Archive for October, 2019

How Long Do Felony Traffic Violations Stay On My Record?

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

How Long Do Felony Traffic Violations Stay On My Record?

Felony traffic violations are serious and can cause problems for you into the future. Maybe your felony traffic violation is the reason you couldn’t get a job. Maybe it’s the reason you couldn’t get a loan or an apartment. It’s no secret that felony traffic violations can impact your life in many ways, so you might be wondering how long those violations are going to stay on your record. Many people believe that felony traffic violation stay on your record for seven years across the board. However, as with most legal issues, there is no single answer. How long your felony traffic violation stays on your record largely depends on a number of factors surrounding your case. Here are some of the factors that might be considered.

Your State

The state you live in, or the state in which the violation took place, has a lot to do with how long that violation will stay on your record. For the same exact violation, some states might only make you carry it on your record for a few years while another state might make you carry it around for 10 years. It honestly depends on the rest of the circumstances in your case, the state you’re in, and the laws within those states. Some states are very harsh on traffic violations, particularly felony traffic violations, and other states are more lenient. It’s important to contact your traffic attorney to find out which state laws apply to you.

Your Criminal History

Your criminal history might also play a part in how long a violation sticks around on your record. If you were a first-time offender, part of your negotiation in court might be to have your violation dropped after just a couple of years. First-time violators might also be able to ask for an expungement after a certain probation period is served. However, as with most things in the law, if you’re a repeat offender you might have to carry that felony traffic violation on your record for a longer period of time.

The Severity of the Crime

The severity of the crime or violation also makes a difference. Obviously it was a felony if it’s a felony traffic violation, but there are varying degrees of felonies, as well. For instance, if minors were involved you might be facing a longer sentence during which you’ll have to carry that violation on your record. However, if there were mitigating circumstances that helped you in court, you might be able to negotiate the expungement or release of those violations from your record after a shorter period of time.

Aggravating Circumstances

If there are aggravating circumstances that made the situation worse for you in court, you might have a more difficult time negotiating the expungement of your felony traffic record. For instance, if you were using alcohol at the time of the violation, you engaged and reckless behavior, or you put a minor in danger, those things might make it more difficult for you to negotiate having that violation removed from your record earlier.

Mitigating Circumstances

Mitigating circumstances are factors that make your situation better. For instance, if you were only an accomplice and not the main instigator of a crime or violation, that might be taken into consideration and might serve to benefit you. Another mitigating circumstance might be that it was your first time committing this type of felony violation. If you have a number of mitigating circumstances in your case, you might be able to negotiate early expungement of your record. Alternatively, you might be able to carry around that violation for less time than you would have otherwise, even if you can’t negotiate an expungement.

Every legal situation can be potentially serious, but a felony violation is particularly important to deal with. It’s critical that you consult with a traffic attorney in your state to find out how long your felony traffic violation will stay on your record. Only a qualified traffic attorney in your state can help negotiate the best possible outcome for you in court. Get a consultation today and take the first step down the path of protecting your rights and your freedom.

What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

Thursday, October 17th, 2019

What to Do If You Suspect Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is unfortunately all too common today’s society. While most caregivers do amazing work helping their patients to feel better, live well, and stay safe, there are those who would seek to manipulate the vulnerable state of elderly individuals for their own gain. In this case, elder abuse is often the result. It can be hard to prove elder abuse because many times the people who are being abused have faulty memories or conditions that render them unable to communicate what’s going on. Others are intimidated into silence. However, if you’ve come to the conclusion that a loved one might be the victim of elder abuse, here’s what you should do.

Gather Evidence

Gather as much evidence as you can. This could be anything from broken glasses and torn clothing to bruises that don’t make sense to behaviors such as rocking or thumb sucking that are often ways to self-comfort in the face of abuse. Photograph and record on video everything that you can that might lend to the case for elder abuse. You also want to gather financial records if you suspect that someone is stealing from your loved one. Make note of unusual patterns of spending, newly added names on accounts or wills, and purchases that your loved one could not have made such as ATM withdrawals when your loved one is bedridden. Compile as much as you can so that when you go to your elder abuse attorney they can have the most complete picture possible of what’s going on.

Ask Your Loved One

If your loved one is in a state where they can communicate and you think abuse is happening, you can ask them in private if anything has been happening. Many times, they won’t tell you because they’ve been intimidated or manipulated into not saying anything. But sometimes you can get an idea as to whether or not abuse is going on just by their reaction. Bringing up some of the names of people who you might think be facilitating the abuse can also tell you a lot about who might be the culprit because your loved one might react in a fearful or agitated way to certain names. Obviously, you don’t want to cause any more upset than you need to when obtaining this information, but it’s important to talk to your loved one if possible to see what’s been going on or gauge their reactions to your concerns.

Talk to the Facility

If you feel that the abuse is happening by a certain person at a facility your loved one is a patient in, make sure to bring your concerns to the attention of the facility. Don’t turn over any original pieces of evidence that you can’t get back, but do take copies of what you’ve found to help present your case. Whether or not you know who it is, the facility should be aware that abuse is taking place. Make a note of the meeting, and record it if you’re allowed to. Even getting an appointment in writing can be helpful because if down the line the facility claims they never knew about the abuse, you have evidence to prove that they did know because you told them.

Talk to the Potential Abuser

If your loved one isn’t at a facility of any kind but you feel they’re being victimized by someone they know, talk to the person if you feel it’s safe. If you think this person might be violent, it might be best not to confront them. At the very least, you might want law enforcement officers with you when you do so that you have some backup if things go south. At the very least, it’s worth bringing up some of the oddities you’ve noticed, such as missing money or unexplained bruises, and simply asking the person if they know anything about them. You don’t have to be accusatory. Their response can tell you a lot. At the very least, you can say that you asked them and they denied knowledge of it in the event that your case goes to court.

Contact Law Enforcement

Elder abuse is a crime, so it’s important to report anything you find suspicious to the authorities. Even if you think they won’t be able to do anything about it yet, having it on record that you were concerned and made a report can help bolster your claim of ongoing abuse if, in the future, you do have enough evidence to go to court.

Call an Elder Abuse Attorney

Only an experienced elder abuse attorney in your area can help you defend your loved one if you end up going to court. However, you don’t have to wait that long until you call an attorney. As soon as you have some evidence that even suggests abuse might be happening, it’s a good idea to get in touch with an elder abuse lawyer so they can be on your side as early as possible. The longer they’re involved, the more background they’ll have and the better chance you’ll have in court.

Elder abuse is unfortunate, and nobody wants to think that someone they love dearly could be the victim of such horrific treatment. However, it’s important to pay attention to the signs of elder abuse and act quickly if you think it might be happening. Gather evidence, talk to your loved one, and bring up any areas of concern to caregivers and facility managers. Make sure to report your concerns and deliver copies of any evidence you have to law enforcement, and document as much as possible. Finally, get a qualified and experienced elder abuse attorney on board as soon as possible so you can help defend your loved one, hold the abuser accountable, and get the person you love out of that situation as soon as possible.

7 Ways to Defend Yourself Against a DUI Charge

Thursday, October 10th, 2019

7 Ways to Defend Yourself Against a DUI Charge

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, it’s important to take the matter seriously from the outset. You might think that there’s no chance of defending yourself in court and that you should simply admit to the charge and take the consequences. However, doing so can have disastrous consequences. Instead, it’s important to realize that there are many defenses that have been successfully used against drunk driving charges. Be sure to find a qualified DUI attorney in your state. He or she might use one of the following defenses to help you win your case.

No Probable Cause for the Initial Stop

If there was no probable cause for the initial stop, your charge can be thrown out even if you were driving under the influence. In order to pull you over, your driving behavior has to be such that an officer would have probable cause to suspect you of drinking and driving. Without that, you might have a defense against the charge.

Medical Condition Cause a False Positive

You might not know this, but certain medical conditions can cause mouth alcohol situations. For instance, acid reflux, or GERD, can cause acid from the stomach to come up into the mouth. That alcohol can mask the breath sample and create a false positive on breathalyzer tests. If you weren’t drinking, or you don’t believe the test was accurate, and you have a medical condition that could have caused a false positive, you might have a solid defense.

Dietary Restrictions Caused a False Positive

Similarly, sometimes the diet you eat can cause a false positive. If you’re on a diet that restricts your carbohydrate intake, you’re more likely to get a false positive reading on a breathalyzer test. Why? Because when you burn fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, you create ketones. When ketones are eliminated through the body via breath or urine, they turn into isopropyl alcohol, which can fool both a urine and a breath test.

Unreliable or Defective Equipment

Breathalyzer tests only work if the device works, and those devices have to be calibrated on a regular basis in order to provide accurate readings. If you’re convinced you shouldn’t have had a positive reading but you did, you can request that your DUI attorney look into whether or not the device was working properly. Usually, a representative from the device company has to come to your trial and substantiate the state of the device that was used to test you. If they don’t show up or they can’t substantiate the validity of the test, your charge might be dismissed.

Charged Based on Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests, such as walking in a straight line, are notoriously unreliable. Many factors can lead to inaccurate results. For instance, if you’re on a slope that could cause some people to appear off-balance when they’re not. Noise from cars going by can make officers think a person either isn’t cooperating or is too incoherent to follow their directions when really the person just didn’t hear them. There are so many things that make field sobriety tests unreliable that being charged just on the basis or mostly on the basis of your field sobriety test results is usually easily defendable in court.

You Weren’t Driving

Not only do officers at the scene have to prove that you were under the influence, they also have to prove that you were driving. Being drunk in a car is not the same thing as being drunk while driving a car. If it was, nobody could ever get a ride home when they were intoxicated. Therefore, if you weren’t driving the car or they can’t prove that you were driving it, you might have a defense.

Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

This is a defense you might never have heard of before. Did you know that all electronic devices, or nearly all, are susceptible to radio frequency interference? AM and FM radios, police radar units, dispatch stations, and other equipment that police officers use all throw off interference that could disrupt the results of the breathalyzer test, since most breathalyzers are also electronic devices. RFI interference, then, might also be a defense your attorney uses to help defend you in court.

There are other reasons you might be able to defend yourself against a drunk driving or DUI charge, as well, including police misconduct. However, it’s important to know that a DUI charge is never a trivial matter and always requires the expertise of a DUI attorney in your area. Make sure to seek out a qualified and experienced DUI lawyer who can help defend you against, and possibly overturn, your DUI charge. Your future depends on it.

Understanding the Right to Remain Silence (And How to Invoke It)

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Understanding the Right to Remain Silence (And How to Invoke It)

If you’ve ever seen an episode of CSI or Law and Order, chances are you’ve watched the police officers drag a suspect to the car while diligently reading off their Miranda rights. If you’re like most people, you probably believe that this is a typical situation. However, you’d be wrong. The right to remain silent is a lot more complicated than most people think, and if you don’t know your rights, you could wind up in a heap of trouble.

Background Information on Miranda Rights

The well-known case of Miranda vs. Arizona (384 U.S. 436, 1966) created the statute for what we now call Miranda rights. The case arose when the plaintiff, Ernesto Miranda, was not made aware of his rights and made self-incriminating statements because of that lack of knowledge. The case dictated that suspects under arrest must be read their rights. The court’s decision also delineated the specific facts that police officers are required by law to make the arrestee aware of. These facts include:

  • Anything you say can be used against you if the case goes to trial.
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer before you answer any questions.
  • You have the right to have your lawyer with you when the police question you.
  • If you don’t have a lawyer, you have the right to ask for one and the court will provide you with one, even if you can’t afford your own.
  • If you decide to answer any questions, you can stop the interview at any point in time.

What Police are Required to Tell You if You’re in Custody

It seems straightforward enough. If you’re talking to the police, you have the right to remain silent, right? Not so fast. Miranda rights only go into effect if you’re technically “in custody.” That means, if you’re not in custody, the police aren’t required to tell you anything. According to the law, they don’t have to advise you of any of your rights, and if you don’t know your rights, it’s not their responsibility to explain them to you.  The trick is knowing whether or not you’re in custody.

Are You in Custody or Not?

It should be easy to tell whether or not you’re in custody. However, as with most things in the legal system, it’s not that simple. Technically, you’re only in custody if you’re being arrested. If officers decide to arrest you, then they have to read you the Miranda rights. If they just “want to talk,” even if they’re talking to you in an interrogation room at the police station, you’re not technically in custody if you haven’t been told you’re under arrest. That means the police can get information out of you, knowing they can use it later, without ever telling you that you don’t have to answer them.

How Police Officers Encourage You to Talk

Sometimes, police officers know that if they arrest a suspect, that person is less likely to talk. So, what they do instead is ask the person to answer a few questions. It’s a conversation that starts with “We just want to ask you a few questions.” In fact, most police officers will go out of their way to inform you that you are not under arrest and that you can leave anytime you want. That way, they don’t have to read you your rights, and if you don’t already know them, you’re extremely vulnerable. The obvious question is why people don’t just leave. However, most people who are in a police interrogation room don’t feel they can get up and walk way, even if they were told that they can. Moreover, the police are usually motivated to get information from you, so they’ll try to persuade you to stay even if you say you want to go. Surprisingly enough, there’s nothing illegal about that course of action.

Being Silent is Not Invoking Your Rights

Let’s say you’re asked to speak with the police, you’re told you can leave, and nobody reads you your Miranda rights. You should know that you still have the right to remain silent. However, silence in and of itself is not invoking your rights. In fact, unless you use specific words or phrases that expressly tell the cops you don’t want to speak to them, they can use your silence against you as evidence of guilt.

It wasn’t always this way. Up until recently, the rule had always stated police officers and attorneys were barred from using silence against you if you didn’t talk to them. However, in 2013, a case out of Texas made its way to the US Supreme Court [Salinas v. Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2174 (2013)], and that case changed everything.

In Salinas, the plaintiff had agreed to answer questions regarding a shooting. When the police asked him whether or not ballistics testing would prove that his gun was involved, he hesitated and never answered the question. When the case went to trial, prosecutors used that silence as evidence of guilt, and the Supreme Court upheld the action, saying it was constitutional and legal.

What to Say if You Wish To Remain Silent

Given this information, you can see how crucial it is to know your rights. However, knowing your rights isn’t enough. You need to know how to invoke them, as well. If you want to remain silent and you don’t want to speak to the police officers, you have to say something along the lines of the following:

  • I wish to invoke my Fifth Amendment rights and do not wish to answer questions.
  • I want to invoke my right to be silent under the Fifth Amendment.
  • I want to invoke my privilege against self-incrimination granted to me by the Fifth Amendment.

It’s important to understand how to invoke your rights. There are many rights in the criminal justice system that are only seen as “active” if you speak up and say that you want to invoke a certain right. If the police ask you to answer questions, even if they tell you that you’re not under arrest, understand that you’re free to say no, to leave at any time, or to have an attorney present with you. If you’re concerned about your rights or you feel that you might be a suspect in a crime, call a qualified criminal defense attorney in your area. Only a criminal defense lawyer can help you protect yourself and obtain the fairest treatment possible during the course of the case.