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What Are the Different Types of Theft?

April 20, 2018

If you are charged with theft, the specific type of theft mentioned in the criminal complaint will have a significant impact on the consequences you could face. In Arizona, there are both misdemeanor and felony theft charges, with penalties ranging of up to 12-and-a-half years in prison. In the course of your defense, your attorney may attempt to plead your theft charge down to a charge with lesser penalties. Here is a closer look at different types of theft charges in Arizona.

Misdemeanor Theft
If the alleged theft involved less than $1,000 in cash or property, then it is considered to be a misdemeanor theft. Misdemeanor theft is punishable by up to six months jail. There are a few exceptions to the misdemeanor theft guidelines. If the items taken included a firearm or an animal with purpose of using the animal for fighting, then the theft charge will be a class 6 felony, even if the value of the property was less than $1,000.

Class 6 through Class 4 Felony Theft
A class 6 felony theft charge involves cash or property valued at $1,000 to $2,000 and is punishable by a minimum of four months in jail to a maximum of two years in prison. For a class 5 felony, the value of the cash or property falls between $2,000 and $3,000. Class 5 felony theft is punishable by a minimum of six months in jail or a maximum of two-and-a-half years in prison. If the property or cash involved in the theft was worth between $3,000 and $4,000, the charge is a class 4 felony, punishable by a minimum of one year to a maximum of three-and-three-quarters years in prison.

Class 3 through Class 2 Felony Theft
These theft charges are the most serious. Theft of between $4,000 and $25,000 worth of cash or property is a class 3 felony carries a minimum of two years and maximum of eight-and-three-quarters years in prison. Class 2 felony theft involves property or cash worth over $25,000 and carries a sentence of a minimum of three and maximum of 12-and-a-half years in prison.

If you’re facing theft charges in Tucson, mounting a strong defense is essential. Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, will fight for your rights at every stage of your case. Schedule a case review by calling (520) 247-1789.

 

What to Expect If You’re Sentenced to Diversion

April 6, 2018

If are charged with certain crimes in Arizona, you may have the option of diversion instead of completing a sentence. Successful completion of diversion could result in your charges being dismissed, but it’s very important that you work with a lawyer throughout the entire legal process, so you don’t inadvertently violate the terms of the diversion or agree to something you don’t understand. If your lawyer has recommended that you considering diversion for your case, here is what you need to know.

What is diversion?
Diversion involves the use of counseling instead of legal fines and sentences to resolve a case. Certain charges, including domestic violence, shoplifting, drugs, and minors in consumption, could be adjudicated using diversion. Note that not everyone charged with these crimes will be eligible for diversion. The nature of the crime, whether there was a weapon involved, and whether the defendant has previously taken part in diversion all factor into the decision.

What happens when I’m on diversion?
During the diversion process, you will need to attend counseling as specified by the court. The court may stipulate where you need to go for counseling, or you may be allowed to pick your own program. You may also be required to check in with the court at specified intervals during the diversion process, and you may be required to stay within a certain jurisdiction while you are completing the program requirements. There are many variables involved in successfully completing diversion, so work with your attorney to make sure you understand them all.

Will my charges be on my record after diversion?
Generally, charges will be dismissed after diversion, but a record of your arrest may still show up on background checks. In some instances, you may be required to plead guilty before entering diversion. If this happens in your case, you will have to answer “yes” on job applications that ask if you have ever pled guilty to a crime, even if the charges are ultimately dismissed.

Diversion is a good solution for some people, but you should never enter into any plea without the assistance of an attorney. If you’re facing charges, let Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, help you make the right choice for you case. Call our law office in Tucson today at (520) 247-1789.

A Look at Some of the Most Prevalent Mail Fraud Schemes

March 23, 2018

Mail fraud has been around for decades, and it continues to be prevalent even in the age of the Internet. As long as snail mail exists, it is likely that there will be mail fraud schemes, because they are often difficult to trace and potentially very lucrative for those who illegally perpetuate them. Many mail fraud schemes are targeted at vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, but anyone can be a victim of these crimes. Here is a look at some of the most common forms these schemes may take:

Free Vacation Offers
If a free vacation offer sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. When these offers come in the mail, they will typically be followed by a request to join a travel club, which will have membership fees. Following joining, it may be impossible to actually book a trip through the provided channels, and victims may end up getting squeezed for more money in the form of booking fees and upgrades before they realize it’s all a scam.

False Job Opportunities
Another way that con artists will gain information and money through the mail is with false employment offers, often guaranteeing job placement after completing a course or providing an insider look at job listings with a “critical need” following payment for a catalog.

Charity Fraud
Donating to charity is something that few people can disagree with, which is why charity fraud is so common. Often, victims will receive requests for donations from seemingly reputable organizations or organizations with similar names and logos to real charities that are known and trusted.

Defending those accused of mail fraud requires knowing what this type of fraud looks like. Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law, has the knowledge and experience you need to build a solid defense when you are charged with any type of theft in Tucson or Southern Arizona. To learn more about Ms. Altschuler and her practice, visit us online. To schedule a free consultation where you can discuss the details of your case, call (520) 247-1789.

Taking a Closer Look at Indecent Exposure Laws

March 9, 2018

Some areas of the law are prone to causing misunderstandings and unexpected consequences, and indecent exposure is a prime example. When you think of indecent exposure, you might picture a malicious figure flashing crowds from behind a trench coat, but most real-life examples are a little less cartoonish—and often unintended. Knowing a little more about the law can keep you from getting caught up in charges caused by a silly mistake, so read on to arm yourself with some helpful information.

What constitutes indecent exposure?
In Arizona and many other states, there is a broad definition for indecent exposure: Intentionally exposing private parts when another person is present. Of course, context is important here, because nudity within a consensual sexual relationship or in a public area such as a locker room would not be considered inappropriate or unlawful. There is also an exception for breastfeeding in public, as this action is not associated with any malicious or sexual intention. However, seemingly harmless actions such as urinating in public may be considered indecent exposure, if someone sees it and is offended by the action.

What are the penalties?
Penalties for indecent exposure can vary, depending on the type of exposure and the age of the witness. If someone under the age of 15 witnesses indecent exposure, the accused will be charged with a class 6 felony. Other cases will carry misdemeanor charges, which can still be serious. Penalties include up to 6 months in jail, fines exceeding $2,500, and probation of up to 3 years, possibly including counseling.

What are the lasting consequences?
The punishments above may only be part of the consequences you can expect with indecent exposure charges, since some cases may result in being added to the sex offender registry, such as when a minor is involved. This can have a lifelong impact on your employment and housing eligibility, as well as your public reputation and personal life.

If you are facing any type of criminal charges in Southern Arizona, know that the outcome could be serious, so you will want to have an experienced criminal lawyer on your side. Janet Altschuler can provide the aggressive, experienced representation you need, so call (520) 247-1789 to schedule a consultation where you can discuss your case.

The Impact of a Domestic Violence Charge

February 9, 2018

You’ve probably heard of domestic violence before, but do you realize how many various types of convictions can exist under the umbrella of domestic violence? Almost any incident involving spouses, siblings, or other family members where the police are called can be cast in the net of domestic violence, even something as simple as a verbal argument. Yet, even with the huge variance in the circumstances that may surround a domestic violence charge, these cases frequently have a substantial impact on convicted individuals, who may have been convicted because of misconceptions involving the legal process of trying these cases. It is easier than you might think to get caught up in the net of domestic violence, so you will want to arm yourself with the right criminal defense lawyer as well as some basic knowledge of what a misdemeanor domestic violence charge can do to your life.

The Immediate Consequences
Right away, a domestic violence charge will have a profound impact on your life, because you may be sent to jail immediately. You’ll also have a pending court date and possible plea offers to consider. This is not something you should face alone. Your attorney will be your most essential advocate as you work with the prosecutor or present your case to the judge.

  • Plea Offers – Plea offerings can sound tempting, because they may help you avoid a trial and seem like a means of quickly getting your case behind you. However, you should never agree to any plea offer without consulting a domestic violence attorney. Otherwise, you may agree to terms that have unanticipated long-term consequences, or you might face much more than the minimum punishment for your charges.
  • Court Hearings – There is a general mentality of cracking down on domestic violence within Pima County’s local courts. Unfortunately, this means that many people face charges for incidents that boil down to simple misunderstandings. Not every case will result in a trial, and most are heard only in front of a judge with no jury. If your case does go to trial, know that it is possible to defend yourself and argue that you are not guilty of the accusations at hand.
  • Jailtime – In Tucson and throughout Pima County, it is police protocol to book individuals accused of domestic violence into jail. Regardless of what really happened, you could quickly spend a night in jail if you are accused of domestic violence. There may be release conditions when you get out, including no contact with the victim and no return to the incident location or the home of the victim. Again, you may feel that these conditions are undeserved, but you should comply and work with a lawyer to understand the right way to fight back. Attempting to address the alleged victim directly can only lead to further charges, especially if you are violating your release conditions to do this.
  • Diversion Courses – Police often attempt to reassure individuals arrested for domestic violence that their charges will be dismissed, and, while this is a possibility, it is not a given in every case. Diversion is offered as an option for some individuals, and it will require completing a series of classes and counseling sessions to get the domestic violence charges dismissed. If this is an option for you, remember that it will still require a substantial time commitment and fill completion of coursework within a limited timeframe.

Long-Term Effects
A domestic violence conviction does not simply go away once you have served your sentence. In fact, it may come back to haunt you in ways you may not expect.

  • Loss of Employment – If you have to go to jail and appear in court during work hours, you might build up several unexcused absences at work that can cost you your job. In addition, your employment may be threatened if you need any type of security clearance, special licensing, or if you carry a firearm at work. Military personnel and those in law enforcement are very likely to lose employment if convicted of domestic violence. Securing a new job after a conviction may also pose challenges, since many employers run background checks, and a history of domestic violence (even just a single conviction) can put you in a negative light compared to other candidates for the job. Trying to hide your conviction by omitting it from an application will likely only result in the discovery that you have lied, since there is no way to bury this information in a background check.
  • Poor Community Reputation – Word of your conviction can travel fast, and that might affect your reputation in your neighborhood, at your child’s school meetings, and in other community settings. Public figures and government officials can see even more extreme consequences in this regard, because they are so closely followed in the public eye.
  • Loss of Immigration Status – If you are not a permanent citizen of the United States, your immigration status may be threatened by a domestic violence charge. Deportation and removal can occur, so it is important to build the best defense possible to keep your life in order.

Strategies for Minimizing the Impact
The best legal advice that the average person can give to someone charged with domestic violence is to call a lawyer. Not only will an attorney understand the potential gravity of a conviction for your charges, but he or she will be familiar with the local justice system, as well as the courts and judges who preside over them. Each judge may behave a little differently, and domestic violence charges are often brought up in a dedicated court where there are specified plea policies that can affect case outcomes. Knowing these nuances of the court can be powerful, which is why you should never hesitate to contact an attorney when you are accused of domestic violence—even if you are certain that you didn’t do anything wrong or you think that a conviction will not have much of an impact on your daily life.

Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law, has been defending domestic violence cases in Pima County for more than 20 years. She knows the courts, prosecutors, and judges involved in these cases as well as the best strategies for building a strong defense. If you were arrested for domestic violence in Tucson, call (520) 247-1789 to schedule a free consultation where you can discuss your case.

How Do Violent Offenses Differ from Other Crimes?

February 23, 2018

Crimes can differ dramatically in their severity, and the same is true of the potential charges that may come with a conviction. When an individual is accused of a violent crime, the potential consequences may be much more severe than those associated with non-violent crimes. In addition, violent crimes can much more significantly alter the public reputation of an accused individual. For these reasons, it’s essential to hire an attorney you can trust to defend your rights if you are facing violent criminal charges, such as armed robbery, manslaughter, or aggravated assault.

A weapon was likely present at the crime.
Weapons are not necessary for violent criminal charges, but they are often involved. When a weapon is part of the crime, there may be allegations included with the charge sheet. If these allegations are proven or admitted in court, then the accused individual may serve a longer sentence as a result.

Offenders may face prison time.
Violent offenses are felony offenses, and those come with the threat of prison time. Prison sentences for violent crimes can vary substantially, but prison time will be at least one year. Violent offenses tend to carry longer sentences with a lower likelihood for future probation or early release.

Violent charges can weigh on future charges.
If you have a violent charge on your record, you may have a harder time building a defense to future accusations if you are accused of a subsequent crime. This can be true even if you have served your time and the secondary crime in question is a non-violent offense.

When you are facing felony charges, it is not a time to compromise for legal representation you don’t trust. Janet Altschuler is fully dedicated to criminal defense, and she has 20 years of experience serving clients in Arizona. To schedule a consultation with her, call (520) 247-1789.

What to Do If Your Child Is in Legal Trouble  

February 9, 2018

Kids will be kids, but they must still abide by the law. Unfortunately, children and teens may not recognize the line between playful fun and breaking the law, and they will rely on parental guidance to help them avoid long-term consequences from an adolescent mistake. If your child has gotten into trouble with the law, you will not want to hesitate to contact a lawyer, but there are other steps you can take to work toward the best possible outcome for your child’s case.

Listen to Your Child’s Side of the Story
You may hear an account of an incident in question from the police or school administrators, but be sure to sit your child down and ask directly what happened. It’s important to get your child’s side of the story and gain an understanding of what happened and why your child acted as he or she did. Be sure to approach this conversation calmly and assure your child that you want to help.

Get the Right Legal Counsel
Don’t hire a lawyer in haste because you aren’t sure what to do. Consult an attorney who is experienced with the juvenile court system, because there are substantial differences in how children and adults are charged for crimes. You should also not assume that you can represent your child in court simply because you are a responsible adult. Legal counsel will be essential for preventing juvenile charges from holding your child back throughout adulthood.

Understand Possible Outcomes
Getting educated about the crimes of which your child has been accused as well as the possible consequences will be important for your family. In addition to talking to your family lawyer, do some research online and seek resources from the local courts to know what type of charges your child is facing.

Hearing that your child has an upcoming court date can be overwhelming, but Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, can help. Ms. Altschuler has years of experience defending juvenile clients, so call (520) 247-1789 to set up a consultation in Tucson.

How Road Rage Can Result in Criminal Charges

January 26, 2018

With a busy morning commute, holiday traffic, and construction around every corner, it’s easy to occasionally get frustrated driving around Tucson. When you start to feel annoyed with other drivers on the road, however, you should take a moment to get your anger in check, since it could end in criminal charges—not to mention undue injuries and emotional trauma. Road rage is a common issue among many drivers, but it does not have to escalate to the following criminal charges, which will require the services of an experienced criminal lawyer serving Southern Arizona.

Assault
Though road rage may usually be limited to obscene gestures or some harsh words directed at other drivers, it can escalate to an encounter in which two drivers have pulled over to engage in a confrontation. If you threaten violence to another driver, reach for a weapon, or take a swing at the other driver, you may later be charged with assault because of the incident. You do not have to strike someone to be charged with assault, as the threat of violence is enough to constitute a case—especially if a weapon is involved.

Harassment
Even if you stay inside your vehicle during a road rage encounter, you could be charged with harassing another driver if you aggressively tailgate, wave a weapon or a finger menacingly, or try to run the individual off the road. A moment of frustration can quickly get out of hand with these actions, so be sure to remain calm on the road and remember that another driver’s mistake was likely not intentional, so don’t take it personally.

When you do need a lawyer to come to your defense, select an attorney who specializes exclusively in criminal defense cases. Janet Altschuler has the experience you need in Tucson, so call her office at (520) 247-1789 to discuss your case.

WHAT’S NEW IN THE LOCAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE WORLD?

January 30, 2018

Judges, lots of brand new judges in Pima County Justice Court and Pima County Superior Court. When you are charged with a crime, either felony or misdemeanor, it is important to make sure some thought goes into having the right judge for your case. This does not mean that there are “good” judges and “bad” judges. It means that every case has different facts and an
experienced attorney, one that frequently appears in front of a particular judge, can tell if the judge will rule in a predictably particular manner that may be helpful or not.

Who are the new judges? Judges Paula Abound, Charlene Pesquiera, Erica Cornejo, and Vincent Roberts are all new to the justice court bench. Judges Abound and Pesquiera are not lawyers. Each has experience in the state legislature. Judge Roberts is not a lawyer either. He was a law enforcement officer and constable. Erica Cornejo is a lawyer. She worked as a prosecutor and private sole practice attorney.

Does it matter if the judge is a lawyer or not? Possibly. Like all things in the law, it just depends on the facts of your case. If you have a complex technical pretrial motion to suppress evidence in your driving under the influence case, then you may want to have a lawyer decide. On the other hand, the non-lawyer judge assigned to your case may have vast experience dealing with technical driving under the influence motions. It just depends. All judges, lawyer or not, can change and evolve over time as well. Again, it is important to discuss your particular facts with a lawyer who practices in justice court
every day.

Did you know you can change your judge? You can, but you better decide quickly after your arraignment to do so because you only get 10 days to file a motion asking that the judge be changed. You don’t even have to provide a reason to want the change.

In making the decision, you should also be aware of specialty courts. In Pima County Justice Court and Tucson City Court, there are designated specialty courts for particular areas of the law and particular crimes. For example, Justice Court has Veteran’s Courts, Animal Welfare Court, Domestic Violence Court and Behavioral Health Court. The prosecutor generally places the cases in the specialty court, however, a person can request to be in the specialty court.

Veteran’s Court in Pima County Justice Court is run by Judge Maria Felix. This is not a diversionary court. People in Veteran’s Court in this jurisdiction are not automatically offered diversion ( counseling in exchange for a dismissal of the charges.) It is possible to receive a diversion plea offer in this court, but it is not automatic. Judge Felix also presides over Animal Welfare Court. This speciality court hears cases where animals are the abused or neglected. The prosecutors have special plea policies for this court. Behavioral Health Court is run by Judge Susan Bacal. Generally, people with behavioral health issues are in this court. Most participants are members of local agencies like COPE, CODAC, or La Frontera, but such membership is not required in order to have your case in behavioral health court. Finally, there is domestic violence court run by judge Adam Watters. The prosecutors have fairly tough policies about who will stay in domestic violence specialty court and who will go to another non-specialty judge. Those in the domestic violence specialty court will generally receive plea according to a specified plea policy of the county attorney’s (prosecutor’s) office. The pleas generally include supervised probation and suspended jail and fines. Any plea offer can be countered and any case can go to trial. Which path is better for you and your case? It is best to talk about your case specifics with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Things to Never Say to a Police Officer

January 12, 2018

Interacting with a police officer can be nerve wracking, especially if you have been pulled over or have the police at your residence. Still, it’s important to keep your cool and know what to say (and what not to say), so that you don’t incriminate yourself during the conversation or agitate the police officer and commit a crime in the process. Below you’ll see some of the absolute worst things you could say while talking to any law enforcement officer.

“Do you know who I am?”
Even if you have a high status in the community or connections to the local police department, no one is above the law. Attempting to flaunt status in an interaction with the police is ill-advised, because it likely will not get you out of trouble, and it may frustrate the officer you’re talking to.

“My taxes pay your salary.”
Though it can be frustrating to get pulled over, you should not take that out on the officer with belittling statements, such as “I pay your salary.” Sure, tax dollars pay for law enforcement, but this does not give taxpayers any power over police officers, and trying to elevate your status with these types of statements is not likely to win you any favor.

“I don’t know what I was doing wrong.”
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking the law, and a cop will be quick to remind you of that if you play dumb—especially if it’s clear which laws you were breaking. If you ever aren’t sure what to say, the best strategy is to say nothing beyond basic answers to an officer’s questions.

If you’ve made missteps in a police confrontation that have ended with criminal charges, Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, is ready to come to your defense. For a look at her services or to schedule a consultation, call (520) 247-1789.

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