Category Archives: Law Offices Gary Rohlwing

TASC Diversion Program

If you are charged with a first or second felony drug possession crime in Maricopa County, you are probably eligible for the Treatment Assessment Screening Center (TASC) diversion program.  TASC diversion gives you an opportunity to avoid having a felony conviction for drug possession. Below is more information taken directly from their website at “With an average success rate of 75 percent, a long-term study by Arizona State University indicates that participants successfully completing the TASC adult diversion program have a significantly lower rate of recidivism than non-participants. To date, more than 34,000 successful cases have been treated through TASC Diversion, saving county resources and allowing participants to avoid a felony conviction. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) offers TASC Diversion to individuals who: Face felony drug possession charge(s) Do NOT contest their guilt Would likely benefit from a community treatment program Through close communication with the MCAO, TASC’s deferred prosecution program provides programming to meet each individual’s needs. Those who voluntarily participate and successfully complete TASC Diversion will either have the case dropped with no charges filed or have the charges dismissed with prejudice.” The website then discusses their possession of marijuana and possession of a narcotic or dangerous drug programs: “POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA PROGRAM Those dealing with marijuana charges will take part in the Possession of Marijuana program for up to six months. This includes drug screening, education and counseling. 3-Hour Drug Education Seminar Clients are required to attend the drug education seminar one time. Substance Abuse Counseling If a client shows a new usage for marijuana or tests positive for any other illegal substance (including prescription drugs that are not verified with a valid prescription), the client will be referred for substance abuse counseling assessment and services (group or individual sessions). POSSESSION OF NARCOTIC OR DANGEROUS DRUGS PROGRAM Individuals enrolled in the Possession of Narcotic or Dangerous Drugs program participate for at least one year and have monthly contact with case managers. This program includes screening, education, counseling and self-help meetings. 3-Hour Drug Education Seminar Clients are required to attend the drug education seminar one time. Substance Abuse Counseling Individuals will be referred for substance abuse counseling assessment and services (group or individual sessions) while in the program. All clients must successfully complete substance abuse counseling. Self-Help/Support Group Meetings Clients must attend 12-step meetings with AA, NA, CMA or a similar organization. Meetings are held seven days a week and are free to attend. Clients are not restricted to a certain meeting (e.g., if they have a cocaine charge, the client doesn’t have to attend NA) and are encouraged to try different options until they feel comfortable with one. TASC recommends clients obtain a sponsor for additional support when needed. Monthly Contact Each person who enters the program is assigned a case manager. Throughout the duration of the program, clients are required to maintain monthly contact with case managers to discuss meeting program requirements. Depending on the client’s progress and his or her proximity to the … Continue reading

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New 2018 Arizona Criminal Laws

The Arizona Legislature adjourned on May 3, 2018. Most of the new laws they passed take effect on August 3, 2018.  The legislature created a new civil traffic violation and two new vehicular crimes. They also amended a key definition and fixed a problem for prisoners. A.R.S. §28-694 was added to make it a civil traffic violation to drive the wrong way on a controlled access highway. A person found responsible is subject to a civil penalty of five hundred dollars and must attend and successfully complete approved traffic survival school educational sessions that are designed to improve the safety and habits of drivers. The legislature also amended the aggravated driving under the influence statute, A.R.S. §28-1383, to make driving the wrong way on a highway while driving under the influence a felony.   A.R.S. §28-675 was amended to make it a Class 3 felony for a person who caused a death by use of a vehicle if his or her privilege to drive was suspended due to driving under the influence or  failure to provide proof of financial responsibility. The sentence shall be consecutive to any other sentence imposed and restitution may be ordered. The term of imprisonment for this new felony is 2 to 8.75 years.   A.R.S. §13-1401 definition of “sexual contact” was amended by adding that it “does not include direct or indirect touching or manipulating during caretaking responsibilities, or interactions with a minor or vulnerable adult that an objective, reasonable person would recognize as normal and reasonable under the circumstances.”   A.R.S. §13-717 was added to fix the problem of illusory parole. The law reads: “A.  Notwithstanding any other law, a person who was convicted of first degree murder and who was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after serving a minimum number of calendar years pursuant to a plea agreement that contained a stipulation to parole eligibility is eligible for parole after serving the minimum number of calendar years that is specified in the sentence.  If granted parole, the person shall remain on parole for the remainder of the person’s life except that the person’s parole may be revoked pursuant to section 31-415. B. This section applies to a defendant who entered into a plea agreement that stipulated to parole eligibility and who was sentenced at any time from and after January 1, 1994 and on or before the effective date of this section.” If you are charged with one of the new crimes, you need an experienced defense attorney to fight for you.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has been representing people for over 30 years. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishments.  Prisoners on death row argue that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment.  The United States Supreme Court has held that it violates the Eighth Amendment to execute prisoners who have intellectual disabilities or who committed their crimes when they were juveniles.  Prisoners also often argue that various prison punishments or conditions violate the Eighth Amendment.  Solitary confinement is a prison punishment that may one day be found to violate the Eighth Amendment. The Eighth Amendment does not give examples of cruel and unusual punishment nor does it discuss how to determine if a particular punishment is cruel and unusual.  In his concurring opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brennan discussed four guiding principles used to determine whether a punishment violates the 8th Amendment in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) “The primary principle is that a punishment must not be so severe as to be degrading to the dignity of human beings. Pain, certainly, may be a factor in the judgment. . . “  408 U.S. 238, 271. . . . More than the presence of pain, however, is comprehended in the judgment that the extreme severity of a punishment makes it degrading to the dignity of human beings. The barbaric punishments condemned by history, ‘punishments which inflict torture, such as the rack, the thumb-screw, the iron boot, the stretching of limbs, and the like,’ are, of course, ‘attended with acute pain and suffering.’ O’Neil v. Vermont, 144 U.S. 323, 339, 12 S.Ct. 693, 699, 36 L.Ed. 450 (1892) (Field, J., dissenting). When we consider why they have been condemned, however, we realize that the pain involved is not the only reason. The true significance of these punishments is that they treat members of the human race as nonhumans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded. They are thus inconsistent with the fundamental premise of the Clause that even the vilest criminal remains a human being possessed of common human dignity.  408 U.S. 238, 272-273. . . . In determining whether a punishment comports with human dignity, we are aided also by a second principle inherent in the Clause—that the State must not arbitrarily inflict a severe punishment. This principle derives from the notion that the State does not respect human dignity when, without reason, it inflicts upon some people a severe punishment that it does not inflict upon others. Indeed, the very words ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ imply condemnation of the arbitrary infliction of severe punishments. . . 408 U.S. 238, 274. . . .   A third principle inherent in the Clause is that a severe punishment must not be unacceptable to contemporary society. Rejection by society, of course, is a strong indication that a severe punishment does not comport with human dignity. In applying this principle, however, we must make certain that the judicial determination is as objective as possible.  408 U.S. 238, 277. . . . The final principle inherent in the … Continue reading

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Arizona Town Hall: Why Do People Return to Prison?

Arizona has turned its attention to re-entry and recidivism of former prisoners.  One organization that is studying the issue is Arizona Town Hall. The following is taken from “Re-Entry and Recidivism” by Kevin Wright, PhD, Criminal Justice in Arizona 2018, Arizona Town Hall Why do people return to prison?  Traditional explanations such as “crime as a choice” and “crime is all they know” don’t really get us that far.  In the summer of 2017, researchers from Arizona State University worked with incarcerated men to develop and implement a study that would ask them why they were in prison.  They completed 409 interviews in two months at the medium-security East Unit of the Arizona State Prison Complex at Florence. The report was shared with the Governor’s Office. Early in the interview, the incarcerated men were asked:  Why do you think most people come back to prison. Several themes emerged: 44% said a lack of resources or programming contributed to recidivism.  One respondent stated, “Because they are not adequately prepared for reentry into society, because they have not made successful and dedicated transformation from their old lifestyle to one that would keep them out of prison.” 27% said drug and alcohol use.  As a respondent remarked, “A lot of felons have serious drug addiction problems. . . When addicts get out, there aren’t any affordable treatment options.” The third most common theme was an inability to change thinking and behavior or resorting to comfort.  This was best captured by the respondent who said: “Lack of education, skills, and a desire to succeed. They stay in here for a long time, get complacent and [there isn’t] any real type of job training to teach them how to be successful. So, they revert back to crime (what they know) because they’re unprepared for society. … Prison isn’t much of a deterrent anymore when someone isn’t taught how to live.” Other themes that emerged included lack of a support system/mentor (16 percent), lack of education (15 percent), money issues (14 percent), stigma (14 percent), and peers, neighborhood or family environment (12 percent). 62% of the 409 men interviewed were recidivists.  Compared to first time prisoners, they were more likely to believe they had a substance abuse problem (52% to 35%) and more likely to not know where they would live upon release (31% to 17%).  They were statistically significantly more likely to report needing assistance with obtaining identification, transportation, housing, childcare, family and friend support, meals, employment, mentorship, substance abuse, healthcare and religious services. If you are a former prisoner and facing new charges, you need an experienced defense attorney to represent you.  Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience representing former prisoners facing new charges. Please call him today for a free consultation.

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Arizona Town Hall: Sentencing

Arizona is a law and order state with some of the harshest sentencing laws in the country.  Several criminal justice groups from the left and the right have taken notice. One of these groups is Arizona Town Hall.  The following is taken from “Sentencing and Incarceration” by Cassia Spohn, PhD, Criminal Justice in Arizona 2018, Arizona Town Hall   In Arizona, judges use the Arizona sentencing guidelines which are based on two factors: whether the offense is a dangerous or non-dangerous felony and whether the defendant is a first time offender or a repeat offender. Dangerous felony charges are serious, violent or aggravated offenses such as murder, aggravated assault, sexual assault, dangerous crimes against children, and armed robbery.  There are separate sentencing tables for first time offenders, offenders with one or two historical priors and offenders with prior convictions for one or more dangerous offenses. Each sentencing table has a minimum, presumptive, and maximum sentence. For repeat dangerous offenders, the sentencing table has a minimum, maximum, and increased maximum sentence. For example, a first time offender convicted of a class 2 felony dangerous offense could face a minimum sentence of seven years, a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years, or a maximum sentence of 21 years.  However, an offender convicted of a class 2 felony dangerous offense who had previously been convicted of two or more class 2 dangerous offenses would be facing a minimum sentence of 21 years, a presumptive sentence of 28 years, or a maximum sentence of 35 years. Offenders convicted of non-dangerous felonies are somewhat different. Although these offenses are also categorized by the class of offense and by the offender’s criminal history, the sentencing tables provide a mitigated and aggravated sentence in addition to the minimum, presumptive and maximum sentences. As an example, a first time offender convicted of a non-dangerous class 2 felony would be facing a minimum sentence of four years, a presumptive sentence of five years, or a maximum sentence of 10 years.  If the judge finds at least two mitigating factors, like the defendant’s youth or the defendant played a minor role in the crime, the judge can reduce the sentence below the minimum sentence. Similarly, if there are at least two aggravating factors, such as the defendant had an accomplice or the crime was committed in a heinous, cruel or depraved manner, the judge can increase the sentence above the recommended maximum sentence. Moreover, all first-time, non-dangerous felony offenders are eligible for probation. The author wrote: “Arizona has a “truth-in-sentencing” statute. Passed in 1993, the statute requires that offenders serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed by the judge before being eligible for discretionary release. According to The Sentencing Project, Arizona’s incarceration rate is the forth-highest in the United States. In 2016 it was 585 per 100,000 population, compared to a rate of 450 per 100,000 for the United States as a whole. There were 40,952 persons imprisoned in Arizona in 2015, including 1,685 (3.9 percent of the prison population) … Continue reading

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