Author Archives: Gary Rohlwing

Setting Aside Criminal Convictions

Having criminal convictions on your record can keep you from getting a job, finding housing, using federal benefits, and getting loans.  A.R.S. § 13-907 is the Arizona statute that permits a judge to set aside criminal convictions.    A.R.S. § 13-907(A) provides that a person who has been convicted of a criminal offense may apply to the judge to have the judgment of guilt set aside.  If the judge grants the application, the accusations or information are dismissed and the person is released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction except those imposed by the Arizona Department of Transportation and Arizona Game and Fish Commission according to A.R.S. § 13-907(C).  The person’s right to possess a gun or firearm is restored unless he or she was convicted of a serious offense as defined by A.R.S. § 13-706.  See A.R.S. § 13-907(D). A person cannot apply to set aside a criminal conviction if one or more of the following apply: The criminal conviction involved a dangerous offense defined in A.R.S. § 13-105(13) as an offense involving the discharge, use or threatening exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or the intentional or knowing infliction of serious physical injury on another person. The criminal conviction required the person or the court ordered the person to register as a sex offender pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3821. The criminal conviction was found to have a sexual motivation pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-118. The criminal conviction involved a victim under fifteen years of age. The criminal conviction concerned a local city ordinance relating to stopping, standing or operation of a vehicle in violation of A.R.S. § 28-3473 which makes it a misdemeanor to drive on a suspended license. The criminal conviction concerned a violation of Title 28, chapter 3, except a violation of A.R.S. § 28-693 or any local ordinance relating to the same subject matter as A.R.S. § 28-693.  Title 28, chapter 3 deals with traffic and vehicle regulation which are usually civil offenses. A.R.S. § 28-693 prohibits reckless driving. The judge who sentenced you or his/her replacement has discretion concerning whether or not to grant your application.  Ideally, your application shows that you have had no further trouble with the law and are a productive member of society. An application to set aside your criminal convictions is an important step that should not be taken lightly.  You need an experienced attorney to prepare your application. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience.  Please call him today for a free consultation.

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Planet Defendant: Double Jeopardy Clause

Being charged with a crime can feel like being transported to another world called Planet Defendant.  Like all worlds, Planet Defendant has its own customs and procedures that one should learn. An important custom and procedure on Planet Defendant is called double jeopardy. The concept of double jeopardy is found in the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states “. . . nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.”  This is commonly called the “Double Jeopardy Clause.” The Arizona Constitution also has a double jeopardy clause found in Article 2, Section 10 which states that no person shall “be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.”  At its core, the Double Jeopardy Clause means that no one should ever be punished twice for his or her criminal conduct. The Double Jeopardy Clause tends to come up in three situations:  retrial after a not guilty verdict, multiple criminal charges or counts based on a defendant’s single course of conduct, and defendant’s conduct constitutes a violation of two different criminal statutes. The Double Jeopardy Clause prohibits the State or government from either appealing a not guilty verdict or bringing the same criminal charge against an acquitted defendant in order to obtain a guilty verdict.  For example, California and Florida could not bring new murder charges against O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony who were found not guilty of murder. The State or government could also charge a defendant with multiple criminal charges or counts based on his or her single, uninterrupted course of conduct.  This situation can occur when multiple sex crimes are charged based on one sexual encounter or when there are multiple victims in a single encounter. The Supreme Court of Arizona recently held that Arizona’s resisting arrest statute, A.R.S. § 13-508, permits only one conviction regardless of the number of officers involved when a defendant resists an arrest in the course of a single, continuous event in State v. Jurden, 239 Ariz. 526 (2016). A violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause can occur when a person’s conduct constitutes a violation of two different criminal statutes.  See State v. Jurden, 239 Ariz. 526 ¶ 10 (2016).  This frequently comes up in the context of lesser-included offenses which are often charged along with greater-included offenses.  For example, the Arizona Court of Appeals found that child molestation pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1410 was a lesser-included offense to the greater offense of sexual conduct with a minor pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1405 in State v. Ortega, 220 Ariz. 320 (App. 2008). Double Jeopardy Clause analysis is very complex.  If you are charged with several crimes based on a single course of conduct, you need an experienced defense attorney to make sure that the State has not violated the Double Jeopardy Clause.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience. Call him today for a free consultation.

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Low or No Cost Legal and Mental Health Services

Finding low or no cost legal and mental health services in the Phoenix metro area can be very frustrating when you make too much money to qualify for Community Legal Services and Arizona Medicaid (AHCCCS). Sliding fee scales for legal and mental health services are meaningless when they tell you that your “affordable” fee will be $70.00 per session! Listed below are low or no cost legal and mental health services that are currently accepting clients/patients, provide real help, and charge low fees (typically $12.00 or less per session) regardless of income. Arizona Justice Center provides free legal counseling, marriage and family counseling, and addiction counseling. Call them at (623) 847 – 2772, e-mail them at or visit their website at Arizona Legal Center helps answer a vital question: “Do I have a case?” Here is how they describe their free legal services on their website: “The lawyers at the Legal Triage Program will vet your case for possible claims, defenses, and remedies, then identify possible resolutions or strategic options and provide appropriate referrals and resources for legal or other assistance in the community to help with matters that are found to be valid and viable.” Originally seen published on The Arizona State University Counselor Training Center provides low cost mental health therapy for people residing in the Phoenix metro area. Here is a description of their services from their online brochure: “Counseling services are tailored to the concerns presented by the client, which might include but are not limited to: depression anxiety personal problems relationships family problems career counseling life transitions   Clients are assigned to a counselor and scheduled for standing one-hour weekly appointments for the duration of the semester. Depending on when a client initiates services, he or she could receive up to 12 weeks of services. Counselors and clients work collaboratively to determine whether additional counseling is needed at the end of the semester.” Call them at (480) 965 – 5067, e-mail them at or visit their website at Maricopa Integrated Health Care Systems runs the Desert Vista Outpatient Clinic which accepts patients based on medical need. Here is how they describe their services on their website: “The Desert Vista Outpatient Clinic provides comprehensive assessment and treatment to individuals experiencing difficulties related to psychiatric, psychological or emotional problems. We treat both adults and children in the Desert Vista Outpatient Clinic. Our services include intensive individual psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy and medication management (if applicable). The clinic does not offer substance abuse treatment.” Call them at (480) 355 – 2100 for more information. The free or low cost legal services above do not handle criminal cases. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, you need an experienced attorney who has reasonable rates. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience and charges reasonable rates. Call him today for a free consultation.

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Maricopa County Diversion Programs

On April 9, 2018, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced the creation of a Diversion Programs Bureau that will administer and monitor diversion programs.  The following information is from a Maricopa County Attorney’s Office News Release dated April 9, 2018 “Diversion programs offer our prosecutors another option to help seek justice and reduce crime, said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “Our success is not achieved through simply tracking wins or losses, which we do not do, but rather we measure success by seeking justice for the victims, the offender and our community. Programs like diversion allow eligible offenders a chance to stay in their communities while learning the skills to stop the cycle that may cause them to reoffend in the future”   Each case is reviewed by a prosecutor and part of the review includes identifying offenders who would benefit from a diversion program instead of traditional prosecution through the courts.  Offenders who choose to go through diversion can have their charges dismissed or not filed at all upon successful completion of the program.   The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office offers the following diversion programs:  TASC (drug diversion), child abuse/excessive punishment, Felony Pretrial Intervention, Non-drug diversion, bad check writing, and juvenile.  You can read about TASC in previous blog posts. The following information about the other diversion programs comes from the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deferred Prosecution Program Annual Report, 2016-17, issued on August 8, 2017.   Child abuse/excessive punishment diversion is available to parents and guardians who are first-time offenders with no DCS history who use excessive force in disciplining a child that causes only minor injury and are facing a charge of child abuse or a similar offense.  If they successfully complete the program, they can avoid having charges filed against them.   The Felony Pretrial Intervention Program began in July 2015.  It is offered to felony offenders with minimal criminal history who are at low risk to reoffend.  The offender is referred to a community treatment provider who develops an individualized treatment program targeting the offender’s specific needs.  Program length will vary because this is not a “one size fits all” approach. An offender who successfully completes the program will avoid a felony conviction.  The program goals are to reduce recidivism and direct limited resources to offenders who need significant intervention by the criminal justice system.   Non-drug diversion is done through Sage Counseling and TASC.  It usually provides programs for offenders who require general “life skills” training, anger management counseling, and drug and alcohol awareness assistance.   Bad check writing diversion allows an offender to pay the balance of the bad check in full before criminal charges are filed.  The money order or cashier’s check for the full amount is paid to the MCAO Check Enforcement Program, not the merchant or person(s) who received the bad check.   Juvenile Probation Diversion is available for juvenile offenders who have first and second misdemeanors and first time drug-related offenses.  The first or second referral for … Continue reading

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TASC Diversion Program

If you are charged with a first or second felony drug possession crime in Maricopa County, you are probably eligible for the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) diversion program.  TASC diversion gives you an opportunity to avoid having a felony conviction for drug possession. Below is more information taken directly from their website at “With an average success rate of 75 percent, a long-term study by Arizona State University indicates that participants successfully completing the TASC adult diversion program have a significantly lower rate of recidivism than non-participants. To date, more than 34,000 successful cases have been treated through TASC Diversion, saving county resources and allowing participants to avoid a felony conviction. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) offers TASC Diversion to individuals who: Face felony drug possession charge(s) Do NOT contest their guilt Would likely benefit from a community treatment program Through close communication with the MCAO, TASC’s deferred prosecution program provides programming to meet each individual’s needs. Those who voluntarily participate and successfully complete TASC Diversion will either have the case dropped with no charges filed or have the charges dismissed with prejudice.” The website then discusses their possession of marijuana and possession of a narcotic or dangerous drug programs: “POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA PROGRAM Those dealing with marijuana charges will take part in the Possession of Marijuana program for up to six months. This includes drug screening, education and counseling. 3-Hour Drug Education Seminar Clients are required to attend the drug education seminar one time. Substance Abuse Counseling If a client shows a new usage for marijuana or tests positive for any other illegal substance (including prescription drugs that are not verified with a valid prescription), the client will be referred for substance abuse counseling assessment and services (group or individual sessions). POSSESSION OF NARCOTIC OR DANGEROUS DRUGS PROGRAM Individuals enrolled in the Possession of Narcotic or Dangerous Drugs program participate for at least one year and have monthly contact with case managers. This program includes screening, education, counseling and self-help meetings. 3-Hour Drug Education Seminar Clients are required to attend the drug education seminar one time. Substance Abuse Counseling Individuals will be referred for substance abuse counseling assessment and services (group or individual sessions) while in the program. All clients must successfully complete substance abuse counseling. Self-Help/Support Group Meetings Clients must attend 12-step meetings with AA, NA, CMA or a similar organization. Meetings are held seven days a week and are free to attend. Clients are not restricted to a certain meeting (e.g., if they have a cocaine charge, the client doesn’t have to attend NA) and are encouraged to try different options until they feel comfortable with one. TASC recommends clients obtain a sponsor for additional support when needed. Monthly Contact Each person who enters the program is assigned a case manager. Throughout the duration of the program, clients are required to maintain monthly contact with case managers to discuss meeting program requirements. Depending on the client’s progress and his or her proximity to the … Continue reading

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