Criminal Charges

Exactly How Serious is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Degree Money Laundering Charge?

In the most general terms, money laundering is a type of financial scheme in which a person takes steps to gain money via a criminal act. While this may seem pretty cut and dry, it’s actually a bit more complex than that.  The state of Arizona recognizes three different degrees of money laundering. While all three degrees of money laundering are felony charges, each degree carries its own unique penalties. Read on for the details of each degree of this particular crime and what you can expect when accused in Arizona.

A Closer Look at Money Laundering

Before we explore the three degrees of money laundering in AZ, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of what the process of this crime actually looks like. In a typical money laundering case, a launderer will first acquire money via illegal activity. From here, he or she will put the money through some type of scheme in order to cover up the criminal activity, often through what is known as a “front” business. Finally, the money is returned to the launderer as “clean” (hence being “laundered”) so that he or she can spend the money. Money laundering is considered to be one of the most serious types of white collar crimes. If you have been accused of money laundering, it’s important that you talk to an expert at Schill Law Group right away.

Money Laundering in the Third Degree

Let’s begin with the degree of money laundering that carries the least severe punishments. If you have been accused of third-degree money laundering, it means that prosecutors believe that you took part in the process of transmitting money within a laundering scheme. Although it is the lowest degree of money laundering, those convicted may face up to six years in prison for a first offense. Third-degree money laundering is a Class 6 felony in Arizona.

Money Laundering in the Second Degree

Moving one level up from third-degree money laundering is a second-degree launderer, who is accused of having an ongoing interest in, transacting, transferring, transporting, or receiving and concealing the existence of monies acquired through criminal activity or racketeering. This includes the process of providing false information to the government. Second-degree money laundering is a Class 3 felony and carries a penalty of 8.75 years in prison for first-time offenders.

Money Laundering in the First Degree

Finally, there’s the most serious type of money laundering in Arizona. In first-degree laundering, an individual is accused of knowingly initiating, organizing, directing, or managing a scheme designed to launder money. This means that the individual has played the most active role in the money laundering scheme. As a Class 2 felony, first-time offenders will face 12.5 years in prison.

Building a Defense Against Money Laundering Charges

If you have been accused of money laundering, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel immediately. Regardless of the degree of money laundering that you are being investigated for, the charges are very serious and require serious legal defense. It’s in your best interest to avoid answering any questions or disclosing any information about your case to anyone but a reputable criminal defense attorney with the knowledge and experience required to understand the sensitive nature of these charges.

It’s important, too, to understand that the above-mentioned penalties for the three degrees of money laundering pertain only to first-time offenses. Because those with prior charges may face even harsher consequences, it’s absolutely critical that you have a reliable lawyer on your team.

If you or a loved one has been accused of money laundering in the first, second, or third degree, it’s time to talk to the experts at Schill Law Group. Give us a call to schedule a free case evaluation today.

Your Guide to Arizona Domestic Violence Law

Domestic violence is one of the most misunderstood aspects of Arizona criminal law. While domestic violence cases are, unfortunately, rather common throughout the state, many Arizonans are unclear about what domestic violence actually is and carry numerous misconceptions about it. In order to clear the air, we have dedicated this post to debunking some of the most prevalent myths about Arizona domestic violence by exploring the facts.

Myth: Only women can be victims of AZ domestic violence.

Fact: While many people believe that women are the sole victims of domestic violence, this is simply not the case. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have been subject to some form of physical violence by a partner. Schill Law Group has defended both men and women in Arizona domestic violence cases.

Myth: Domestic violence isn’t very common.

Fact: The NCADV states that domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime, and that, on average, domestic violence hotlines receive 21K calls per day. While that may seem like a lot, and any amount of domestic violence should be considered a cause for concern, its prevalence is often greatly exaggerated.

Myth: If my significant other chooses not to prosecute, the State won’t be able to charge me with a domestic violence crime.

Fact: In the state of Arizona, the decision regarding whether or not to arrest an individual and charge him or her with a domestic violence crime is solely up to the discretion of the police and prosecutors. The State will certainly consider the opinions and feelings of an alleged victim, but charges can still be filed, even when an alleged victim has requested that no one be charged.

Myth: If the alleged victim refuses to appear in court, the case will be dropped.

Fact: The State of Arizona is able to serve an alleged victim with a subpoena that orders them to appear in court – even if he or she does not want to offer testimony against you.

Myth: I can’t be prosecuted for domestic violence because I didn’t actually touch anyone.

Fact: Domestic violence is a term that can apply to a wide range of criminal activities. The basis for a domestic violence charge is the relationship between the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim. While accusations of violence, like assault, are frequently connected to domestic violence charges, other charges such as criminal trespassing or disorderly conduct could also result in a domestic violence charge, even if no physical contact occurred.

Myth: AZ Domestic violence charges are always classified as misdemeanor offenses.

Fact: In Arizona, felony offenses can frequently be charged as domestic violence offenses, like aggravated assault. In some cases, a defendant may be charged with a felony for a misdemeanor act in domestic violence cases. Known as Aggravated Domestic Violence, this charge may be issued if an individual has already been convicted of two previous domestic violence offenses within the past seven years.

Myth: Misdemeanor domestic violence charges carry the same penalty as all other misdemeanor offenses.

Fact: Even a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence will carry an additional penalty that is typically only applied to felony cases. After being convicted of a domestic violence offense that involves physical force (or the threat of physical force), or the use of a weapon, the convicted person will no longer be legally allowed to possess a firearm.

Understanding the truth about domestic violence and AZ law surrounding it allows you to better prepare yourself for your case. If accused of a domestic violence offense, it’s extremely important that you hire an experienced attorney right away. Schill Law Group has acted as the defense for numerous domestic violence cases and understands how to best present your side of the story, protect your rights, and defend you in court. Give us a call to get started today.

Can I Get My Arizona Felony Charge Reduced to a Misdemeanor?

Having a felony charge on your record can feel like the end of the world. Many Arizona employers have policies that prohibit them from making a hire should a felony turn up on a background check, and it can even become impossible for ex-felons to obtain certain professional licenses. In addition to this, those with felonies on their records are ineligible to own a gun or to serve on juries. On top of everything else, you may find it difficult to secure housing or to be granted bank loans. The list of potential problems could go on and on.

Fortunately, there is hope for you if you have previously been convicted on a felony charge. By working with the aggressive and experienced team at Schill Law Group, you may have the ability to knock your felony charge down to a misdemeanor. In the state of Arizona, certain felony charges are eligible for being reduced to a misdemeanor, thus enabling you to move forward with your goals and dreams for your life.

Class VI Undesignated Felonies

In Arizona, felonies fall under one of six different classes, with a Class VI (6) felony being the lowest level offense. This particular class of felony can be reduced to a misdemeanor. This is because a Class VI Undesignated felony carries the implication that your offense could result in either a felony or a misdemeanor on your final record. Until you have successfully met the terms of your probation, the charge will be treated as a felony. After this time, you can request that the felony be  reduced to, or “designated,” as a misdemeanor. This, of course, requires the careful negotiation of a plea agreement at the time of sentencing.

Negotiating a Class VI Undesignated Felony

If you or a loved one is facing a felony charge, the idea of taking a plea agreement for an undesignated felony may initially seem like a bad idea. In situations where there is insufficient evidence to exonerate yourself and could face a more serious conviction from a jury and/or judge, however, accepting a Class VI charge could be in your best interest. It’s crucial that you have a skillful criminal defense attorney on your team who knows when it’s best to accept this type of plea agreement, and who will have the ability to fight for a reduction to a misdemeanor down the road. Your attorney should also be able to negotiate the terms of your probation, thus helping you to avoid situations where the terms are too difficult for you to meet or are unreasonable.

It should be noted that those with prior felony convictions are not typically eligible for a plea agreement. Consequently, you may find it more difficult to obtain a Class VI felony charge or to have it later reduced to a misdemeanor. Again, it’s imperative that you seek out excellent legal representation for your case.

Other Methods for Having a Felony Reduced to a Misdemeanor

Plea agreements involving a Class VI felony are the most common ways to have a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor in Arizona. Even so, it’s not the only way to clean up your criminal record. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to fight for a misdemeanor by proving that there are problems with the prosecution’s case or by providing evidence of procedural issues. In addition to this, your lawyer may also have the ability to have your charge reduced right off the bat if this is your first offense and you have been accused of a low-level felony.

Getting a felony reduced to a misdemeanor in Arizona can be life-changing, so it’s important that you choose serious, experienced legal representation. Don’t leave your life and future to chance. Reach out to the experts at Schill Law Group so that you can start getting your life back on track today.

Accused of Employee Theft? Here Are the Steps You Should Take

If you’ve been accused of theft in the workplace, you could be facing two types of consequences: termination and/or criminal prosecution. Obviously, such accusations are extremely serious and could not only affect your immediate livelihood, but also your employment for years to come. It’s important that you try to remain calm and carefully work to sort out the situations. The steps you will need to take will largely depend on understanding the details of your unique situation.

Ask Questions

Before anything else, it’s wise to gather as much information about the accusation being made as possible. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to assess the situation, protect yourself, and seek the best legal representation, where necessary. Find out precisely what you are being accused of stealing. Determine whether or not you are being fired or if you are being charged with a crime. Will your company be handling an internal investigation where you will be able to share your side of the story with your supervisor or HR personnel, or is the investigation being handed over to the police? What are the next steps? In addition to asking these types of questions, it’s important to remember that no matter how much you may want to proclaim your innocence, it’s often best to keep your words at a minimum so that you don’t accidentally implicate yourself – especially if law enforcement becomes involved.

Seek Legal Representation

Once you have a better understanding of what you are being accused of and how the investigation is being handled, it’s time to look for experienced legal representation. Schill Law Group has handled numerous cases related to accusations of workplace theft and can walk you through the process. Partnering with a law firm is a crucial step because it allows you to be cooperative with the investigative process without making the problem worse. Too many employees have made the mistake of trying to “clear the air” or “talk things out” with their employers, only to find that their attempts to remedy the issue have implicated them further or led to more trouble. It’s much wiser to allow a legal professional to speak on your behalf.

Know Your Rights

In addition to fighting to clear your name and protect you from legal prosecution, a lawyer will also be able to explain your rights so that you can navigate your way through the investigation process as comfortably as possible. For example, you may have questions about your right to privacy as the investigation is carried out, whether or not you have the right to refuse a lie detector test, or may be curious about whether you have the right to review your HR record. Your attorney will be able to provide answers to these questions so you don’t have to remain in the dark.

Nothing to Hide?

There are many instances when employees are wrongfully accused of workplace theft. You may feel that if you have nothing to hide, you should be able to simply answer questions on your own and that hiring an attorney could actually make you look guilty. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Even innocent people need professional legal representation in order to protect themselves. As mentioned previously, going it alone can actually make your problems worse, so we urge you to present your case to an experienced lawyer.

If you or a loved one have been accused of workplace theft, don’t hesitate to seek help from Schill Law Group. Give us a call to set up a free case consultation today.

5 Things to Do If You’re Accused of Shoplifting

At Schill Law Group, we want you to understand the importance of knowing your rights. If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve been accused of shoplifting, it is imperative that you are aware of what your rights are and what you should immediately do after being caught. This could save you a lot of hassle down the road.

1: Shopkeepers Privilege

If a store employee has reason to think that you are shoplifting, they can detain you for questioning and to call the authorities. This ‘Shopkeepers Privilege’ says that they are allowed to detain you in a reasonable manner and time frame. If the store employee violates the conditions of this privilege, they can be held liable.

2: Mistakes Happen

It may be a situation where a store employee mistakenly accuses you of shoplifting, or where you simply forgot to pay for something on the bottom of your shopping cart. In those instances, calmly try to communicate the mistake and if necessary pay for the item you honestly forgot. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, follow the other items outlined below.

3: Remain Calm and Silent

Although Shopkeepers Privilege states that the store must have reasonable grounds to detain you, most store policies state that you must have been observed concealing an item or otherwise committing the act of shoplifting (such as switching prices between products) in order to be approached and/or accused. Typically, the person who observed you must have seen you pick up the item in the first place so that you can’t claim to have walked in the store with it already in your possession. Because of this, it is likely in your best interest to state your name and little else if you’re confronted for shoplifting.

4: Do Not Consent to a Search

If you have, in fact, stolen an item from the store, then you already know what the outcome of a search will be. This is exactly why consenting to a search will quickly turn into an admission of guilt. While it’s true that a store may let you go once they have their item back, this is a risky venture that may not pan out the way you would hope. The store personnel may even try to extend a search to your cellphone or your vehicle. Don’t consent to any search by a store employee or you could be incriminating yourself.

5: Request an Attorney

Always remember that an arrest is not necessary in order for you to request an attorney. At any point when being accused you can contace an attorney to advise you of your rights and how to navigate the charges to get the best possible outcome.

Have you been accused of shoplifting or any other crime? Schill Law Group can help protect your rights to make sure that you get treated fairly by the legal system. Give us a call today for a free case review.