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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 21, 2018
Embezzlement is a serious criminal conviction that involves the theft of money or property, but it is more than just petty theft. With embezzlement, an individual who has access to the funds or assets of a company or individual will manipulate financial records for his or her own personal gain. In order to prove embezzlement has occurred, a prosecutor must establish that the accused acted intentionally to divert or disguise assets for his or her personal use. Let’s take a closer look at the facts about this crime, so you can better understand it if you are facing charges and know what it takes to build a strong defense against those charges.
Embezzlement is a white collar crime.
In order to commit embezzlement, one must have a position of trust or responsibility over the assets they’ve stolen. An accountant, for example, may alter records to make a business appear less profitable so that funds can be diverted into a personal account. For this reason, embezzlement often takes place in corporate environments. It can also be established in cases where someone is responsible for the assets of another individual, such as a family member managing an elderly relative’s finances.
A fiduciary relationship must be present for embezzlement to occur.
The key to establishing embezzlement charges is establishing that the accused had responsibility of the assets stolen and that a fiduciary relationship was in place with a reliance on the accused individual. The funds or assets acquired also had to be gained through that financial relationship and not through other means. Determining that the defendant’s actions were intentional is also important—bookkeeping errors in which an employee inadvertently benefits, for example, may not be considered embezzlement.
Are you facing embezzlement charges in Southern Arizona? Don’t leave your case to chance. Find the representation you need with Janet Altschuler, attorney at law. You can reach her office at (520) 247-1789 to schedule a confidential consultation where you can discuss your case.
September 7, 2018
Being convicted of a crime—whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor—sticks with you long after you’ve fulfilled your sentence. And, unfortunately, one of the areas where a criminal conviction can have the strongest impact is on your employability, which can make it difficult to put your life back together and get a job after you’ve been found guilty of a crime. That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you and work to minimize your charges. If you are still convicted of a crime, you can make job hunting easier with the following tips.
Run a background check on yourself.
Knowing what your employers will see about you on a background check is helpful because it will give you insight on what to disclose in your application. While not all background checks are the same and some may be more in-depth than others, running a criminal background check on yourself can give you a good idea of what employers are likely to see.
Don’t lie about your criminal history.
Almost all employers run background checks, so if you lie on your application about your criminal record, it’s likely to get discovered. Be honest and upfront, and, if it’s been years since the conviction occurred, emphasize to potential employers that it was a one-time mistake from your younger years.
Write a great resume.
You cannot hide a criminal history, but you can play up qualities that make it worth hiring you. Presenting a strong resume can help you get further in the application process, which can help you make a positive impression with employers that can outshine your record. In many cases, good qualifications for a job can outweigh a criminal record when the crime you were charged with isn’t directly related to the job you’re applying for. Additionally, you can show that you’ve changed from your past self by adding things like volunteer service and charitable work to your resume, so don’t discount opportunities to give back to your community.
Living with a criminal conviction is tough, and that is why Janet Altschuler works hard to protect her clients and their rights. Both in and out of the courtroom, Ms. Altschuler will provide an aggressive defense for your case, so don’t hesitate to call (520) 247-1789 if you’re facing charges.
August 24, 2018
If you have an encounter with a police officer that makes you feel like the victim of harassment, it’s important to know your rights. During the interaction with the police officer and afterwards, there are things you can do to ensure your right are protected, including consulting with a lawyer who can help you decide what steps to take in the wake of the harassment. These steps can help you navigate the situation when you feel like you are being harassed by a police officer.
Ask If You Can Leave
Police officers do not have a right to prevent you from leaving an encounter with them if you are not being detained for a crime. Ask the officer if you can leave. Unless the officer tells you that you have to stay, walk away immediately. If you are told that you have to stay, calmly ask why you are being detained. Do not say anything else. Some states require you to reveal your name, but do not say any additional information. If necessary, you can tell the officer that you are exercising your right to remain silent.
Create a Record
During an uncomfortable confrontation with a police officer, try to record the events with your phone. You have a legal right to do so, despite what an officer may say, and it is against the law for an officer to confiscate your phone or view your photos or videos without a warrant. If you don’t feel safe recording, memorize the officer’s name and physical description and write down a record of the events as soon as the encounter ends.
File a Complaint
Contact the officer’s department to file a complaint as soon as possible after the incident. If anyone witnessed the event, encourage him or her to make a complaint as well. If you are concerned about filing a complaint against an officer or if you aren’t sure if your rights were violated, contact a lawyer.
Janet Altschuler will fight for your rights when you’re facing criminal charges and will give your case personal attention, no matter the charge. Talk to a criminal defense attorney in Tucson today by calling (520) 247-1789.
August 10, 2018
If you are charged with a crime, you will need to enter a plea in court as part of your case. You should never make a plea without consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you decide the best strategy for facing your charges. There are multiple pleas you can make in court. Here are some of the options that your lawyer will review with you.
Guilty pleas are an admission to the court that you did the crime with which you are charged and that you waive your rights to fight the case. In many cases, when people plead guilty in court, they do so after reaching a plea bargaining agreement with the help of their criminal defense attorney. A plea bargain often involves a defendant agreeing to plead guilty to a crime that is less serious than the one that with which he or she was initially charged. The prosecutor avoids the time and expense of going to trial, while the defendant usually faces a lighter penalty.
Pleading not guilty means denying that the charges are correct in any way. When a not-guilty plea is entered, the case is referred for trial, which gives the defendant and the criminal defense attorney time to prepare for court. In some cases, after a not-guilty plea, a defendant will return to court and plead guilty as part of a plea bargaining agreement.
No contest, or nolo contendere, pleas are used when the defendant wants to avoid confirming or denying the charges. If you enter a no contest plea, the court may sentence you as they would for a guilty plea, however, because you did not admit guilt, your words can’t be used against you in a civil case. You should never plead no contest without an attorney’s advice. Like guilt pleas, no contest pleas are often entered as the result of a plea bargaining agreement.
Before you enter a plea, call Janet Altschuler. This experienced Tucson criminal defense attorney will fight for your rights and help you get the best possible outcome for your case. When you need a defense lawyer, call (520) 247-1789.
July 23, 2018
Many people have little familiarity with how criminal charges work until they actually face them after being arrested. While the justice system is often portrayed in films and television, it never accurately shows the process of deciding which charges to raise against a suspect as well as the degree of those individual charges. Charging decisions will be an important detail of your case should you ever become arrested, so you should have some background on how those decisions are made.
What happens when you’re arrested?
You may be arrested immediately after a crime is committed or following an investigation process, depending on the circumstances of the crime itself. Typically, arrests will not occur unless there is probable cause that a crime has been committed and you are a guilty party. For example, if you can be placed at the scene of a crime through physical evidence, your arrest becomes more likely. When you are arrested, you will be read your rights and then booked, which is a process that involves being fingerprinted and photographed. You may also be asked to participate in a lineup or provide a handwriting sample. Police may take possession of any property you have on your person when you are arrested, and, in some cases, they may take possession of your car. Items may be searched, and they are inventoried so you can get them back when you are released from jail.
What happens after you’re arrested?
Being arrested is not the same as being charged with a crime. In fact, upon your arrest, the prosecutor may decide not to raise charges against you—for example, if there is insufficient evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt—and you would be immediately released from jail at that point.
If charges are raised against you, you will have to wait for your arraignment to hear your charges formally listed and have bail set. Because you have a right to a speedy trial, the prosecutor must decide within 72 hours which, if any, charges will be raised against you. There are some important details to note about this part of the process:
- Charges are not set in stone. The prosecutor may alter, add, or drop the charges against you later in your trial once more evidence is obtained.
- You will have the opportunity to get out of jail after your arrest if you are eligible for bail and able to post it. Bail is essentially a deposit that ensures that you will appear at future court dates.
- The severity of your charges will impact your eligibility for bail as well as the amount set.
- The prosecutor can determine whether they want to increase or decrease the severity of your charges. Misdemeanor crimes may be charged as felonies and vice versa, at the discretion of the prosecutor.
How are prosecutorial decisions made?
It’s clear that the prosecutor plays an important role in charging decisions for criminal cases, but how are these decisions informed? Though the prosecutor has the ultimate say, they typically base charges on what’s in police reports. The details in a police report are rarely disputed at this point in the trial process, so they will be treated as the most reliable resource for charging decisions. There is also political influence that determines some decisions. Prosecutors are elected officials, so they will use the political climate to determine how to try various cases. For example, a prosecutor may have a reputation as being tough on drugs, so they will pursue even the most minor drug charges, even when there is not strong evidence present for the suspect’s guilt.
How can criminal charges influence your trial decisions?
Another factor that weighs into charging decisions is the psychology of criminal charges. In other words, the prosecutor may try to influence your trial decisions by raising certain charges or adjusting the severity of a particular charge. For example, there may be a number of potentially overlapping charges listed at your arraignment, which can be scary to hear, so it’s important to take that list in context. At the stage when you are charged, there is likely still minimal evidence prepared against you, so when multiple charges are raised, they might not all be feasible to back up in a court of law. Essentially, the prosecutor may cast a wide net initially, so that isn’t an accurate representation of the kind of trouble you’re potentially in.
What is the weight of a misdemeanor charge?
When you think about the psychology of criminal charges, you should also think about the classification of the charges you’re facing. If you are only brought up with misdemeanor charges, you might feel like you are getting off light or like you have less of a serious case on your hands. This is not an accurate assumption. Misdemeanor charges are still criminal charges, and they can have a lasting impact on your life. They can also lead to jail time. In fact, the sole definition of a misdemeanor is a criminal charge that results in up to one year of jail time. If you assume that a misdemeanor is not serious and do not adequately prepare for your trial based on this assumption you could risk:
- Several thousands of dollars in fines
- Jail time up to one year
- Loss of employment and difficulty securing future employment
- Loss of housing
- Permanent reputation challenges, including potential failed background checks
How can a criminal attorney assist in clearing or reducing your charges?
The best place to turn to better understand the charging decisions of the prosecutor and the best strategy to move forward with your case is a criminal attorney’s office. From the very moment you are arrested, the right criminal attorney can advocate for your rights and help you comprehend and handle the charges brought against you. An attorney specializing in criminal law with years of experience in your area may be particularly valuable, due to an intimate understanding of local procedures, prosecutors, and district attorneys.
For representation with the experience and insight you need to fight criminal charges raised against you, connect with Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law. Ms. Altschuler will provide a comprehensive, aggressive defense for your case, whether you have been charged with theft, drug possession, violent crimes, or domestic violence. To reach her office in Tucson, call (520) 247-1789.
July 27, 2018
Domestic violence is treated very seriously in the law enforcement community and court systems. Anyone accused or arrested on suspicion of a domestic violence-related charge needs the assistance of a seasoned criminal defense attorney. In Arizona, a conviction can lead to jail time.
Myth: Domestic violence always involves physical contact.
It may surprise you to learn that a person can be charged with domestic violence even if he or she never laid a hand on another person. As a hypothetical example, let’s say that John and Jane are involved in a verbal argument. The yelling becomes loud enough for the neighbors to hear, and the neighbors call the police to report a domestic disturbance. When the police arrive, they do not see any injuries, but John has thrown a plate to the floor to express his anger, and so he is arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct domestic violence charges. John will need a criminal defense attorney, even though he never struck Jane.
Myth: Domestic violence incidents are always between partners or spouses.
It’s true that many of them are, but Arizona law defines domestic violence as any form of criminal abuse that is committed by one household or family member against another household or family member. This means that a roommate could be charged with domestic violence, even if there is no intimate relationship between the roommates.
Myth: An alleged victim can choose to have the charges dropped.
This is one of the most enduring myths about domestic violence cases. The alleged victim may choose to be uncooperative with the investigation and the prosecution. However, he or she does not have the authority to get the charges dropped. Only the prosecutor can decide to dismiss the charges, and the judge must approve the dismissal of the case. Even if the alleged victim refuses to give testimony, the prosecutor can move forward with the case.
Janet Altschuler, attorney at law, provides in-jail and in-custody appointments to defendants charged with domestic violence-related offenses. You can get in touch with her office in Tucson 24/7, seven days per week at (520) 247-1789.