Archive for September, 2019

6 Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding if Bankruptcy is Right for You

Friday, September 27th, 2019

6 Helpful Questions to Ask Yourself When Deciding if Bankruptcy is Right for You

Bankruptcy can help you eliminate debt and get back on your feet, and it’s often a new start for those who have been dealing with long-term financial trouble. However, filing for bankruptcy is a major decision, and many people find it confusing. If you’re wondering whether or not filing for bankruptcy is the right choice for you, these six questions can get you started on the right track.

Will Bankruptcy Help You?

Depending on the type of debt you have, your income, and the types of property you own, there are situations in which filing for bankruptcy can do more harm than good. For instance, there are certain financial commitments that are considered “priority obligations” by the court. These are debts that don’t go away, and you’re still responsible for paying them even if you file for bankruptcy. These include such obligations as alimony, child support, and various tax debts. If much of your debt is secured, you might also want to consider another option. Those with the financial means to settle with their creditors outside of the bankruptcy courts may find that doing so is a better option.

Do You Meet the Eligibility Requirements?

Filing for bankruptcy won’t do you any good if you don’t qualify. To file for Chapter 7, you’ll have to pass a means test, and to qualify for Chapter 13, you have to earn a certain amount. Based on your income, the types of debt you have, and the chapter you want to file under, you might find that you don’t qualify. Be sure to do your research.

Is There a Lawsuit Against You?

If you’re facing a lawsuit from your creditors, bankruptcy is almost always a great option. When you file for bankruptcy, an “automatic stay” goes into effect and your creditors are legally barred from going after you in any way until the bankruptcy case is settled and closed. They also must suspend any legal action against you. Because a lawsuit can often mean the loss of your home, car, and wages, filing for bankruptcy can be a financial life saver.

Are You Facing Foreclosure or Repossession?

The automatic stay also means your creditors can’t go after any property you have that’s a part of a secured debt (i.e., property you’ve been given in exchange for the promise of payment). Filing for bankruptcy can give you some breathing room and help you avoid losing your car or home. You usually can’t get rid of your lender’s lien on any property you have, but you can use bankruptcy to catch up on payments you’ve missed, reduce the total balance owed, and eliminate unsecured junior liens via a process known as lien stripping. These benefits exist almost exclusively within Chapter 13 bankruptcy, so be sure to look into that option if you’re facing repossession or foreclosure.

What Property Do You Own?

Under the bankruptcy code there are two types of property: exempt and nonexempt. Exempt property, such as your home and car, can’t be sold in order to pay back your creditors, because losing that property would leave you worse off than if you had the debt. In other words, you’re allowed to keep your home and car because the government understands that you can’t be expected to live without a home and a car simply because you owe debt. If you own a lot of nonexempt property, such as a second home or a timeshare, you might want to consider an option other than bankruptcy, especially if you’re looking at Chapter 7. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy you can wipe your financial slate clean, but the trustee in charge of your case can sell any nonexempt property in order to pay back some of what you owe to your creditors.

If you have the income available and can qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can keep your property, but you have to commit to a three- to five-year payment plan wherein you pay a specified amount every month. You don’t get to eliminate your debt, but you do get to keep your property. Consider the value and types of property you own when determining whether or not bankruptcy is right for you.

Which Chapter Should You File Under?

Chapter 7 allows you to keep your property and usually wipes your debt slate clean without requiring you to pay back anything. You also get a resolution to your case within a few months. However, this option is usually best for those with limited property and income. If you have a lot of nonexempt property and your income can support a repayment plan, you might consider filing under Chapter 13 instead, which acts like debt consolidation by restructuring the total amount owed to all of your creditors into a single monthly payment.

You must take many things into consideration when deciding whether or not to file for bankruptcy. While these questions can help you narrow down your options, it’s always best to consult a bankruptcy attorney in your area before making any final decisions. Only a bankruptcy lawyer can help you navigate the legal waters and ensure you get the best possible outcome.

What Are the Penalties For a DUI in Florida?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

What Are the Penalties For a DUI in Florida?

Getting a DUI is never a trivial thing, no matter what state you live in. The penalties for a DUI in Florida range from fines to serious jail time, fines, and other penalties added on. Every state is different, and you should hire a DUI attorney in Florida to make sure you’re presenting your best defense based on the circumstances of your cars. However, here are some penalties you could be facing.

Fines

These fines can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. How much you pay largely depends on how severe the DUI was and what kinds of circumstances surrounded the DUI, including whether or not injuries occurred and how much alcohol was in your system. Felony DUIs are more expensive than misdemeanors. Your record comes into play, too, since repeat offenders often pay higher fines than first-time offenders.

Jail Time

Usually, you’ll be spending your jail time in county jail. Typically, state prison is reserved for felony DUIs. If injuries are involved, though, a misdemeanor could send you to state prison but you’ll usually just obtain a longer sentence. You could be there for several days or several years. Your Florida DUI attorney will be able to tell you what specific penalties you’re facing.

License Suspension

License suspension is another commonly used penalty for those who drink and drive in Florida. You could be facing a license suspension of a couple of months or several years. You might be able to obtain a restricted license that allows you to drive to certain places, like work and school, but sometimes you have to serve a certain amount of your suspension before you can apply for a restricted license. Ask your attorney if you’re eligible for a restricted license as opposed to a full license suspension. You might have to agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in order to be granted a restricted license, but it would be worth it to have some of your driving privileges back.

Restitution

Any time injuries are involved in a DUI you’ll likely be asked to pay restitution. In other words, it’s up to you to pay for damages that your actions caused others. Sometimes partial restitution is accepted, but it’s more common for the courts to ask you to pay full restitution. There may be some exceptions to this based on the specifics of your case, so be sure to consult with your Florida DUI attorney for the most accurate information.

It’s never worth it to try to best the legal system on your own. The legal system is intentionally complex and confusing to the average person. That’s why law school exists. Instead of fighting it on your own, consult with an experienced and qualified Florida DUI attorney so you have professional legal representation on your side as you go to fight for your rights. Get a consultation today and take the first step down the road of protecting your freedom and your future.

Do I Legally Have to Get Out of the Car if a Cop Asks Me To?

Friday, September 13th, 2019

Do I Legally Have to Get Out of the Car if a Cop Asks Me To?

You’re driving down the road, a cop pulls you over, and they ask you to exit your vehicle. Can you refuse? Do they have the right to do that? Actually, thanks to the case Pennsylvania vs. Mimms, it’s perfectly legal for a cop to ask you to get out of the car. And yes, you have to comply. Staying inside your car and refusing to get out is likely to lead to much more suspicion being thrown your way, and that’s never a good situation. Here’s what you should know about why it’s legal for a cop to ask you to get out of your car.

Officer Safety

The Supreme Court ruled in Pennsylvania vs. Mimms that it’s legal and acceptable for a cop to ask someone to get out of their car after a valid traffic stop. The reason is that while asking someone to get out of their car is a mere inconvenience for the person exiting the vehicle, it very much improves the safety of the officer. While most people pose no threat, it’s possible that someone could have a weapon hidden in the car or concealed on their body, or that they could simply speed off, injuring an officer or going on to hurt others. Because the benefit of added officer safety outweighs the inconvenience to the driver, at least in the eyes of the U.S. Supreme Court, you have to exit the vehicle.

Traffic Safety

Another explanation in the Pennsylvania vs. Mimms case for why it’s okay to order someone out of their car, even for a routine traffic stop, is traffic safety. This is particularly true in a high-traffic area. If an officer asks you to get out of your car, they usually have you stand between your car and the cop car behind yours. This gets both of you out of the way of traffic while the officer writes up your ticket. This prevents the officer from potentially being hit by traffic, adding to officer safety, and it prevents the traffic dangers that would accumulate after such an incident occurred.

Valid Stop

It’s important to realize that the language of this case is very clear. An officer can only order you out of your car after a valid traffic stop. If the stop wasn’t valid, however, asking you to get out of your car is not acceptable and any evidence against you that the officer might have collected after that stop will likely be kept out of a courtroom. In other words, if the officer is profiling you, pulled you over for a violation you didn’t commit, told you that your registration was past due but it wasn’t, or anything else that constitutes an invalid stop, you can defend yourself against anything that happened after that stop in a court of law.

Don’t Refuse

That being said, even if you know for a fact that you’re being pulled over for an invalid reason, do not refuse to get out of your car. It will only escalate the situation and make it more difficult for you to defend yourself in court. Refusing to comply with an officer is almost always seen as a sign of guilt, and even thought jurors and judicial officials are usually asked not to consider refusal as admission of guilt, they often do. Always comply, keep your eyes and ears open, gather any evidence or observations you can, and relay all of that to your traffic attorney.

While it might be tempting to refuse an officer’s orders, especially if you feel violated by them, you must get out of the car if an officer asks you to. Give any information you can to your traffic attorney and he or she will be able to defend you in a court of law. Never try to navigate the legal system by yourself. Your freedom is on the line. Consult with an experienced traffic attorney in your state and take the first step on the road to fighting for your rights.

What Are the Penalties For a DUI in North Carolina?

Friday, September 6th, 2019

What Are the Penalties For a DUI in North Carolina?

Getting a DUI is never a trivial thing, no matter which state you live in. The penalties for a DUI in North Carolina range from minor fines to serious jail time, hefty fines, and other penalties added on. Every state is different, and you should hire a DUI attorney in North Carolina to make sure you’re presenting your best defense based on the circumstances of your case. That being said, here are some penalties you could be facing.

Fines

These fines can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. How much you pay largely depends on how severe the DUI was and what kinds of circumstances surrounded the DUI, including whether or not injuries occurred and how much alcohol was in your system. Felony DUIs are more expensive than misdemeanors. Your record comes into play, too, since repeat offenders often pay higher fines than first-time offenders.

Jail Time

Usually, you’ll be spending your jail time in county jail. Typically, state prison is reserved for felony DUIs. If injuries are involved, though, a misdemeanor could send you to state prison but you’ll usually just obtain a longer sentence. You could be there for several days or several years. Your North Carolina DUI attorney will be able to tell you what specific penalties you’re facing.

License Suspension

License suspension is another commonly used penalty for those who drink and drive in North Carolina. You could be facing a license suspension of a couple of months or several years. You might be able to obtain a restricted license that allows you to drive to certain places, like work and school, but sometimes you have to serve a certain amount of your suspension before you can apply for a restricted license. Ask your attorney if you’re eligible for a restricted license as opposed to a full license suspension. You might have to agree to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in order to be granted a restricted license, but it would be worth it to have some of your driving privileges back.

Restitution

Any time injuries are involved in a DUI you’ll likely be asked to pay restitution. In other words, it’s up to you to pay for damages that your actions caused others. Sometimes partial restitution is accepted, but it’s more common for the courts to ask you to pay full restitution. There may be some exceptions to this based on the specifics of your case, so be sure to consult with your North Carolina DUI attorney for the most accurate information.

It’s never worth it to try to best the legal system on your own. The legal system is intentionally complex and confusing to the average person. That’s why law school exists. Instead of fighting it on your own, consult with an experienced and qualified North Carolina DUI attorney so you have professional legal representation on your side as you go to fight for your rights. Get a consultation today and take the first step down the road of protecting your freedom and your future.