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.
May 8, 2020
Following an arrest, your priority should be to contact your defense attorney to discuss your case. However, you may also be tempted to talk to family and friends about the incident, especially if you feel you’ve been wrongfully arrested. You might also take your thoughts to social media. Before you do start posting any info about your arrest, remember the following guidelines to ensure that your social media posts aren’t used against you in the courtroom—or in your personal life.
Don’t assume your social media accounts are private.
You may have your social media accounts set to private or “friends-only”, but you should still consider every post on your account publicly accessible. You never know if someone on your friends list has taken a screenshot of a post and shared it with someone else or posted it in a public forum. Alternatively, you might have professional colleagues following you on social media, so discussing your arrest there could cost you your job.
Don’t discuss your case on social media.
Ideally, it’s best to save your arguments about your case for the courtroom. However, you may feel compelled to discuss your arrest on social media for various reasons. If you do, stick only to the established facts of the case. You should also never make negative statements about the prosecutor or the police on social media.
Do show relevant social media posts to your attorney.
Before posting anything about your arrest to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, run it by your lawyer. He or she can advise you on discussing your case without offering any incriminating info. You might also show your attorney any social posts that could offer an alibi or be otherwise relevant to your case. Providing your lawyer with a more complete picture of your social life and whereabouts via social media can help you build a stronger defense for the courtroom.
When you need fair, dedicated representation following an arrest, call Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law. Ms. Altschuler’s practice is solely dedicated to criminal defense in Tucson, AZ, so she will provide you with the attention you deserve for a fair and speedy trial. Dial (520) 247-1789 to protect your rights.
April 24, 2020
If you are facing a criminal charge, then you might be tempted to try to represent yourself in court. However, this isn’t a good idea. It’s always better to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. You are much more likely to obtain a favorable outcome to your claim if you rely on the services of a qualified professional. Here are some of the reasons you shouldn’t represent yourself:
You may not know the courtroom rules.
If you don’t have a thorough understanding of proper courtroom procedures, then you won’t be able to make an effective case. You may also violate the rules of the court without meaning to. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to ask for anyone’s help—that’s the role your attorney should be playing. If you want to always make sure that you’re adhering to the proper procedures, you need an attorney in your corner.
You may accidentally incriminate yourself.
Most individuals who try to represent themselves in court do not have a detailed knowledge of the law. Thus, it’s all too easy for them to inadvertently make statements that may harm the case they are making. An experienced attorney will know how to avoid saying things that will detract from the strength of your case.
You’re taking a needless risk.
A criminal charge carries significant penalties if you are convicted. You might face heavy fines, jail time, and a mark on your record. You might also lose your driver’s license or other privileges. All these things can inconvenience you for a long time, and they can even hurt your career. Thus, representing yourself in court simply isn’t worth the risk.
When you need an attorney in the Tucson area, don’t hesitate to contact Janet Altschuler. As a former prosecutor at the Pima County Attorney’s Office, she has the knowledge and experience needed to represent you. If you’re worried about the outcome of your case, then you need an attorney who will always work to uphold your rights. Call (520) 247-1789 for a free consultation.
April 10, 2020
If you’re like most people, you probably know what a search warrant is. Everybody has seen movies or television shows where a police officer knocks on someone’s door and announces that they have a search warrant. But what exactly does it mean to serve a warrant? What does it mean when you are served with one in the state of Arizona? If you want to protect your rights after your arrest, it’s important to understand what a search warrant means. Here’s what you need to know.
What is a search warrant?
A search warrant is a legal document issued by a judge to a law enforcement officer, authorizing that officer to search a specific location in order to find a person or property.
When can a search warrant be issued?
In the state of Arizona, there are several grounds under which a search warrant may be issued:
● A search warrant may be authorized so an officer can look for property that has been stolen or embezzled.
● A warrant can also be issued to search for property that has been used to commit a public offense, or that an individual is intending to use to commit such an offense.
● If a location needs to be searched as part of a safety, health, or welfare inspection, then a warrant may be issued for that purpose.
● Finally, a search warrant can be issued in order to search a location for a person who has an outstanding warrant for their arrest.
What are the legal requirements for a search warrant?
In order to be valid, a search warrant needs to be requested by a law enforcement officer and issued by a judge. The warrant must specify the place to be searched and the person or property that is being sought. In addition, the officer who is requesting the warrant must show that there is probable cause to search.
When can a search warrant be served?
Under Arizona law, a search warrant can only be served from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., unless the judge has specified in writing that the warrant can be served at any time.
Do you have to comply with a search warrant?
Yes. If a law enforcement officer has a search warrant, then you are legally obligated to permit them to search the location described in the warrant. However, you can still challenge the validity of the search warrant in court.
Can the officer searching your home seize any property?
The officer may not seize any property or persons that are not specifically mentioned in the search warrant.
Does an officer always need a search warrant in order to perform a search?
There are certain circumstances under which an officer may do a search without having a warrant. For example, if the officer is in a place where they are legally permitted to be, such as outside your door, and they can see illegal property or evidence of illegal actions in plain sight, then they can search your house without a warrant. An officer may also decide to perform a search without a warrant if they feel that it is necessary to prevent the destruction of evidence or the escape of a dangerous fugitive. Finally, you may verbally consent to the search. If your home has been searched by an officer without a warrant, it’s important to speak with an attorney so you can determine whether the officer acted lawfully.
Does a search warrant mean that you must talk to an officer?
No, you are not legally obligated to say anything to an officer who issues you a search warrant. In fact, anything you say to the officer can be used to prosecute you later. That’s why you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your property has been searched.
If an officer takes your property, do they have to provide you with a receipt?
Yes. Under Arizona law, an officer must provide you with a detailed receipt if they confiscate your property.
If you’re looking for an attorney to help you defend yourself against a criminal charge, then it’s time to get in touch with Janet Altschuler. Ms. Altschuler brings more than two decades of
experience as a criminal defense attorney to each client, and she knows the local laws and courts well. She is committed to fighting hard to protect your rights and gain a successful outcome for your case. If you would like to schedule a free consultation, call (520) 247-1789 today.
March 20, 2020
Protective orders are legally enforceable documents that are intended to protect a victim from an abuser or harasser. Most often, they are used in domestic violence cases. However, it should be noted that no physical conflict needs to have taken place in order for the police to make a domestic violence arrest. A mere verbal argument is enough to land people behind bars. Upon release, it’s quite likely that they will have to abide by the conditions established in an order of protection. It’s imperative to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you’ve been arrested, charged with a crime, or served with an order of protection. Failing to strictly abide by the terms of the order can lead to additional criminal charges.
Order of Protection
The standard order of protection and the injunction against harassment (below) are two very similar documents. The main difference lies in the relationship between the alleged victim and the alleged abuser. If you’ve been served with an order of protection, it means that you have been accused of endangering the safety of a family member or household member. To determine whether an order of protection or an injunction against harassment is appropriate for any given situation, the court will use the relationship test. It considers whether the alleged victim is any of the following in relations to the alleged abuser:
A spouse or former spouse
A parent of the alleged abuser’s child or fetus
Related by marriage as any type of in-law
Related by blood or court order (including parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister)
A resident or former resident of the same household
If the relationship falls into any one of these categories, then the court may issue an order of protection, rather than an injunction against harassment. A standard order of protection enjoins the defendant from committing an act of domestic violence. It also prohibits the defendant from contacting the alleged victim, or going near that person’s home, place of employment, or school. In other words, if the defendant and alleged victim share a home together, the defendant will no longer be allowed in the home. An order of protection can also require any of the following:
Prohibit the defendant from purchasing or possessing a firearm
Require the defendant to temporarily transfer any currently possessed firearms to a law enforcement agency
Require the defendant to complete a domestic violence offender treatment program
Grant the plaintiff exclusive care or custody of any animal kept by the defendant, plaintiff, or a minor child
An order of protection typically has an expiration date of one year from the date that the
defendant is served.
Injunction Against Harassment
If the defendant and the plaintiff do not have a relationship that would warrant the issuing of an order of protection, then the plaintiff may request an injunction against harassment instead. An injunction may be used when the alleged victim alleges the defendant engaged in harassment, as defined by a series of actions directed at a certain person that annoys, harasses, or alarms that person.
This legal document is much like an order of protection. It is applicable when the two parties are dating or were formerly dating, as well as when the parties are neighbors or complete strangers. Another difference between an injunction against harassment and an order of protection is that the injunction cannot order that the plaintiff receive the exclusive use of the home (because the two parties are not household members) and the police aren’t mandated to serve an injunction.
Emergency Order of Protection
An emergency order of protection is very similar to an order of protection. It may be granted by any authorized judicial official verbally, in writing, or over the phone. An emergency order will only remain valid until the close of the next day of judicial business. It’s used in emergency situations when the courthouse is closed.
In rural areas, an authorized judicial officer may not be available to issue an emergency order of protection. In these cases, a release order is issued instead. The release order is used when the accused domestic violence defendant is released from jail. The release order specifies the pretrial conditions that the accused must adhere to.
Any type of criminal charge is a grave matter, and a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence conviction can haunt you for many years to come. Protect your future and your freedom by arranging for aggressive legal representation. Janet Altschuler, criminal defense attorney, protects the rights of those accused in the Tucson area. Contact our law office at (520) 247-1789.
March 6, 2020
If you’re tired of walking around town, but want to reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding cars, you might be tempted to rent an eScooter. Scooters are nothing new; they actually have
roots back in the 19 th century. However, these days, eScooters are widely available throughout the U.S., thanks to scooter-sharing companies like Lime and Bird. These companies allow individuals to rent an eScooter from a kiosk. Unfortunately, the accessibility of eScooters is also giving rise to a wave of injuries and deaths stemming from eScooter usage. Here’s what you need to know about related criminal charges.
Driving an eScooter While Impaired
An eScooter is a motorized vehicle, even though it only has two wheels. It is unlawful to operate this vehicle while impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Driving an eScooter while impaired can seriously injure yourself and others, and lead to a criminal record. It’s also possible for a DUI- related accident to lead to additional criminal charges, such as leaving the scene of an accident.
Striking a Pedestrian While Riding an eScooter
There have already been reports of at least 1,500 injuries and eight deaths stemming from eScooter usage. Some of those injuries have occurred when eScooter riders are struck by four-wheeled vehicles, but others involve eScooter riders striking pedestrians. If you’re on an eScooter and you strike a pedestrian, you just might be charged with assault. If the pedestrian suffers fatal injuries, you could be facing a manslaughter charge.
Enabling Underage eScooter Riding
Both of the major eScooter-sharing companies state that no rider should be under the age of 18, all riders must possess a valid driver’s license, and no more than one rider is allowed on an eScooter at any given time. However, enforcement is lacking. It’s possible for an adult to use their own driver’s license to rent the device, allowing an underage, non-licensed rider to use it. There have also been instances of parents letting their kids ride a single eScooter with them. Either of these situations could lead to reckless endangerment charges.
If you’ve run afoul of the law, you need a strong advocate on your side. Contact the law office of Janet Altschuler in Tucson to arrange for vigorous legal representation. Call (520) 247-1789 any
time of the day or night, seven days per week.