No matter what the situation is, you could simply be driving up the street for a cigarette or doing something as harmless as taking your child to school but if you are driving there are certain rules that must be followed. Unfortunately, no matter how innocent the reason, I wouldn’t do it without a valid driver’s license if I were you. There are only so many times you can get in a car with your license suspended, without accidentally violating a traffic infraction. And what about the event that you’re driving perfectly, and someone runs into you, causing a fender bender that requires police presence?
Getting pulled over while having a suspended license seems like no big deal at first, you think maybe you just pay fines and get your license back. This is not always the case. In some states, if your license is suspended and you get pulled over, you automatically go to jail. In other states, they will give you a few warnings before labeling you a “habitual offender” and putting you in handcuffs. This is where the big problems come in. Habitually driving while your license is suspended or revoked can be a felony offense! Can you imagine getting a felony for simply taking your daughter to school? I know the education of your child is extremely important but is it worth it in that situation? The handcuffs, the court dates, the fees?
There are programs in place to help people get their licenses back if they don’t have one. In most states, they will give you a temporary driving pass to go to work and come home. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of joining a program, there are attorneys that can be hired to settle most of your debts in order to regain your driving privileges. After not paying your tickets and fines on time, they are likely to have gained a bit of interest. Making it even more of a task to regain your license by yourself. Attorneys have enough knowledge of the law to negotiate on your behalf or even have debts wiped free from your record, allowing you an easier path back to the free road. Should you or someone you know have an open case for driving with a suspended license, be sure to contact a Decatur criminal lawyer defense in your area to see what your options are regarding the charge and possibly having your driver’s license reinstated.
Thanks to Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and driving with a suspended license.Read More
Family Law Lawyer
Typically, when people hear of a prenuptial agreement—or a prenup—it comes along with a dramatic story about a celebrity divorce. However, anyone two people can enter a prenup before they get married. A prenup is a written contract between two people that outlines the property they own and the debts they have. This is very useful information if the couple gets a divorce down the road as it will specify what each person in the couple gets. However, writing a prenup is not always simple and it can be helpful to have a family law attorney with you while you make these incredibly important life decisions. No one wants to think about who gets what after a marriage has ended, but it is always best to be prepared. Thus, you should have a caring and objective attorney helping you every step of the way.
I don’t have a lot of money. Do I need a prenup?
Many people believe that you need status, a big house, and wealth to create a prenup with your spouse. However, they can be very helpful for those who come from modest backgrounds as well.
- Protecting Debts. Creating a prenup agreement can be extremely helpful when it comes to protecting you and your spouse from each other’s debts.
- Determining Finances. Finances are one of the biggest things that a couple argues about during a marriage. Within the prenup, you and your spouse can outline very clearly what each of your roles are in terms of finances, who has certain responsibilities, and where your finances are still divided. This can save many headaches down the road.
- Avoiding Arguments. When couples get divorced there are typically two types of couples: those who divorce amicably and those who do not want to be near each other. While both situations can be stressful for different reasons, a prenup can ensure that both spouses have outlined exactly how their property should be divided in case of a divorce and if a spouse gets alimony. The latter will depend on your state as some states will not legally allow a spouse to give up alimony.
- Passing Property. When you are getting married and you or your spouse have children from a previous marriage, it is important to outline which property those children will get if you or your spouse dies.
Creating a prenup is helpful because it will ensure a court is not the one making decisions when it comes to finances, property, and debts. These are the decisions that you and your spouse want to clearly state if your marriage comes to an end.
If you are getting married and are considering creating a prenup, please contact a trusted family law lawyer in Rockville, MD so that they can help make this a smooth and easy process.
Thanks to the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insight into family law and prenups.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.
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 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.
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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 he 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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
A criminal trial has many parts. Here is a brief overview of the steps of a criminal trial:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.Read More