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What to Know to Stay in Compliance with Arizona’s Medical Marijuana Laws

May 24, 2019

In 2010, Arizona passed Proposition 203. This legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, recreational marijuana is still illegal in the state. Even when marijuana is used for medicinal purposes, it’s subject to the strict requirements established by the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. Patients run the risk of criminal charges unless they remain in strict compliance with the law.

Qualifying Conditions

Only patients with specific medical conditions can qualify to possess medical marijuana. The complete list is available from the Arizona Department of Health Services. It includes the following:

  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Seizures
  • Severe nausea
  • Hepatitis C

If a patient’s medical condition is not listed, he or she is allowed to request that it be added.

Medical Marijuana Cards

Patients must have a written certification from a licensed medical provider with whom they have a doctor/patient relationship. Then, they can submit an application for a registry identification card. As of 2019, the cost of a registry card is $150. Qualifying patients currently receiving SNAP benefits must pay $75.

Marijuana Possession

Qualifying patients are limited as to the amount of marijuana they can possess at any given time. An allowable amount is up to two and a half ounces of usable marijuana. If the patient’s card states that he or she is allowed to cultivate marijuana, the patient may have up to 12 marijuana plants inside an enclosed, locked facility.

Marijuana DUIs

It is unlawful for anyone, including patients with medical marijuana cards, to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Non-approved individuals can be charged with a DUI if the presence of marijuana metabolites is detected in the body. Approved medical marijuana patients are protected from being charged with a DUI on the basis of metabolites alone.

Any type of drug charge can negatively affect your reputation, employment prospects, and even your ability to obtain housing. If you’ve been charged with possession or any other drug charge, contact the criminal defense law office of Janet Altschuler right away. You can reach us in Tucson at (520) 247-1789.

Common Questions About Embezzlement

May 10, 2019

Embezzlement is a type of white collar crime involving the theft of money from an employer. Contrary to popular belief, white collar crimes aren’t “victimless.” They do inflict financial harm. And unfortunately, a groundless charge of embezzlement levied against an innocent person can also cause considerable harm. If you’ve been accused of embezzlement or think you might be under suspicion, you should get in touch with a criminal defense attorney right away.

Can embezzlement involve the theft of property?

Yes, a person can be charged with embezzlement for the theft of either tangible or intangible property. Tangible property is anything concrete that is valuable in and of itself, rather than being representative of value. For example, tangible property includes jewelry, artwork, and office equipment. Intangible property is anything that represents value, such as stock certificates, certificates of deposit (CDs), or money.

How is embezzlement different from larceny?

There are different types of theft. Larceny refers to the theft of property that the individual had no right to access. Embezzlement is a little different. When an employee embezzles, he or she had the right to access or handle the property, but not the right to take it for personal gain.

What are some examples of embezzlement?

Embezzlement can be committed on a large scale, in which case it may involve the misappropriation of thousands or even millions of dollars. Most often, the people who commit embezzlement pocket small amounts of money or property, sometimes over a long period of time. For example, a cashier might routinely charge customers a dollar more for purchases and pocket the difference. Or, the cashier might simply take money directly out of the cash register. An office worker might take toner from the copy machine. Note that embezzlement doesn’t always have to be committed by an employee. Sometimes, family members are accused of embezzling their loved ones’ Social Security checks.

A conviction of embezzlement can tarnish your professional reputation for years to come, adversely affecting your ability to remain employable. You need an embezzlement defense attorney in Tucson you can count on to get the job done right. Contact veteran lawyer Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789 to discuss your case.

What Is a Character Witness and When Is It Appropriate to Use One?

April 26, 2019

When a criminal case goes to court, both sides may call witnesses to testify. There are different types of witnesses that a defense attorney may call. These include eyewitnesses (who may have witnessed an alleged incident) and character witnesses. Your defense attorney will work with you to determine whether it’s appropriate to call a character witness.

Defining Character Witnesses

A character witness is someone who knows the defendant well. This person testifies as to the defendant’s good character traits. These might include trustworthiness or honesty.

Understanding Character Evidence

The testimony provided by a character witness is called character evidence. For character evidence to be admissible, or allowed, in court, it must be based on the witness’ personal knowledge. In other words, the witness cannot testify that someone else knows the defendant to be a good person. Character evidence must also be relevant to the case. For example, if the defendant is charged with a violent crime like manslaughter, the character witness could testify about the defendants’ nonviolent nature.

Determining Whether to Call a Character Witness

It isn’t always a good idea to call a character witness to testify on a defendant’s behalf. There are a few reasons for this. First, character witnesses are always individuals who know the defendant well. For this reason, the jury may be less likely to believe the evidence. Second, once the defense calls a character witness, the prosecution can cross-examine that person. The cross-examination may reveal less-than-positive aspects of the defendant’s character or past behaviors. And third, once the defense opens the door by calling a character witness, the prosecution can then respond by calling its own character witness. Despite the potential drawbacks, there may be some limited circumstances in which it may be appropriate to call a character witness. The defense attorney will recommend the best course of action for the defendant.

When your freedom and reputation are at stake, you need a seasoned attorney who will vigorously defend your legal rights. Contact the law office of Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789. Ms. Altschuler puts her 20-plus years of experience to work defending individuals accused of crimes in the Tucson area.

Types of Crimes that Can Label You As a Sex Offender

April 12, 2019

When an individual is convicted of a sex crime, that person may be required to register with the state’s sex offender registry. Being labeled as a convicted sex offender carries with it numerous restrictions and requirements that can affect that person’s life for years to come (and perhaps permanently). Because of the high-stakes nature of sex crime cases, it’s essential for defendants to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney.


Rape is defined as unlawful intercourse perpetrated by one individual against another who has not given consent for the act. Rape includes sexual penetration that occurs by duress, force, or threats. For rape to have legally occurred, some form of penetration must have taken place. This includes penetration by foreign objects. The relationship between the perpetrator and the victim is not legally relevant. A spouse may commit rape against the other spouse, for example.

Statutory Rape

In some cases, a rape victim is considered to have been unable to give consent to the sexual act. One instance occurs when the rape victim is too young to legally give consent. The age of consent can vary from state to state. In Arizona, it’s 18 years of age. This means that a 19-year-old can be prosecuted for statutory rape after having intercourse with a 16-year-old. There are some exceptions to this rule. A criminal defense lawyer will thoroughly review the case to identify all possible defenses.

Indecent Exposure

It’s possible to be labeled as a sex offender without having committed rape or sexual assault. Indecent exposure is one such example. It is unlawful for a person to intentionally expose one’s genitals in public for the purpose of the sexual gratification of the offender or to entice a sexual response in others.

Your best chance of avoiding a sex crimes conviction lies in hiring an experienced attorney to provide aggressive legal representation on your behalf. Criminal defense attorney Janet Altschuler is known for delivering energetic advocacy for her clients. Call our law office in Tucson at (520) 247-1789.

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.