Category Archives: Criminal

Aggravated Assault Charges Defense in Arizona

Arizona prosecutors file thousands of criminal cases every year. A lot of these cases involve assault allegations. An assault charge in Arizona may either be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the particular circumstances of the charge. Elements of Assault and Aggravated Assault The state recognizes 2 kinds of assault that don’t involve sexual elements. These are assault and aggravated assault. There are two things the prosecutor must establish to prove a crime of assault or aggravated assault: that the defendant committed the act (actus reus in Latin), and that he performed it with the necessary mind-set (mens rea). Actus reus refers to the physical action constituting a crime element. In an assault case, for instance, it may be a blow with a fist, pulling the trigger of a gun, or a stabbing motion. But, for the defendant to be guilty of the crime, the prosecution must first show that the defendant committed the crime with a guilty mind. Assault Except for very few situations, Arizona crimes mandate that the prosecution establish that the defendant committed the act with a certain degree of intent, knowledge, or recklessness. For instance, Arizona assault laws say that a person can be guilty of assault if he knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly caused another person to suffer a form of physical injury. A defendant who bumps into another person by accident will therefore not be guilty of assault. This is because while the other person may have sustained an injury because of the actions of the defendant, the latter did not act knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly. The criminal laws of Arizona don’t punish negligent behavior in general. Thus, even if the defendant proclaims his negligence in bumping into the victim, he would still not be found guilty of the charge. Aggravated Assault An aggravated assault in Arizona is similar to an assault charge, but with an additional proof supporting one or more specific facts. The following can elevate a criminal charge from assault to aggravated assault: The complainant sustained serious physical injury. There was use of a deadly weapon, which can be a felony. The defendant performed the alleged assault after gaining entry into the victim’s home with the intention to assault them. The defendant is at least 18 years old, and the alleged crime was performed against a person who is under 15 years old. The alleged crime was performed against a protected member of a class such as a prosecutor, police officer, teacher, or firefighter. Are You or Any of Your Loved Ones Facing an Assault Charge in Arizona? If you or a loved one has been arrested for the crime of assault in Arizona, it is best to get in touch with a reputable attorney right away. This way, your rights as a defendant will be safeguarded. Your lawyer can also help you strategize your defense and get the best possible result for your case. Contact the Law Offices of Gary L Rohlwing for help. Atty. Rohlwing has successfully defended hundreds … Continue reading

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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: 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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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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