Category Archives: Law Offices Gary Rohlwing

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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Brnovich Launches Investigation into Cell Phone Tracking

The tech giant Google is known to track cell phone users’ locations even when they think that they have disabled that feature.  Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is doing something about it according to “Brnovich to Investigate Cell Phone Tracking” by Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, September 17, 2018:  https://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2018/09/17/arizona-mark-brnovich-to-investigate-cell-phone-tracking/ One week after the Associated Press reported that Google was tracking users’ locations even after people turned off the “location history” option on their cell phones and tablets, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich launched an inquiry into whether a major tech firm is violating the rights of Arizona residents by tracking their movements and activities through their cell phones—even after the users think they’ve told the company to stop. Brnovich’s office awarded a contract to a Washington, D.C. law firm to investigate how this company stores consumer location data through smartphone operating systems “even when consumers turn off location services” and take other steps to stop such tracking” according to the contract.  The part of the contract listing the firm to be investigated was redacted. Brnovich declined to confirm that the target was Google.  He said that the process to turn off location services was opaque to users who think that turning off their location history—an option on a top-level Google menu—will work: “I should not be a tech expert in order to figure out how not to have a third party know everything about my private life, including my emails, my conversations with my wife, my kids, what they’re up to, how many hours I spend watching sports or checking scores on my phone, how long I spend at the mall on Sundays,” he told Capitol Media Services. “It really is Big Brother-esque.” Aide Ryan Anderson noted that users who think they’re opting out of having their information shared by clicking off “location sharing” are being lied to.  “It’s a fake button.” He said. “It doesn’t actually do anything.” Brnovich can go after an international company like Google because of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act.  He has previously used it to get refunds for Arizonans who thought that they purchased clean-burning diesel-powered vehicles from Volkswagen. Brnovich commented: “If they’re accessing the contacts of your phone without your permission, that means they are doing things that you either ultimately didn’t want done but they did anyway, or alternatively, they’re collecting information on you without telling you that they’re doing it,” Brnovich said. “They’re essentially creating a profile on you,” he said. “They literally can know what you want to buy before you even know.” What it ultimately comes down to, Brnovich said, is who has the right to anyone’s personal data. “Quite frankly, I do think as a human being I have a property right in my information, my data, things about me, who I deal with, where I go,” he said. But he said it goes beyond that. “The dignity of being a human being is not having everyone know, through some third party, every single thing about what … Continue reading

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Report Highlights Disparities in Sentencing in Arizona

Racial disparities in sentencing have been found in several states.  A new report prepared by a nonprofit has found racial disparities in sentencing in Arizona.  The following is from “Report finds disproportionate sentencing along racial lines in Arizona”, by Pamela Ren Larson, Arizona Republic, November 15, 2018, https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona/2018/11/15/prison-reform-fwd-us-report-finds-arizona-disproportionately-sentences-minorities/2006408002/ The “Cost to Communities” report released Thursday by FWD.us, a bipartisan nonprofit founded by California business and tech leaders.  At the state level, the report shows that communities of color are disproportionately sentenced to prison and spend longer times behind bars in some circumstances.  The report follows research released in September by the organization that encourages criminal-justice reform. The report analyzes state prison admissions from Arizona counties using admission data from 1985 to 2017. Looking at people imprisoned for marijuana possession, Hispanic people make up almost 60 percent of people admitted to prison for that crime according to the report.  Black people are one-eleventh the size of white people in Arizona yet the two groups represent near equal percentages of the people admitted to prison in Arizona for marijuana possession.  In five of Arizona’s 15 counties, black people are admitted at a rate three times their proportion of the county’s population. According to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, the disproportionate racial outcomes are not a “consequence of any biased decision-making” in his office. “A couple of times, I’ve done a data review to look at a demographic breakdown of our submittals based upon race,” Montgomery said. A review of all cases submitted to the county by Montgomery’s office found that among cases submitted to his office, the percentage of cases that involved African-American, Caucasian and Hispanic individuals remained nearly consistent with those that were filed, pled, dismissed, and sentenced by race.  “There’s no statistical difference between how cases are submitted and how cases are resolved and how they are charged,” Montgomery said. Yet consistent proportions of different racial groups across the criminal justice process do not depict that some individuals may be charged for the same offenses that others had dismissed, according to Dr. Cassia Spohn, director of Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.  Dr. Spohn also remarked that an analysis would need to compare each racial group according to specific drug crimes, such as marijuana or cocaine possession, and any analysis of sentencing outcomes needs to control for previous criminal history. If you have been charged with a felony, 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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Prosecutors Requesting Data from Defendants’ Virtual Assistants

Many people like the convenience of virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri.  Unfortunately, police and prosecutors may attempt to seize recordings from suspects’ and defendants’ virtual assistants as evidence of crimes.  The following is from “Police think Alexa may have witnessed a New Hampshire double slaying—now they want Amazon to turn her over” by Meagan Flynn, The Washington Post, November 14, 2018 https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-alexa-new-hampshire-murder-witness-20181114-story.html Prosecutors in Farmington, New Hampshire, want to use any recordings found on the defendant Timothy Verrill’s Alexa, the artificial woman who personifies the Amazon Echo virtual assistant, to see if it provides key evidence that Verrill killed Christine Sullivan and Jenna Pelligrini on January 27, 2017.  A judge has ordered Amazon to turn over any recordings the Echo device may have made from Jan. 27, the day the women were killed, until Jan. 29. In a statement to The Post, an Amazon spokesperson indicated Amazon wouldn’t be turning over the data so easily, appearing to prioritize consumer privacy as it has done in the past. “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us,” the spokesperson said. “Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.” When police arrived at the crime scene on January 29, 2017, they found blood splattered on the kitchen walls and on the refrigerator, New Hampshire State Police Sergeant Strong said. It was soaked into the mattress in the upstairs bedroom, where police believe Pellegrini was stabbed 43 times. On the night of the murder, Smoronk, the suspected drug trafficker, received a phone call from Verill in the early morning hours of Jan. 27: Verrill, Smoronk told police, was concerned Jenna Pellegrini was an informant, Foster’s Daily Democrat reported. In a matter of hours, home surveillance captured Verrill arriving at the home where in a flannel shirt and a ball cap, Strong testified during the bail hearing. Within 20 minutes, he was captured attempting to obscure the lens of three of the surveillance cameras before ultimately shutting the system down. And over the next several days prosecutors say he made a series of suspicious trips around town, according to footage by WMUR-TV. He bought cleanup products from a Walmart. He went to go see a priest, and he had “not one, but two breakdowns that take him to the hospital,” the prosecutor said. The case recalls a 2015 Arkansas murder investigation in which a woman was found dead in a backyard hot tub the morning after the man who lived there, Nate Bates, invited friends over to watch a football game. Bates was soon charged in her death and pleaded not guilty.  Police found Alexa sitting on Bates’s kitchen counter. Amazon initially resisted law enforcement’s efforts to obtain the potential relevant recordings but ultimately relented after Bates gave permission for his Amazon Echo to be searched – but it didn’t turn into the linchpin prosecutors hoped for: They dropped the charges against Bates in November 2017 after finding that the … Continue reading

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Why do Children Make False Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse?

It’s a myth that children rarely make false accusations of child sexual abuse. There are usually four factors involved when a child makes false accusations of child sexual abuse: the child, the accused, parents or other authority figures, and the child’s home environment. The child’s personality and his or her physical and mental health all have to be considered. A child may have a conduct or personality disorder where lying is a serious issue. False accusations can be a way to seek attention. A preteen or teenager may be out of control. A child’s drug or alcohol abuse can also lead to false accusations. Similarly, a child may have a physical or mental illness where his or her perception of reality is compromised. Adverse reactions to medications such as Celexa, Paxil, Zyprexa, Lithium, Ritalin, or other psychotropic medication can be a factor. The person accused also has to be considered. A child may resent or hate a parent’s new significant other or step parent so much that he or she could falsely accuse that person. An accused’s mental illness or drug or alcohol abuse may also provoke false accusations. Other immoral behavior, such as an accused’s affair, may trigger false accusations. Parents or other authority figures like teachers, doctors, therapists, and social workers can ask the child suggestive and leading questions that lead to false accusations. Therapists may intentionally cause the child to have false memories of sexual abuse. A parent who abuses drugs or alcohol or who is mentally ill may falsely believe that their child has been sexually abused by the accused and go straight to the police. The child’s home environment must also be examined. A home environment that is chaotic, unstable, and/or overcrowded may contribute to false accusations. A contentious child custody dispute may result in false accusations as one parent, usually the mother, plays the winning card of falsely accusing the father in order to obtain sole custody. Long, bitter divorce proceedings as well as prior sexual abuse within the family can contribute to false accusations. Preteens and teens may lie in order to change their living situations. If you have been charged with sex crimes against a child based on false accusations, you need an experienced defense attorney to represent you. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience representing people in these situations. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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