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
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.
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.
December 29, 2017
Your property is private, which means that law enforcement needs some type of permission to perform a search, or they need to see evidence of a crime without entering or tampering with your property first. If police obtain evidence through an unlawful, illegal search, it shouldn’t be weighed in to your case, because your rights were violated to get it. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side will ensure that law enforcement is held accountable if they’ve violated your rights and that you are not treated as a guilty party before your case has been heard. This article will discuss some circumstances when a search may be considered unlawful so that you know which questions to ask when you consult your attorney.
Search Without a Warrant
A search warrant is a document issued by the court that gives police explicit permission to search your property—which may include your home, commercial properties you own, workplace, or vehicle. To obtain a warrant, police must have sufficient evidence that you have likely committed a crime or are holding evidence somewhere on your property. Warrants may specify certain parts of a given property that can be searched, so be sure to read the warrant so you know where police are allowed to look.
Search Without Permission
A warrant isn’t always needed if you give police verbal permission to search your property. They can also seize evidence that is in plain view, such as drug paraphernalia visible in the center console of your car during a traffic stop.
Knowing your rights is an essential part of protecting them, and you should also know the number of a good lawyer if you are arrested for a crime. Janet Altschuler focuses exclusively on criminal defense law in Tucson, and she can help you build an effective case. To schedule a consultation to discuss your charges, call (520) 247-1789.
December 15, 2017
During the holiday season, there are more people on the road in Southern Arizona as seasonal residents return to enjoy the mild winter temperatures. The holidays also bring about more parties and celebrations that increase the odds of encountering intoxicated drivers on the road. In Arizona, DUI is taken very seriously, and the state has some of the strictest penalties for those convicted. Without a lawyer on your side, you might face steep fines, jail time, and a suspended license if you get pulled over for driving under the influence. To prevent DUI from becoming part of your holiday traditions, consider the following points.
DUI patrols increase around the holidays.
When you drive home from your office holiday party or family celebrations, you may notice many more police officers on the road than usual. There may also be more DUI checkpoints on busy travel routes, because patrols will see an uptick as the holidays get into full swing.
There is no safe level of intoxication for driving.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to getting behind the wheel. If you plan to drink at all at a holiday event, plan for a safe ride home, whether that’s carpooling, taking a cab, or calling a rideshare service. If you are an employer hosting a holiday event serving alcohol, provide employees with safe transportation to mitigate liability concerns.
DUI charges can be costly.
You’re probably already spending more money around the holidays, so a DUI should be the last thing you have to worry about paying for. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction can cost thousands of dollars between fines, legal fees, and higher insurance rates.
If you are facing DUI charges, don’t hesitate to talk to a criminal defense attorney serving Tucson. Janet Altschuler can bring 20 years of experience to your case, and you can schedule a free consultation with her by calling (520) 247-1789.
October 20, 2017
Getting arrested is a scary experience, and the anxiety of the arrest could cause you to do something that worsens your situation, especially if you know that you’re innocent. Therefore, it’s helpful to know what you should do, and—perhaps more importantly—what not to do when you are being confronted by law enforcement. The following guide will provide you with some helpful tips to get through your arrest, so you can build the strongest defense possible when you appear in court.
Know the Role of the Police
Though law enforcement does exist to protect people, you should not assume that the police are on your side when you’ve been arrested. Police officers are trained to use a wide variety of communication and intimidation tactics to get suspected criminals to confess or unwittingly provide information and evidence of the crime. When you talk to the police, only provide your most basic identifying information. You are not obligated to say anything else, and you should avoid doing so until you have a lawyer present.
Know What Not to Do
It can feel tempting to try and convince the police of your innocence or even run from an approaching officer. However, these actions can cause serious ramifications later and make it more difficult to present a convincing case in the courtroom.
- Don’t Resist – Under no circumstances should you physically attempt to resist arrest. Do not touch or threaten an officer in any way, because this is itself a crime. Regardless of your innocence in other charges, you may face criminal charges if you attempt to resist arrest. Both passive obstruction and violent behavior toward a police officer can be considered resisting lawful arrest.
- Don’t Run – You should never underestimate the resources of law enforcement and assume that you can run. It is likely that you will get caught in an attempt to flee from arrest, whether you are being arrested at the scene of a crime, your home, or your workplace. If you do get caught attempting to run from the police, you will not come off well in court, since fleeing is not often the action of innocent individuals.
- Don’t Let the Police into Your Home – The police may arrive at your home if there is a warrant for your arrest, but it’s important to recognize how warrants may work. It may be that an arrest warrant is needed to arrest you in your home, but you may be arrested if you step outside. Therefore, you should not allow the police to come in, and you should not step out of your home. If police arrive at your home in response to a report of a crime like domestic violence, you should not let them inside. Simply cooperate with officers to avoid an unwanted search of your property that could be used to gather evidence against you.
- Don’t Talk – In nearly every movie and television show featuring an arrest on screen, you will hear the line “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” This line holds truth, because police will be listening to everything you say during your arrest very carefully, and they may try to lead you to say certain things. Utilize your right to stay silent, and never do any of the following:
Try to convince the police that you are innocent – Whether you are guilty or not, your arrest is not the time to defend your innocence. You will be considered innocent until proven guilty in court, so don’t try to persuade police officers at the time of your arrest.
Threaten or insult police officers – Though it is incredibly stressful to be arrested, you should not take out your stress on law enforcement. Do not talk smack or utter insults, and never say anything that could be considered a threat, such as “You’ll be sorry.” In some cases, police officers may try to provoke suspects into speaking out, but remaining silent will give them nothing to work with.
Answer non-essential questions – The police may ask you many leading questions to try and get the information they are looking for, and even if you answer a question non-truthfully, the answer can be used against you in court. Your best bet is to stay quiet or respond to questioning with a request for a lawyer.
- Don’t Allow Permission to Search – Typically, a search warrant must be obtained through court to allow police to search your property. If, however, you provide verbal permission to search your car or home, they may immediately begin a search. This type of search could add to your charges if police uncover illegal firearms or drugs. You may not even realize that these items are in your home or vehicle if they were left behind by a friend or family member, but you can still be charged with drug possession for drugs that are not yours that are found on your property.
Know Who to Call
It may take some time before you are allowed to contact anyone after you have been arrested and booked. Still, you should know who to call once you are able to use the phone. Your first call may be to a criminal defense lawyer, and this is a smart strategy. Your lawyer can help you understand the gravity of your charges and the steps needed to release you from custody. If you can make multiple phone calls, it is also advisable to contact an immediate family member, such as a spouse, parent, or sibling. This individual may need to post bail or otherwise assist in your release. You might also provide the contact information of this individual to your lawyer to ensure that he or she is kept up to date on your situation.
If you have been arrested in Tucson or the surrounding areas, make your first call to Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789. Ms. Altschuler is a leading criminal defense attorney in Southern Arizona, and she specializes exclusively in criminal law with 20 years of experience serving clients from all walks of life.
October 27, 2017
Sex crimes not only result in serious legal consequences, but they can have a lifelong impact on your reputation and personal relationships. A wrongful conviction of a sex crime can be devastating, so it is important to know how to defend yourself against these charges. Whether you were at the wrong place at the wrong time or you are suffering with the retaliation of a disgruntled former employee, being wrongly accused of a sex crime is incredibly stressful. Knowing what to do in this time of distress can make a big difference in the outcome of your case, so be sure to follow these guidelines:
Hire an Attorney
All sex crimes, including indecent exposure, prostitution, statutory rape, and sexual assault are major charges that should be discussed with an attorney. Even if you know you are innocent, you need to be able to prove it in a court of law, and a skilled defense attorney will understand how to achieve this task and navigate the legal system.
Speak with Your Loved Ones
Accusations of sex crimes, especially those that gain media attention, can be a source of contention for you and your loved ones. However, it’s important to have the support of your friends and family as you fight your charges, so be sure to have an honest, candid conversation about your situation and your side of the story.
Organize the Facts of the Case
The specifics of your defense will depend on the circumstances of your case, but there may be witnesses, camera footage, or other evidence that contradicts details of the accuser’s story. Think about the incident in question with a clear head, and discuss any potential evidence or witnesses with your attorney as you build your case.
For an aggressive, professional defense in Tucson, AZ, contact the law offices of Janet Altschuler. Ms. Altschuler will offer more than 20 years of experience to your case, and she can help you defend your rights when facing any type of sex crime charges. To learn more, call (520) 247-1789.
October 13, 2017
Car accidents happen all the time, and the majority are minor collisions that can be resolved with simple insurance claims and car repairs. Sometimes, however, car accidents can lead to serious injuries and court cases where criminal charges are involved. So when does a typical car accident become the scene of a crime? Let’s take a closer look at some circumstances where charges may arise after a car accident.
When Injuries Occur
Injuries can quickly complicate the process of determining who is at fault for an accident, and they often lead to more contentious court cases, because injured parties are likely seeking compensation to cover their medical bills. If it is shown that injuries were caused by aggressive or reckless driving, the responsible party may not only have to pay for the costs incurred by the injuries, but also face criminal charges.
When a Driver Flees
Even in a minor collision, a driver who flees the scene of the accident before providing personal information can be charged with a hit-and-run. If you are involved in an accident where the driver flees the scene, record any information you can about the vehicle and the driver and call the police right away.
When Alcohol Is Involved
The moment someone operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, he or she is committing a crime. If an accident results, the individual under the influence will likely be found at fault, facing a minimum sentence of license suspension, jail time, and hefty fines.
If you have been involved in a car accident that has become wrapped up with criminal charges, find the defense you need with Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law. To schedule an appointment where you can discuss your case with Ms. Altschuler, call (520) 247-1789 today. For a closer look at Ms. Altschuler’s practice areas and experience, visit her website.
September 29, 2017
The justice system can be tricky sometimes, and there are some areas that are open to interpretation. If you unknowingly commit a crime, you should know that you could still be arrested, so you should work with a lawyer. Here’s a quick look at what happens when you commit a crime without knowing it.
A crime is a crime, and you can face the consequences whether you realize that you’ve committed it or not. People are often confused as to what kind of role state of mind plays in the commission and fault of a crime. You may think that certain states of mind excuse the perpetrator of committing the crime, and there are situations where this is the case. However, it is our duty as citizens to understand and uphold the law, and we can be charged with a crime whether we know that we committed it or not.
Mistake of Fact Vs. Mistake of Law
Arguing that the law doesn’t make sense typically won’t make for a very good defense. Whether you agree with the law or not, you’re still required to follow it, and to pay the consequences if you don’t. Mistake of fact, on the other hand, seeks to prove that you didn’t know you were in violation of the law and that you wouldn’t have taken a certain action if you understood that it was illegal.
Hiring a Lawyer
Whether you committed a crime with or without knowing it, you can always hire a lawyer to help you plead your case. Lawyers know the ins and outs of the law, and they can help you create your defense.
If you’re arrested for a crime that you committed, whether knowingly or unknowingly, call Janet Altschuler at (520) 247-1789. Ms. Altschuler is a competent attorney who specializes in drug crime, embezzlement, and drug possession cases. Feel free to visit her website for more information.
September 15, 2017
Although federal laws apply to every state in the country, other laws are up to the individual states themselves. One example of an area that states regulate on their own is gun control. Gun control laws may differ from state to state or region to region, but it’s your responsibility to know the laws in your area. Keep reading to see how gun laws vary by state.
Guns are regulated in many ways, but some states have much tighter and more specific regulations than others. The states in the Northeast tend to have the most regulations when it comes to gun control. Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. all require missing firearms to be reported. Most states in the Northeast also require locking devices, and some require permits for long guns, rifles, and handguns.
There is minimal gun regulation in the southern states. In states like Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma, there are very few rules governing the carrying of any kind of gun, whether it is concealed or not. California and Florida are the only two states in the South that prohibit people from openly carrying handguns, but people can obtain permits to carry concealed weapons in both states.
As is the case in the South, the Midwest doesn’t claim much control over the right to bear arms. Michigan and Ohio require that missing firearms be reported stolen, and they also require locking devices. However, Kansas, Wisconsin, Montana, and the Dakotas have no rules governing these facets of gun control. Illinois is also the only state that prohibits open and concealed carrying in the Midwest.
You’ll need a good lawyer if you’re arrested for a gun crime, which is why you should contact Janet Altschuler, Attorney at Law. It is Ms. Altschuler’s mission to protect your rights and reduce your punishment, whether you’re involved in a gun crime or caught possessing drugs. Give her office a call at (520) 247-1789 to learn more today.
August 25, 2017
If you are a law-abiding citizen, chances are that you are able to go about your day without worrying about an encounter with a law enforcement agent. In the state of New Mexico, however, there are certain laws that may surprise even the most upstanding of residents. To help you stay legal and avoid trouble with the police, let’s review some of the wackiest New Mexico laws.
Indecent Exposure Law
New Mexico has some strange laws regarding nudity and indecent exposure. In fact, in New Mexico, it is perfectly legal for a man to be nude in public, as long as his private parts are covered properly. If you happen to see a nudist in New Mexico, you will need to think twice before you contact local law enforcement.
The voting laws in New Mexico include the controversial wording that idiots are not permitted to vote. The legal definition of an idiot describes the term as a person who is without understanding. Even though the wording of the law remains in place to this day, it remains hotly contested by voting rights activists and other organizations. Along with making it illegal for idiots to vote, New Mexico has a minimum voting age of 21 years, rather than the standard of 18 years of age.
Spitting on Sidewalks Law
In legal language, the act of spitting is actually referred to as expectorating. In New Mexico’s law books, it is against the law to expectorate on the steps of an opera house, church, schoolhouse, or other building where citizens are assembled. The origin of this unusual law against expectoration remains unknown.