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How Long Can Police Keep You in Custody If You Aren’t Under Arrest?

March 22, 2019

In the course of investigating a crime, police may detain people they believe may be involved in the case, without actually arresting them. This blurred line between detention and arrest is confusing for many people and can cause them to fail to exercise their rights, including calling a defense attorney, because they don’t understand the distinction in their circumstances. Here is what you need to know.

Detention and arrest are different.

Police need time to conduct an investigation, so they often detain people in order to gather more information about a case. A traffic stop in which you wait in your car while the police officer runs your plates is a short form of detention. If the officer finds that nothing is amiss, your detention will end quickly. If he or she finds that more information is necessary, you may be detained for longer. Detention may occur at the scene or at a police station.

You should ask to clarify your situation.

In some cases, people may think that they are under arrest when they are merely being detained and actually have the right to leave. If an officer is questioning you, ask if you are free to go. If you don’t ask, if the case comes to court, the court will assume that the detention was voluntary, and your lawyer may have to prove that a reasonable person would have assumed that he or she was under arrest as part of a defense.

Federal and state laws govern detention times.

There are both federal and state laws that impact the amount of time that police can detain you without arresting you, and in some cases, that timeline can differ based on the nature of the charges. If you are being held by police, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

When you’re being investigated or facing charges, you need a strong defense attorney to fight for your rights. Janet Altschuler knows both sides of the aisle in court and uses her knowledge as a former prosecutor to give you the best defense. Schedule a case consultation with a defense lawyer in Tucson by calling (520) 247-1789.

Can Victims Really Drop Assault Charges?

March 8, 2019

In assault cases, it is common for an accuser to change his or her mind and wish to drop the charges. However, contrary to popular belief, dropping charges against someone is not as simple as saying you want the case to be dismissed. The state is actually in charge of deciding what happens to a case once it has been filed.

Domestic violence charges are up to the prosecutor.

When someone calls the police to report an assault and the alleged aggressor is arrested and charged, the case is in the hands of the prosecutor. The person who filed the charges does not have a say in how the case moves forward, even if he or she wants to drop the complaint. The reason for this is that, once charges are filed, the case is the responsibility of the state. The state has an interest in seeing a violent person convicted and incarcerated, so if the prosecutor decided there was enough evidence to file charges, he or she has the responsibility to follow through with them on behalf of the people of the state.

Unwilling witnesses can interfere with the case.

When a person wants to drop assault charges, he or she can’t stop the case, but he or she can make prosecution more difficult by being unwilling to cooperate in the case. The prosecutor can compel a person to testify as a hostile witness, but often, when victims try to drop cases, the prosecutor may reduce the charges because of the challenges of going forward against the victim’s wishes. In some instances, the state may choose to drop the case entirely, though this is less common. If the accused has an experienced defense attorney, the lawyer can use the victim’s desire to drop the charges to push for reduction or dismissal of charges.

Regardless of what the victim prefers, assault charges should always be taken seriously. If you have been accused, call Tucson defense attorney Janet Altschuler. Dial (520) 247-1789 to talk to a defense lawyer today.

What to Know About Arizona’s Hit and Run Laws

January 28, 2019 Janet Altschuler, Tucson Attorney, works with domestic violence and criminal defense cases.

Arizona law requires every driver to stay at the scene of an accident. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t cause the accident or if no one appears to be hurt; the law still requires you to stop. If you have been accused of leaving the scene of an accident, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney promptly to learn about your legal rights and options.


Legal Obligations

The Arizona statute, Duty to Give Information and Assistance, prohibits drivers from leaving the scene of an accident until they have fulfilled certain obligations. After you’ve pulled over, you’re required to provide your name, address, and registration to the responding police officer or the other driver. You must show your driver’s license to the officer or other driver upon their request. If the other driver is injured, you are legally obligated to administer first aid and/or call for medical assistance.


Misdemeanor Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a hit and run driver may be charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene. The following situations fall into this category:


  • Class two misdemeanor: Leaving the scene when only vehicular damage has occurred
  • Class three misdemeanor: Leaving the scene when an accident has caused damage to non-vehicle property
  • Class three misdemeanor: Leaving the scene after striking a parked vehicle
  • Class three misdemeanor: Stopping at the scene, but refusing or failing to exchange information


Felony Charges

The potential criminal charges become more serious when an accident resulted in serious injury or death. A driver who caused an accident that resulted in a serious injury or death, and fled the scene may be charged with a class two felony. Even if the driver didn’t cause the accident, but fled the scene when serious injury or death occurred, the driver may be charged with a class three felony.

The law office of Janet Altschuler provides vigorous legal defense services for individuals accused of vehicular-related offenses. Individuals accused of hit and run offenses, DUI, or aggressive driving are urged to contact Ms. Altschuler’s law office in Tucson at (520) 247-1789.

What Happens If I Violate a Restraining Order?

January 14, 2019

A restraining order is intended to protect an alleged victim. Usually, they are issued in domestic violence cases. If a restraining order has been issued against you, it’s absolutely essential to follow it to the letter. Talk to a criminal defense attorney if you’re unclear about any information in the order of protection. You’ll also need to speak with your lawyer immediately if you think you’ve violated the order.


You may be arrested.

A violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense. You will be subject to arrest if you go to a home or place of business that you’re prohibited from being near, or if you violate any other requirement of the protection order. In Arizona, defendants can be charged with a class one misdemeanor for this offense. The official charge will be “interfering with judicial proceedings.” You will remain in custody until a judge makes a decision about your release.


You may be subjected to legal penalties, including jail time.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can defend you from the charge of interfering with judicial proceedings. However, you may be convicted of the class one misdemeanor. Under Arizona law, a class one misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in jail. You may also be required to pay a fine of up to $2,500, with a hefty surcharge.


You should explore other options.

It isn’t always easy to follow an order of protection to the letter. For instance, you might still be able to have visitation with your kids, but you cannot go near the other parent or the family home. Do not contact the other parent to make arrangements, since this would be a violation of the restraining order. Instead, contact your lawyer for advice. You should also speak with your lawyer about requesting a hearing to contest the order.

Janet Altschuler is a proven attorney with over 20 years of experience handling criminal law cases. When you need legal representation, you can count on Ms. Altschuler to be there for you throughout every step of the process. Call her Tucson law office at (520) 247-1789.

My Child Has Been Sentenced. What Happens Next?

December 28, 2018

Juvenile criminal charges can affect your child for years to come. While an experienced juvenile defense lawyer can help minimize the chances of your child being convicted and sentenced, it’s best to prepare for the possibility of incarceration. If your child is sentenced, he or she will be committed to the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections (ADJC).


Your child may be sent to the Adobe Mountain School. This institution encourages family visits, although all visitors are required to abide by certain rules and restrictions. Two members of the child’s immediate family may visit at a time. Non-immediate family members must be approved for visitation by the Secure Care Bureau Administrator. Visitors are strongly encouraged to read the visitation guidelines beforehand.

Rehabilitative Programs

All youths committed to the ADJC will receive rehabilitative programs that are appropriate for the individual’s age, risk, needs, and abilities. The goal is to support the youth’s transition back into the community. Before youths may be considered for release, they must demonstrate progress in their treatment program. Adobe Mountain School maintains specialized housing units for youths with a history of substance abuse, violence, mental health issues, or sexual offenses.

Education Services

The ADJC maintains a state education system for committed youth. Before new students enroll in regular classes, they complete a Reception, Assessment, and Classification (RAC) course designed to explore career objectives and assess academic development. Youths are required to pursue a schedule of classes that places them on track to graduation.

Stage System

Youths committed to secure care are continually monitored by the staff. By demonstrating progress in treatment and good behavior, your child can proceed from stage one (orientation) to stage four (preparation for re-entry into the community). Every 30 days, the Multidisciplinary Team meets to assess your child’s current stage.

Defense attorney Janet Altschuler can defend your child against all types of juvenile offenses. Her vigorous legal advocacy services can help protect your child and your child’s future. Call Ms. Altschuler’s law office in Tucson at (520) 247-1789.

A Look at Robbery and Armed Robbery

December 14, 2018

There are different types of theft crimes recognized by Arizona law. If you’ve been charged with any of them, or with a different criminal offense, you need a skilled attorney on your side. Exercise your right to remain silent, and avoid answering questions from police officers. Instead, call a criminal defense lawyer right away.

Definitions of Robbery and Armed Robbery

Arizona law defines robbery as the taking of any property from another person against his or her will. Robbery involves the use of force or the threat of force in order to prevent resistance to the theft act or to coerce the person to surrender the property. Note that there must be an element of force in order for the crime to be charged as a robbery. Armed robbery is similar. It involves all of the elements present in a robbery offense, but with either one of these additions:

  • The suspect is armed with a deadly weapon or a simulated deadly weapon.
  • The suspect threatens to use or uses a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or simulated deadly weapon.

Classifications of Robbery and Armed Robbery

There are different classes of felonies. Lower class numbers are used for the most serious felony offenses, and these will result in the harshest legal penalties. Robbery is a class four felony. Armed robbery is a class two “dangerous” felony.

Legal Penalties for Robbery and Armed Robbery

The prison sentence for a conviction of robbery or armed robbery depends in part on whether the convicted felon has prior convictions. Without prior convictions, an individual convicted of robbery will be sentenced to a minimum of one year, up to a maximum of 3.75 years. With a prior conviction, the sentence is increased to a minimum of 2.25 years in prison, up to a maximum of 7.5 years. An individual convicted of armed robbery without a prior conviction can be sentenced to a minimum of seven years, up to a maximum of 21 years. With a prior conviction, an armed robbery offense can result in a minimum of 14 years, up to a maximum of 28 years.

Theft crimes are just one category of criminal offenses that Janet Altschuler has experience defending against. You can get in touch with this law office in Tucson 24/7 to request an in-office, in-jail, or in-custody appointment. Call (520) 247-1789.


What Should You Do If an Officer Wants to Search Your Car?

November 23, 2018

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for the protection of a person against unlawful searches and seizures. This means that, unless a police officer has a legally acceptable basis for searching your car, you have the right to refuse the search. Here’s what you should know if this happens to you.

If an Officer Has a Warrant

Most searches of motor vehicles involve probable cause, not warrants. But if a police officer does present you with a warrant, you do not have the right to refuse the search. You should read the warrant carefully to make sure that it specifies that your car is to be searched. You should also exercise your right to remain silent and to call a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t charged with a crime yet, a warrant that permits the search of your car indicates you’re under investigation, and you’ll need legal guidance.

If an Officer Has Probable Cause

Officers can search your car without a warrant if they have probable cause that you have been involved in criminal activity. An officer can’t conduct the search based solely on his or her hunch that you’ve committed a crime—there must be a factual basis. For example, an officer would have probable cause if there is drug paraphernalia lying in plain view on the passenger seat.

If an Officer Searches Your Car Without Consent

If an officer orders you to exit your vehicle, you should comply in a respectful manner. Calmly and respectfully, inform the officer that you do not consent to the search of your vehicle. Then, remain silent while the officer searches your car. As soon as possible, call a criminal defense attorney and inform him or her that you’ve been subjected to an unlawful search and seizure.

If you believe your rights have been violated or you’ve been charged with a crime, contact the criminal defense law office of Janet Altschuler right away. You can reach us in Tucson at (520) 247-1789.

Potential Consequences of a DUI Conviction

November 9, 2018

Arizona has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and these laws provide for harsh penalties. The specific penalties you may face depend on the circumstances, such as whether you’ve previously been convicted of DUI. Consult a criminal defense lawyer for guidance specific to your case.

Incarceration and Probation

If you’ve been convicted of DUI for the first time, you face 24 hours to 10 days behind bars. This might not seem like a lengthy sentence, but remember that you’ll have to explain to your employer why you won’t be at work for a while. A second offense can result in 30 to 90 days, and a third conviction can result in at least four months. You may also be sentenced to probation, which you’ll serve after the jail time. Certain factors can be sentencing enhancers, which will add to the length of your jail term. If there was a minor in the car or if you were driving with a suspended license, then you can be charged with aggravated DUI—a felony.

Driver’s License Suspension

Your license can be suspended even before you’re convicted. If you refuse to take a sobriety test, you’ll automatically receive a one-year suspension of your license. A second or third DUI results in a two-year suspension. Even if you agree to take the sobriety test, you’ll face a license suspension upon conviction.

Auto Insurance

You can expect your car insurance premiums to rise substantially after you’ve been convicted of DUI. Your current carrier may decline to renew your policy. Drivers convicted of DUI are considered high risk. You’ll likely have difficulty finding another carrier to issue you a policy.


If you serve jail time or your license is suspended, you’ll miss time from work. There’s a strong possibility that you’ll lose your job. And once you have a criminal history, you’ll have a much harder time finding a new job. A criminal conviction can result in the loss of security clearances or professional licenses.

As you can see, the potential consequences of a DUI can affect you for years to come. Give yourself a fighting chance in court by partnering with Tucson’s seasoned DUI lawyer, Janet Altschuler. Call (520) 247-1789.

Where Are You Allowed to Fire a Gun?

October 26, 2018

Gun laws differ drastically from state to state. Arizona has some of the least restrictive firearms laws in the nation. However, it’s always wise to double-check the regulations before you decide to do some target practice anywhere that isn’t a controlled indoor or outdoor range. If you do find yourself on the wrong side of the law, contact a criminal defense attorney promptly.

Within City Limits

Arizona has prohibited the discharge of firearms within or into the limits of any municipality. This means if you’re standing just outside the Tucson city limits, and you fire a gun into the city limits, you could be convicted of a class six felony. There are exceptions, of course. You can fire a gun on any properly supervised range. A properly supervised range includes a range operated by a nationally affiliated shooting organization, as well as any range approved by an agency of the federal, state, or city government.

On Public Land

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not specifically designate approved target shooting areas on any public land in Arizona. And in some areas, shooting is strictly prohibited because of usage by the public or environmental concerns. For example, it’s unlawful to discharge a firearm in any developed area such as a campsite. Target shooting may be permissible in other areas, provided you follow the rules. When choosing a target shooting site, you must ensure that shooting there:

  • Doesn’t damage or destroy government or private property, natural features, native plants, historic structures, or cultural resources
  • Doesn’t create a public hazard or nuisance
  • Doesn’t create a condition of littering or refuse accumulation

This last rule simply means that you need to clean up your shell casings, targets, and other trash before you leave.

Janet Altschuler provides vigorous legal advocacy services for Tucson residents charged with gun crimes. She brings more than 20 years of experience to the cases she handles. Call her law office at (520) 247-1789 to request a consultation.

Is Urinating in Public Really a Crime?

October 12, 2018

After an evening out at the bar with friends, it’s perfectly natural to feel nature’s call. But do take the extra time to find a bathroom instead of watering the landscaping. Although it might seem like a relatively harmless act, urinating in public is really a crime that can lead to serious consequences.

Indecent Exposure

Usually, people caught urinating in public are charged with indecent exposure. Indecent exposure includes the exposure of the genitals when another person is present. Although public urination does not generally involve the intent to cause sexual arousal or gratification on behalf of either party, it’s still considered a type of sex crime. Under Arizona law, indecent exposure is typically prosecuted as a misdemeanor. However, it can become a felony offense. The charge is upgraded if the person who witnessed the public urination is a minor under the age of 15.

Criminal Nuisance

In some cases, a person who is caught urinating in public may be charged with a criminal nuisance offense. In Arizona, criminal nuisance is defined as an act that is either illegal or unreasonable for the circumstances that endangers the health or safety of other people. Public urination definitely qualifies as an act that can compromise the health of other people.

Legal Penalties

Any person convicted of indecent exposure as a class one misdemeanor may be sentenced to no more than six months in jail. There is no mandatory jail term for this offense, and so it’s quite possible for a defendant to be sentenced to probation instead. Up to three years of probation may be required for a class one misdemeanor, along with a fine of up to $2,500. However, if the person who witnessed the act was a minor under age 15, the charge is prosecuted as a class six felony. This can result in up to two years of prison time. Individuals convicted of indecent exposure may also be required to register as sex offenders, particularly if they have multiple offenses.

Janet Altschuler is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving the Tucson, AZ area. If you’ve been charged with indecent exposure or any other sex crime, call her office right away at (520) 247-1789.