Archive for March, 2019

What Happens When You’re Caught Shoplifting?

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

What Happens When You’re Caught Shoplifting?

Shoplifting isn’t considered a serious crime, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Even though shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor, it’s usually charged as a first-degree misdemeanor. In many states, that can mean up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. The process usually follows the procedural steps listed below, but different states and localities might follow a slightly different version. Nobody can truly tell you what will happen in your particular shoplifting case except for the criminal defense attorney assigned to your case. However, this information might help you get a general idea of the situation.

Banned and Advised

Usually, the first step after being caught shoplifting is a ban. You’ll probably be told to give the items back if you were caught on site. You might also be told that you’re no longer able to come back to that particular store or to the entire shopping complex. You will likely be advised of your next steps, which usually involves receiving information about your court date in the mail. It’s very important to follow that information closely, to keep the information that is mailed to you, and to hand it over to your attorney with any other evidence he might have that can help him or her defend you in court.

Court Date

Even if this is your first offense, you need to show up in court and come prepared. Do not try to handle your court date on your own. No matter how much evidence do you have that could help you, nothing will help you as much as an experienced criminal defense attorney. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer can be a lifesaver when you have to go in front of a judge and make your case. Always be respectful when you appear in court and show that you are remorseful for your crimes if your attorney advises you to plead guilty.

Sentencing

Sentencing depends largely on the specifics of the case and the location in which the offense occurred. It’s possible to serve jail time even if this is your first offense. You may be eligible for certain programs in lieu of jail time. Ask your attorney if any of these programs are available to you. You may also be able to appeal any convictions, but this is not always possible and an appeal is never a guarantee of freedom.

Useful Tips

When dealing with law enforcement in the court system, there are some useful tips that apply across the board that you should keep in mind. Unless and until your criminal defense attorney advises you to plead guilty, never admit to anything. While you’re waiting on your court date, don’t talk to anyone but your attorney about the details of the case. Don’t share details of the event with your friends, don’t make incriminating statements to anybody, and definitely don’t post anything about it on social media. Doing any of these things can seriously damage your case. Rest assured that the prosecutors on the case will do their digging and will talk to most of the people you know. They will also look at your social media accounts. If you have admitted to or even suggested that you might have been guilty of the crime, that can be used against you in court.

Future Implications

Being convicted of a shoplifting charge can have serious implications for your future, even though it’s a misdemeanor. It can prohibit you from getting certain jobs, it can hinder your college application success, and it will show up on your background check. You could file for an expungement of your record after a year if it’s your only offense and you don’t require any more charges in that time. However, that’s still a long time to wait to have your record go back to normal.

It’s critically important that you hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are charged with shoplifting. Having a defense attorney by your side could lower your sentence and help prevent you from future implications of a shoplifting conviction. Additionally, hiring a criminal defense attorney can help you obtain benefits that you might not even know to ask for. You could be given a work program or community service sentence instead of having to serve jail time. Or, you could avoid a conviction altogether. Only a qualified criminal defense attorney in your state is able to advocate for you effectively and obtain the best possible outcome. Get started today with a consultation and take the first step on the road towards freedom.

What Are the Steps and Requirements to File For Bankruptcy in Florida?

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

What Are the Steps and Requirements to File For Bankruptcy in Florida?

Bankruptcy processes differ based on a number of factors. The type, or chapter, of bankruptcy you file, your eligibility status, whether or not you can pass means tests, and whether you’re a consumer or a business all play a part in your decision. While the information below should outline some of the basic considerations that will help you determine which bankruptcy process is right for you, don’t go it alone. It’s always best to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you make the best choice. Only a qualified, experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney can help you through the process with the most successful outcomes.

Business or Consumer?

If you’re a business, you have limitations as to what you can do and which chapters you can file. Usually, if you’re a corporation or something similar, you’ll have to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Chapter 11 is designed specifically for mid- to large-sized businesses and corporations. However, if you’re a sole proprietor, you may be able to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, too. Use the rest of the considerations listed here to help you determine which is best for you. However, for business owners who are not sole proprietors, you’ll probably have to go with Chapter 11. Consumers almost always choose between Chapter 7 (liquidation) and Chapter 13 (payment plan) bankruptcy.

Liquidation or Payment Plan?

If you want to liquidate your assets, get a clean state, be debt free, and start over, then Chapter 7 is the bankruptcy process you want to look into. Chapter 7 allows you to keep necessary things like one home, your car, and similar items but requires that you liquidate other assets such as a second home, second car, or other property that is deemed unnecessary. That being said, most Chapter 7 cases don’t require you to give up any property for one reason or another. You do have to pass a means test for Chapter 7, though. If you make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7, then you’ll have to file Chapter 13. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your debt will be negotiated down and consolidated into a single monthly payment that you’ll pay over three to five years, in most cases. Consult with your bankruptcy attorney to decide which type is right for you.

Is Your Debt Dischargeable?

If you want to wipe the slate clean with Chapter 7 bankruptcy and you pass the means test, you still have to determine if your debt is dischargeable. Some debts can be discharged, such as certain medical bills and consumer credit. However, alimony, child support, tax debts, and other similar debts are not dischargeable. That means if your debt is mostly made up of consumer credit, you’re probably going to obtain some benefit from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. However, if most of your debt is considered not dischargeable, it won’t do you any good to file for Chapter 7, so Chapter 13 might be best.

Passing the Means Test

Virtually every form of bankruptcy has a means test associated with it. In other words, do you qualify for this form of bankruptcy? You have to pass those tests, which are just a list of requirements, in order to file for that particular chapter of bankruptcy. Ask your Florida bankruptcy attorney which means test you pass and what your options are. Sometimes, you’ll only qualify for one form of bankruptcy and that will be your answer.

Hiring a FL Bankruptcy Attorney

Bankruptcy should never be taken lightly. You need to contact an attorney to help you through the process. Your first step will be to hire a qualified Florida bankruptcy attorney to make sure you’re going through the process correctly, picking the right process in the first place, and are prepared for every stage of the bankruptcy process. During the filing process you have to fill out a succession of forms that must be completed with zero errors and filed on very particular dates and, in some cases, times. Your attorney can help you make sure you aren’t disqualified for a simple administrative error.

Never go it alone in the legal system. Only a qualified bankruptcy attorney in Florida can help you navigate the system and obtain the best possible outcome for your particular situation. Get started today and consult with a bankruptcy attorney. Doing so will help you take the first step down the road towards financial freedom and independence.

What is Considered Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Friday, March 8th, 2019

What is Considered Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual harassment is far less tolerated now than it was in years past, and that’s a good thing. But sometimes, it’s hard for people to tell what is and what isn’t sexual harassment. Is flirting harassment? Is complimenting someone on their outfit harassment? The legal definition of sexual harassment has a number of qualifications and characteristics attached to it. If your behavior or the behavior of another falls into these categories, even one of them, you might be guilty of or experiencing sexual harassment.

Unwanted

Is the gesture or behavior unwanted? If it is, then it’s harassment. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the person on the other end of the behavior has to tell you that your behavior is unwanted. For instance, most people should be aware that going up and touching someone in a sensitive area when they didn’t ask for it is unwanted behavior.

Threatening

Is the behavior threatening? This doesn’t have to mean you’re hovering over someone with an ax. Threatening behavior can be posturing. Are you standing in front of the door refusing to let someone out? Are you trying to tower over someone to intimidate them? Can your behavior be construed as such? Is it obvious that the other person feels afraid or intimidated? If so, then your behavior is likely threatening and you should stop.

Interferes with Work Life or Work Success

This definition can mean many things. If someone is afraid to come to work because they don’t want to deal with your behavior, you’re interfering with their work life. If the quality of their work is suffering because working in proximity to you is stressful due to your unwanted behavior, then you’re interfering with their work success. Any time someone feels like they don’t want to be at work, are unsafe at work, or can’t focus on their work due to the actions or words of another, they’re experiencing the effects of this characteristic of sexual harassment.

Creates a Hostile Work Environment

Again, any behavior that is sexual in nature and creates a hostile work environment (i.e. stalking, threatening, unwanted touching, etc.) is sexual harassment. Nobody should come to work feeling threatened or unsafe. The workplace has to be and should be a safe, collaborative space in which people can come together to work on the jobs and tasks at hand. Any time you ruin that for someone with your actions and persistence, you create a hostile environment for them.

Causes Physical or Emotional Distress

The actions you take at work can greatly affect people outside of work, too. If you’re constantly touching someone when they don’t want to be, making advances that aren’t wanted, continuing to communicate with someone in flirtatious ways after they say no, or anything similar to these actions, you can cause that person physical or emotional distress. This behavior can cause stress, sadness, anger, frustration, and physical illness. When that happens, you’ve gone too far and have crossed into the realm of sexual harassment.

No Means No

Sexual harassment can be avoided by remembering the simple adage “no means no”. If someone tells you not to do something, don’t do it. If they turn you down, stop bothering them about it. If they’re married or in a relationship, don’t be flirtatious and make them uncomfortable. And use common sense. If you wouldn’t want someone touching, speaking to, or behaving towards you or a loved one like you’re behaving towards someone else, then stop doing it. If you’re the victim of harassment, go to HR, and if nothing happens, go to law enforcement. You have the right to feel protected and safe at work.

Sexual harassment is still a problem, and men and women can both be victims. If you’re the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, get an attorney to help you defend yourself. Too often, companies are more concerned with protecting their image or certain people in powerful positions than they are with creating a safe place for all to work. If HR won’t help or they’re doing too little, hire an attorney to help you protect yourself and fight for your rights in the workplace.

What Are the Penalties For a DUI in California?

Friday, March 1st, 2019

What Are the Penalties For a DUI in California?

DUIs are always serious offenses. In California, they are considered priorable offenses, which means the consequences get more serious with each conviction. Once you are arrested, you have 10 days to request DMV hearing. Requesting a hearing postpones your license suspension until your hearing is over and the case is decided. It may even save you from ever having to serve a suspension as sometimes the hearing results in your suspension being set aside. Here are the general penalties for DUIs in California based on how many DUI convictions you have. Of course, you should consult with your California DUI attorney for the most accurate information as it applies to your case.

First Offense Misdemeanor

For your first offense, you’ll likely be given a summary probation, which is an informal probation, of three to five years. You may also get up to six months in jail and be asked to pay between $390 and $1,000 in fines. Some offenders will also be asked to complete a three-month or nine-month drug education program. You could also lose your license for anywhere from six to 10 months. However, you can usually obtain a restricted license if you agree to pay for and install an ignition interlock device (IID).

Second Offense Misdemeanor

If you commit a second DUI offense in California within 10 years of the first one, you’ll face another three to five years of summary probation, anywhere from 96 hours to a year in jail time, and another $390 to $1,000 in fines. You’ll also likely be asked to attend an 18-month or 30-month court-approved California DUI school or course. Finally, you’ll be faced with a two-year license suspension which can be converted into a restricted license after a year.

Third Offense Misdemeanor

If you are convicted of a third DUI offense in California within a ten-year period, you’ll be faced with the same three to five years of summary probation, 120 days to a year in jail, and another $390 to $1,000 in fines. You’ll also have to attend a court-approved drug education program for 30 months and complete a three-year license suspension. Your suspension might be able to be converted into a restricted license but only after 18 months. You’ll also obtain the label of HTD or habitual traffic offender. This label will stay on your DMV record and can cause serious problems for you, from getting a job to obtaining credit.

Misdemeanor DUI with Injuries

If you were convicted of a misdemeanor DUI that resulted in injuries, you’ll face the same three to five years of summary probation, five days to a year in county jail, but you’ll pay between $390 and $5,000 in fines. You’ll also have to serve three, 18, or 30 months at a drug or alcohol education problem and a one to three-year license restriction or suspension. Additionally, you’ll have to pay full restitution to all injured parties.

Felony DUI Penalties

In California, those who are convicted of a felony DUI will face 16 months to three years in California State Prison. You’ll have to pay between $390 and $1,000 in fines and serve a four-year license revocation — not just a suspension. You’ll be given the HTD designation by the DMV and you may earn a strike pursuant to California’s three strikes law.

Felony DUI with Injuries

If your DUI conviction was deemed a felony and injuries resulted from the DUI, you’ll be looking at 16 months to 10 years in state prison and may have to face additional or consecutive one to six-year periods depending on how many injuries there are and the extent of those injuries. You’ll also be given a strike pursuant to California’s three strikes law, face $1,015 to $5,000 in fines, and you will have to go to alcohol or drug education classes at a court-approved facility for 18 to 30 months. You’ll be given an HTD classification and will also have to pay full restitution to all injured parties.

As you can see, any DUI is a serious charge in California. The penalties for a DUI in California are strict and can impact your life for years to come. It’s critical that you defend yourself against DUI charges by hiring an experienced and qualified California DUI attorney. Only a qualified legal representative can help you present your best defense and obtain the best possible outcome for you given the circumstances of your case. Get a consultation today and take the first step down the road towards protecting your freedom and your future.