Category Archives: Criminal

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: 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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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 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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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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Redemption of First Time Arrestee’s: A Study

In June 2009, the National Institute of Justice Journal published “’Redemption’ in an Era of Widespread Criminal Background Checks” by Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura. The authors conducted a study to determine whether it was possible to determine empirically when it is no longer necessary for an employer to be concerned about a criminal offense in a prospective employee’s past. The authors obtained the criminal history records of 88,000 individuals who were arrested for the first time in New York state in 1980. They determined whether they had committed any other crimes during the ensuing 25 years or had stayed clean. Then they compared the data against people in the general population who were the same age and people the same age who had never been arrested. Their goal was to determine empirically when the risk of recidivism for people in the study group was no greater than the risk for the two comparison populations. To do that, they plotted data curves to determine when the risk of re-arrest for people in the study group dropped below the risk of arrest for same-aged people in the general population and approached the risk of arrest for people who had never been arrested. The authors noted that their study provided the criminal justice community with the first scientific method for estimating how long is “long enough” for someone with a prior record to remain arrest-free before he or she should be considered “redeemed” by a prospective employer. You can read the entire post/pdf by visiting The “hazard rate” is a statistical concept that is the probability, over time, that someone who has stayed clean will be arrested. The authors looked at two factors to determine the hazard rate: type of crime and age at time of 1980 (first) arrest. They then compared these hazard rates to people of the same age in the general population. They found that the hazard rates for 18-year-old who were arrested for a first offense or robbery occurred at age 25.7 or 7.7 years after the 1980 arrest. After that point, the probability that they would commit another crime was less than the probability of other 26-year-olds in the general population. The hazard rates for individuals arrested for burglary and aggravated assault were 3.8 years (age 21.8) and 4.3 years (age 22.3). The hazard rates for individuals who were 16, 18, and 20 years old when they were first arrested for robbery in 1980 were 8.5 years (age 24.5), 7.7 years (age 25.7), and 4.4 years (age 24.4) respectively. The results were similar for burglary and aggravated assault. Surprisingly, there have been no studies since either to validate the results or to examine the hazard rates based on other factors such as gender, race, or socioeconomic background. If you were arrested as a young adult and want to have your civil rights restored, you need an experienced attorney to help you. Criminal Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience. Call him today for a free initial consultation.

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Factors Used To Recommend Intensive Probation

Intensive Probation – A Possible Alternative to Prison? Arizona intensive probation is designed to be an alternative to prison. As such, it includes house arrest and other types of intense monitoring such as maintaining employment or full-time student status, paying restitution and probation fees, residing at a place approved by the intensive probation team, complying with drug and alcohol testing if requested by the intensive probation team, performing between twenty and forty hours of community restitution, and meeting any other conditions imposed by the court. The Arizona Code of Judicial Administration § 6-202 describes what factors a probation officer must use in deciding whether to make a recommendation to the court for intensive probation. The information below comes from the following link to § 6-202: 4. A.R.S. § 13-914(B) provides: “The adult probation officer shall evaluate the needs of the offender and the offender’s risk to the community, including the nature of the offense and the prior criminal history of the offender …” Adult probation department staff shall administer the standardized assessment. The adult probation officer shall consider these factors in making a recommendation to the court for placement on intensive probation. 5. In determining appropriateness for intensive probation the probation officer shall also consider: The offender’s need for the structure, accountability, and close monitoring; The focus on treatment inherent in the intensive probation program; The benefits of the intensive probation program to the offender; Community safety; The potential harm to the victim including the victim’s attitude toward placing the offender on intensive probation; Payment of restitution; The probability the offender will remain at liberty without violating the law; Performance of community restitution hours; The offender’s legal eligibility to work in the United States; and Any other factors determined appropriate to the ends of justice and the safety of the community. 6. The probation officer shall include the reasons supporting intensive probation in the presentence report.   Only factor i. can be objectively determined. Factor j. is open-ended and could include any number of things. If you are facing a criminal sentence that includes intensive probation, you need an experienced defense attorney. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience. Call him today for a free initial consultation.

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