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Your Legal Rights If Arrested

Criminal Justice Lawyer Arlington, VA

If you’ve been arrested, you may be confused and disoriented. The police will not always tell you clearly about all your rights. You need to be represented by an experienced criminal justice lawyer to make sure your rights are maintained.

Your Right to Remain Silent

You’ve seen police officers on TV shows and in movies read suspects their rights. This is often followed by people talking extensively. It’s important that you not speak to the police and answer questions before being represented by an attorney. Even if you’re confident of your innocence, and even if the police officers or investigators appear to be friendly, you may say things that could make your defense more complicated. It’s best not to make statements that could be misconstrued.

Please note that your right to silence doesn’t begin when they “read you your rights.” Nor must the police read you your rights when first making contact. It’s important to be careful of what you say from the moment you make contact with a police officer, whether it be during a traffic stop or a seemingly casual encounter on the street.

You’re Entitled to Make Phone Calls

Another misconception from the movies is the idea that you “get one phone call.” In reality, you can make the phone calls that you need to make. You may need to call your family, an attorney, and someone to help with bail, for example. However, you’ll generally have your cell phone taken from you, so you’ll have to make those calls from a phone at the jail. You should not expect privacy unless you’re talking to your attorney. Even then, it’s likely a good idea to avoid getting into details on the call. Wait until you’re face to face with a criminal justice lawyer.

They Cannot Abuse or Mistreat You

While police can use reasonable and necessary force in affecting an arrest, they cannot be abusive to you while you are in custody. If you are mistreated while in custody, you may have grounds for a suit, regardless of the merits of your criminal case.

You Cannot Resist Arrest

Regardless of the merits of your situation, it’s never a good idea to resist arrest. Resisting arrest is a crime in its own right, regardless of your guilt or innocence in the matter they originally detained you over.

The most important thing to remember if arrested is to comply, but remain silent. You need to get a criminal justice lawyer in Arlington, VA from May Law, LLP as soon as possible if you’re arrested.

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Be Prepared for Your First Attorney Meeting

Family Lawyer

When another person’s actions result in you being injured, your next move should be to speak with a personal injury attorney. You can receive compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury suit, but you will need an attorney to file. Many people have no idea how to prepare for the initial meeting with a lawyer. This guide will explain exactly what to bring with you.

What To Bring

Lawyers are used to taking care of nearly every aspect of a legal case, so it will likely not be an issue if you were to show up with nothing in your hands. However, it will help speed things along if you come prepared. If nothing else, you should bring some way of taking notes and a list of questions you have. It is common for the initial consultations to be free, but you should be sure to bring the payment if yours is not free.

There are some items that could be very helpful to bring depending on your situation. Generally, you should have as much information about your case as you can. Only some of these items may apply to your case, but you should consider bringing:

  • Medical reports and bills – It is going to be essential for you to present your medical information to the court if you wish to be compensated for treatment.
  • Receipts – All purchases that were the direct result of the injury will be relevant to your case.
  • Accident report – If you were in a car accident, you can receive an accident report from the police. This is one of the most basic pieces of information to acquire.
  • Insurance documents – It is common to receive payment through an insurance policy and then file a personal injury case to repay the insurance company and receive compensation for pain and suffering.
  • Witness statements – Your lawyer cannot be on the scene to speak with anyone who witnessed the injury. Getting information from them is helpful, but just their contact information may be enough.
  • All interactions with the defendant – If you have had communication with the defendant, share this information with your lawyer. If possible, avoid contacting the defendant without your lawyer present.
  • Other information – Any pieces of paperwork or miscellaneous information you about have the case should be with you when you meet your lawyer.

Speaking with a personal injury lawyer in Salt Lake City, UT should always be your first step. A legal professional will be able to provide you with guidance going forward.

 


 

Thanks to Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into personal injury claims and preparing for your first meeting with your attorney.

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DUI Charges: Who Files and Who Can Help?

DUI Lawyer Fairfax, VA

Hard-working, good people make mistakes every day. You may have good intentions but had a minor lapse of judgment that led to a DUI arrest. This error and unfortunate incident should serve as a reminder to you to not duplicate the situation; however, a DUI charge shouldn’t be a black mark against you forever. If you become involved in a DUI case, it’s helpful to understand the process that will take place and what steps you can do to ensure the best outcome possible.

The Arrest

If you’re pulled over by a police officer, and the officer suspects you may be under the influence of alcohol, you may be asked to perform some sobriety tests. These could include a breathalyzer test or the common walking the line and touching your finger to your nose tests. You can refuse a breathalyzer test, but if you do so, the officer will likely book you in jail. An arrest and a trip to jail will also be the outcome if the tests show that you’re driving with more than the legal amount of alcohol in your system. Once in jail, you won’t be able to refuse further assessments of your blood-alcohol level. At this point, the officer will conduct blood, breath or urine tests. You’ll most likely remain in jail until a responsible party can come to pick you up.

The Charges

The district attorney of the state in which the infraction occurred will file the charges. An assistant or deputy district attorney may assist. Don’t expect the filings to happen anytime soon; you may also have to wait to appear in court for several weeks or months. In fact, district attorneys usually have up to one year to file DUI charges. After this time, the statute of limitations expires.

Your Rights

Regardless of the specifics surrounding your DUI arrest, you should contact a DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will advise you on your rights and how to best proceed. A legal professional will also represent you in court once you appear. If you feel the charges are incorrect, the attorney can also investigate and determine whether you were treated fairly at the time of your arrest and following your booking into jail. He or she can identify any areas in which officers violated your rights.

Police officers, district attorneys and your own DUI attorney play key roles in your case. Don’t proceed one moment without the expert advice of a competent DUI lawyer in Fairfax, VA from May Law, LLP  at your side.

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 How to Get Organized Before Beginning the Divorce Process

Divorce Lawyer in Fairfax, VA

It can be overwhelming to prepare for a divorce. This is particularly true if your divorce is a sudden event that you did not necessarily expect. If you would like to save time and money during the divorce process, we encourage you to follow these organization tips before beginning the divorce process. For more detailed information that may apply to your particular case, contact a law firm today to meet with a skilled divorce attorney.

Gather Financial Documents

One of the most important areas to address while going through a divorce is finances. The way you handle your assets can significantly impact how you live once your divorce has been finalized.

For this reason, one of your top priorities should be to do whatever you can to achieve financial security. Begin by gathering all of your financial documents. Then, take the time to figure out all of your assets and debts so that your financial situation is clearly outlined when you meet with your divorce lawyer and financial advisor.

Re-Route Your Mail

You may be unsure of whether you will stay in the family home or have to move. However, it is still essential to set up a new mail arrangement before you begin the divorce process. This way, you can separate your personal, private mail so that your soon-to-be-ex does not have access to your divorce documents. Consider establishing a post office box if you are unsure of your future living arrangements.

Separate Bank Accounts

If you share bank accounts with your spouse, it is time to open up separate checking and savings accounts. It is also a good idea to open up credit cards in your own name. This way, you can start to build credit in your own name and demonstrate how you are able to provide for yourself financially. By separating your finances, you can also figure out how to budget and prepare for future expenses.

Collect Benefit Information

Benefits include life insurance, health insurance, living wills, and retirement accounts. Collect all of this information so that it can be shared with your divorce lawyer. All of these benefits can have a major impact on your future lifestyle, just like asset and debts.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

Another important way to prepare for your divorce is to find an experienced divorce lawyer you can trust. Divorce lawyers are dedicated to guiding you through the divorce process and ensuring it is as efficient as possible. Contact a divorce lawyer in Fairfax, VA today to set up a confidential consultation and find out how they can help make sure your rights are protected and you get the type of divorce settlement you deserve.

Call May Law, LLP for their insight into family law and how to be organized before starting the divorce process.

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When Property Gets Distributed Equitably Versus Equally

Family Law Lawyer

Talking to your spouse about getting a divorce is rarely easy, even if the two of you agree that it is the best way to proceed forward. With so much tension in the house spilling out into your work life and your child’s life, it may be time to move forward. Just because you agree on the move, it doesn’t mean you will agree on the issues that need addressing. You may be a believer in dividing things straight down the middle, while your spouse may see things differently and doesn’t believe that would be fair. Which way is better?

Marital and Separate Property

Fortunately or unfortunately, your state of residence will dictate how a court would ultimately split things up. One step you can take in advance is to compile a list of the property and assets you and your spouse acquired since you got married. You may not have exact numbers on assets as this includes retirement accounts, but you can get a general idea. The court is only interested in splitting marital property, which the two of you have in common. Anything owned the marriage stays with the individual. It is not calculated in the marital pot.

State Laws and Dividing Property

Some state laws prefer dividing things equally. The worth of the marital property gets tabulated and distributed evenly. Other states operate under the principle of equitable distribution. In this method, the marital assets are totaled, but the court divides things fairly, which does not always mean each person gets an equal share.

The court in deciding who gets what takes more into account than just the value of the assets and property. They consider things like:

  • How much of a financial contribution each made to the marriage
  • How much each spouse owns in premarital assets
  • How much of the child-rearing has one parent done versus the other

The judge is looking at what each party contributed to the marriage, which does not only mean financially. People who stay home for the kids may not have the financial means to support themselves or their children immediately after separation and divorce. These spouses may be given more during the equitable distribution stage. Another aspect that a court may look at, depending on state laws, is who is responsible for the decline of the marriage. If you live in a fault-based state, and one spouse is proven to have done something to cause the union to fail, a judge may award the other more in an equitable division process.

If you are overwhelmed by the process, you should consult a family law lawyer in Rockville, MD to help sort things out and explain things. You do not have to go it alone.

Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and the distribution of property during divorce.

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Medical Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence

Medical Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence

There are currently more than 30 states in the United States that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Under these laws, if you have a prescription, you are allowed to buy marijuana from an authorized dispensary and use it legally within the state. However, many of these states have not legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana is also illegal.

 

The prohibition on driving while under the influence of marijuana applies equally to recreational users and to users with medical prescriptions. Most states driving under the influence laws have no exception for users of medical marijuana and do not distinguish them from recreational users for the purposes of the law.

 

Furthermore, unlike with alcohol, which has a legal and an illegal limit while driving, any amount of drugs in a person’s system can lead to a DUI charge.

 

Amount of Drugs Does Not Matter

 

The prosecution does not have to show a specific amount of drugs in a person’s system in order to get a conviction for a DUI; they just have to show that there were drugs in the accused’s system at the time of arrest. The police can test your urine and, in some cases, blood after your arrest to gather evidence to show that you had drugs in your system. However, because marijuana can be detected in a person’s system up to 30 days after use, it can be difficult for the prosecution to show when the marijuana was consumed.

 

Although each state has its own DUI laws, generally, the consequences for drugged driving varies from six months to three years in prison, depending on whether or not the defendant has been convicted of a DUI in the past 10 years before the current conviction. There are also fines of between $500 and $8,000 that may be applicable. Drivers also lose their licenses for a year for first offenders, three years for second-time convictions, and permanent revocation of the license for any number of DUI convictions over two.

 

In addition, the court may order community service for first offenders; community service is often mandatory for subsequent offenders. A judge may also order the defendant to pay for monetary damages where appropriate (this is also referred to as “restitution”).

 

Therefore, while it may be necessary for you to use marijuana under prescription, you should not drive after doing so. Avoid arrest and the serious criminal penalties that may follow by using a different driver.

 

Contact a Drug Crimes Attorney

If you are charged with a drug crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who has dealt with multiple drug cases at both the state and federal level fighting for you. Contact an experienced DUI lawyer in Fairfax, VA today to set up a free and confidential initial consultation. Do not wait. The sooner they can begin working on your defense, the better chances for a positive outcome are.

 

For more info call May Law, LLP for their insight into criminal law and medical marijuana while driving.

 

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Who is Considered a “Felon”?

Criminal Defense Attorney

Although it may come off as self-explanatory to some, it is not entirely clear to all who is referred to as a “felon”. Many people confuse the idea of any one who has been convicted of a criminal offense, as a felon, and this is not true. While a felon is an individual who has been both convicted and charged with a criminal offense, the criminal offenses that are categorized as felonies. An easy way to decipher a felony charge from a misdemeanor charge is the penalty given to an individual. Individuals who are given more than one year in prison for a criminal offense have been charged with a felony, and therefore are considered felons.

Felony offenses can be quite similar to misdemeanor offenses, in the sense that they are often times misdemeanor offenses intensified.  Examples of criminal offenses that are close to misdemeanors but can lead to felony charges are:

  •      Grand theft. Minimum property value or force required.
  •      Assault, but with a deadly weapon.
  •      Distribution of illegal substances, especially with the intent to sale.

However, a felony charge does not make an accused individual a felon. They would not be considered a felon unless that have been tried and convicted as well.

Unlike misdemeanor charges, felony charges can take an extensive process to be removed from your criminal record. As if that is not enough, certain rights are taken away from individuals that have been convicted of a felony offense. Laws vary from state to state, but in many cases, felons are not permitted to carry any weapons. Some states go as far as to restrict voting rights as well. It may be expected that felony charges affect employment, custody, and visitation with a child, depending on the severity of the crime committed.

If you are unsure of your criminal status and background it is best to contact an attorney. It is also wise to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney if you or someone you know is currently going through a criminal case. With the right attorney, the chances of a lighter sentence, charge, or post-sentence consequence is more likely. An attorney will be able to review the details of your case and educate you of your possible options and most likely outcome. If you or someone you know has been classified a felon, speak with a criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, GA as soon as possible to weigh out any options you may have.

Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and felons.

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Can I Sue the Person who Accused me of a Crime?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Many people who are accused of crimes want to know whether they can file a lawsuit against the person who accused them. Being accused of a crime is incredibly damaging to someone’s life, even if in the end they are acquitted, or the case is dismissed. There is so much harm that is done simply by forcing someone to go through the process of an accusation, that many times the person who is accused wants to look for a way to recover from the process as best they can.

The short answer is yes, you can sue someone who has falsely accused you of a crime. Filing a lawsuit is pretty easy – just about anybody can figure out how to do it. The better question is whether you can be successful in suing someone who falsely accused you, getting a judgment against them, and collecting on the judgment.

That’s a more difficult question. In most cases, no, you won’t be successful in a lawsuit.

First, you have to look at whether the person you are seeking to sue is even collectible. If everything went perfectly and you got a judgment against this person, do they have two pennies to rub together? How are they going to pay a judgment? So many times, people don’t consider this factor. They are so angry about wanting to sue the person who put them through hell that they fail to consider that even in the best-case scenario, they are never going to collect on any judgment that they obtain.

If the person you wish to sue is in fact collectible, then you have to consider whether there is actual likelihood of success. The likelihood of success in this type of lawsuit is extremely limited. The burden of proof in a civil case is different than that of a criminal case. This means that, even if it was decided that you weren’t guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, in a civil suit, the accuser could argue that you were in fact guilty, but there just wasn’t enough evidence to prove that in a criminal case. In a civil case, the burden is preponderance of the evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to prove that someone lied about you committing a crime, you would need very solid evidence that the person intentionally lied about you, such as an admission.

If the person that you want to sue is a police officer, it’s possible that you may have a viable lawsuit if your constitutional rights were violated during the course of an arrest or prosecution. If this is the case, you’ll want to speak to a civil rights attorney to discuss the matter in more detail.

Unfortunately, judges and prosecutors who are involved in cases where false allegations are prosecuted are given immunity from lawsuits in almost all cases, though there are some rare exceptions. It is unlikely, however, that you will be able to sue a judge or prosecutor involved in your prosecution.

If you have questions about filing a lawsuit for a wrongful prosecution, contact experienced criminal defense lawyers in Grand Rapids, MI today.

 


 

Thanks to Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense and false accusations.

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What do I need to know about alimony before I get divorced?

Spousal Support Attorney

If you’re headed for divorce, the court may include alimony payments (also known as “spousal support” or “maintenance”) in the divorce decree. The determination of whether you will be the one obligated to make the payments or your spouse will have to pay alimony will rely in large part on who makes more money. There are exceptions to this which a divorce lawyer can explain to you after a review of your circumstances. Two of the most common exceptions are when the marriage did not last long or if both spouses earned roughly the same annual salary.

Alimony Payment Arrangements

If the court decrees that you must pay monthly alimony to your former spouse, the arrangements will likely follow typical guidelines. Your divorce lawyer can inform you if any of the following will not apply in your case:

  • You will be obligated to make monthly alimony payments until a date specified by the judge. This is usually a period of several years.
  • You will be obligated to make monthly alimony payments until your former spouse remarries or cohabitates with another adult who contributes to their finances.
  • You will be obligated to make monthly alimony payments until your children no longer need to live at home for parenting purposes.
  • You will be obligated to make monthly alimony payments until a judge makes the determination that your spouse has not made a reasonable effort within a reasonable period of time to increase their income level.  
  • You will be obligated to make monthly alimony payments until or unless you experience a significant lifestyle change such as losing your job, substantial reduction in income, etc.
  • You will be obligated to make monthly alimony payments until you or your former spouse dies.

Coming to Agreement with Your Spouse

Just as with other aspects of your divorce agreement, you and your spouse can come to an agreement on who will pay alimony, the amount of payments, and how long they will make those payments. A divorce lawyer can represent you during these negotiations. If both parties are willing to invest the effort to make this process successful, it allows both of you to avoid going to court. When a judge has to make the decisions, the divorce process will likely take longer and as a result, will cost you more money in fees.

Protect Your Best Interests

Alimony payments can be a substantial financial obligation that lasts for several years. It may be in your best interest to hire a spousal support attorney relies on at the onset of the divorce proceedings in order that they can protect your rights from the very beginning.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Scroggins Law Group for their insight into family law and what to know about alimony before you divorce.

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How to Get a Warrant Removed

Criminal Defense Lawyer

There is a certain type of discomfort that comes with knowing that your freedom is on the line and at any moment it can be taken away from you. An arrest warrant allows for any law enforcement officer to take you into custody when they have crossed paths with you. No matter the reason, minor or otherwise, no matter where you are, work or asleep, you can be taken to jail. The purpose of a warrant is to locate a criminal or someone who has an open case in court that has not been closed due to the person absence or sudden disappearance. If you may have been in some criminal trouble, or have a record of something as minor as an unpaid parking and would like to know if there is a warrant out for your arrest without crossing paths with law enforcement, you can contact the courthouse to see if there is a warrant out for your arrest.

After learning that there is a warrant out for your arrest, the wisest and scariest decision to make would be to report to the courthouse or turn yourself into the authorities. You may be ordered to appear in court due to unpaid fines. If you appear in court to make a payment or a payment plan you will not be arrested and the warrant may be lifted. If, however, you appear in for reasons unrelated to the warrant, you may be arrested.

In the event that you have been subpoenaed to appear in court and fail to do so a judge will issue what is called a bench warrant, this is instruction to law enforcement to bring you forth whenever you are located. While you can pay all applicable fines to have a bench warrant removed, because you are likely picked up by the police, you are likely going to face jail time. Violent crimes are issued no-bond warrants, which require jail time. While bond warrants allow you to post bond to have the warrant lifted.

The worse you can do is dismiss your warrant entirely, as it is not fun to be on the run. Although officers are not always actively searching for you if this is not due to a violent crime. If you or someone you know may potentially have a warrant out for their arrest, speak with a criminal defense attorney before making any pivotal decisions. A skilled Decatur criminal lawyer will be able to educate you of all possible outcomes and options you have.

 


 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and removing a warrant.

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Moving with Your Children After Divorce

Divorce Lawyer

The transition after a divorce can be difficult for both the parents and children to adjust to. Regardless of how old your children are, they are likely to experience a range of emotions about things being different from what they have always known. The separation may require that the children share time between each parent in two separate homes, or live with one parent while the other visits on a scheduled basis. A recently divorced parent who plans to move into a new place may wonder how to make this change easier for themselves, and their children.

Here are just a few ways that parents can help their children adjust to the many changes that can come along with divorce, particularly if moving is needed:

Encourage Open Communication

Children who have to move out of the family home may be going through a rough time, as they are probably attached to the place they have grown up in thus far. During divorce, one or both parents may decide relocating is what is right for them and their children.

Keep in mind that while you and your former spouse may feel that moving is the best decision, your children may take a while to agree with this. The best thing you can do is provide a space where they feel like they can express feelings of sadness, anger, fear, and anything else they may be struggling with.

Become Familiar with State Laws

A parent that is thinking about moving somewhere that is not close to where the children lived prior to the divorce, may want to meet with a family lawyer. A legal professional is likely very well informed on the laws for your state. There may be certain laws regarding relocating with your children post divorce.

For example, in some states the parent with custody must notify the other parent through a written document about the desire to move. The non-custodial parent then has the opportunity to object to this request, and dispute the relocation during a court hearing. But in other states, there may be much more leniency when it comes to moving with children after divorce.

This is why it is so important for a parent to become familiar with state-specific laws before putting a downpayment on a house, or deposit for an apartment.

Make a Logical Decision About the Marital Home

One of the biggest conflicts during a divorce is which parent is to keep the marital home. This is typically a huge point of contention among divorcing couples. It can be difficult for either parent to leave a home they are emotionally tied to, and may not let it go easily.

However, a parent may want to seriously consider whether they can afford the mortgage, rent, utilities or other bills associated with the marital home. It may be best for parents to logically evaluate whether they are able to financially afford this home by themselves, before going into a tense legal battle over who keeps it.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into family law and moving with children after divorce.

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What Are the Steps in a Criminal Trial?

A criminal trial has many parts. Here is a brief overview of the steps of a criminal trial:

Jury selection

The first thing that happens in a criminal trial is that a jury is selected to hear the case. A pool of jurors is called to the courthouse, and then the prosecutor, defense attorney, and the judge ask questions of the jurors in a process called voir dire. Some jurors who cannot judge the case fairly for personal reasons may be dismissed, and others will be dismissed by the parties for other reasons. Ultimately, a jury who will hear the case will be seated, given instructions by the judge, and sworn to perform their duties as jurors.

Opening statements

The prosecutor and the defense attorney will give an opening statement. The opening statement outlines for the jurors the evidence that the attorneys expect will be presented in the case. The defense attorney is allowed to wait until after the prosecutor’s presentation of witnesses before they give their opening statement, but most give their opening statement right after the prosecutor.

Prosecutor’s presentation of witnesses

The prosecutor will then present the testimony of their witnesses. They will call a witness to the witness stand, and then ask them questions in what is called direct examination. Then, the defense attorney will have a chance to question the witness in what is called cross-examination. Depending on the judge, sometimes the prosecutor will be allowed to question the witness again after cross-examination is completed, and the rounds of questioning will continue until the parties are done. Other judges only permit one round of direct and cross examination.

Prosecutor rests

Once the prosecutor is done presenting their witnesses, they will rest their case. Sometimes, at this point, the defense attorney makes a motion for the judge to direct a verdict of not guilty. It is rare for such motions to be granted, however.

Defense presentation of witnesses

The defense will then be given an opportunity to present their witnesses, if they want to produce any. This time, the defense will question first on direct examination, and the prosecutor will question second on cross examination.

Defense rests

The defense will rest after their presentation of witnesses, if they choose to present any evidence at all. Nothing requires the defense to present witnesses.

Closing arguments

The prosecutor and defense attorney will then make closing arguments to the jury. This is an argument summarizing the evidence that was presented and arguing for the result that the party desires from the jury.

Jury instructions

The judge will then instruct the jury about the rules that they must follow in their deliberations, and ask them to go back and deliberate until they reach a verdict.

Verdict

The jury will then reach a unanimous verdict.

If you have been charged with a crime and are facing a jury trial in a criminal matter, it is important that you contact an experienced criminal lawyer Greenville, MI trusts right away.


Thank you to our friends and contributors at Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense and the steps in a criminal trial.

 

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How Does a Judge Decide My Sentence?

Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you might be wondering how it is that the judge will decide your sentence. A judge has to consider many factors in weighing what sentence to impose upon a defendant who comes before them. Here are some of the factors that a judge will consider in deciding how to sentence you:

  1.     Statutes and case law.

The first thing that a judge will consider is the law. Criminal offenses will have minimum and maximum punishments that are set by statute. Further, case law and constitutional considerations will also impact the judge’s ability to determine a particular sentence. If a judge were to fail to follow the law, the sentence would be overturned on appeal.

  1.     Prior criminal history.

A judge will look at your prior criminal history in determining how to sentence. Lack of a criminal history will likely benefit you greatly, while a lengthy criminal history is a tough hurdle. Even criminal convictions far back in time will be considered, although more recent criminal convictions will be more damaging.

  1.     Age.

Your age at the time of the offense will be considered. Youthful first offenders are often cut more breaks than older offenders, as their immaturity and lack of brain development can contribute to poor decision making. On the other hand, elderly offenders who have kept a clean record for most of their life and have a momentary indiscretion are also often cut some slack by many judges.

  1.     Seriousness of the Crime

Of course, the seriousness of the crime and the facts surrounding the commission of the crime will play into the judge’s decision. If you can provide the court with mitigating factors that help to provide some context to the reasons that led you to commit the crime, it can be helpful.

  1.     Community Support.

Having the support of your family, friends, and other members of the community can be a positive factor for a judge who is determining a sentence. Many lawyers will ask your family and friends to write letters of support to be submitted to the judge prior to sentencing, so that the judge can take into consideration that community support. Further, letters from friends and family can help humanize you for the judge, so you’re not just a number.

  1.     Remorse.

To many judges, it is important to know whether or not a defendant is remorseful for his or her actions. If you can demonstrate sincere remorse to the judge, it may positively impact your sentence.

  1.     Professional evaluations.

If you have a professional evaluation that discusses the factors that led you to commit the crime and gives a positive outlook for your future risk to commit further crimes, that can be helpful. For example, if you were being sentenced for a sexual offense, a sex offender risk assessment by a licensed psychologist that indicates that you are at low risk to reoffend will likely result in a lower sentence.

  1.     Risk to the community.

The judge will look at what he or she believes to be your risk to the community. If you have an assaultive or sexual offense, your risk to the community will be higher than if you are being sentenced for a financial crime or other non-violent offense.

  1.     Punishment v Rehabilitation.

The judge has to decide how much punishment is appropriate in your case, versus how much they want to focus on rehabilitation.

If you are being sentenced in a criminal case, it is important that you are represented by a lawyer, and that you speak to experienced criminal defense lawyers  about your case.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense cases and how a judge decides sentencing.

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How to choose a court reporter for a criminal case

Criminal Defense Lawyer

You may ask yourself, are all court reporters the same? Are all court reporter services the same? The answer to both questions is a firm no. In researching different service companies, it becomes evident that there are quite a few to choose from. There are a variety of methods that can be used to document the information and there are different certification opportunities that may better qualify the court reporter for your specific area of law. When it comes to criminal law, it is imperative to have the testimony and anything that occurs in the courtroom be documented accurately and with discretion. Our company has access to experienced and knowledgeable professionals with extensive experience in the courtroom.

Our court reporters are:

  1. Knowledgeable with criminal court proceedings.
  2. Professionals and show discretion despite the content of what they are recording. Not only do our court reporters show discretion in the courtroom but in the community as well. Confidentiality is something we hold in high regard and so do our court reporters.
  3. Trained and experienced. Our court reporters maintain the proper licensure and certifications that go above and beyond the federal and state requirements. We encourage our court reporters to keep up with current trends in court reporting methods and the field of criminal law.
  4. Educated in legal terminology- specifically related to criminal court cases. We hold our court reporters to a high standard of knowledge when it comes to documenting testimony and other occurrences in the courtroom.  Since it is imperative for a court reporter to work quickly, there is no time to translate or even pause to think about how to spell a word or figure out what was just said. In being knowledgeable on the content, the documentation is fast and accurate.
  5. Able to remove his or her own emotion and opinion on the subject. Criminal law is meant to keep society safe and to determine and then punish criminal behavior. Inevitably, most people have strong opinions on criminal behavior. It is important for a court reporter to document what they hear with accuracy. It would be unethical for the court reporter to show his or her own bias in the way they document the testimony and attorney presence in the courtroom. Neutrality is of utmost importance.

The area of criminal law is important to keeping society safe and harmonious. As any attorney knows, there are many aspect to building and arguing a criminal case. In the event that the court does not provide a court reporter, it behooves you to make the additional expense and hire a court reporter offers as soon as the deposition phase. In doing so, you will have access to the testimony in the future and will be able to build a case based on the details and discretions that are revealed throughout the deposition and trial phases. In addition, if there your client wishes to appeal in the future, there is no chance it will be granted without a written transcript of the trial.  

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Veritext Legal Solutions for their insight into court reporting and how to choose a court reporter for a criminal case.

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Why might I not need a living trust?

Child Support Lawyer

Each day, a lawyer receives questions by people who are wondering whether or not they should have a living trust, or if it’s more practical to create a will. As a trust lawyer, the common answer is “It depends.” Some people should choose nothing less than a living trust, and others will not ever need one. For the average American, they will fall in the middle. The following information is a general overview of some situations that may indicate you do not need a living trust.

Avoiding Probate

Probate is a process that involves the inventory and distribution of a person’s assets after they have died. Probate is time consuming, expensive, and often involves many challenges. Because of this, many people try to do whatever they can to avoid probate.

There are many ways that assets can be transferred to inheritors without going through the probate process. This can usually be done within a few weeks or one month following the death. Examples of these methods include making gifts prior to the death, creating a pay-on-death designation to any bank accounts, naming a joint tenancy, with right of survivorship, on a property deed, naming a life insurance beneficiary, naming a retirement account beneficiary, and more.

A living trust can be used for all physical and financial assets and offers the ability to include precise planning while remaining considerably flexible. In a living trust, it is also possible to name alternate beneficiaries should the primary beneficiary die before you. This cannot be done on pay-on-death bank accounts or other asset transfer methods mentioned above.

Downsides to a Living Trust

There are drawbacks to a living trust. Unlike a will that is easy to draft, a living trust takes time to establish. It also requires ongoing maintenance and is not easy to modify (although it can be done). Asking a trust lawyer to draft a trust can cost upwards of $1000. You will also need a simplified will as a backup.

Should You Have a Living Trust

The drawbacks of a trust significantly outweigh the benefits for those who have significant assets or large estates, and also for people who will likely die in the next ten years. To help you decide, consider the following:

Your Age

People who are under 60 years of age, with middle-income or less, and in decent health often do not need a living trust. A serviceable will, which is easier to draft an maintain, should be enough to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries.

If you’re concerned about probate, changes in the US court system are being made. Even in the last decade, probate-avoidance techniques have gained a wider acceptance in the court. It is possible that the probate process will continue to be made easier.

Your Wealth

In general, the more money you have, the more you can save for your beneficiaries by creating a living trust. Furthermore, if you own a small business or significant assets that you don’t want tied up in probate, you may want to create a living trust – even if you are young.

Your Marriage Status

If you are married and you plan on leaving most or all of your assets to your spouse, and vice versa, you likely don’t need to worry about the probate process. Any jointly owned assets typically do not go through probate, and in many states, surviving spouses can use the expedited probate process.

What You Should Do Next

To ensure you do or do not need a living trust, it may be in your best interest to consult a trust lawyer for further advice. If you’re thinking about drafting a will, a trust attorney offers can also assist you and ensure everything is correctly worded, signed, and prepared.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and why you might need a living trust.

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