Author Archives: Gary Rohlwing

Arizona Supreme Court Changes Duress Defense

The Arizona Supreme Court recently changed the defense of duress in criminal cases.  The following is from “AZ Supreme Court Changes Criminal Defense of Duress” by Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, August 24, 2018: https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2018/08/24/az-supreme-court-changes-criminal-defense-of-duress/ A woman sentenced to 20 years in prison because of her role in keeping her three daughters locked up for three months in squalid conditions has had her case sent back to Pima County Superior Court Judge Paul Tang for a new trial. Sophie Richter wanted to present evidence that she acted under duress because she was too scared of her husband, the girls’ stepfather, to help them.  Her evidence would have included a doctor’s testimony that she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder due to her husband’s abuse and photographs of “numerous scars” she said were inflicted by him. Judge Tang refused to allow her to use duress as a defense because she was essentially claiming “battered woman syndrome,” where she would escape punishment by claiming she was so abused that she lacked the mental capacity to know she was committing a crime.  That defense is not allowed in Arizona. Chief Justice Scott Bales noted that her claims were more specific than that: “For example, he said she believed that if she resisted she would either be seriously harmed or killed, or that her children would as well. And she submitted evidence of wounds and blood on her body that police documented on the day of her arrest. Bales said that evidence, if accepted by a jury, could show she was constantly in fear, providing a basis for her to argue she had no choice but to go along with what her husband demanded.” Bales said she had a story to tell that could convince a jury she acted under duress: “She sought to argue that her intentional illegal conduct was justified because she was compelled to abuse her children by the threat or use of immediate physical force against her or her children,” he wrote. More to the point, he said that threat need not be something that occurred at precisely the same time Sophia was committing the crime. “An ongoing threat of harm can be sufficiently immediate and present for purposes of a duress defense even when the threat precedes the illegal conduct by several days,” he said. Bales acknowledged that the threat needs to be more than “vague or undetailed.” But the justice said there was enough evidence to suggest she was under constant fear. “She stated that even when she went grocery shopping, she was accompanied by Fernando’s mother,” he noted, and Sophia was required to keep her cell phone on at all times “in order that he could tell her what was going on.” Then there were the wounds and blood police found. And Bales said Sophia would have presented evidence that when she stood up to Fernando on a family trip he threw her out of the hotel room by her hair. Bales said, though, that for Sophia to … Continue reading

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Offline Ways to Raise Money for Legal Defense

Crowdfunding online may not be an option for you for several reasons.  Perhaps you don’t need to raise that much money for your legal defense.  Maybe you don’t want the invasion of privacy that comes with crowdfunding.  You might not have a Facebook or other necessary social media accounts required for crowdfunding.  Whatever your reasons, here are some offline ways to raise money for your legal defense: Credit cards: Many defense attorneys accept credit card payments.  You may be able to open a new credit card account even if you have bad credit by googling “high limit unsecured credit cards”.   Home equity line of credit:   You can use an existing home equity line of credit or apply for a new home equity line of credit to help pay for your legal defense. Loans from relatives and friends:   You probably have to swallow your pride in order to get loans from your relatives and friends.  However, they are unlikely to charge you an exorbitant interest rate and may even give you money with no strings attached.   Credit union personal line of credit or loan: You may be able to open a personal line of credit or get a personal loan through one of these credit unions in Maricopa County:  MariSol Federal Credit Union; Arizona Federal Credit Union; Desert Financial Credit Union; SunWest Federal Credit Union; and TruWest Credit Union. Vehicle title loan:   You may qualify for a vehicle title loan on a car, truck, SUV, RV, ATV, motorcycle, watercraft, or boat that you own even if you have bad credit or are still making payments.  Google “vehicle title loans Maricopa County” to find a vehicle title loan company. Garage sale:   If you have a lot of possessions, you may want to sell them in a garage sale.  You could advertise it for free on Craigslist. Sell or get a loan on your jewelry or other upscale possessions:   You may be able to sell or get a loan on your jewelry or other upscale possessions.  Google “upscale pawn and loan Maricopa County” for businesses that do this. Find a part time job or side gig:   This may be an option if you’re currently unemployed or retired, enjoy good or great physical and mental health, and don’t have children or other relatives needing daily care.  If you’re stumped about where to begin, think about what you’ve enjoyed doing in the past, talk to friends and relatives about possible part time jobs or side gigs that might work for you, and do research on the internet.   If you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced defense attorney who charges a reasonable legal fee to defend you.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience and charges reasonable legal fees. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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Beyond GoFundMe: Using Crowdfunding to Raise Money for Legal Defense

GoFundMe is a popular website to raise money for a legal defense.  Unfortunately, problems can arise using GoFundMe. GoFundMe may not allow you to use them if you or your case are controversial.  They reserve the right to cancel your campaign and withhold funds at any time for any reason. It may be very difficult to talk to a person if any problems come up. Two crowdfunding websites you may not have heard of are fundedjustice.com and fundrazr.com. Fundedjustice.com is for anyone with a legal issue that needs money to hire an attorney. In their own words: “We are truly agnostic when it comes to campaign selections. If your campaign touches a legal or Social Justice issue we are the right partner for you. We started our service in 2014 with the goal of helping people gain access to the legal system or fight to correct a social wrong. For too long, the rich and powerful have had the best legal representation that money can buy, and poor people could go to legal aid clinics. But what about the vast majority of middle-class America? What about the average citizen who sees that something is wrong and knows that things could be better. We provide a straightforward, easy way to raise money quickly. Harnessing the power of social media and the Internet, you can find hundreds and potentially thousands of people who are willing to help.” Fundedjustice.com does not charge you to build a campaign page or run a fundraising campaign on Funded Justice.  Instead, they charge a flat 7% plus any credit card processing charges. Funds are transferred as soon as possible; you don’t have to wait for the campaign to end. Fundrazr.com started in January 2009.  As of January 2017, they had raised more than $100 million in total funds.  Fundrazr.com has a 0% platform fee where they just ask supporters for a small optional tip and take standard credit card and PayPal processing fees.  Funds are transferred once they have cleared any security checks and according to the daily, weekly or monthly schedule you have set for withdrawals. Both fundedjustice.com and fundrazr.com provide help in creating your crowdfunding campaign.  However, you still need to put in some work if you want your crowdfunding campaign to succeed according to fundedjustice.com: “The ideal Funded Justice crowdfunder is someone who is outgoing, has a large network of contacts, and is willing to work hard. If you have a Facebook account, use Twitter or simply email, you can have a successful campaign. It depends on you, and how much time and effort you are willing to put into your campaign.” If you have been charged with a serious or complicated crime where crowdfunding might make sense, you need an experienced defense attorney to defend you.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over thirty years experience. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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Types of Criminal Lawyers

First of all, know that there is a difference between lawyers and attorneys. Anyone who finished law school can be referred to a lawyer, even if they haven’t passed the bar. On the other hand, those who have passed the bar are called attorneys but can be called as lawyers as well. Lawyers are limited in what they can do. For starters, they cannot represent anyone in court or engage in any legal work. There are multiple specializations in law. A few of them are business, constitutional, environmental, first amendment, healthcare, patent, and criminal law. Criminal law deals with prosecuting and defending those people who have committed, or are accused of committing, a crime. Mostly, you can classify criminal lawyers into three broad categories: public attorneys, private attorneys, and prosecutors. In any case, it’s important to understand which type of criminal lawyer is which in order to determine what kind of lawyer you need for your case. Public Attorneys The most common type of lawyer you will encounter are public attorneys. Almost every country in the world has a public defender system. It means that every person facing charges, especially ones who can’t afford to hire a lawyer, has the right to an attorney provided by the government. Public attorneys have a bad reputation of being incompetent and unmotivated. It’s true that their performance compared to lawyers from private firms are often less stellar. However, it’s not that they are inept. The main reason is that they often have multiple clients to handle. Also, they are not allowed to turn down a client — not to mention that they are largely underpaid by the state. Panel Attorneys These are private lawyers that are hired by the government to satisfy the increasing demand for public lawyers. The government pays their fees and provides them to citizens who don’t have an assigned lawyer yet. In some cases, they are provided when the public lawyer assigned needs assistance. The state or jurisdiction you live in may or may not supplement their public lawyers with panel attorneys. US Attorneys Do not confuse public lawyers and US attorneys. Public lawyers in the United States work on local- and state-level cases, while US attorneys generally work on federal cases. Because they work on federal cases, US attorneys primarily deal with criminals who have broken federal laws. District Attorneys These attorneys are often referred to as prosecutors and they mostly handle criminal cases. Their role ranges from processing accusations to going to trial. Most district attorneys are provided with assistant attorneys to help with information gathering and other tasks requiring legwork. Private Attorneys It’s heartbreaking to admit that getting private attorneys instead of public lawyers is the better choice for criminal cases. The biggest difference between private attorneys and public lawyers is time. Private criminal lawyers on average have two to three active cases per month, though the number of cases a private lawyer accepts may vary wildly depending on their specialization. The American Bar Association has … Continue reading

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How a Criminal Attorney Can Help You

Being a convicted criminal can turn your life and future upside down. Sure, you’ll need to get through prison life, but your future is also an important consideration. Having a criminal record, even if you have already served your sentence, can bar you from voting, employment, housing, social benefits, traveling, and even the right to bear arms. To prevent conviction, you need a criminal lawyer. But how exactly can they help you? Building Your Defense A criminal attorney can help you find out multiple ways you can defend yourself. You can be the smartest person in the world, but once you’re suspected of a crime, your movement and access to information may be limited. A criminal attorney can be there to investigate for you. He can look for crucial witnesses that will speak up in your defense or get the sentence that the prosecuting party is handing to you reduced. He can also find documents and even cobble together video evidence to get you acquitted. He will gather facts and stitch them together to improve your defense. Providing Information About Laws Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense — especially when you are being apprehended and tried. Is that fair? In a sense, it is. Because if you can plead not guilty whenever you disobeyed a law due to ignorance, and get away with it, then many criminals would be acquitted. After all, there is no reliable method for detecting lies and scanning minds to know if ignorance of the law is truly at fault. So, if ignorance of the law won’t help your defense, you need someone who has comprehensive knowledge of the law to aid you. That is what a lawyer is for. That’s their job after all. Knowledge of the laws related to your case is important if you want to get acquitted or push for better bargain pleas. Your lawyer can inform you of all the laws you need to know and use his extensive knowledge on your behalf. Knowing Your Rights Aside from the related laws you need to know, you also need to know about your rights as a defendant. The laws, and the due processes that come with them, can be intricate, nuanced, and tricky. One small misstep can cost you your freedom and getting a lawyer can protect you from many prosecutorial misconducts. Remember that prosecutors can use all the tricks they know to take advantage of your ignorance in order to win a case. For example, they can coerce you to agree to an unfair bargain, even if you are innocent and your case is easily winnable. Trial Support Being tried is a stressful event in one’s life. Even if your case is just a small misdemeanor, it could trigger anxiety or panic attacks. A lawyer can be there to provide you with professional and emotional support while you are in a courtroom. Lighter Sentences and Better Plea Bargains A lawyer can help you receive a lighter sentence or … Continue reading

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