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What You Need To Know About Your Marijuana Possession Charge In Virginia

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If you’ve recently been charged with possession of marijuana in the state of Virginia, it’s not always a simple, clear-cut case. How you will be convicted and sentenced—if at all—depends on a number of factors. A criminal defense attorney can help with your case, and they will need to know a few details, from whether or not this is a first offense all the way to where the marijuana was found. These components will be key in crafting your defense and could make a difference in whether or not you are found guilty. Number of Offenses Whether this is your first or second offense in the state of Virginia, it’s considered a misdemeanor, but the fines and possible jail time vary. Your first offense carries a possibility of 30 days in jail with a maximum $500 fine, whereas any subsequent convictions can result in a year in jail and a fine of $2,500. With all convictions, first or subsequent, you also lose your driver’s license for six months. But here’s the thing. If this is your first offense, an attorney may be able to help you get probation instead of jail time. During the terms of your probation, you will be expected to perform up to 24 hours of community service and to submit to drug and alcohol tests. The judge may also allow you to maintain a restricted driver’s license so you can transport yourself back and forth to work, school, or your child’s day care. If you successfully meet the requirements of your probation and pass all drug and alcohol tests, the judge will dismiss the charges. Knowingly In Possession In order to receive a conviction for marijuana possession, the prosecutor will have to prove that you knew the substance in your possession was actually marijuana. For example, suppose you borrow a friend’s coat. You stick your hands in the pockets and feel a bag, but you don’t know what it is. Or similarly, your friend may ask you to hold her pack of cigarettes in your purse, inside of which are several rolled joints. If you are charged with possession, your attorney could argue that you were aware of something in the pocket or the presence of a pack of cigarettes, but you had no idea it contained marijuana. Actual vs. Constructive Possession Actual possession is a legal term that means the substance is on or with you or your person; you have direct, physical contact with it. The example above with the marijuana in the coat pocket is considered actual possession. Constructive possession, on the other hand, means the substance was located in or on something within your control, like your home or your car. How could this make a difference in your case? Well, constructive possession tends to be a little harder to prove and therefore is easier to defend against, particularly if you are not the sole owner or occupant of the car or building. For instance, if you have multiple passengers in your car, and one of them decides to stash a bag of marijuana under the seat without your knowledge, this is much easier to defend against than if you were driving alone. Affirmative Defense For Medical Marijuana If you have intractable epilepsy, or a child with this condition, and were charged...

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How Is A Personal Injury Settlement Distributed?

Posted by on 12:27 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How Is A Personal Injury Settlement Distributed?

If you are involved in a personal injury lawsuit and are expecting the court to award you with a large settlement amount, you may be wondering how much of this money you will actually receive. It can take years for a case to settle, and it can take months afterwards for you to collect the money you were awarded for your damages and injuries. As your case comes to a close, here are a few things you should understand about the way your lawyer will distribute your settlement proceeds. Lawyer Will Take Contingency Fees When the court announces the final settlement amount, your lawyer will have the right to take his or her percentage from this total amount. This percentage is called the contingency fee, and it is something you will agree to when you hire your lawyer. The average percentage used for personal injury cases is between 33% to 40%. This means at least one-third of the settlement amount will go directly to your lawyer for handling your case. You should realize that you will never see the entire settlement amount, because the check will typically be sent to the lawyer. Once the lawyer gets this check, he or she will take the fee owed and will then begin disbursing the remainder of the funds appropriately. Medical Bills Are Then Paid During the case, your lawyer will be keeping track of your medical bills, and he or she will rely on you to make sure they are all turned in and accounted for. These bills must be paid from the settlement amount, and your lawyer will handle doing this for you as soon as the settlement check arrives. Because personal injury cases can last for years, you may want to make sure your lawyer works out arrangements with the medical providers to ensure that these debts are not placed negatively on your credit report. Lawyers do this by writing Letters of Protection (LOP) to all the medical providers you owe money to. An LOP lets each provider know that you are in the middle of a lawsuit and the bills will be paid as soon as the settlement comes. These letters typically stop medical providers from pursuing these debts, which means you should not be receiving phone calls or marks on your credit report for them. Other Expenses From The Case Must Be Paid There is also a chance you may owe other debts that need to be paid from your settlement amount. One example of this is paying for a professional who offered expert testimony in your case. These experts can charge anywhere from $50 to $400 per hour for their services. If you hired one for several hours, the amount you owe may be well over $1,000, depending on the fees charged. Expenses like this will also be paid by your lawyer from your settlement check. You Will Get The Remainder Your lawyer will prepare an expense report sheet that will show the amount you collected for the settlement as well as every expense that was paid out of this money. Whatever money is left after paying all the expenses will be yours to keep. You may be able to get this money in the form of a lump-sum payment, or you might want to choose...

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Long-Time Military Marriages: Understanding Your Rights As A Spouse

Posted by on 9:55 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Long-Time Military Marriages: Understanding Your Rights As A Spouse

When marrying someone in the military, you get to enjoy the same benefits as your spouse. When these benefits have expanded beyond 20 years, it can be an extremely hard transition back to civilian life. As you go through a divorce, it’s important to understand the rights that you have. In a long-term marriage, there are many granted rights and privileges. By working with a military divorce attorney, you can ensure that you are granted these rights and not left with nothing after the divorce has ended. Military Housing When traveling to multiple military bases, it’s often easy for many couples to live directly on the base. If you’re divorced from your spouse, then you will not get the same access to the base that you once had. This does not mean that you will instantly have to leave and find another place. There is a transition stage that allows you to enjoy your military home while you plan on a new living situation. Your spouse does not have the right to evict you from the housing. This actually falls under the role of an installation commander. This person will likely issue you an eviction notice once the divorce is finalized or when your spouse has moved off of the premises. Once this notice is applied, you have 30 days to leave the military base and move somewhere off the base. A military divorce lawyer can help protect you and ensure that eviction notice is not applied too early. This will give you time to properly prepare and make the tough transition. Health Benefits After being married to your spouse for an extended amount of time, you are used to enjoying the medical benefits that have come with their military career. When married for several years, you can take advantage of military guidelines known as 20/20/20. This is a guideline that an attorney will use to prove that you are entitled to proper healthcare. To qualify for these benefits, you must have been married to your spouse for 20 years, they must have served in the military for 20 years, and your marriage must overlapped with the military service for at least 20 years. An attorney can help prove all of these factors to ensure that you get access to the same healthcare. The healthcare will be separate from your spouse to ensure your independence as your divorce is finalized. If your long-term marriage lasted between 15 to 20 years of service time, then you still have some healthcare options. One of these options is known as the 20/20/15 rule. This allows you to have continued healthcare benefits for a year after the divorce is finalized. This allows you to have healthcare benefits until you can transition to a new life and can figure out your personal healthcare needs. Shopping & Exchanges Being married in the military means that you got to enjoy the benefits of the base for multiple years. Losing that access can dramatically change your lifestyle and make it hard to transition to civilian life. Luckily, the 20/20/20 rule also applied to military base access. This access gives you the ability to visit the military exchange for the rest of your life. The exchange allows you shop for groceries and other items at the military prices....

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Know What To Expect From An Auto Accident Claim

Posted by on 1:56 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Know What To Expect From An Auto Accident Claim

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are filing a claim against another driver or their insurance company, you might be anticipating a large settlement. Unless you have grievous injuries, however, your settlement might not be as big as you’re expecting. If you were in a typical accident and suffered some injuries, but nothing that’s life-threatening, here’s a realistic look at what you might get if your claim is successful. Personal Injury Settlements for Auto Accidents Aren’t Gigantic Occasionally, auto accident settlements for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are featured in the news. These aren’t the norm, though. If they were, they wouldn’t be newsworthy. Most auto accident settlements settle for a much more modest $24,000. This is a decent sum, but it’s far from a seven- or eight-figure amount. Your settlement may be more or less than the average. Unless there is something remarkable about your case, though, you can expect a settlement closer to this average of $24,000 than to $1 million. From this amount, you must pay your legal fees, car accident lawyer’s fees and all medical fees associated with your injuries. Your Legal Fees Could be $2,000 or More Legal fees encompass any expenses associated with your case that aren’t paid to your car accident lawyer. (Although your lawyer may pay these fees for you from your settlement, they do not receive these fees themselves.) A list of a few common legal fees shows how, even in average cases, these fees can be expensive: depositions can cost anywhere from $364 to $412.75 medical expert witnesses cost an average of $555 per hour expedited services may increase the costs of any legal fees As an example, assume your case required three hours of testimony from a medical expert witness, which would have to be recorded in a deposition. Getting and recording this testimony alone would total over $2,000 — between $2,029 and $2,077.75. After these fees were paid, your remaining settlement would range between $21,971 and $21,922.25. Your Car Accident Lawyer Will Charge a Contingency Fee Car accident lawyers, as AllLaw explains, usually work on contingency fees. This arrangement means that you don’t have to pay them unless you win your case. If you receive a settlement, though, you have to give your attorney a percentage: usually 33 percent if the case doesn’t go to trial and sometimes 40 percent if it does go to trial. These fees are taken out of your total settlement amount. In this example, your car accident lawyer would receive either $8,000 (33 percent) or $9,600 (40 percent). Between $13,971 and $12,322.25 would remain from your settlement. Your Medical Bills Must Be Paid From this amount, your medical bills have to be paid. Until your claim is settled, your car accident lawyer will be able to delay paying these bills by sending your healthcare provider’s letters of protection (LOPs). LOPs are legal documents that guarantee payment upon settlement, and they must be honored. If they aren’t, your attorney could face legal consequences and potentially be disciplined by the state’s bar association. Medical procedures can cost a lot, as anyone who has been injured in an auto accident knows. Even if you only has $2,000 of medical bills, these would still reduce your share of the settlement to...

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Understanding How Child Support Is Treated during Bankruptcy

Posted by on 7:49 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Understanding How Child Support Is Treated during Bankruptcy

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and owe past-due child support or alimony, there are several things that you should take into consideration. Child support, a non-dischargeable priority debt, can affect which type of bankruptcy you choose to file for and how you approach the proceedings. Here are some factors to take into consideration:  Domestic Obligations  Under bankruptcy law, there are 19 types of debt that cannot be discharged when you file for bankruptcy. These include debts related to taxes and customs, student loans, and domestic responsibilities. Debts that are considered part of domestic responsibility include past-due child support and alimony as well as debts owed to a spouse due to a divorce settlement. This means that if you owe past-due child support, your obligation cannot be forgiven. However, filing for bankruptcy can ease your other financial obligations, making it easier to meet your domestic obligations.  Priority Debt  Child support is considered a priority debt in both chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy. This means that when your assets are liquidated or a payment plan is created, child support will be among the first debts to be addressed.  Proof of Claim  A proof of claim is a formal document submitted by the creditor in order for their debt to be recognized in your bankruptcy case. When child support is involved it is usually the custodial parent who must file a proof of claim. If your spouse does not file a proof of claim, you may want to file one on their behalf. This ensures that the debt is taken into account during your repayment process and you are not left with a large child support debt once your other debts have been discharged.  If no proof of claim is filed during your bankruptcy proceedings, your assets and repayment plans may be used to pay off other non-priority debts, such as credit card debt, first. Since non-priority debts can be discharged, it is in your best financial interest to make sure that a proof of claim is filed for priority debts.  Chapter 7 Specifics Under a chapter 7 bankruptcy, your available assets are liquidated to help pay off your debts. Once that is completed, the remainder of your non-priority debts are usually discharged and you will be required to continue paying back priority debts.  When you begin chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings, you are granted an automatic stay against most forms of debt collection. However, child support is not granted an automatic stay. This means that debt collectors can continue to try to collect past child support while you are completing chapter 7 proceedings. Furthermore, assets that you acquire after the date of filing are not included in your chapter 7 bankruptcy. This means your wages or other income are not protected from debt collectors under a chapter 7 filing.  The benefit of filing chapter 7 bankruptcy when you owe child support is that your available assets will be used to pay off your child support first.  Chapter 13 Specifics  When you file for chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will work with a mediator to create a repayment plan for your debts. Under this plan, many of your unsecured debts may be reduced. However, child support will not be reduced and must be fully repaid and current before the rest of...

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How to Spot and Avoid Personal Injury Mills after Suffering an on-the-Job Injury

Posted by on 7:34 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How to Spot and Avoid Personal Injury Mills after Suffering an on-the-Job Injury

If you suffer an injury while you are at work, you may be eligible for various forms of workers’ compensation. This may include paid medical leave and coverage of your medical bills. Unfortunately, there are many fraudulent scams associated with workers’ compensation. These may include employees making false claims, employers failing to pay appropriate premiums, or doctors and lawyers working to collect greater fees from insurance companies. One of these scams that can negatively affect both you and your employer is known as a medical mill scam.  Medical mills generally consist of a small group of lawyers and doctors that work together to exaggerate workers compensation claims and extort unnecessary money from insurance companies. While it is important that you get the benefits that are owed to you, becoming involved with a medical mill can be harmful to you because you may undergo unnecessary medical treatment, be prevented from returning to work in a timely manner, and even be investigated for fraud.  Below are some ways that you can spot and avoid medical mills associated with workers’ compensation scams.  Use Your Personal Doctor  When you are injured on the job, you are usually allowed to select your own doctor to care for your injuries. If possible, you should start by consulting with a doctor whom you trust. After your initial examination, you should ask your doctor for recommendations of any specialists that you may need for further treatment.  If you do not have a personal doctor at the time of your injury, you should find one on your own. You should be careful of doctors who claim to specialize in treatment of workplace injuries, and you should make sure that the doctor you choose is willing to work with your workplace insurance.  Be Wary of Lawyers or Doctors Who Approach You  Sometimes lawyers seek out clients with workplace injuries in person as opposed to letting clients find them on their own. This slightly more aggressive tactic is often employed by lawyers who are part of a medical mill. When you agree to meet with these lawyers, they may strongly recommend that you use their doctors or clinics instead of your personal doctor. This is a sign that they may be part of a medical mill. Your lawyer should respect your decision to utilize your personal doctor and you should not feel pressured to use doctors in the lawyer’s network.  Review All Insurance Claims  One way for medical mills to get more money is to run unnecessary tests or to claim that they have provided more services than they actually have. Any time a claim is submitted to an insurance company, you should review the services and charges to make sure they correlate to the treatment that you have actually received. If there is something on the claim that does not seem right to you, you should discuss it with your doctor and the insurance company.  If your treatment seems excessive for your injury, you may ask for a second opinion from a doctor outside of the clinic where you are currently being treated.  Be Honest about Your Injury  Workplace injuries can be confusing. It can be difficult to assess the extent of some soft-tissue damage, such as back and neck injuries. However, it is important that you are honest...

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Things To Consider When Dealing With An Out-Of-State Accident

Posted by on 1:16 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Things To Consider When Dealing With An Out-Of-State Accident

Dealing with an auto accident that happens in your hometown can be stressful enough, but it can be a downright nightmare if you get into an accident in another state. Your insurance company will usually take care of many of the aspects of the case, which may make things easier. The case can get a little tricky, though, if you have to sue the defendant directly for damages. Here are three things you need to consider when litigating an out-of-state accident. Where to File the Lawsuit? The first issue that will have the biggest impact on your case is where to file the lawsuit. You may have your choice of filing where you live, where the defendant lives, or where the accident actually took place if all three locations are different. Be aware, though, that you will be subjected to the laws of the state where the case is filed, which may differ. For instance, California bans all drivers from holding cell phones or text messaging while driving. Arizona, on the other hand, only bans school bus drivers from engaging in that activity. Differing laws can affect the outcome of your case, so it’s essential that you choose wisely. Another thing to consider when you’re choosing where to sue is whether you’ll be able to make your court dates. Filing in a state that may be more favorable to your lawsuit won’t help much if you can’t show up to court, and failure to show may result in your case being dismissed, requiring you to go through the trouble of filing again. However, if you file in your state, the defendant may not show up. In this case, though, you may win your case by default. Be advised, though, that the defendant can contest or appeal a default judgment for a period of time after the court case has ended. This time limit varies by state. If the defendant successfully wins his or her appeal, you’ll have to litigate the case again. Lastly, each state has a statute of limitations that dictates how long you have to file a personal injury lawsuit against another party. This, too, can vary between states, which may or may not work in your favor. For instance, in the rare occurrence that your or the other person’s insurance company takes an inordinate amount of time to deny your claim, having the option to sue in a state where the statute of limitation is up to 2 to 3 years after the date of the accident could be immensely helpful. Where to Hire Attorney? If you require the assistance of an attorney to help litigate your case, you may run into some issues there as well. Namely, you’ll have to decide whether to hire someone from your home state to represent you in an out-of-state court case or to get an attorney in the state where you’re filing your case. It’s generally easier to hire a local attorney, since you can conduct in-person interviews to ensure the person is right for you. However, you must request permission from the court to let an attorney licensed in another state represent you. Whether or not the court will approve depends on the jurisdiction. Some are welcoming to out-of-state attorneys and others are not. If you happen to...

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Was Medical Negligence Involved In Your C-Section?

Posted by on 11:45 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Was Medical Negligence Involved In Your C-Section?

Cesarean-sections are related to a range of maternal and infant injuries, and if you or your child was injured during a c-section, you may have a medical negligence suit on your hands. Here are five signs you may want to explore the issue with a medical malpractice attorney: 1. You or your child experienced an injury. C-sections have been linked to infections, hemorrhages, organ injury and scar tissue, and in some cases, scar tissue can prevent some women from ever bearing children again. For babies, the procedure can be linked to premature birth weight, breathing issues and incision injuries. In order to prove medical negligence, you will need to prove that you or your baby was injured as a result of the c-section. If you were not injured, you need to have significant mental distress from the procedure, and in either case, you and your attorney will need to be able to prove that someone was at fault. However, the person or entity at fault may vary depending on your situation. 2. The surgeon was negligent during the c-section. In order to prove surgical negligence, you need to consider the state of the surgeon operating on you. Did he or she make a mistake due to lack of sleep or ingesting alcohol or drugs? Were there unnecessary distractions in the room? Issues like these indicate negligence and make it more likely that you can bring a successful malpractice suit against the surgeon. 3. Your doctor scheduled the c-section too early. However, the negligent party doesn’t necessarily even have to be in the operating room. In some cases, you may have an ob-gyn who sees you regularly and recommends the c-section, but then, another doctor may perform the procedure. If a c-section is performed before the baby is full term, the baby may be premature. Premature babies haven’t had ample time to develop their respiratory system and often have trouble breathing. In addition, their relatively low birth weight can be linked to failure to thrive. Being born premature can be linked to long term health issues related to physical development, learning, communicating and self care as well as behavioral issues. If your baby was born premature as the result of an excessively early c-section date set by your physician, he or she may be liable for your child’s damages and possibly long-term care costs. In particular, your doctor may have been negligent if he or she calculated your due date incorrectly and scheduled the procedure based on that miscalculation. 4. You were incorrectly prescribed medication. During a c-section, most mothers have a general anesthesia, and you may also be prescribed medication during the healing process. However, in some cases, there can be adverse reactions to medications. If your physician failed to consult your chart and prescribed a medication that you were allergic to or that contradicted other medications you take, he or she may be liable for your reaction. Similarly, if you were given the wrong dose by another healthcare provider or the wrong type of medication from the pharmacist, he or she may be liable. 5. Your c-section wasn’t medically necessary. In many cases, physicians recommend c-sections when women are several weeks or even months from their due dates. Traditionally, the procedure has been employed to avoid complications related...

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Tips For Completing An Offer In Compromise To Settle Your Tax Debt

Posted by on 10:32 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tips For Completing An Offer In Compromise To Settle Your Tax Debt

Paying off old tax debt is important if you want to get the IRS off your back, and you may be able to do this with an offer in compromise (OIC). An OIC is a plan created by the IRS to help people settle tax debts for an amount that is less than what is actually owed. In order for you to do this, you must make sure you meet the qualifications, and you must follow the right steps. Here are some tips to help you with this. Make Sure You Qualify To use an OIC, there are several conditions you must meet. If you are not sure if you meet these, you could hire a tax attorney to help you determine the answer to this. Here are some of the conditions: You must be current on your tax returns – This means that you cannot use an OIC if you have failed to file a return within the past few years. If you did not file a return one year, but filed the appropriate extension, you may still qualify. You must be able to prove you cannot pay the full amount within a reasonable time – In addition, you must prove that you will not be able to repay the entire balance of what you owe. This is typically something you can prove by comparing your income and expenses to the amount of your tax bill. If you meet these two conditions, you might qualify for an OIC. To begin the process, you will need to fill out the right IRS forms and determine how much to offer for your settlement amount. Fill Out The Documents If you believe that using an OIC would be a good option for you, your lawyer can help you begin the process. This will involve printing off Form 656, which is actually a booklet you must complete. As you complete the forms within this booklet, you will be asked a lot of questions. Some of these will pertain to your current financial situation, while others will involve reasons behind your request. If you recently suffered from a major injury that is preventing you from earning the money you once earned, make sure you include this information on the forms. You should include any reasons that explain why you are having trouble paying this debt. Other examples of hardships include divorces and loss of job. You will also need to decide how you plan on repaying the money. Will you pay it off in a lump-sum payment, or would a payment plan be better for you? You will also need to decide how much to offer. The IRS may accept offers of as little as 1% of what is owed, but they might be more likely to accept an offer that is closer to the original amount of the debt. When the IRS receives the documents, they will make a decision. In prior years, they have accepted around 25% of the offers they receive. If they deny your offer, you have the right to appeal their decision. Appeal The Decision If Necessary Just because the IRS denies your offer does not mean you should give up. You have the right to appeal their decision; however, you should try to find out why they...

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4 Types Of Personal Injury You Can Sue For

Posted by on 4:38 pm in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Types Of Personal Injury You Can Sue For

Have you received an injury due to someone else’s negligent behavior, either due to their actions or because their property was not maintained in a proper order? If this is the case, you have the chance to suit under the rubric of a small claims court case called a personal injury suit. A personal injury suit aims to make a person or other entity legally liable for the expenses that you have incurred due to the injury. These expenses range from physical medical expenses, to mental health expenses, and to wages lost due to time off from work because of the injury. There are a number of reasons that you can sue for a personal injury, and you should be aware of them in case you need to pursue a personal injury case. Slip and Fall Slip and fall personal injury cases are by far and away the most common type of personal injury case. The slip and fall case occurs when an individual slips and falls on someone’s property due to the property owner being negligent about the maintenance or upkeep of the property. If a property owner has not exercised reasonable care in making sure that their property has been safety proofed under the event of such a slip and fall, then they will often times find themselves at least partially liable for the medical bills and mental anguish that a person has suffered from due to a slip and fall on their property. Nursing Home Cases There are also many cases where you may be able to sue for a personal injury lawsuit on someone’s behalf, so long as you are either their primary caregiver or the executor of their estate. In cases where a loved one is in a nursing home and you are their executor or designated individual for making legal decisions for the individual or decisions on behalf of that person’s estate, then you may be able to sue under the auspice or rubric of a personal injury lawsuit, if the person who is interned at the nursing home has suffered some sort of injury or trauma due to the negligence of willful ignorance of the staff of said home. Car Accidents Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury lawsuits that are filed in America. Generally, in most cases, there is someone at fault during a car accident. Except in exceptional circumstances, you will find that the person who is at fault is most likely liable to go to personal injury court such that the plaintiff can reclaim medical injury bills, therapist bills, and even time lost from work. In most cases, individuals who are taken to court for such things will find that they will usually lose, as there is overwhelming evidence against their case that they were the cause of the accident, and therefore, injuries. Dog Bites and Attack If you are the owner of a dog that winds up biting or attacking an individual, chances are you will have to go to personal injury court in order to defend yourself. The laws for dog attacks vary from state to state, although it is generally the case that, if proven that the dog attacked someone without provocation, the owner of said dog will have to pay for the...

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