Archive for May, 2019

6 Characteristics of a Good Bankruptcy Attorney

Thursday, May 30th, 2019

6 Characteristics of a Good Bankruptcy Attorney

If you’re hiring a bankruptcy attorney for the first time you might be unsure of what to expect. What makes a good attorney? How can you know if the attorney you’re speaking to is the best one for your case? You should always consult more than one attorney before making your final decision. However, when you’re looking for an attorney to retain, keep the following six characteristics of a good bankruptcy lawyer in mind.

Competency

Your bankruptcy attorney is obligated to provide you with competent advice. That includes telling you whether or not bankruptcy is your best option, and, if they think it is, to give you advice about the process. They should be able to tell you which chapter of bankruptcy you should file for, how to successfully reach your financial goals, how to make the process easier, what to expect, and whether your case contains any risks or difficulties.

Ability

Just because an attorney is knowledgeable about bankruptcy doesn’t always mean they’re able to handle your case. In order to be successful, your attorney must be familiar with all the federal, state, and local court laws and procedures and be able to navigate them in order to arrive at a favorable outcome for you. Additionally, your attorney should be able to handle a wide range of difficulty when it comes to bankruptcy cases. Depending on whether you file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 and taking the individual factors into consideration, your case might be challenging to file. Make sure your attorney can handle it. Looking at his or her past record might be a good place to start.

Communication

You’re paying your attorney to do more than just file your paperwork. Additionally, you’re hiring them to help you through the process, keep you updated, and inform you about what’s going on and what you can expect. If you hire your attorney and never hear from them again, or if calls to their office go unanswered, you might want to think again about continuing with that particular attorney.

Timeliness

There are many deadlines that you’re required to meet when filing the various paperwork involved in bankruptcy cases. Your attorney should know about these and be ahead of the game, ensuring that every deadline is met. If your attorney misses deadlines it can cause a number of consequences. These consequences can be as simple as delaying the process or as devastating as having your case dismissed entirely. Punctuality is an expectation you should have of any attorney you hire.

Preparation

When you retain a bankruptcy attorney, you should expect that your lawyer will help you complete and file all the necessary paperwork. You’ll have to provide him or her with all the necessary information that goes on the forms, but the attorney’s office will probably have software that can fill out the necessary paperwork. Additionally, your attorney should check for errors and omissions and ensure your paperwork is up to par.

Representation

Finally, your bankruptcy attorney should go with you to court when you have mandatory hearings. One such hearing is called the meeting of creditors, or the 341 hearing. If your bankruptcy case calls for it, there may be additional hearings you have to go to. Your attorney should go with you to these hearings if you’re required to attend. If you’re not required to attend the hearing your bankruptcy attorney should still go on your behalf and represent your interests.

Your attorney should be there for you through the entire process. If they ask you to do all the paperwork yourself, don’t answer your phone calls, or otherwise fail to uphold the six responsibilities listed above, you should probably seek out a new attorney. No matter what type of bankruptcy you have, it’s always advisable to seek out a qualified, experienced bankruptcy attorney in your area to make sure you’re getting the best representation and outcome possible.

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Any criminal charge, whether minor or major, should be taken seriously. But some are objectively worse than others. There are three main types of criminal classifications in the criminal justice system: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Infractions are mostly understood and tend to apply to minor traffic violations. The lines between misdemeanors and felonies, however, can often be blurred, making both of them harder to understand. Here’s what you need to know about these two types of charges.

What’s a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a charge that carries penalty of less than a year in jail. Usually, the crime does not include any violence. Jail time for misdemeanors tends to be served in county or local jail instead of a state or federal prison. Examples of misdemeanors include things like minor theft, driving with a suspended license, DUI in some cases, and minor drug charges. Any misdemeanor can be charged as a felony if injury or death occur or if it was done in a violent manner. For instance, a DUI that results in a death could be charged as a felony. Multiple misdemeanors charged at one time or in short succession can also lead to felony-like punishments.

What’s a Felony?

Felonies are the most serious type of crime. Usually, felonies involve an element of violence. They are punishable by lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. You’ll likely serve a prison sentence related to a felony in a state or federal prison. For example, rape, murder, grand theft, and arson are all felonies. Usually, a grand jury indictment is necessary in order to charge someone with a felony crime.

Ambiguity in the System

Misdemeanor and felonies seem clearly defined, but in actuality there are many ambiguities in the law. Prosecutors can decide how to file a charge based on the circumstances of the case. Aggravating circumstances (those that make your situation worse) and mitigating circumstances (those that make it better) are also considered and can play a factor in how you’re charged. State laws can differ, as well, meaning that the same exact crime can be charged as a misdemeanor in one state and a felony in another.

Importance of Legal Defense

Just because a misdemeanor is a less serious crime doesn’t mean that it’s not serious. It also doesn’t mean you should take the charge lightly. Felony charges don’t have to be death sentences or the end of the world, but you can only defend yourself adequately if you have the appropriate legal defense. A qualified, experienced criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the system, compile a compelling defense, and obtain the best results for you.

Never go it alone in the court system. Laws are written to be intentionally ambiguous and confusing to the average person. Only a qualified attorney can help you successfully obtain the best possible outcome for you. Hiring a criminal defense attorney isn’t just for the accused. Even if you’ve been convicted, a criminal defense attorney can help you craft an appeal. Get started today and get on the road to protecting your rights and your freedom.

I Was Injured at Work in Alabama. What Are My Legal Options?

Friday, May 17th, 2019

I Was Injured at Work in Alabama. What Are My Legal Options?

Workers compensation exists to help cover employees who are injured at work. Usually, these cases are handled without incident and without the courts. Sometimes, however, employees walk away from arbitration feeling less than satisfied. It’s important to understand your rights as an employee. Hiring a workers compensation attorney in Alabama isn’t just for when things go wrong in arbitration. You can retain an attorney from the beginning to ensure you’re getting a fair outcome and walking away with all the benefits to which you’re legally entitled.

Right to an Attorney

You’re always allowed to hire an attorney. Nobody can tell you that you’re not allowed to acquire legal advice from a qualified employment attorney in your state. You can take all your contracts, agreements, and paperwork to an attorney to have them look everything over for you. An experienced Alabama workers compensation attorney can help you obtain the best possible results and protect your rights.

File a Workers Compensation Claim

Within five days of the accident, be sure to file a claim. Immediately report the incident to your boss, supervisor, employer, or whoever you’ve been directed to address such reports to. Ask your supervisor which doctor you should see. Be sure to fill out your application for workers compensation benefits and give it to your employer as soon as possible. Accepted cases are usually over quickly. Even if your claim has been accepted, though, you can ask for a court date if you’re suspicious about the fairness of the situation.

Going to Court

If your employer denies your claim or treats you unfairly, you are allowed to go to court. If you do, don’t go it alone. It’s important to have expert legal advice and to retain an experienced Alabama workers compensation attorney to help defend your rights and negotiate the best possible outcome for you. It can be nearly impossible to win these cases without proper legal representation, so don’t risk it.

No Workers Comp Insurance?

Legally, every Alabama business is required to have workers compensation insurance for every employee. You should absolutely go to court if your employer doesn’t have this insurance because they are breaking the law. They are also not allowed to try to persuade you to give up on taking them to court. Threats or pleas to make you feel sorry for the employer so that you don’t sue can be used as evidence against your employer in court.

Negligence Claims

The only issue you might face in court is if your behavior contributed to or caused the accident. If they claim that you were a contributor to the accident or that you caused it, they’re seeking a way out of responsibility in court. This is a dangerous situation that can leave you with nothing. For instance, they might claim that you didn’t follow proper protocol and that’s why you were hurt. If they are successful in claiming that you contributed to or caused the accident, you could be left with a fraction of the benefits you’re entitled to — or with no benefits at all.

It’s critical to hire an experienced Alabama workers compensation attorney before going into court. The legal system is intentionally confusing to the average person; that’s why law school exists. Hire a workers compensation lawyer in Alabama and make sure you’re giving yourself the best shot at defending your rights. Get a consultation today and take the first step down the road of protecting your freedom and your future.

Will I Have to Go to Prison If I’m Convicted of Drug Possession?

Thursday, May 9th, 2019

Will I Have to Go to Prison If I’m Convicted of Drug Possession?

Many crimes have rather predictable sentences. However, that’s not the case with drug possession. Depending on the circumstances, you could be looking at a $100 fine and a few days’ jail time or thousands of dollars in fines and a lengthy prison sentence. There are many factors that determine the punishment you’ll receive for drug possession. Each case is different, and only a qualified defense lawyer in your state can help you make the best decision. However, here are some common factors that may influence what kind of consequences you have to endure for a drug possession conviction.

The State You Live In

Where the drug possession occurred makes a big difference. State laws vary on many topics, but they vary more on drug possession laws than they do on many other topics. Some states are extremely harsh. Kentucky has some of the harshest drug laws. For your first drug possession offense in Kentucky, you’ll be looking at two to ten years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines. California, alternatively, has some of the lightest punishments. For your first offense, you’ll be looking at around $30-$500 in fines and/or five to 180 days in jail.

The Type of Drug

The type of drug you had in your possession also matters quite a bit. There are various “schedules” of drugs, five being the least serious to one, which is the most serious. Schedule five drugs include things like cough suppressants and Lyrica. Schedule one includes things like heroin, LSD, and E. Marijuana is actually classified as Schedule 1 even though most would consider it far less dangerous than many Schedule 2 drugs, like cocaine. Many attorneys will use this apparent discrepancy to defend their clients in court, so it’s critical to hire a defense attorney if you’ve been charged with drug possession.

The Weight of the Drug

How much of the drug you had in your possession is also important. In fact, the weight, or amount, of drugs that you had in your possession at the time of arrest can play a big factor in what kind of punishments you get and even how you’re charged. If you only had enough for you to use for a few days, you’ll probably get off with a misdemeanor possession charge and some fines, depending on the type of drug. But if you have a lot of it, that can indicate an intent to distribute, which can lead down the road of some serious charges and harsh penalties. Selling, distributing, or intend to do either are always punished more severely.

Prior Convictions

How many convictions do you already have? If it’s your first one, you will usually receive punishments that aren’t so harsh. But if you’re a repeat offender, you’ll probably be punished more severely. First-time offenders may get off with just a small fine and mandatory drug education courses or treatment. If you’re willing to submit to voluntary drug tests over 12 to 15 months, you may also be able to negotiate for reduced penalties. If you’re habitually found to have drugs in your possession, though, jail time and/or lengthy prison sentences are almost certain, as are hefty fines.

Aggravating and Mitigating Circumstances

The court will also consider aggravating and mitigating factors, or circumstances, in your case. Aggravating factors are things that make the situation worse for you. Mitigating factors make things better for you. For example, an aggravating factor may be that you were acting violently while in possession of the drug in question. A mitigating factor or circumstance might be that you were merely an accomplice to a main perpetrator and/or you’ve never done anything like this before.

Drug charges are nothing to mess around with. Contact an attorney to either help you in court or help you craft your appeal if you’ve already been convicted. Criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you obtain the best possible outcome through a well-crafted defense that’s tailored to the specifics of your case. Don’t go it alone. Find a qualified criminal defense attorney in your state today and protect your future and your freedom.

Can Employers See My Auto Accident History? Is It On My Public Record?

Friday, May 3rd, 2019

Can Employers See My Auto Accident History? Is It On My Public Record?

The question as to whether or not an employer can see your auto accident history depends a lot on the circumstances surrounding your employment and your history. In other words, both the type of job you’re applying for and the types of violations that are on your record determine whether or not your employer has any reason to see it. Every single case is different so you should certainly consult with a qualified and experienced employment attorney in your state to make sure you’re not being discriminated against. However, here are some of the reasons that an employer might have access to your auto accident history.

Type of Job

The type of job you’re applying for is important. If you’re applying for a job that never requires you to drive, it’s probably unlikely that your DMV record will have anything to do with your employment status. If you only have a couple of minor accidents in the last several years or if you have speeding tickets, it’s probably not going to make that big of a difference for most jobs. It will make a difference is if you’re trying to drive a truck, drive a delivery car, or apply for work that requires you to transport yourself and others on a regular basis. This is particularly true if you’ll be driving a company car.

Your Record

Your driving record itself also has a lot to do with whether or not an employer would care about it. Again, if you only have a few minor infractions and your job is not driving related, you probably won’t have to worry too much about your employer taking your DMV record into consideration. However, if you have felonies on your driving record or instances where recklessness, excessive speed, and alcohol, or generally irresponsible behavior is present, you might have a bit more to worry about. Those kinds of infractions and violations tend to speak to a pattern of behavior rather than a couple of minor accidents or tickets that anybody could acquire.

Reason to Search

Just because an employer or a potential employer has access to your auto history doesn’t necessarily mean they need access to it. Ask yourself whether or not they have a reason to search. If a reasonable person in their situation who is looking to hire you or keep you hired in their company wouldn’t think your driving record was important, then maybe they shouldn’t, either. You might be able to defend yourself against that search. It’s unlawful for employers to discriminate against you based on things that don’t have anything to do with the job at hand. Make sure your employer has a reason to search your DMV history or driving history before you just accept that they’ll be doing that.

Always remember that you have protection against discrimination under the law. It’s certainly appropriate and understandable for an employer to look at your DMV history if it has to do with establishing your character or if the job at hand requires you to drive. However, you should not be the subject of discrimination. If you feel like your employer or a potential employer is unfairly considering your auto accident history, you can hire an employment attorney in your state to help defend you against that discrimination. Get started with a consultation today and take the first step to defend yourself against unfair treatment. Doing so could protect your future and your freedom.