Author Archives: Gary Rohlwing

Major Players Disagree on Arizona Criminal Justice Reform

Criminal justice reform has been a recurring theme in the Arizona Legislature the last few years. Unfortunately, reform is very slow in coming compared to other states. Reporters Paulina Pineda and Katie Campbell wrote an article for Arizona Capitol Times entitled “Arizona Resistant to Change in “tough-on-crime” Sentencing Laws” that was published on March 23, 2018 detailing why reform is slow. The article can be found at the following link: https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2018/03/23/arizona-doug-ducey-bill-montgomery-david-stringer-will-gaona-caroline-isaacs-kurt-altman-resistance-to-criminal-justice-reform/ Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery wants tougher sentencing laws while Will Gaona, policy director of the ACLU of Arizona, the American Friends Service Committee, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums want to change Arizona’s rigid sentencing laws and end mandatory minimum sentences, especially for drug offenses. Montgomery has like-minded allies in the Arizona legislature who seem to have a lingering “tough-on-crime” mentality. Montgomery believes that Arizona is already ahead of other states. According to the authors: “Montgomery called other ideas being pushed by the smart-on-crime crowd “pet projects” that are “based on myths and rhetoric.” “Most of the folks who call criminal justice reform ‘reform’ – all they’re really out to do is arbitrarily adjust sentencing statutes or adjust truth-in-sentencing with no data to support it,” he said.” . . . But Montgomery scoffed at their ideas of “so-called reform,” arguing that they’re trying to overlay other states’ solutions on Arizona. He said the reality is other states either face different problems or are simply implementing measures Arizona embraced years ago, such as diverting first-time drug offenders to treatment instead of prison. “And because we weren’t part of the so-called reform wave, we don’t get credit for what we did,” Montgomery said. He said the first step in the public policy conversation must be to define the problem and determine what resources are needed to solve it. “For so many, and this is what has been a frustration of mine, they don’t understand the problem,” he said. “We need to come to a common understanding of the criminal environment we actually have, the types of crimes we have to deal with, and then what makes for the most effective policy. … What do we want to define as success for the criminal justice system in Arizona?”   For Montgomery, success would mean reducing recidivism, a goal he shares with Gov. Doug Ducey.” Gaona stated that the recent finding in the Arizona Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council’s updated Prisoners in Arizona report that 84% of state prisoners are repeat offenders “demonstrates the failure of our criminal justice system” and “Obviously, this is not an effective intervention, and we’re just going to try it again for longer period of time for something that has already been demonstrated not to work.” Governor Doug Ducey has been largely silent about reforming the sentencing laws. He wants to reduce recidivism as explained by his spokesman: “Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the governor approaches the issue from a public safety perspective. The governor’s priority, he said, has been to provide people who have already served their time … Continue reading

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Can a Domestic Violence Victim Drop Charges?

You are a battered wife. Once again, your husband is punching and physically harming you. Your friend, who lives next door, contacted the police who arrived just in time to stop the beating. They then charge your spouse with domestic violence. You find yourself in a chaotic situation. Surely, you don’t want your husband to abuse you, but neither do you want him to get entangled in legal imbroglio. A lot of women in your same situation, sadly, feel the responsibility to protect their abuser: their own husband. Suddenly, they want the charges against their husband dropped. The question is, can a victim of domestic violence drop the charges? NO, the victim cannot drop the charges.   Why a Domestic Violence Victim Cannot Drop the Charges Once a domestic violence charge has been issued by the office of the state prosecutor or the police, there is no way that the victim can drop the charges. This is because domestic violence is categorized as a crime. Many people misunderstand the process behind the filing of criminal charges. The state governs and issues criminal charges and not the victim. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you have no authority to drop the charges, which you did not issue, in the first place. It is up to the state, specifically the Prosecutor’s Office, to decide whether or not to proceed with the case. However, as the victim, you have a significant role in the proceedings.   The Role of the Victim in a Domestic Violence Case As the victim, the court may require you to testify against the accused, in case there is a trial. You may also be brought in to air your opinion. Some states allow the victim to refuse to testify in court, although the refusal may come with penalties. When coming up with a decision to release the accused, the judge may invite you, as the victim, to express your opinion on whether or not you agree with the decision to release, and why. The victim’s role is not limited to being passive, however. It is not confined to just testifying or giving your opinions in court. Although you cannot file a criminal case, you have the right to file a civil case. This way, you can claim compensation for the personal injuries you sustained, psychological injuries, lost wages, as well as cost of living. You likewise have protection options. You can request for a restraining order against the accused. A restraining order can help guaranty your safety. For one, there are restraining orders that will require the subject to surrender his guns while the restraining order is in effect. Depending on the state, you may be allowed to have an early release from your current lease. This option can prove to be helpful if you fear that your spouse may harm you again after being released. This will allow you to find a new place to live in, separate from your spouse.   Recanting a Victim’s … Continue reading

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Arizona’s Catch – All Aggravating Circumstance

A.R.S. § 13-701(D)(26) is a catch-all for the prosecutor to use at sentencing if other aggravating circumstances don’t apply: “ 26. Any other factor that the state alleges is relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstances of the crime.” You can find the original document at https://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/00701.htm The Supreme Court of Arizona has held that an aggravated sentence based solely on the catch-all aggravator violates due process because that aggravator is “patently vague.” See State v. Schmidt, 220 Ariz. 563, 566 ¶¶ 9-10 (2009). The Arizona Court of Appeals has found that the following are appropriate aggravating circumstances under the catch-all: Defendant’s misconduct that rises to a level beyond that which is merely necessary to establish an element of the underlying crime. State v. Tinajero, 188 Ariz. 350, 357 (Ariz. App. 1997), Defendant’s prior conduct that didn’t result in a conviction. State v. Shattuck, 140 Ariz. 582, 583 (1984). Society’s need for deterrence is a proper aggravating factor. See State v. LeMaster, 17 Ariz. 159, 166 (Ariz. App. 1983). Defendant is a danger to society. See State v. Wideman, 165 Ariz. 364, 369 (Ariz. App. 1990). Defendant’s single act created multiple victims. State v. Tschilar, 200 Ariz. 427 (Ariz. App. 2001). Defendant’s attempt to cover up the crime and not seek help for the victim. See State v. Jenkins, 193 Ariz. 115 (Ariz. App. 1998). Defendant’s lengthy criminal history. See State v. Fristoe, 135 Ariz. 25 (Ariz. App. 1982). Defendant was previously on probation, violated probation, or was on probation at the time of the crime is an appropriate aggravator. See State v. Winans, 124 Ariz. 502 (Ariz. App. 1979); State v. Ritacca, 169 Ariz. 401 (Ariz. App. 1991). Defendant was previously imprisoned. See State v. Soto-Perez, 192 Ariz. 566 (Ariz. App. 1998). The Court of Appeals has also found that a defendant’s lack of remorse is not a proper aggravating circumstance. See State v. Tinajero, 188 Ariz. 350, 357 (App. 1997). Moreover, a defendant’s prior exemplary life is not a proper aggravating circumstance. See State v. Just, 138 Ariz. 534, 551 (Ariz. App. 1983). If you are charged with a felony, the prosecutor will most likely use the catch-all aggravator to aggravate your sentence. Don’t fight the prosecutor alone. You need an experienced defense attorney to fight for you and help you with your felony defense. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience. Call him today for a free consultation.

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Impact of a Domestic Violence Charge: Why Hire an Experienced Lawyer

A domestic violence (DV) charge should not be taken lightly. It is a serious charge with potential long-term repercussions on your rights and freedom. If you are charged with domestic violence, you should immediately consult with an experienced domestic violence lawyer. The Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing can help protect your rights. Following are the various negative effects of domestic violence on various aspects of your life, if convicted.   Consequences on Your Employment Getting a domestic violence conviction may cause you to lose your present job or make it difficult for you to find gainful employment. With today’s advanced technology, employers can easily verify the criminal records of potential and current employees. There are even websites that offer to provide criminal background checks within minutes at a very minimal cost. Before making a decision to hire an applicant, most employers run a background check. When an employee is flagged for a domestic violence charge, it is generally considered an indication that the person is dangerous and prone to violence, whether at home or in the work place. As a result, the employee will not be offered a job. Likewise, current employees who are convicted of a domestic violence crime may not be considered for promotion or stricken off the list of candidates – even if they have the necessary experience and skills for the job. In some cases, they may even be fired from their jobs – even if they have been with the company for a long time.   Consequences on Your Military Career Once you are convicted for a domestic violence crime, you can kiss your military career goodbye. Aside from getting disqualified from serving in the military, a conviction will bar you from carrying a firearm or any kind of weapon. You will be discharged involuntarily from service, and if you are planning on entering the service, you will not be permitted to enlist. It may also affect your retirement benefits. You will also be denied of a security clearance under Directive 5220.6 of the Defense Department. Your military pension will be stopped, if you are currently entitled to it. Thus, you must make sure to talk to your lawyer as soon as you are charged with domestic violence.   Consequences on Your Marriage and Child Custody In many cases, a criminal conviction for domestic violence may spell the end of your marriage. Most couples involved in domestic violence ended up in divorce or separation. If you have children, you will likely lose in a custody battle, in case one will ensue. In almost all cases, custody is awarded to the victim spouse. Because being a domestic violence victim becomes a big advantage not only in child custody cases, some scheming spouses use allegations of domestic violence against their partners to win custody of their children, gain a decided edge in divorce situations, as well as to hide adultery.   Consequences on Your Professional Licenses and Permits Renewing or getting a new professional license may … Continue reading

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What to Do Following an Arizona Arrest

Innocent or guilty, you have the right to defend yourself after being arrested. Regardless of what charges you are facing, there are some steps you need to take both to defend your rights and to prevent your case from getting worse. You also need to understand your rights and responsibilities as a suspect, as your rights are only applicable if you actually use them! Here are the things you should do following an arrest in Glendale or Peoria, Arizona.   What is an Arrest and What It Means For You An arrest is defined the act of a police officer to take a person into custody. While an arrest may culminate with the person going to jail, this is not always the case. Also, an arrest goes beyond just sending a suspect to prison. Sometimes, a person can be arrested for further questioning. There are 3 scenarios a person can be arrested for: if the officer sees someone in the act of committing a crime, the officer has reason to believe that a person has committed a crime, or a judge has issued an arrest warrant for whatever reason supported by probable cause. Never resist using force – Innocent or guilty, the first instinct of some people facing arrest is to resist. That is one of the worst things you can do if you’re being arrested, regardless if the arrest is legal or not. With some rare exceptions, one does not have the right to resist arrest. A person that uses force to resist arrest may become liable to other charges. If you feel that you are wrongfully arrested, the best place to defend yourself is in court. Hiring Gary Rohlwing attorney will help you get the best defense. You have the right to remain silent – This is the first part of the immortal Miranda rights. When you are being arrested, you have the right to remain silent. Of course, some policemen will attempt to get you to start talking, hoping to get something that can be used against you. The best way to go about this is to just stay quiet. Mention your name and some of your basic information to the police, but don’t give away everything else. While arrested, do not talk to the police, your family or friends, or other inmates about your case. This is where you want to only speak to your attorney and adhere to their guidance. Get legal assistance – The next step after an arrest is to talk to a lawyer. Anyone who is arrested has the right to hire an attorney for legal assistance. If you cannot afford to get a lawyer, a public defender will be assigned to you to handle your case. A lot of these public defenders are competent lawyers in their own right, but sometimes are relatively new to the legal system. However, should you have enough finances to hire your own private lawyer, it is best to hire an experienced lawyer like Gary to handle your defense. If … Continue reading

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