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Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney & DUI Lawyer Blog

Guide to Domestic Violence in Arizona

In 1994, Congress passed a federal law called the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), establishing that violence against women is a criminal offense to be treated as a national priority. Domestic violence is defined in Arizona as any criminal act by one family or household member against another. While not every act of domestic violence is violent, they can include any kind of physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse toward a victim. Unfortunately, domestic violence in Arizona affects all races, religions, and cultures.

Domestic Violence in the United States

Over 3 million domestic violence incidents happy every year in the United States. This translates to a domestic violence incident every nine seconds. Even more shocking is that approximately 4,000 victims of domestic violence are killed each year in the United States. Statistics reveal that up to one-fourth of all domestic relationships have included some form of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence Acts in Arizona

Arizona Revised Statute Title 13 – Criminal Code Statute 13-3601 addresses and criminalizes domestic violence in Arizona. According to the statute, the very long list of domestic violence acts between and among household members that can be charged in Arizona include:

  • physical assault;
  • threatening words or conduct;
  • Intimidation in any way;
  • harassment or stalking by phone and in-person;
  • photographing, recording or watching another person without consent in a private place;
  • threatening or causing endangerment;
  • unlawful imprisonment and holding someone against their will;
  • kidnapping;
  • criminal trespassing;
  • criminal damages;
  • willfully disobeying a court order;
  • child custodial interference;
  • criminal acts such as: negligent homicide, manslaughter, and murder;
  • preventing a person from using a telephone in an emergency;
  • certain crimes against children; and/disorderly conduct.

Domestic Violence Charges

If domestic violence charges are brought against a person, the decision rests and remains solely in the hands of the Arizona district attorney and victims can have no recourse if a prosecutor fails to bring charges in a domestic violence case. On the other side, if a victim tells the prosecutor they wish to drop charges, a prosecutor will not dismiss a case if they believe domestic violence offenses occurred. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, contacting a domestic violence attorney can help you understand your rights.

Your Safety is Paramount

Above all else, seek safety if you find yourself the victim of domestic violence in Arizona. Find shelter for you, and your children as soon as possible. our safety is the most important issue in a domestic violence situation. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you may consider filing a protective order against your abuser. Arizona offers two types of restraining or protection orders — Emergency Orders of Protection and Permanent Orders of Protection. Contacting an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer can help you understand your rights, and if a protective order would help ensure your safety.

Consider Working with Arja Shah Law

Our firm’s founder, Arja Shah, is an experienced domestic violence defense lawyer and advocate for domestic violence victims, with offices in Phoenix, AZ. Clients appreciate her strong advocacy in the courtroom with a client-centered approach to service. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, you can discuss your case with Ms. Shah at (602) 888-0369 or by filling out the law firm’s online form.

Minor in Possession of Alcohol or Drugs in Arizona

The State of Arizona has passed strict laws that make it illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume or possess any alcoholic beverages. Even holding an unopened alcoholic beverage if you are minor is illegal and can be considered a misdemeanor. These Minor in Possession (MIP) laws are serious and if convicted, these charges are considered a criminal offense. A minor can be arrested, charged, and convicted of a Minor in Possession and receive jail time and have a permanent criminal record. Contacting an experienced defense attorney can help you determine how to best proceed with your case, and help you understand your rights.

Arizona Minor in Possession Statutes

The Minor in Possession statute in Arizona are as follows:

  • ARS 4-241L : If you have a fake ID and purchase alcohol under the age of 21 in Arizona, you will be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties include fines up to $2,500, revocation of driver’s license for up to six months or 180 days, and jail time of up to six months.
  • ARS 4-241M : If you are under the age of 21 and someone purchases, sells or even gives alcohol to you then you will be charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor. Penalties include fines up to $500, potential loss of driver’s license for 6 months, and possible jail time of up to six months.
  • ARS 4-241N : If you under the age of 21 and use a fake ID to get into a bar or other establishment that requires all patrons to be over the age of 21, then you will be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties include fines up to $2,500, suspended driver’s license for up to six months, and jail time of up to six months.

Additionally, if a minor consume alcohol in a public place, he or she can be charged with a Minor in Consumption (MIC) ticket that can result in sanctions, one year of probation and community service.

Possible Defense Against a Minor in Possession Charge

An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to defend against the charge of underage drinking for either Minor in Possession or Minor in Consumption in Arizona. Depending on the facts and circumstances specific to your particular case, an attorney may be able to build a strong case to attempt to request community service or classes, instead of heavy fines or jail time. Additional defenses against Minor in Possession or Minor in Consumption can include situations that involve a minor using alcohol for medicinal purposes or religious ceremonies. However, the state of Arizona considers Minor in Possession and Minor in Consumption as serious criminal offenses. These charges should not be taken lightly, as the state of Arizona typically takes a zero-tolerance policy regarding minors involved with alcohol.

Contact a DUI Lawyer Today

If you are facing Minor in Possession or Minor in Consumption charges, contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible to help you understand your legal rights. Our firm’s founder, Arja Shah, is a leading defense lawyer in Phoenix, AZ. Her aggressive representation and client services set our firm apart from the rest. You can discuss your case with us by calling (602) 888-0369 or by sending a message through the firm’s request form today.

What You Should Know About Arizona’s Super Extreme DUI

In 2006, Arizona had the sixth-highest count of fatalities resulting from driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. The state addressed the issue by placing more stringent penalties on individuals with DUI charges that were particularly troublesome. One way they accomplished this strategy was through the introduction of the ‘super extreme’ DUI offender class.
The severe nature of these charges increases fines and jail time for a convicted defendant. Do not leave your case to chance or inexperienced counsel. Discuss your options with a super extreme DUI lawyer in Phoenix, AZ today.
In the meantime, you may find the information below about super extreme DUIs to be helpful.

How is a Super Extreme DUI Different than a Regular DUI?

Police officers assess your level of impairment by measure your blood alcohol content (BAC). Results above .08% indicate to the responding officer that you are driving while under the influence and should be arrested for DUI. Penalties for a regular DUI conviction include up to 180 days in jail, fines, and a 90-day license suspension.

Extreme DUI vs. Super Extreme DUI in Arizona

The State of Arizona can charge you with an extreme DUI if your BAC is between .150 to .199. The minimum required jail time for this type of conviction is 30 days. Penalties increase sharply, as well.

Penalties and Fines

Individuals who have a BAC higher than .20% face super extreme DUI charges. In this scenario, a convicted person spends a minimum of 45 days in jail. Fines increase steeply, and you cannot serve any of your time by completing a treatment program.

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

In addition to hefty fines and mandatory jail sentences, there are other hurdles that super extreme DUIs bring to the table. For example, you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle.
In short, you blow into the device that checks your BAC for the presence of alcohol before the vehicle can start. You can expect to pay between $100-$200 for the device installation as well as pay a monthly subscription fee of $100 on top of that.
Most IIDs remain in the vehicle for 18 to 24 months. Maintaining the IID alone costs around $2,500 in addition to court costs, attorneys’ fees, fines, and other restitution as allowable by law.

Discussing Your Case with a Super Extreme DUI Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ

It is intimidating to face the courtroom alone when you have been charged with super extreme DUI in Arizona. You might even have a defensible case that can result in dropped or reduced charges. Access to justice does not have to be for a privileged few.

Schedule a Consultation with an Attorney

Discuss your case with Shah Law Firm, PLLC. The firm’s founder, Arja Shah, is a leading super extreme DUI lawyer in Phoenix, AZ, known for her aggressive and thorough disposition in court. You can learn more about your options by calling (602) 888-0369 or by sending a message through the firm’s request form.

Penalties for Domestic Violence and Disorderly Conduct Convictions in Arizona

Domestic violence is not an explicitly codified crime in Arizona. Instead, it is a term used to describe the nature of the relationship between the parties. Arrests related to domestic violence typically include assault, battery, or disorderly conduct charges.

Disorderly conduct occurs when an individual ‘disturbs the peace,’ and these charges can run concurrently with each other. If law enforcement arrested you for domestic violence disorderly conduct, you might find it helpful to discuss the details of your case with a domestic violence defense lawyer in Phoenix, AZ.

Disorderly Conduct Penalties in Arizona

We previously defined disorderly conduct above as a disruption to public peace and enjoyment. Within the context of domestic violence, this type of behavior affects neighbors and family members. Examples of disturbing the peace may include:

  • Fighting or engaging in violent acts
  • Using abusive language or gestures to provoke others
  • Making noise that is unreasonably loud
  • Interfering with lawful gatherings or meetings
  • Failing to follow public safety orders
  • Recklessly handling or discharging a deadly weapon

Arizona classifies disorderly conduct as a class 1 misdemeanor. The only exception to this rule pertains to deadly weapon discharges. In this case, the charges become a class 6 felony.

Class 1 misdemeanor convictions may result in jail time of up to six months, a fine of up to $2,500, and up to three years of probation. Additional penalties may include mandatory counseling depending upon the circumstances of your case.

The Application of Disorderly Conduct to Domestic Violence

Let us take a closer look at how disorderly conduct charges apply to domestic violence allegations. Arizona courts can use the domestic violence context for pending charges as long as the involved parties are:

  • Married or share children
  • Pregnant with the alleged abuser’s baby
  • In a sexual or romantic relationship
  • Related biologically or by law
  • Minor-aged dependents

Disorderly conduct charges related to domestic violence can increase the penalties associated with other charges if any. Courts may require you to leave the residence or issue a restraining against you at the request of your accuser.

Discussing Your Case with a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer in Phoenix, AZ

It is critical for you to remember that pending charges do not mean that you are guilty. It just means that the State of Arizona believes it has enough evidence against you to prosecute your case. If you follow any form of media, you know how often state and county prosecutors are unable to convict people of the charges against them for several reasons.
One reason for dismissed or reduced charges lies within your ability to defend and argue your case. Hire a licensed Arizona criminal defense attorney to handle this aspect for you. He or she has the knowledge, training, and experience to offer you the best defense possible.

Consider Working with Arja Shah Law

Our firm’s founder, Arja Shah, is an aggressive criminal defense lawyer with offices in downtown Phoenix and serving clients in all of Arizona. Clients appreciate her strong advocacy in the courtroom with a client-centered approach to service. You can discuss your case directly with attorney Arja Shah by calling (602) 888-0369 or by sending her a message through the firm’s free attorney consultation request form.

Defending an Aggravated DUI in Arizona

The penalties resulting from an aggravated DUI charge in Arizona can be severe. That is why it is essential that you consider several possible defenses to your case. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty.

If you have been charged with an aggravated DUI, consider seeking the legal counsel of an experienced and licensed criminal defenselawyer in Arizona. He or she can provide the best defense possible for you in court.

Here are a few defenses that you may want to use in your case:

1. Probable Cause Did Not Exist.

The responding officer must have probable cause to pull you over and arrest you. Probable cause is a term that means the officer had a valid reason to take either of those actions. Without it, the state may lack sufficient admissible evidence to prove its case against you.

2. You Were Not Read Your Miranda Rights.

Upon arrest, the officer is required to read you your Miranda Rights. These rights let you know what your personal rights are during the time you are in custody. Failure to read them to you is a possible defense in your case since it is a civil rights violation. This means the proper arrest procedures were not followed and may have invalidated the arrest.

3. You Were Not Given Proper Warning Regarding Chemical Tests.

Refusal to take a chemical or breathalyzer test is a violation in Arizona. The arresting officer is required to inform you of the consequences of not providing a sample. The tests might not be admissible in court if you were not properly warned in the first place.

4. The Chemical or Breath Tests Were Administered Improperly.

Chemical and breathalyzer tests are devices that law enforcement uses to determine if you have drugs or alcohol in your system, causing unlawful impairment. However, these tests must be administered properly using functioning, calibrated machines. Being able to prove either of these two instances may be able to demonstrate that the DUI tests should be thrown out of court.

5. Challenging the Accuracy of the Test Results

There are too many variables when it comes to administering chemical or breath tests in proving an aggravated DUI against you. These variables can lead to inaccurate results. Your defense attorney may call upon the testimony of a forensic analyst to determine the validity of the test’s administration and how the results were read.

Consider Hiring an Arizona Aggravated DUI Lawyer

Aggravated DUI defenses are difficult to prove. However, it is not impossible to manage under the representation of a skilled attorney licensed to practice in Arizona. He or she may be able to get your charges dropped or reduced. If that is not possible, then at least you are assured that your rights are not being violated during the process.

Consider working with Arja Shah Law. The firm’s founder, Arja Shah, is a leading aggravated DUIlawyer in Phoenix, AZ, known for her bold, yet client-centered, approach. You can discuss your case with Attorney Shah by calling (602) 888-0369 or by sending her a message through the firm’s requestform.

Penalties for Getting a DUI in Arizona

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense under Arizona law, and it carries significant legal consequences. Plus, DUI sentencing can vary by judge and prosecution teams in the end. Working with an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer can make the process less intimidating and ensure your rights are protected.

What is a DUI?

WHen you are accused of a DUI, you are being accused of driving under the influence. During a traffic stop, police officers actively look for signs of intoxication. Sometimes, drivers are arrested for a DUI even if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below the technical limit.

DUI Penalties for Minors and Adults

Arizona law specifies that individuals under the age of 21 are “minors.” Minors are not allowed to drive with any amount of alcohol in their blood. First-time offenders face:

  • Steep fines,
  • Rigorous probation,
  • Loss of driver’s license,
  • Community service, and
  • The installation of an ignition interlock device

Penalties for driving under the influence have grown increasingly harsher over the past few years. However, the most critical elements considered during sentencing are the number of previous offenses along with your BAC at the time of the arrest.

First Offense DUI

Your first DUI offense may carry a fine of at least $1,480 and at least 10 days in jail with up to nine days suspended. Courts require you to install an ignition interlock between six months and one year.

Second Offense DUI

Your second offense may carry a fine DUI fine of at least $3,000 and at least 90 days in jail. A judge can suspend up to 30 days if you complete drug screening and treatment thresholds. Courts require you to install an ignition interlock for one year.

Third Offense or Greater DUI

A third DUI offense, within seven years of your last, is a felony in Arizona. Your third offense may carry a fine DUI fine of at least $4,000 and at least 120 days in jail. Courts require you to install an ignition interlock for at least two years.

Penalties for Not Complying with Sobriety Tests

Licensed drivers in Arizona have submitted to “implied consent.” The term means that you have already given your permission to testing by merely holding a drivers’ license. In other words, if a police officer reasonably presumes you are driving while impaired, you must submit to a blood test or breathalyzer test to determine your BAC.

It also means that you can lose your license for refusing to comply with testing. This suspension is entirely separate from the criminal part of a DWI case, but it can increase your drunk driving penalties of a license suspension for up to twoyears.

Ask for an Arizona DUI Lawyer

Going to jail for DUI charges in Arizona does not mean you are guilty. You still have rights. Exercise your right to an attorney by asking for one immediately upon arrest.

Our Arizona DUIlawyers are ready to assist you. You can call our office (602) 888-0369 or by emailhere to request a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case. We look forward to serving you and your family.

Types Of Domestic Violence: What Defendants Should Know

Types Of Domestic Violence: What Defendants Should Know

Sexual violence includes physical violations consisting of pushing sexual contact, rape, and prostitution, in addition to any unwanted sexual advances consisting of dealing with somebody in a sexually demeaning way or other conduct of a sexual nature, whether physical, spoken, or non-verbal. Sexual assault likewise consists of actions that restrict reproductive rights, such as avoiding use of contraceptive approaches and requiring abortion.

Mental abuse is typically identified as intimidation and seclusion. Examples consist of instilling worry in an intimate partner through threatening habits, such as a harmful home or abusing family pets or managing exactly what the victim does and who they talk with. Spiritual abuse might also be considered a kind of mental abuse. It includes the abuse of spiritual or religions to control or put in power and control over an intimate partner (i.e., utilizing bible to validate abuse or raising the kids in a faith or spiritual practice the partner has actually not consented to).

Not all types of domestic violence are criminalized and, in fact, drafters of legislation are motivated to think about restricting intervention to cases including physical and sexual violence, the danger of such violence, and severe acts of coercive control from which the victim can not quickly leave. While some nations consider mental and financial abuse in criminal law, doing so can develop a danger that violent abusers will control the system to impose actions versus their partner or to validate physical violence as a proper reaction to their partner’s insults.

Batterers utilize a wide variety of coercive and violent habits when dealing with their victims. A few of the violent habits utilized by batterers lead to physical injuries. Other methods used by batterers include mentally violent habits. While these habits might not lead to physical injuries, they are still emotionally harming to the victim.

Batterers utilize various violent habits at various times. Even a single occurrence of physical violence or the risk of such violence might suffice to develop power and control over a partner; this power and control is then enhanced by non-physical violent and coercive habits. A diagram called the “Power and Control Wheel,” determines the different habits that are utilized by batterers to get power and control over their victims. The wheel shows the relationship in between physical and sexual violence and the strategies of intimidation, browbeating, and control that are typically utilized by batterers. The Power and Control Wheel is offered in lots of languages.

Economic abuse includes making or trying to make the victim economically depending on the abuser. Examples of financial abuse consist of avoiding or prohibiting an intimate partner from working or acquiring an education, managing all funds, and withholding access to financial resources.

Psychological abuse includes weakening a person’s sense of self-regard. Examples of psychological abuse consist of continuous criticism, name-calling, and being dealt with like a servant.

The different kinds of domestic violence can consist of physical violence, sexual violence, financial control, mental attack (consisting of risks of violence and physical damage, attacks versus residential or commercial property or family pets and other acts of intimidation, psychological abuse, seclusion, and use of the kids as a means of control), and psychological abuse.

Physical violence includes making use of physical force versus another. Examples consist of striking, pushing, biting, limiting, shaking, choking, burning, requiring drug/alcohol usage, and attack with a weapon, and so on. Physical violence might or might not lead to an injury that needs medical attention.

Since they take place in intimate relationships, lots of abuse is not acknowledged as violence– by the law or by victims. In lots of locations throughout the world, marital rape is not deemed sexual assault since a spouse is considered to have a right of sexual access to his spouse.

When is a DUI Considered a Felony?

To be caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over the legal limit is a grave legal problem that can have extremely severe consequences. However, in most cases, a first time DUI charge is still a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor offense is a crime for which the maximum jail sentence is less than one year. This is less serious than a felony offense, for which the maximum jail sentence can exceed one year.

DUI charges can and do become felony offenses, depending on the circumstances of the case. In many states, a DUI is only considered a misdemeanor offense, with even a single additional charge turning it into a felony offense. There are a number of additional circumstances and aggravating factors which can turn a first time DUI offense into a felony charge.

DUI Aggravating Factors

Drunken driving laws vary from state to state, but these are some circumstances which can compound the legal issues in a drunken driving case anywhere in the United States. These issues are listed below:

Prior DUI conviction – In any state in the USA, penalties are greater for a drunk driver with a prior DUI conviction. In most states, there is a time window during which a DUI remains on the perpetrators criminal record, which can be 5 to 10 years, depending on the laws of that state.

Exceptionally high BAC – Certain states have begun to increase the penalties for drivers who have comparatively high blood alcohol concentration levels when compared to other DUI cases. Some states place enhanced penalties on drivers with a BAC of 0.15 or more while other states begin enhanced penalties on a BAC level of 0.20 or more.

Refusal to take a breath test – Refusing to take a breath test can increase your legal penalties in most states. In some states, refusing to take a breath test can result in immediate revocation of your driver’s license. In other states, refusing to take the breath test itself is a crime with mandatory jail time.

However, as of July 2016, the police can no longer demand a urine or blood test without a warrant, as ruled by the United States Supreme Court.

Child endangerment – In most states, having a child with you in the car while you are driving with a BAC over the legal limit can increase the DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony charge. This can happen even if it is your own child and he or she is in the car of their own free will. In most states, this charge applies to persons under the age of 18. In some states, having a person under the age of 14 with you in the car can have even greater penalties.

Bodily injury, death or property damage – Infringing on someone else’s right to safety or damaging their property can increase the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. Injuring another person can bring about other charges such as reckless endangerment, and that persons death can result in a charge of reckless homicide.

Apart from the above mentioned points, there are other circumstances that can result in an immediate increase in penalties including not having a valid driver’s license, being on probation for another crime, not having an interlock ignition device on the car or having multiple previous convictions. Whatever your case, make sure you contact a DUI defense attorney right away to have the charges reduced or dismissed.

Drug Possession Classes

Possession of illegal narcotics and mind altering substances is a crime throughout the United States. However, all drug crimes are not the same, and the classification of drug crimes and the penalties for drug crimes vary depending on the drugs in question, the quantities of said drugs and whether or not the offender was involved in a conspiracy to distribute the said drugs for commercial gain.

Possession of paraphernalia used for the manufacture, preparation or consumption of illegal drugs can also result in a possession charge. Paraphernalia in this regard can refer to bongs, syringes, rolling papers and a variety of pipes among other items.

Drug Possession (for personal use)

According to the Controlled Substances Act 1984, if it is proven in court that someone is guilty of any of the following offenses, they can be convicted of a simple possession offense. These are:

  • To have possession of a controlled drug
  • To smoke, consume or administer to him or herself, or to allow another person to administer to them, a controlled drug
  • To have possession of any piece of equipment for use in connection with the smoking, consumption or administration of a controlled drug
  • To have possession of any piece of equipment for use in connection with the preparation of a controlled drug for smoking, consumption or administration

Maximum penalties for a simple possession offense are $2000 in fines or imprisonment for two years or both for drugs other than cannabis. For cannabis, the penalties can depend greatly on the state, since attitudes about marijuana and the legal status of the drug is changing around the country these days.

Drug Possession (with intent to distribute)

An individual cannot be charged with possession with intent to distribute unless the possession and the intent to distribute have occurred at the same time. So, if an individual is only in possession of a small amount of an illicit substance that cannot be of any viable commercial value, but is more likely to have been kept for personal use, then that person cannot be charged with intent to distribute.

Similarly, if a person or group of persons have a conspiracy to acquire drugs to sell to make a commercial profit, but have not yet acquired the drugs in question, they cannot be charged with possession (with intent to distribute). However, they can be charged with the crimes of conspiracy to possess and attempt to possess, depending on the circumstances.

Drug possession for sale is usually charged as a felony offense. The specific penalties can vary depending on the state where the crime is charged, the previous criminal record of the accused and any evidence that the accused has ever sought treatment for a drug abuse problem. In some states, possession with intent to sell schedule II drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine, can lead to sentences of 2 to 4 years in a federal prison and fines of up to $50,000. In certain states, the occurrences of certain aggravating factors, like previous drug offenses or the illegal possession of firearms at the time of arrest, can lead to sentences of up to 40 years in prison.

Assault Charges What Happens

An assault charge is a grave legal predicament. To be convicted of assault in the United States can result in stark penalties such as jail time, probation and heavy fines. The laws regarding assault vary from state to state but the general definition of assault across the United States is any act that seeks to cause bodily or mental harm to another person without their consent. There is a common misconception that physical contact is necessary for an assault conviction. However, even gestures and verbal threats can constitute as assault.

Types of Assault Charges

Assault charges can vary depending on the type and severity of the violation the victim claims to suffer.

Simple Assault – Any injuries sustained from the assault are minor and no weapon was used to commit it

Verbal Assault – Oral and non-physical in nature, resulting in fear, distress or emotional anguish

Sexual Assault – Sodomy, molestation, rape or any other kind of sexual offense or act committed without the victims consent

Aggravated Assault – Use of force against another individual as well as use of a weapon

Physical Assault – A serious physical attack on someone resulting in grievous bodily harm

Felonious Assault – Considered to be the most serious of all assault charges, it can include the use of a weapon, an assault that results in serious bodily harm and exercising force over another person against their will

Know Your Rights

When you have been accused of assault, it is necessary that you understand how serious your situation is and act appropriately. Your best bet would be to understand your legal rights in the given situation and act in a way that will maximize the utility that you can get from those rights.

  •  You have the right to secure the services of a qualified and professional attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to be defended by a lawyer paid for by the state.
  • You have the right to remain silent when questioned by the police. It is always better to exercise this right if your lawyer is not present. If you are arrested by the police right after the assault charge has been placed, and you are taken to the police station, it is always better to stay quiet until your attorney arrives. Anything you say to the police can be misconstrued to improve the chances of your conviction. An experienced lawyer will know this and will know what kind of language to use when talking to the police to minimize the risk of this happening.
  • You have a right to present your own witnesses. This is an important right and can steer the outcome of the accusation in your favor. It is best for you to start compiling a list of potential witnesses as soon as you know you have been charged with assault.
  • If you have been accused of sexual assault, you have the right to scientific testing which can disprove the allegations made against you.

Shoplifting What Happens in Court

Most people who find themselves in trouble for crimes like shoplifting or petty theft often think that the item they are stealing is of too little value to land them in big trouble. However, the consequences of illegally taking something that is not yours can still result in significant penalties. Depending on the value of the item shoplifted and the circumstances surrounding the theft, a petty shoplifting crime can still result in a jail sentence for up to one year and up to $2000 in financial penalties.

How to proceed in a shoplifting case?

There is no standardized way to predict a shoplifting case because the value of what was stolen could be very little, like a piece of candy, but it could also be very large, like a piece of expensive jewelry. Shoplifting laws also vary greatly from state to state. Since the nature of shoplifting cases see so much variation and are generally complicated, if you find yourself charged with shoplifting, your first course of action should be to hire an experienced and reliable criminal defense attorney.

Your attorney will most likely proceed by asking you a series of questions to gain an overview about the case at hand. You should answer all these questions as truthfully as you can so your attorney can help you. These questions will most likely be:

  • What is the value of the item or items you stole?
  • Were you intoxicated when the incident occurred?
  • Are the items you stole related to a substance abuse problem?
  • Was someone else involved in the plan to commit the theft? How many people were they? Were they minors? People with developmental disabilities or elderly?
  • Is there any video or audio evidence of the crime?
  • What is your criminal history?

Severity of shoplifting charges

In the same way as other theft or larceny related charges, the severity of shoplifting charges depends on the value of the items stolen and the items themselves. Certain items like firearms, explosives, incendiary substances, large quantities of a controlled substance (such as prescription drugs with a potential for abuse like Adderall or Oxycodone) or materials used in the manufacture of a controlled substance can lead to more severe penalties.

In most states, the spectrum of shoplifting charges runs from a low level ‘infraction,’ to a ‘misdemeanor,’ and in certain cases, even to certain degrees of ‘felony’ charges.

Where the charges against you will lie depends on your previous criminal record. Prior convictions and prior theft convictions in particular will generally make the charges against you harsher. In certain states, prior theft convictions result in more severe charges automatically. These can even be felony charges known as “petty with a prior.”

If your crime is relatively insignificant, for example if you have stolen a small perishable food item worth less than $20 and it’s the first crime on your criminal record, but the state does not want to drop the charges completely, you may have the option to participate in a pretrial diversion program or deferred prosecution. This is a type of plea bargain in which you will be required to pay a fine and most likely also complete community service.

If you are facing a shoplifting charge, get in touch with a criminal defense attorney immediately to defend your case and protect your rights. Taking the matter lightly will only complicate the issue and result in an increase in the penalties.

Contact Arja Today to Learn How She Can Help You!

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