The Debate That Changed My Life

The Debate That Changed My Life

Ways to Pay for a Criminal Defense Attorney

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If you’ve found yourself in trouble on the wrong side of the law, one of the first things that anyone would advise you to do is to hire an attorney. While a good defense attorney can be your best friend when it comes to getting out of criminal trouble and assisting you with winning your case, it will come at a fairly large financial cost. If you need to hire a criminal defense attorney quickly, here are just a few ideas as to how you can pay for their services. Seek Out a Court-Appointed Lawyer When you’re arrested or being charged with a crime, you’ll be read your Miranda Rights. Part of the rights that are explained to you is that you will be offered an attorney at no charge. This can be beneficial if you happen to fall in the income bracket set forth by your county and state. A court-appointed lawyer will help you fight your case to the best of his ability and use community and state resources to represent you and get you a reduced sentence or an acquittal—depending on the charges and recommendations from the judge and prosecuting attorney.   Bartering Services In some cases, a lawyer may accept barter in place of their services. This often occurs if you already have an established relationship with the lawyer or their offices. For example, if you work in automotive, you could trade services by having the lawyer represent you and you could do some automotive work in exchange. This is one way to save money on lawyer services, if you’re financially unable to pay upfront. Ask for a Set Rate Some lawyers may offer their services at a set rate. This offers a more inexpensive way to save money over the course of your entire case. Because some cases are more complex and require an extensive discovery process, lawyer fees can add up. Waiving any contingency fee or upfront fee for services as well as costs related to every inquiry involving the case can help save you money. Find Affordable Financing Some lawyers charge hundreds of dollars per hour for their services. While this may be worth it to have an attorney that will represent you in a complex case, it can drain your bank account. Inquire about in-house financing to help curb your overall legal costs. Another option would be to visit your local bank or credit union to obtain a personal loan to help cover legal costs and fees. You may have to have a small down payment or some form of collateral to help secure the loan—especially if you have problem credit. Finding ways to pay for legal help can be challenging. Using multiple outlets, including borrowing from family and friends is the best way to get your lawyer paid and get a head start on your legal case....

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Can Your Employer Fire You For Online Comments?

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More people are using social media sites to voice their displeasure about their employers. In some instances, employers have seen those messages and taken action against the employees. Whether or not that is legal is debatable and depends largely on the nature of the comments made. If you are worried that your online comments could result in termination, here is what you need to know.   What Type of Comments Could Lead to Termination? In many states, employers have the right to terminate their relationship with employees for comments that could impact the workplace. There are no set guidelines that employers can rely on to determine which comments should warrant termination, so employers are left to using their judgment to assess each situation.   Online comments that are considered to be inflammatory and that could be harmful to the business are usually considered a reason to terminate a relationship with an employee. For instance, racist or sexist comments have resulted in job terminations in the past.   Sharing confidential information about other employees, customers, or your employer could also land you in hot water. For instance, if you post a negative comment about a customer with a credit card receipt that shows his or her name, you could potentially face termination.   What About Venting About Your Employer? If you complain about your employer online, you are not alone. Many people do. However, what you say could put your job in jeopardy.   Comments about the working conditions at your place of employment are considered to be protected speech. In other words, your employer cannot take action. For instance, if you complain about the lack of heat during the winter time, it is considered protected speech.   Negative comments about co-workers and your supervisor do not necessarily fall under protected speech though. When you make negative comments about your co-workers and supervisor and they are shared, they could feel you are creating a hostile work environment. Since they are just as entitled as you are to work in a hostile-free work environment, your employer might take steps to terminate you.   What If You Believe You Were Unfairly Terminated? Employers do not always get it right. If you believe that your employer unfairly terminated you for comments made online, you can take action.   One of the first steps you can take is to file a complaint with your state’s Department of Labor. The agency can investigate the circumstances of your termination and determine if the employer was justified in its actions.   In addition to taking this step, you need to talk to a civil rights attorney. He or she can help determine if your rights were violated and take action, such as a lawsuit, to help recover fair...

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Disability Consultative Exams: A Different Kind Of Exam

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If you’ve been unable to work at your job because of a medical condition, you may have already filed for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has very strict guidelines for qualifying for benefits, particularly when it comes to proving how your medical condition prevents you from doing your job. If you have been asked by the SSA to undergo a special type of medical examination, called the consultative medical exam (CME), it is in your best interest to have a good understanding of why you are being asked to have the exam and what it could mean for your claim. Read on to learn more about the CME. Why am I being asked to undergo this exam? The SSA needs to know that you have been receiving medical treatment for the condition that you claim is preventing you from working at your job. If your medical records are incomplete, show gaps in treatment, or show that it’s been some time since you received any medical treatment, that sends up a red flag to the SSA about the validity of your claim. While you can be denied outright for any of these reasons, sometimes the SSA presents you with an opportunity to prove that your medical condition is bad enough to have benefits. For example, if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, which makes it impossible to do your job, you must be able to show that you have been to the doctor concerning your condition on a regular and recent basis, are following the doctor’s treatment recommendations, and are taking all prescribed medications and treatments. If you fail to show this, you may be asked to undergo a CME. What can I expect at this CME? You should know that this exam is very different from other doctor’s visits, but does share some similarities. It’s important to understand that while you won’t be charged for the exam, the doctor that performs the exam does so under contract with the SSA. You should not expect to receive any treatment as a result of this exam, so you should continue to rely on your usual medical doctor for any needs concerning your medical condition. Just like other exams, however, you will have your vitals (blood pressure, temperature, pulse, weight, etc.) taken prior to the exam. The CME doctor will focus in on the medical condition that you claim is affecting your ability to do your job by viewing the body part or condition, manipulating body parts (if necessary) to gauge mobility and discomfort and questioning you about your illness. Sometimes, additional diagnostic tests will be ordered, such as an x-ray, blood work, etc. You will receive the results of the exam within about 10 days, but expect delays. If your initial claim is denied, you may need the services of a Social Security attorney to get you through the appeals process. Click here to read more about working with a Social Security...

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Getting Divorced? Know About These Tax Issues You’ll Need To Address

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The messy part of divorce is dealing with changes in your financial situation. In addition to dividing assets, there will be changes to your taxes as well. Know about these tax issues you will need to address during a divorce. Your Tax Filing Status You may be going through a divorce, but there are still benefits to filing taxes as a married couple. If you are married to your spouse on the last day of the calendar year, you are still allowed to file a joint tax return for that calendar year. This can help you both receive deductions and credits that you may not otherwise be able to receive, which results in getting a larger refund that will be split between the two of you. You both may need this income, since you are going to be living independently soon. For the next tax year, you’ll have to file as an individual, as long as the divorce was finalized at some point in that year. Your Alimony Payments Any alimony payments that need to be made are not automatically classified as tax deductible. When they are classified as tax deductible, the person that receives the alimony payment could end up getting a bigger tax refund because of it, while the person paying the alimony payments will be able to lower their taxable income and pay less money in taxes. Of course, there are some things you’ll have to do to make sure that payments are tax deductible. For instance, the payments must be in the form of a check or cash. The payments must also be listed in a divorce decree, and the payments will need to end if the recipient passes away. This means that if you are paying support money that is not required by a divorce decree, then those payments are not tax deductible. If you are providing support by making a payment towards a bill or other expenses, then those payments are not tax deductible either. A family lawyer at a law firm such as Cragun Law Firm can help ensure that all of the criteria are met for alimony payments to be considered a tax deduction. Your Legal Fees Know that some of the expenses from your divorce lawyer can be written off on your taxes. Any time that your lawyer is advising you on how to handle your taxes, those hours can be considered a write off. Make sure that your lawyer itemizes their time based on time that can be written off and the hours that...

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Overcoming Qualified Immunity In Personal Injury Lawsuits Against The Police

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Police officers do a very dangerous job and have to make difficult decisions about taking action, including physical violence, against other human beings all the time. Most of the time, the police are within their rights to act and are protected from lawsuits even if they make a mistake—but not always. If you were injured by police officers acting under the color of their authority, you need to know when they have immunity from lawsuits and when they don’t. This is what you should know. Qualified immunity is designed to protect officers from frivolous lawsuits. if the police didn’t have some protection against lawsuits, officers would probably be afraid to do their jobs for fear of being sued. While most police actions are justified, sometimes the police rely on bad information or simply make a mistake—in which case qualified immunity shields them from lawsuits even if someone gets injured as a result. However, qualified immunity does have its limitations: The police officer had a reasonable belief that he or she was acting within the scope of his or her authority (or actually was within that scope of authority). The police officer is acting on official business (not personal). The police officer doesn’t behave in a grossly negligent manner, which led to the cause of the injury. If all three of these conditions don’t exist, you can overcome the presumption of qualified immunity and proceed with a personal injury lawsuit. There’s an important distinction between ordinary negligence and gross negligence. Negligence is at the heart of all personal injury lawsuits—because negligence is defined as a failure to exercise reasonable care under the situation. The duty to exercise reasonable care is what helps keep people from acting without regard to the safety of others.  However, ordinary negligence doesn’t overcome the qualified immunity that police officers have when acting in an official capacity. Instead, you have to prove that the officer in question showed gross negligence, which is a blatant act and a conscious disregard of the need for reasonable care. In other words, the officer had to act in such a way that any reasonable person would have been able to predict that his or her actions could hurt someone. How do you know if you have a case that meets these terms? Sometimes, the situation is fairly obvious. For example, a Florida police officer used his badge and uniform to apparently personally harass a woman, eventually firing his taser at her and kneeing her in the chest. The fact that he lied to his superiors and claimed that he accidentally discharged the taser into a pillow is a good indicator that he knew his actions weren’t lawful. He also apparently attempted to patch things up with his victim—by making her a cake that said, “Sorry I Tased You.” While the officer is still claiming qualified immunity in his response to the victim’s lawsuit, he’s been placed on leave—a sure indication that his superiors wish to distance themselves from his actions. Other cases may not be so clear, so consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the event in order to discuss the situation in detail. Your attorney can help you determine if your civil rights have been violated and the likelihood of a successful lawsuit given...

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Steps To Avoid An Arrest On Loitering With Intent To Commit A Crime

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Specific actions are usually required to arrest and charge someone with a criminal offense. These actions do not always refer to the actual commission of a crime. Intent to commit an offense may lead to charges. In certain jurisdictions, merely being present and acting suspiciously may be a crime. In the state of New Jersey, for example, loitering to commit prostitution or the intent to purchase drugs are disorderly persons (misdemeanor) offenses. This is not the only state with such laws on the books. Sadly, people sometimes end up arrested due to unknowingly doing the wrong things by mistake in the wrong place. Avoiding suspicious behavior cuts down on the chances of a false arrest. Avoid Danger Zones Police generally charge someone with loitering with intent to commit a crime when the person is in an area known for criminal activity. To remain out of trouble, do not travel through areas known for drug, prostitution, or other vice activity. Avoiding these areas means avoiding walking inadvertently into a sting. Granted, not everyone may be able to avoid the danger zone. People who live or work near such areas may have to drive or walk through them. Whether walking or driving, take the following advice: Don’t Make Suspicious Moves with a Vehicle Driving too slowly, beeping the horn, making sharp and quick lane changes or U-turns may be deemed suspicious behavior. A police car could pull someone over after seeing erratic driving. People who are passing through do just that – they smoothly drive through the neighborhood without doing anything suspicious. Don’t Stop Walking and Never Engage When in a vice area, walk at a normal, brisk pace. Do not stop and talk with anyone on the street. Merely talking to stranger on the street could lead an observing police officer to assume a “buy” is occurring. When strangers try to start a conversation, don’t be confrontational – just keep moving. Always avoid looking and acting like someone who is lingering in the neighborhood for nefarious purposes. Despite taking the right steps, a person may still be questioned or searched by the police. What the police officer finds may lead to an arrest. Never Carry Substantial Cash The police will likely ask you to empty your pockets when being questioned. They are searching for evidence and $200 in cash could contribute to the probable cause for an arrest. Unless absolutely necessary, don’t carry a lot of cash in sketchy neighborhoods. Get the Case Thrown Out A good criminal defense lawyer could get charges dismissed if the evidence is weak. Take solace in the fact an arrest does not mean a conviction or even a trial or plea bargain. Contact a firm like Jividen And Wehnert Llc  for more...

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Tips For Fighting A DUI Case

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One of the most damning charges that a person can be convicted of is a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. These charges have financial, criminal and social ramifications that can be difficult to come back from without the right information. Aside from the obvious choice of never drinking and driving, your best course of action to take once this mistake has already been made is to hire the help of a credible DUI lawyer. To learn about the downfalls of DUI charges, tips for hiring a lawyer, and more information, read below.  The Negatives Of A DUI Conviction You’ve probably heard about the dangers of drinking and driving, but the negative ramifications don’t end after you decide to take the risk and get charged and convicted. For one, people convicted of these penalties tend to have to pay between $11,000 and $30,000 on penalties and defense once it is all said and done. One of the biggest negative repercussions is the social stigma that comes with drinking and driving. This is a charge that can weigh heavy on your own conscience, in addition to the way that others look at you. It may be difficult to find gainful employment after receiving such a charge, and your relationships may change. Because of this, you need to hire the help of a lawyer who can assist you in fighting the case.  Hire The Best DUI Lawyer You Can Find When you know that you need the help of an attorney, you should reach out to the best DUI lawyer that you can find. To do this, develop a list of the most credible and reputable attorneys in your area who specialize in DUI cases. You can do this by consulting your state bar association or the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Look into their record of trying DUI cases, in addition to their ethical record. Further, get their fee policy in writing so that you know you can afford them.  Potential DUI Defenses Once you hire a DUI lawyer, they will work with you to come up with credible defenses that are relevant to your situation. For instance, they will be able to challenge the legal basis of the initial traffic stop, question the validity of the sobriety tests, and pinpoint illegal actions taken by the officer during the arrest. A good lawyer will help you to assert these points soundly in front of the judge or jury.  Follow these tips to bounce back from a DUI charge. For more advice, talk to a DUI attorney at a law office like Thomas & Associates,...

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Adding Passive Income To Your Estate: Difference In Accredited And Non-Accredited Crowdfunding

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When investors are looking for additional alternative investments to add to their estate, crowdfunding may come to mind. Accredited and non-accredited crowdfunding platforms are two examples of passive income streams that are taking shape in the realm of personal finance. Crowdfunding is quickly growing in popularity for art investors, small technology start-ups, and more. If you are a high net worth investor who is interested in crowdfunding to balance your estate, you need to make sure your money is safeguarded. Knowing the basics of crowdfunding and the difference between accredited and non-accredited platforms is critical. What is Crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a venture by raising money on a platform that consists of investors. Each company or project will start a campaign outlining what he or she hopes to achieve with the funds they receive. It is one of the prime examples of passive income that is steadily growing in popularity among investors. There are two types of crowdfunding: donation based and equity crowdfunding. Donation-based platforms are used to raise smaller amounts of money for projects. In return for their donation, investors receive a small token of appreciation but have no stake in the project. Equity crowdfunding works differently. These platforms are typically designed for serious, high net worth investors who want a financial stake in the project or venture. Investors provide a large amount of money, sometimes in the millions of dollars, in return for a portion of the company’s profits. The companies who gain funding on these platforms are typically startups or new projects that are not yet listed on the stock market. What is Accredited Crowdfunding? Accredited crowdfunding is governed by the Crowdfunding Accreditation for Platform Standards, also known as CAPS. The CAPS program is an initiative that was set forth to practice and promote ethical behavior on crowdfunding platforms. An advisory council of leading experts in the industry implements and reviews certain criteria that constitute accreditation. This criterion is reviewed each year to make sure that the expected high standards are met as the industry continues to grow. Accreditation is not granted to just any crowdfunding platform. Platforms gain accreditation through a rigorous application process that is based on an interview and a review of the platform. Meeting the necessary criteria is also a factor of gaining accreditation. Those platforms that do not meet the criteria will receive a report outlining what they will need to do in order to pass the interview. Once the recommended feedback is implemented, the platform may re-apply. How is Accredited Crowdfunding Different from Non-Accredited Crowdfunding? Due to the thorough application process, accredited platforms are constantly monitored with a tight series of checks and balances that ensure a crowdfunding platform performs responsibly. Serious investors often utilize accredited crowdfunding because they can be confident that they will not lose money through fraud or dishonest crowdfunding applicants. Non-accredited crowdfunding platforms do not have the same set of checks in place. There is no official oversight outside of those who are placed in an executive capacity. While most crowdfunding platforms are honest and position a high value on integrity, there is always a chance that some are malicious in intent, which could lead to a serious loss of money and time on part of investors. These two examples of passive income...

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2 Ways That An Attorney Can Help You After Your Dog Has Bitten Someone

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Finding out that your dog has bitten someone can be an extremely frightening experience, especially when you consider the possible consequences. In many cases, your dog biting someone can lead to a lawsuit against you and the chance that your family’s pet will be put down for being dangerous. Listed below are two ways that a dog bite attorney can help you after your dog has bitten someone. Assumption Of Risk One of the most common ways for a dog bite attorney to help you out is by attempting to prove that the person who was bitten voluntarily decided to take the risk that ended with him or her being bitten. One way that this can work is if your dog bit someone while you were out walking your dog and the other person decided to continue approaching the dog despite your warnings to stay away. However, you will want to be cautious in this situation as this defense will not work if you did not provide sufficient warning to the person who was bitten before the bite occurred. This defense can also be used if someone was bitten on your property. For example, if you have a dog on your property and a sign warning people of the presence of a dog on the property, then someone is voluntarily putting themselves at risk of getting bitten if they still choose to trespass or enter your property without your consent. This only really works if you did not invite the person who was bitten onto your property and there were warnings about the presence of the dog.  Provocation Another way that your attorney can help if your dog has bitten someone is by attempting to prove that your dog was provoked. In many cases, you and your dog cannot be held liable if your dog was forced into biting someone because he or she felt threatened. For example, if someone is causing your dog pain by striking the dog or throwing things at him or her, then it was only natural for the dog to defend himself or herself in order to stop the pain or attack.  This can also be used if your dog was startled. In many cases, if a dog is startled, he or she may lash out due to fear. An example of this would be someone purposely or accidentally stepping on the dog’s paw or tail while he or she was sleeping.  Contact an attorney today in order to discuss how he or she can help you protect yourself and your dog after a biting incident. An attorney can help you by attempting to prove that the person who was bitten assumed that risk voluntarily or that the dog was provoked. For more information, contact professionals like Scherline And...

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How To Get A Divorce When A Child Is Involved

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A divorce can be one of the most difficult time periods for you, your spouse and any children that the two of you share together. With this said, children also can pick up on it if two parents are sticking together simply for them, and inadvertently creating a toxic household. If divorce is the best decision to be made, you need to be sure that you are doing it in a way that protects your child and empowers both parents to remain an equal part of the child’s life. These tips below will show you important considerations in order to make that happen. Get a collaborative divorce When you and your spouse realize that the relationship is over, you should work to put your feelings aside and seek a collaborative divorce. This form of divorce, also called civil divorce, lets you dissolve your marriage by opening with an agreement that asserts you will remain ethical, hire the right team to fairly facilitate the divorce process and work hard to settle the matter outside of court. You and your spouse will sign this agreement and then begin working through the dissolution of your property and assets. You will meet in a number of conferences to determine this and a series of other issues, including child custody and visitation rights. By starting your divorce off in this manner, it is a clear affirmation that the two of you are on board to remain good parents for the child, even if you are not staying together. Be mindful of the way you communicate during the divorce process The following decisions are incredibly powerful in keeping your child aware during the divorce process, but also shielding them from potential harm: Be open and honest about the reason you are getting divorced, making sure to keep it age-appropriate and without blaming. Start making changes so that you can remain good role models for your child and to show your child that you are working toward a positive situation, despite the divorce. Hold planned conversations with your child so that emotions can be kept in check and so that there is no blame. Set aside time for strictly allowing your child to vent and share their feelings, without trying to talk them out of those feelings or protect any egos. Following a strategy for co-parenting once the divorce is final Even though divorces are arduous, the real work begins once it is finalized. Use these tips to develop a sound co-parenting strategy: Set rules, boundaries and enforcement that is consistent between both households during visitation times. Remain a healthy example for your child even though your lifestyle is changing. Don’t use your child to vent or share any frustration about your new divorce. Never send messages back and forth through the child during visitation times. Commit to showing up to your children’s important events together, despite the fact that you no longer live together. These tips will be great for any parent going through a divorce. For more information or assistance, contact a divorce lawyer, like one from The Law Offices of Paul F. Moore...

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