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West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C. is an experienced domestic violence and criminal defense law firm in Tucson, Arizona.

If you are facing criminal charges, contact the law office of West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C. online or call us for a free consultation. This article is for informational purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship.

Facing criminal charges and a long jail sentence can be life-changing and terrifying. Our team will be there with you every step of the way, to ensure that you are represented fairly and that all of your rights are protected.

While there are few one-size-fits all questions when it comes to criminal defense, below are some common myths and facts about hiring a criminal defense attorney. In a nutshell, if you are charged with a crime, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Working with experienced attorneys can make a vast difference in the outcome of your case.

If you have further questions, contact our experienced attorneys today to discuss the particulars of your case.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious offense in Arizona, with stiff penalties. A conviction for domestic violence can result in jail time and limitations on where defendants can go and what they can do.

Most domestic violence charges for first-time offenses are treated as misdemeanors. If domestic violence resulted in serious injury or a dangerous weapon was involved, however, it can be treated as a felony offense. A domestic relationship does not involve only couples.

Many relationships fall under the term ‘domestic relationship’ in domestic violence cases. This includes individuals connected through:

  • Marriage or former marriage
  • Residence in the same household
  • Having a child in common
  • Blood relatives
  • Relatives through marriage
  • Current or previous romantic or sexual relationships

If police officers have probable cause to believe that domestic violence has been committed, they can arrest the person believed to have committed the offense. They can also seize any firearm on the property. The police can also conduct a child welfare check if a minor is present. Certain factors can be considered in sentencing someone for domestic violence, including whether the victim was pregnant.

Self-defense or defense of others can be a defense to domestic violence charges. Sometimes, people fabricate claims of domestic violence. Too many domestic violence cases involve false allegations. When relationships go sour, emotions can run high. Frustrated and angry, some people falsely accuse former partners of abuse, just to keep them away. False allegations of domestic abuse can ruin lives. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the penalties involved and will fight to keep you out of jail.

Myth: Representing Myself In Court Will Get Me The Result I Want

Fact: Although you have a constitutional right to represent yourself, this is not always the best solution. Hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you will ensure that your rights are protected. Our legal team keeps abreast of all the latest developments in Arizona. We know when and where to challenge the police, the prosecutor and even the judge when he or she makes a mistake.

If you represent yourself, you will be at a disadvantage. You will not know the procedures or the players. This may result in things being on the record that should not be there. Appealing criminal convictions can take months. It’s better to put the right team together at the beginning to maximize your chances of success.

Myth: If I Am Charged With A Crime, I Will Go To Jail

Fact: Not every crime carries a jail sentence. Misdemeanors often do not carry a possibility of jail time at all. Even if you are charged with a felony, you may only receive probation, depending on the severity of the crime and your background.

You should also know that being charged with a crime is the first step on what can be a long road before conviction and sentencing. It may be several months after you have been charged with a crime before your trial date.

A lot can happen in that time. Scientific evidence can be processed that may exonerate you. Additional witnesses or even suspects may appear and change the game. At the trial, the prosecution may not have the evidence necessary to convict you. Being arrested and charged with a crime is not a guilty verdict. Having experienced attorneys fighting for you each step of the way will help in this process.

Myth: Defense Attorneys Just Want Their Clients To Take Plea Deals

Fact: This is not the case. We love to be aggressive, poking holes in police testimony and in the state’s case to find our clients not guilty on all charges.

However, there is nothing wrong with negotiating a plea bargain with the state. For example, pleading guilty could result in being charged with a lesser crime, having some charges dropped or receiving a reduced or suspended jail sentence. Sometimes, they are the right answer, but this is not always the case.

Our criminal defense team will help weigh the evidence against you to know how strong of a case the prosecution can make. We will present the pros and cons of every option available to you, so you can make the best choice for you and your family.

Myth: You Must Answer Questions From The Police

Fact: You do not have to answer any questions. You have the right to remain silent, even if you are in police custody and under arrest. Speaking with the police and answering their questions may result in you inadvertently admitting to committing a crime. Even if you are careful, you may say something that can damage your credibility.

Instead, you should remain silent and answer questions only with your attorney present.

Myth: Only Guilty People Need A Lawyer

Fact: Crime TV shows make us think that only guilty people need lawyers. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our criminal justice system has many flaws and we live in a country where many innocent people spend time in jail.

Speaking with the police or prosecution without an attorney present can lead to inadvertent admissions or inconsistencies that diminish your credibility. Instead of trying to show that you are honest and letting the chips fall where they may, you should call an attorney who specializes in criminal law as soon as you are charged with a crime. This can save you significant hassle down the road.


Do I Need A Criminal Defense Lawyer?

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime or are under investigation, you must know your rights and act to protect them immediately. Perhaps more than any other area of law, experience is crucial for an attorney representing individuals in criminal defense cases because the consequences can have a lasting impact on your life, your freedom and your future. Criminal cases can be complicated, move fast and have critical time limits. The longer your attorney has before trial, the better and stronger your defense can be.

Any person who is facing a criminal charge, no matter how minor, will benefit from consulting an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help with the negotiation of a plea bargain or to prepare a case for trial. Our Arizona criminal defense attorneys regularly provide legal advice and representation for clients in Tucson.

Attorneys at our law firm are here to represent your interests and are dedicated to defending your rights. Contact us for more information about Arizona criminal law, Arizona criminal courts and the criminal process or to discuss your criminal charges with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

When Do I Have To Talk To A Police Officer?

Many people are nervous when confronted with a police officer who is asking questions. The bottom line is that you do NOT have to answer questions from a police officer even if you are a suspect. You can simply tell the police officer that you are choosing to remain silent.

What Are My Miranda Rights?

If you are in custody or are not free to leave the location where a police officer has detained you AND the police officer is asking you questions, he or she must advise you of your Miranda rights. These rights include the right to remain silent and to get the help of an attorney before answering questions.

What Are My Speedy Trial Rights?

Normally, the prosecutor has 150 days from the time of your initial appearance to bring your case to trial. Your attorney can “waive time,” meaning that a continuance may be necessary to accomplish investigation and trial preparation. Sometimes a speedy trial is in your best interests and sometimes it is not. You need to make this decision with the help of your lawyer.

How Can I Get Out Of Jail Pending Resolution Of My Case/Trial?

At your initial appearance, the court will set release conditions. If you were arrested and taken to jail, the court will review factors about you, your criminal history if any, your community ties and the seriousness of the charges. The court then either sets a bond amount that will have to be posted, release you to an agency that will supervise you or release you on your own recognizance. If your bond is high, your attorney can file a motion to lower it or to have you released depending on the circumstances of your case.

What Are Some Of My Constitutional Rights When Charged With A Crime?

You have the right to remain silent about your charges and the underlying circumstances. You are presumed innocent until the prosecution proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to the assistance of an attorney to help you. You have the right to present evidence and to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. You have due process rights, which means that you have the right to be present at hearings and challenge all aspects of the case against you. You also have the right to an appeal if you are found guilty of a crime.

What Is A Trial?

A trial is a proceeding to determine whether you are guilty of certain crimes. Most felony criminal offenses involve a jury trial. Depending on the amount of prison time you are facing, the jury may consist of eight or 12 people. Sometimes, the parties opt for a bench trial, which is heard by a judge. The prosecutor must prove all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial. The defendant never has an obligation to present any evidence at his/her own trial, but can do so if desired.

Should I Take A Plea Agreement?

A plea agreement is a contract between the prosecutor and you that lowers the consequences you face in your case. It is a formal agreement between the prosecutor and you, with the help of your lawyer, after all factors of your case are taken into consideration. A plea agreement allows you to avoid going to trial and facing a harsher penalty. Whether a plea agreement is in your best interest depends on many variables and a thorough understanding of the applicable law in your case.

What Kind Of Sentence Am I Looking At?

The sentence depends on what you are charged with and out of which court. State court follows Arizona sentencing laws, which can be found online. Federal courts follow the federal sentencing guidelines. Some crimes involve mandatory prison time. The kind of sentence you are looking at also depends on your criminal history. It is important that you discuss the various sentence possibilities with an attorney.

What If I Am Not A U.S. Citizen?

Some criminal convictions will cause deportation if you are not a citizen. Immigration law is complex and it is important that you speak with a lawyer concerning your rights.

What If The Alleged Victim Does Not Want To Prosecute?

In most instances, if the alleged victim does not want to pursue charges against you, the prosecutor will evaluate the case to see if the charges can be proved without that person. The prosecutor does not automatically dismiss a case if a victim chooses not to go forward. The prosecutor can also require the alleged victim to come to court and testify by issuing a subpoena. If the alleged victim fails to show up, the prosecutor can ask for an arrest warrant. In other words, lack of participation by an alleged victim does not necessarily mean the state will dismiss your charges.

What If There Is A Warrant For My Arrest?

If you have failed to show up to court in the past or if you have been indicted in a criminal case, the prosecutor may have issued a warrant for your arrest. A lawyer can assist you in getting the warrant “quashed” or in helping you appear on the warrant. The judge will then evaluate your circumstances and make a decision about your release conditions.

What If I Was Coerced Into Confessing?

It can be intimidating to be interviewed by police officers. They are well-trained in ways to ask you questions that put pressure on you. However, police are not permitted to coerce you into providing information using force or undue pressure. If a confession was coerced, your attorney can ask that it be suppressed and that it not be presented at trial.

What If My House Was Searched?

Police are permitted to search your home if they have a valid search warrant and under some circumstances without a warrant. You are not required to CONSENT to a search of your home by the police. If the police ask for permission to conduct a search, you can let them know that you need to ask for the advice of an attorney before allowing it or that they need to have a warrant. If your home has already been searched, it is best to contact an attorney to discuss what to do next.

What Is The Timeline For A Criminal Case?

You have the right to a court hearing within 24 hours after an arrest if you are taken into custody. The prosecution then has 10 days to issue formal charges through a preliminary hearing or grand jury. Once an indictment is obtained, the prosecutor then has 150 days to take your matter to trial. Many people waive their speedy trial right so that they have adequate time to prepare a defense.

Whom Should I Talk To About My Case?

The only person you should talk to about your case is your attorney. There are certain privileges that also apply, which protect certain communications. For example, the marital fact privilege protects certain communications between husband and wife. If you have any concerns about who you should discuss your matter with, it is best to check with your attorney.

How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Defense Attorney?

It depends on what you are charged with and the experience level of the attorney. Keep in mind that you will want someone with experience in criminal law advising you and this often will cost more.

Do I Need A Lawyer?

If you are charged with ANY criminal offense, it is best to get the advice of an attorney. Convictions for even minor criminal offenses can have a far-reaching and unpredictable impact on other areas of your life.

Call our offices in Tucson at 520-790-7337 or contact us online.

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