brought to jail or required to pay bail. You will simply be issued a citation and instructed to show up in court at a specific time. If you are arrested and booked, you can arrange an immediate release from prison by posting bail according to the jailhouse bail schedule. This is a standard fee for common, non-violent crimes, and it may be paid prior to an arraignment or bail hearing. 

In some cases, you will have to wait until your arraignment to be granted bail and for an amount to be set. In these situations, the judge will set bail based on the existing bail schedule as well  arguments presented by the prosecutor as well as your defense attorney. Bail may be denied if you are a previous offender with a history of failing to show up to trial. You may also be denied bail if you are considered a flight risk due to the availability of considerable financial resources or few ties within the local community.

Paying Bail 

You may pay bail outright in cash, or it might be paid through a bail bond secured through a third party if you are unable to pay your bail in full (or put up property in an equivalent amount). Bail bonds are issued for a portion of the bail amount, usually 10%. With a bail bond, the bondsman agrees to pay bail if the defendant does not show up to trial. When the defendant does show up to court, the bondsman keeps the 10% fee.

Once you have paid bail, you will agree to follow the conditions of your release, which will include the requirement that you follow all laws. There may be additional conditions based on the circumstances of your arrest. For example, you may be instructed to not contact a former employer if you were arrested for trespassing on company property.

Alternatives to Bail 

There are a handful of get out of jail free cards that can serve as alternatives to bail. In some cases, a defendant may be released on his or her own recognizance. This type of release may be granted if you are not deemed a threat to yourself or others, have no history of criminal behavior, and have established ties to the community, such as close relatives that live in the same area. You may also make an argument for a release on your own recognizance if you are the primary caretaker for another individual, such as your child or elderly parent.

A judge may also grant release without bail in a third-party release. In this situation, the defendant would be released to a third responsible party who will then answer to the judge if the defendant does not show up for trial.

If you’ve been arrested for any crime in southern Arizona, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to review your case. Janet Altschuler is an experienced defense lawyer who is passionate about defending her clients’ rights. Her practice is exclusively dedicated to criminal law, so you know your case is getting the attention and expertise it deserves. To schedule a consultation with Ms. Altschuler, call (520) 247-1789. 

Common Questions about Stalking Laws in Arizona

October 25, 2019

No matter where you are in the United States, stalking is a crime. However, each jurisdiction has a unique definition of what stalking is and the types of punishments it may incur. In Arizona, stalking is considered a Class 5 felony on a first offense, so it is a serious charge to be brought against an individual. Because stalking can take many forms and the laws in Arizona differ from those of other states, it is helpful to understand local laws on the subject. The following questions and statistics provide an overview of how stalking is dealt with under Arizona law. Due to the gravity of a stalking conviction, you should immediately contact a defense attorney if you are25 accused of this crime.

What constitutes stalking?

Stalking may take many forms. It might include showing up uninvited to a victim’s home or workplace. It could include excessive emails, messages, or phone calls. It could also include unwanted gifts or letters. These actions and others like them constitute a course of conduct to cause fear for an individual’s personal safety, as well as that of his or her family. The threat of potential violence in these actions may be express or implied, but for this type of harassment to constitute stalking, there must be a repeated pattern of harassment, threats, or unwanted contact from a specific individual. While stalking does not always include explicitly violent behaviors, it can escalate over time. Below is a more detailed list of potential stalking behaviors:
 Damaging property
 Monitoring phone calls, emails, or social media activity
 Going through garbage or personal property
 Posting information or spreading rumors
 Sending frequent unwanted messages, phone calls, or gifts
 Threatening harm against an individual or his or her family and loved ones
 Following an individual or frequently driving by an individual’s home, workplace, or
other known hangouts
 Any action to control or track another individual’s behavior

What are the possible outcomes of a stalking conviction in Arizona?

Stalking carries different consequences in different states. Arizona is among only one-third of states in the U.S. that considers stalking a felony on the first offense. It is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to 2.5 years of prison time, along with significant fines. However, if there is a threat or fear of death, then the crime becomes a Class 3 felony. Prison time for this charge may range from 2-8 years.

Stalking crimes can also be complicated by a number of factors that can increase the criminal charges against an individual. For example, if there is a protective order that prevented the defendant from contacting the victim, then additional charges may be filed along with stalking. Prior felony offenses, threats made with a deadly weapon, and young age of the victim (under 16 years of age) will also increase the severity of the charges against a defendant.

How do you build a legal defense against a stalking charge?  

Every criminal case is unique, which is why it is important to consult an attorney as soon as charges are raised against you, even if you feel you are innocent. In some cases, individuals accused of stalking will feel that a misunderstanding has occurred, and they will try to reason with the victim personally. However, you should never approach the victim in your case or have any contact with the victim whatsoever. Additionally, you should only speak to law enforcement or provide evidence in your case with an attorney present.

In building a defense against a stalking charge, your attorney will investigate the case to assess whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that stalking occurred. In some cases, the victim may have provided false information or misidentified the defendant as their stalker. In other situations, there may be an element of coincidence to consider. For example, if the defendant worked in a building near the victim, then he or she would likely be seen every day and may not have necessarily been following the victim to work. Regardless of the exact circumstances, your attorney will work throughout your case to defend your rights and present your side of the story.

How common is stalking?

According to the Stalking Resource Center, 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States. In 11% of cases, victims have been stalked for five years or more. The majority of stalking victims are stalked by someone they know. In 2/3 of cases, victims are pursued at least once per week using multiple methods of contact and intimidation.

If you are accused of any crime, your first call should be to a criminal defense lawyer. Janet Altschuler is an experienced, aggressive defense attorney serving clients in Tucson, and she will work to uphold your rights and create the best possible outcome in your case. To learn more about her work, continue browsing our website or call (520) 247-1789.

What to Know about Arizona’s Cyberbullying Laws

October 11, 2019

Cyberbullying is a type of crime that has grown as digital technologies have become ever more integrated into daily life. And, unfortunately, cyberbullying can have the same negative impacts as conventional bullying. In fact, it may even be worse due to the lasting record of cyberbullying incidents that remain on social media or other publicly visible areas of the web. To combat this type of harassment and hold individuals accountable, Arizona has implemented cyberbullying laws. Read below to learn more about these laws, as well as what constitutes cyberbullying.

Arizona has had anti-cyberbullying laws in place since 2012.

The first cyberbullying laws in Arizona were passed in 2012, and restrictions have only become stricter in the years following. The law that covers most cyberbullying offenses is ARS 13- 2921(A). This law states that an individual commits cyberbullying harassment if they contact or cause communication with another individual intending to harass, alarm, or annoy the person. For example, sending threatening messages via email or social media can constitute cyberbullying. Posting naked photos or videos of an ex-partner, sometimes called “revenge porn,” is also classified as a form of cyberbullying and is a Class 5 felony punishable by up to one year in prison.

Cyberbullying is punishable with jail time.

Any type of cyberbullying can be punished with jail time. Convictions may also include charges of blackmail, stalking, or hacking, which can lead to further punishment. On its own, cyberbullying is considered a misdemeanor offense, which can carry fines of up to $2,500 and a maximum jail sentence of 6 months.

Arizona schools are obligated to implement anti-cyberbullying policies.  

It is not just the justice system that is responsible for enforcing anti-cyberbullying policies. Arizona law, specifically ARS 15-341, dictates that schools must implement policies that prevent students from engaging in harassment, intimidation, and bullying through electronic networks. Districts are responsible for defining harassment and creating rules for electronic devices used on school grounds.

If you or your child is facing a cyberbullying charge, it is essential to hire a trusted criminal defense attorney to defend your rights and your family’s reputation. Janet Altschuler is an advocate for her clients, and she has been practicing law in Tucson for more than two decades. Call her office at (520) 247-1789 for a consultation.

Common Misconceptions About Domestic Violence 

September 23, 2019

Unfortunately, domestic violence is a pervasive crime in the United States. About one in four women and one in seven men will be the victims of domestic abuse in their lifetimes. When a victim makes a complaint against their abuser to the police, the abuser may be tried in court for domestic violence charges. When it comes to domestic violence, there are many myths and misconceptions that exist. Keep reading to get the facts straight on this prevalent issue. 

Myth: Only men commit domestic violence. 

When people think of domestic violence, they often envision men as abusers and women as victims. However, this is not always the case. Women can be guilty of domestic violence against men, and domestic violence does not always occur between partners in a romantic relationship. 

Myth: Victims can drop domestic violence charges. 

Domestic violence cases do tend to be complicated, because there is a mixed range of emotions that a victim may feel towards their abuser. While there may be anger and resentment, there is also an established relationship at play, and that can cause feelings of guilt or remorse once charges have been filed. For this reason, many victims will drop complaints of domestic violence after the fact. However, this does not necessarily dismiss a domestic violence case. A victim may be compelled to testify in a case as a hostile witness, or other evidence and witness testimony may be used to move forward with domestic violence charges. 

Myth: Domestic abuse is only physical.  

Domestic violence is a tag that can be attached to a wide range of criminal charges. Beyond physical assault, threats and verbal abuse can constitute domestic violence. 

If you have been charged with a crime, including domestic violence, call the office of Janet Altschuler to protect your rights and better understand the charges raised against you. You can reach Ms. Altschuler in Tucson by calling (520) 829-4460. 

Should You Plead Guilty or Not Guilty?

September 6, 2019

When you have been charged with a crime, the first step in the criminal justice process will be an arraignment hearing where you will enter a plea. Traditionally, there are two options available: Guilty or not guilty. While it may seem like a simple decision between the two, there are actually many factors to consider before entering your plea. In other words, your plea will not necessarily be determined by whether you are innocent

Before entering your plea, you should review your case with your criminal defense attorney, as every case will have unique circumstances. However, if you are unable to consult a lawyer prior to arraignment or you are uncertain what a guilty plea will entail, it is typically advisable to enter a plea of “not guilty”. That’s because you can change a not guilty plea to a guilty one at any time, but a guilty plea is usually permanent. 

What Pleading Guilty Means

When a lawyer advises a client to plead guilty, it is usually because a deal has been worked out with the prosecution to reduce the sentence associated with the crime or drop certain charges. For example, a felony charge may be reduced to a misdemeanor through a plea deal. If there is substantial evidence against you in your case and it is likely that a jury would find you guilty, a plea deal will typically be the best path. However, there are some drawbacks to pleading guilty. First, you cannot maintain your innocence with a guilty plea. When you enter your plea, you will have to admit to the crimes you have been accused of, and you will have the charges on your record for life. 

Additionally, the sentencing decision for your case will still ultimately be left up to the judge. That means that if the judge does not agree with the terms of the plea deal presented by the prosecution, he or she can add additional jail time, fines, and other punitive measures to your sentence. What’s more is that there are often minimum sentences for specific crimes, so you may still need to serve jail time even if you have worked out a deal with the prosecution. 

What Pleading Not Guilty Means

A plea of not guilty generally implies that your case will go to trial. However, there may be further negotiation toward a plea deal or out of court litigation that prevents the trial from occurring. Because trials are more expensive and time-consuming than a plea negotiated outside the courtroom, it is often favorable for prosecutors to strike a deal to reduce the sentence or the charges brought against the defendant. But, if you are innocent, then a not guilty plea is also the most logical choice for your case. It will allow you to argue your innocence in front of a jury of your peers. If you receive a not guilty verdict following your trial, no charges will remain on your record, and you will be free to go. 

Unfortunately, juries can be unpredictable. So, taking your case to trial presents the risk that you will be found guilty of all charges. In this situation, you may face the maximum penalty for those charges. Another potential drawback of going to trial is that it is a lengthy process and it may draw attention from the media, depending on the charges you’re accused of. However, you will also have more time to prepare your case before your trial, and typically you will be allowed to remain at home with your family until your trial takes place. 

Alternative Options 

Rarely, there are cases where neither plea will be submitted. Instead, you will plead “no contest”, which is not an admission of guilt, but it does not argue the charges raised against you. It is necessary to have a no contest plea approved by the prosecution, and these types of pleas account for a very small percentage of criminal cases.  

Making the Decision 

Ultimately, the right plea decision will be dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. Working with a criminal defense attorney that you can trust will ensure that you make the right decision for your needs. 

If you have been charged with any crime in Tucson, AZ, don’t leave your future up to chance. Get the experienced, professional defense you need from Janet Altschuler. Ms. Altschuler’s practice is solely focused on criminal cases, and she has more than 2 decades of experience navigating the criminal justice system in Pima County. When you need a lawyer, give our office a call at (520) 829-4460. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Being Arrested

August 23, 2019

Being arrested is not an experience that anyone wants to go through, especially if you know that you are innocent of the crime you’re being arrested for. Unfortunately, many people do not have in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system, so they don’t know what steps to take when they have been arrested. More importantly, they don’t understand how easily they can be coaxed into saying or doing something that can later be used against them. Whether you have committed a crime or not, there are some key dos and don’ts to keep in mind when you have been put under arrest. 

Do: Understand Your Rights

As soon as you are arrested, you will be read your rights. If you are not, then you should notify your attorney as soon as possible. 

One of your rights upon being arrested is the right to remain silent. Yet, many people feel that they should try to outwardly defend their innocence, so they choose to waive this right. However, it is important to say only as much as you need to once you have been placed under arrest. For example, you might provide your name and address to the police officers and answer any basic questions they ask but refuse to answer questions about the crime you’ve been charged with.  

Do: Call an Attorney as Soon as Possible

Another of your rights is the right to an attorney. However, arresting officers may try to delay you from getting to a phone to contact your attorney right away. When you are questioned by officers, simply tell them that you refuse to answer questions without your lawyer present. As soon as you are able, call your attorney to assist you. Do not provide extensive details about your arrest to your lawyer over the phone. Wait to speak in person to discuss your case in depth.

It may seem tempting to call a relative or bondsman first when you are arrested, so that you can make bail and get out of a holding cell sooner. However, your attorney can start making those arrangements on your behalf, and they may be able to negotiate reduced bail or push up your arraignment hearing so that you are released in a timely fashion. 

Don’t: Get Friendly with Police Officers

Police officers are trained in many intimidation and manipulation tactics to get individuals to talk. Therefore, it might seem like an officer genuinely wants to stand up for you and befriend you or get your side of the story. However, any information you provide can still be used as evidence against you later, so you should still refuse to answer questions unless your lawyer is present. 

Don’t: Insult or Argue with Police Officers

Being arrested is a frustrating process. You may feel scared and angry, and those emotions can cause you to react poorly with a physical or verbal outburst directed at the police. Unfortunately, this can immediately make you guilty of another crime—assaulting a police officer. Even if you weren’t guilty of the charges you were initially arrested for, arguing with a police officer could have you facing new charges. So, as difficult as it may be, try to remain calm throughout the arrest process. 

Don’t: Try to Advocate for Your Innocence 

The time of your arrest is not the time to argue for your innocence. While you are technically innocent until proven guilty, the legal process does not allow you to argue your innocence directly with an arresting officer. Instead, you should hire a criminal defense attorney to fight for you within the proper channels. At the time of your arrest, resisting in any way will generally only result in a more forceful arresting process. 

Don’t: Consent to a Search or Any Tests 

Just because an officer has a warrant for your arrest does not mean that they have the right to search your property. Upon your arrest, you should calmly and clearly state that you do not provide consent for the officers to search your car or your home. Additionally, being arrested does not automatically mean that you must consent to DNA testing or drug/alcohol testing. Your lawyer can effectively advise you if you should submit to these types of tests. 

Having the number of a trusted criminal attorney can help you remain calm and start building a solid defense as soon as you have been arrested. Janet Altschuler is solely focused on criminal defense, and she has more than 20 years of experience navigating the Pima County justice system. Make her office your first call if you are arrested or questioned by the police. Call (520) 247-1789.

The Lasting Consequences of Misdemeanor Convictions

August 9, 2019

The investigator takes fingerprints from the suspect in the crime. Investigation is a crime.

While misdemeanor convictions do not carry the same severe penalties as felonies, these are still serious charges that can follow you for life. Unfortunately, many people underestimate the severity of misdemeanors, so they do not properly prepare to face these charges with the help of a skilled, experienced defense attorney. Before you assume that a misdemeanor means you’re off the hook, consider these lasting consequences that can come with a conviction. 

Job Eligibility

Most jobs will perform background checks before hiring, and though a misdemeanor conviction doesn’t necessarily put you out of the running for many jobs, it can add an extra challenge to the hiring process. You’ll need to be prepared to discuss the nature of your conviction at nearly every future job interview you have. Plus, depending on the crime, a misdemeanor may disqualify you from certain government jobs or other positions requiring high levels of security clearance. 

Fines

Being charged with a crime is an expensive process. You may be responsible for paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees. Additionally, you may miss time at work, since misdemeanors can still carry jail time. Therefore, the financial implications of a conviction can be long-lasting. 

Social Standing 

Being convicted of any crime—even a misdemeanor—can harm your reputation within your community and make it hard to establish yourself somewhere else. Furthermore, in some cases, misdemeanor charges related to sexual offenses could require you to register as a sex offender if convicted. That will be a designation that sticks with you for life. 

While no attorney can promise any particular outcome, a worthwhile defense attorney will work hard to minimize the lasting impacts of your charges. Janet Altschuler is a dedicated criminal defense attorney serving Tucson and the surrounding areas. She will fight aggressively to defend your rights and preserve your future. Schedule a consultation with Ms. Altschuler by calling (520) 247-1789. 

Arizonians: What to Know About Driving on a Suspended License

July 26, 2019

There are lots of reasons why your driver’s license might be suspended in Arizona. Alcohol-related offenses, such as DUIs, reckless driving, and leaving the scene of an accident are all examples. You could also have your license suspended if you accumulate too many points on it or if you fail to appear in court in response to a traffic violation. If your license is suspended, you should talk to a lawyer about your options—but have someone else drive you to the law office.

Understanding the Law

The Arizona law pertaining to driving with a suspended license can be found under ARS §28-3473 in the Arizona Revised Statutes. It states that individuals are forbidden to drive if their license has been suspended, revoked, canceled, or refused. The same applies if the individual is disqualified from driving in any way. Even if you didn’t commit an offense that led to the suspension of your license, you can be charged for driving with an expired license if you failed to renew it in a timely manner.

Knowing What to Do After Revocation

If your driver’s license has been revoked for a specific period of time, it will not automatically be reinstated once that time period is over. You’ll need to apply for reinstatement. In addition to submitting your application for reinstatement, you’ll need to pay the fee, submit any required documentation, and possibly file a Certificate of Insurance (SR-22). Some individuals may need to pass a written test, road test, and vision exam.

Identifying the Potential Consequences

Driving with a suspended license is a class one misdemeanor in Arizona. This does not carry a mandatory fine or jail time. However, the judge may sentence you to up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. For a first offense, it’s more likely that you would be sentenced to five days in jail. In addition, you can expect to have your vehicle impounded for up to 30 days.

Criminal defense attorney Janet Altschuler has more than 20 years of experience defending individuals throughout the Tucson area. If you’ve been charged with driving on a suspended license or another traffic-related crime, call our law firm at (520) 247-1789 right away.

Probation Dos and Don’ts to Know

July 12, 2019

Individuals convicted of crimes may be sentenced to a period of probation in addition to or instead of jail time. Although serving a term of probation is far easier than doing time behind bars, it’s important to realize that you’re not home free just yet. Probation comes with a set of strict requirements and rules, and if you violate any of them, you’ll be in trouble with the court system again. Don’t hesitate to speak with your criminal defense lawyer if you’re unsure about any of the conditions of your probation.

Do understand your probation conditions.

Many offenders in Arizona are required to follow the rules of standard supervision. However, the court has the discretion to add special conditions to your term. You should carefully read all of the paperwork you’ve been given and talk to your lawyer if anything is unclear.

Don’t test the limits of your restrictions.

Failure to follow your conditions to the letter may result in a warning or violation of your probation. For example, it’s common for the conditions of probation to forbid offenders from consuming alcohol. This also means you cannot have any alcohol in your home or go to a place where alcohol is the primary attraction (such as a bar). Even if you aren’t drinking any of the alcohol in your home, it’s still a violation of your probation. Remember that your probation officer can knock on your door at any time and execute a search of your home.

Do speak with a lawyer if you’re considered in violation.

Sometimes, a first offense results in a warning from your probation officer. In other cases, the officer may file a petition to revoke probation. If this happens, you need to speak with a criminal defense lawyer right away. You’ll need to appear in court and either admit to the violation or file a denial. If you file a denial, your lawyer will try to demonstrate to the court that no violation occurred. If this is successful, the original conditions will be restored. Otherwise, you could be facing incarceration or additional restrictions.

If you’ve been charged with a crime or with violation of your probation, you need high-caliber legal representation to protect your rights. Contact the Tucson, AZ law office of Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789.