Category Archives: Criminal

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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What Are Miranda Rights and How Do They Apply?

Miranda rights are those rights recited to suspects before they are arrested. The main purpose of these rights is to properly notify the accused of his arrest and to inform him about the admissibility of evidence that will be gathered afterwards. Knowing and understanding the Miranda rights are essential in every criminal case. Criminal defense lawyers, such as those from the Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing, are the perfect people to consult regarding such matters. The Miranda rights are named after the case where such rights were first enunciated – Miranda v. Arizona. However, these rights are actually enshrined in the Fifth Amendment. The following are some of the rights customarily recited by police officers and other peacekeeping officials: You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law (right against self-incrimination). You have the right to an attorney  to be present before and after the questioning (right to counsel). If you cannot afford an attorney, we can provide one for you. The Miranda rights should be recited to the suspect in a language known to him. The words should also be simple and clear for easy understanding. It is also essential that the police officer asks the accused if he or she understands the aforementioned rights. The police should then ask if the accused is ready to talk to them after knowing said rights. It is important to note these rights only arise when the accused is taken into custodial interrogation or custodial investigation. During this phase, the investigation of the police becomes accusatorial. The line of questioning of the police is no longer general but focuses on a particular suspect. To reiterate, the Miranda rights come into play in determining the admissibility of evidence, particularly testimonial evidence. For the Fifth Amendment to be invoked in a criminal proceeding, the following requisites must be present: The evidence must be gathered. The evidence must be testimonial in nature. The evidence must have been obtained during custodial interrogation or custodial investigation. The evidence must have been obtained through questioning or interrogation. The evidence must have been gathered by police or other state agents. The evidence must be presented and offered during criminal proceedings. If all the requisites are present, the Fifth Amendment can be invoked, unless it is shown that the Miranda rights were properly read and/or recited to the accused. It is also important to note there are certain exceptions to the Miranda rights. It is not always imperative that the Miranda warning be read to every accused. Under the American jurisdiction, the following are some of the exceptions: Jailhouse informant search Routine booking questioning Public safety exception To question the admissibility of testimonial evidence that is in violation of the Miranda rights, criminal defense lawyers, such as those from the Law Offices of Gary L. Rohlwing, must file a motion in writing stating the facts and legal grounds as to why said testimonial evidence must be … Continue reading

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AFSC-AZ REPORT: RACIAL DISPARITIES IN DRUG CRIME SENTENCING

American Friends Service Committee-Arizona analyzed the court records of people who were sentenced to prison for a drug crime in Maricopa, Pima and Yavapai counties in 2015.  They discussed their findings and recommendations in Drug Sentencing in Arizona: A Prescription for Failure, by Rebecca Fealk, MPA, and Caroline Isaacs, MSW, August 2017.  All quotes and data are taken from their report. The report found racial disparities that harm Blacks in the form of higher incarceration rates for possession of drugs, longer prison sentences, greater penalty for crack vs. powder cocaine, and longer prison sentences for fewer charges as discussed below.   The report found that Blacks are incarcerated at a higher rate for possession of drugs “The data collected is consistent with other national study findings, that Blacks are sentenced to prison at a higher rate for possession of drugs.  This is true across the board, for marijuana, methamphetamines, and narcotics. . . . From the research, we see that people of color go to prison at a higher rate for possession of drugs, with Black people having the highest rate in every area.  This is especially concerning, as the Black population is actually underrepresented in the study as compared to the 2015 ADC population.” The report also found that Blacks serve longer prison sentences for drug offenses as shown by two charts.  The first chart showed the average prison sentence in months for methamphetamine possession with prior convictions.  Black: 33.29; Latino-U.S. Citizen: 30.67; Latino-Non-U.S. Citizen: 24; Native American: 25.89; and White 32.55. The second chart showed the average prison sentence in month for marijuana sales with no prior convictions.  Black: 43; Latino-U.S. Citizen: 29.66; Latino-Non-U.S. Citizen: 21.27; Native American: 18; and White 27.75. The report concluded: “Clearly, more data and further analysis is critical in order to investigate the cause of these disparities and to determine what possible policy or procedural changes are needed to ensure that all Arizonans are treated equally under the law.” Like many states, Arizona passed “zero tolerance laws” that permitted a lower thresholds and/or longer sentences for crack cocaine than for the powder form of the drug.  These laws contributed to higher rates of incarceration for Blacks. The report noted: “As a result, in 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA), which reduced the sentencing disparity between offenses for crack and powder cocaine.  And in 2011 the U.S. Sentencing Commission made the law retroactive, allowing over 12,000 people-85% of whom are Black-to have their sentences for crack cocaine reviewed by a federal judge and possibly reduced.  In Arizona, we still have a 12:1 disparity in crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing.  In other words, it takes 12 times as much powder cocaine as crack cocaine to receive the same sentence.  Nine grams of powder cocaine or 750 milligrams of cocaine base trigger five-year prison terms for sales offenses.”  (emphasis in original). The report noted that Blacks often serve more prison time for fewer charges:   “Our research indicated that people of color, specifically Black … Continue reading

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False Accusations of Sexual Assault

The MeToo Movement and the recent hearing testimonies of Dr. Christine Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh have people wondering what percentage of sexual assault accusations are false.   The following is from “False reports of sexual assault not as rare as claimed, studies show” by Rowan Scarborough, The Washington Times, October 7, 2018 https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/7/false-sex-assault-reports-not-rare-reported-studie/ Brent E. Turvey, a criminologist, wrote a 2017 book that dispels the idea that false accusations of sexual assault are relatively rare. His research, and that of two co-authors, cited statistical studies and police crime reports. One academic study showed that as many as 40 percent of sexual assault charges are false. Mr. Turvey wrote that the FBI in the 1990s pegged the falsity rate at 8 percent for rape or attempted rape complaints. “There is no shortage of politicians, victims’ advocates and news articles claiming that the nationwide false report for rape and sexual assault is almost nonexistent, presenting a figure of around 2 percent,” writes Mr. Turvey, who directs the Forensic Criminology Institute. “This figure is not only inaccurate, but also it has no basis in reality. Reporting it publicly as a valid frequency rate with any empirical basis is either scientifically negligent or fraudulent.” “You see where they are going with this,” said Elaine Donnelly, the director of the Center for Military Readiness.   “Any man who doubts Ford is hostile to women experiencing abuse, who make accusations truthfully 90 to 98 percent of the time. This is why hard data from the Pentagon, which shows rates of false accusations averaging 18 percent in annual reports since 2009, is important.”  Women’s advocates say that an unfounded case doesn’t necessarily mean the accuser was lying. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center puts the false report rate at 2 percent to 10 percent.  “Research shows that rates of false reporting are frequently inflated, in part because of inconsistent definitions and protocols, or a weak understanding of sexual assault,” the Center said. Mr. Turvey’s 2017 book, “False Allegations: Investigative and Forensic Issues in Fraudulent Reports of Crime,” looked at a range of bogus reporting, including on rape and sexual assault. He examined existing studies and police statistics. “False reports happen, they are recurrent and there are laws in place to deal with them when they do,” he wrote. “They are, for lack of a better word, common.” Mr. Turvey quotes a study by researcher Edward Greer, past president of the Association American Law Schools. He traced the one and only source for the “2 percent” assertion to a 1975 book, “Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape,” which quoted statistics from New York City, not from across the nation. Mr. Turvey cites 10 studies that debunk the 2 percent assertion in the U.S. and abroad. “The power of any lie is equal only to our desire to believe it,” Mr. Turvey wrote. “Specifically, our need and eagerness to believe it. This is the problem with belief — which is accepting something as true or correct without proof.” If you have been falsely accused of … Continue reading

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