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Teens and Sexting

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Most parents of today’s teenagers grew up in a world without cell phones and widely available internet. Texting was not a thing. And neither was “sexting.”

Sexting is when a person sends an explicit message or photograph via text message or another message application on their phone, computer, or other electronic device, as a sex crime lawyer Grand Rapids, MI trusts can explain. It is not uncommon for teens today to engage in sexting.

It is important for today’s parents to talk to their teens about sexting. Not only can there be practical consequences to sexting, but there can also be serious legal consequences for sexting that most teens and parents don’t know about. A teen under the age of eighteen who sends or receives an explicit image of themselves or another minor is guilty of a serious crime that could result in prison time and placement on the sex offender registry.

From a merely practical standpoint, sexting is a bad idea for teens. Allowing explicit photographs of yourself to get out in the world can have real negative consequences. For example, if a teen girl sends an image to her boyfriend, she doesn’t have the expectation that the photo is ever going to be seen by anyone else but the boyfriend. However, it is not uncommon to see, after a breakup, the boyfriend pass the image around among friends, post the image on social media, or post the image on a “revenge porn” website. This can result in embarrassment and humiliation. Future employers will forever find these explicit images by googling your teen’s name. You can’t ever truly remove an image from the internet once it is out there.

Your teenager having explicit images of themselves floating around the internet can also make them vulnerable to people who may want to exploit your teen. They may be contacted by someone who demands money or more explicit images in exchange for not publicly disseminating the images.

In addition to those types of problems, the legal consequences of sexting can be incredibly serious. Even if your teen is of a legal age to consent to sexual activity in your state (in many states teens can consent to sex at 16 or 17 years of age), taking an explicit image of a person under the age of 18, even of themselves, and even with the teen’s consent, is illegal, and constitutes child pornography.

A teen who takes an explicit image of themselves is guilty of producing child pornography, which is a crime under both federal and state law. A teen who then sends the image to another person via text message is guilty of distribution of child pornography. A teen or adult who receives the image is guilty of receipt and possession of child pornography. If that person passes on the photograph to yet another person, they are guilty of distribution of child pornography.

These are crimes that carry penalties of up to thirty years or more in prison, and many of the crimes have mandatory minimums that don’t make probation a possibility. They can also result in placement on a state’s sex offender registry. Prosecutors across the country are charging teens with these crimes for sexting. They can have lifelong consequences that parents should ensure that their teens understand.

 


 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense.

Who Can I Talk to About My Criminal Case?

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Being charged with a crime can be an incredibly stressful event. One thing that people often do in order to relieve stress is to talk about their problems with other people. However, when you have a criminal case pending, that’s a bad idea. When you share facts about your case with family members and friends, you can turn them into witnesses. The things that you say to them can be twisted, and made to sound incriminating, even if the person is on your side. You don’t want to put your family member or friend in a position of being made a witness against you at a trial. So, who can you talk to about your criminal case?

  1.     Your Lawyer.

The one person in the world who you should be talking about every detail of your case with is your lawyer. With your attorney, you enjoy the attorney-client privilege. Anything you say to your lawyer cannot be revealed, and your lawyer cannot be forced to testify against you. The attorney-client privilege is a sacred privilege, and your lawyer will certainly take it very seriously.

There are very few exceptions to the attorney-client privilege. For example, telling a lawyer about your intent to commit a crime in the future is not subject to privilege. If you tell your lawyer that you intend to go kill John Doe, your lawyer can reveal that information in order to save John Doe. However, if you tell your lawyer that you killed John Doe in the past, that information cannot be revealed and is subject to the attorney-client privilege. Also, if you use your attorney’s services in order to commit a fraud of some kind, the attorney-client privilege won’t apply.

Those are rare exceptions, however, and when you have hired a criminal defense lawyer, like a criminal defense lawyer Grand Rapids, MI residents need, to defend you, they are unlikely to arise. You should feel entirely safe in sharing information with your attorney. The more information you are able to share with your attorney, the better they will be able to defend you.

  1.     Your therapist, with some exceptions.

In most instances, you can share information about your criminal case with a therapist and the information will be kept confidential. The major exception is in a situation where you have committed a crime involving a child. If this is the case, in most states, therapists are what is known as “mandatory reporters,” and are required by law to report any information they have about a crime being committed against a child. If your case involves accusations of harm toward a child, you should not discuss the case with a therapist, even if you are innocent of the charges.

  1.     Your spouse, also with exceptions.

In most states, there is a spousal privilege, meaning that a spouse cannot be forced to testify against the other spouse. However, there are two caveats. First, many states permit a spouse to be forced to testify against the other spouse when the allegations involve a crime against a child. Second, in many states, the spousal privilege is held by the testifying spouse. That means, if your spouse is called to testify against you, it is your spouse’s choice about whether or not to testify. You can’t prevent your spouse from testifying against you using the privilege. This means that when you discuss your case with your spouse, you ought to be 100% certain that you can trust him or her.

 


 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense.

Plea Bargains

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Anyone who enjoys criminal drama television shows or films knows that some of the most dramatic scenes take place during the criminal trials of those arrested and accused of crimes. Many people would be surprised to learn that the majority of cases never even make it to trial because the prosecutor and defense usually work out some sort of plea bargain that the judge signs off on.

Statistics show that less than 10 percent of defendants actually go on trial. In federal cases, only 3 percent of defendants are tried. The key to a defendant receiving a fair plea bargain and sentence agreement is to have a skilled criminal defense attorney handling those negotiations.

The following is a basic overview of how plea bargains work:

What is a plea bargain?

Plea bargains are negotiations that take place between the defendant (usually via his or her defense attorney) and the prosecutor. The goal of a plea bargain is to reach a resolution to the case without having to go trial. Typically, the prosecutor will offer a lesser charge than what the defendant is originally charged with, along with a lighter sentence than what the defendant is facing.

In turn, the defendant agrees to plead guilty to that lesser charge. In cases where there are other parties involved, part of the plea bargain may be that the defendant agrees to testify or offer evidence against the other parties. The law requires that any plea bargain a defendant makes is a voluntary one and that they are fully informed and aware of what their guilty plea means.

Why do prosecutors use plea bargains and why do defendants agree to them?

There are many reasons why a prosecutor may approach a defense attorney to discuss a plea bargain or a defense attorney may approach the prosecutor. The burden of proof in a criminal trial is on the prosecutor and if they feel there may some issues with some of the evidence or witnesses they have, they may offer a plea bargain. Another reason a prosecutor may offer a plea bargain is because the defendant can be a useful witness against another defendant who has committed more serious crimes.

A defendant may want to initiate a plea bargain because the evidence against them is very strong and it may be difficult to defend against. Instead of facing the maximum jail sentence, a plea bargain can bring a lighter penalty and possible alternative sentencing options, such as alcohol or drug treatment programs, probation, or suspended sentence.

In addition, a long, drawn-out criminal trial can be expensive, especially if it is necessary to call expert witnesses or conduct private investigations. A plea agreement can help avoid those high legal bills, especially if the evidence is overwhelmingly against the defendant anyway.

The best way to determine whether or not a plea bargain is the right choice for your situation is to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney DC trusts who can evaluate your case and the evidence against you and determine all of your legal options.


Thank you to our friends and contributos at The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn for their insight into criminal defense.

DUI Charges and Custody Arrangements

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Child custody rights can be drastically affected by a criminal charge. Unfortunately, it can have pretty severe consequences and it may be worse if you have earned a DUI charge. You may very well suffer extreme social embarrassment, jail time and steep fees, but you may also implicate your child custody arrangement.

What Are the Impacts of a DUI on Obtaining Child Custody?

A DUI charge is serious and surely will be discussed during a custody hearing. Alcohol abuse is taken seriously by the family law courts and it often comes up as a point in hearings. Since a DUI charge can be used as evidence for alcohol abuse, you may be presented as a risk to your children.

The best option for you is to hire a criminal defense lawyer to fight for a lighter sentence or to render a verdict of not guilty in order to help your chances of retaining custody. A DUI charge hurts your case so much because it indicates your level of moral fitness as a guardian in a custody hearing.

Is My Custody Case Doomed?

Your DUI charge may not necessarily disqualify you from retaining custody. Depending on your behavior, background and particulars of the DUI. A court will look into your past to see if a pattern of alcohol abuse has been established. Although your spouse may want to highlight this particular accident, the court may not feel the same.

If that is your first and only offense, or you have no problems with alcohol and drugs and have complied with the sentence, then your DUI may not be used against you. If you show that you have gone to treatment or alcohol counselling, that will also strengthen your image in the eyes of the court. Be sure that your lawyer, like a family attorney Austin, TX trusts, is ready for a battle, because your spouse doesn’t want to lose either.

Is a DUI Conviction Going to Affect my Case?

Your conviction’s effects on your case will depend on the type of custody you are seeking; it may be different between legal custody and physical custody. A DUI conviction is unlikely to affect a decision of legal custody because it does not have an affect on decision-making regarding:

  1. Religious Education
  2. Choice of Schooling
  3. Cultural Education
  4. Tutoring
  5. extracurricular



However, you are likely to be negatively impacted if you are seeking child custody because they may argue that you prefer alcohol to socializing with your children which means that you may be an absentee parent and do not deserve custody. It may be suggested that you would even endanger them by driving under the influence with the children in the car.

In all matters, it is best to consult a criminal lawyer who can help you determine where you stand regarding a DUI charge and custody battle. While the lawyer cannot guarantee an outcome, they can give you an educated idea about where your charge puts you and how to best proceed in your battle.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Office of Ryan S. Dougay for their insight into child custody.

 

MUST SEE TV? THE MYTHS OF MIRANDA WARNINGS

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On a daily basis, someone tells me the following “they didn’t even read me my Miranda rights”.  Because police television shows and movies have been popular for fifty years; everyone has heard, “You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney….”  Even Mom can give a Miranda warning from hearing it so often on television. But does that familiarity help to explain the rights of an accused, or not?

        Reality is very different from television and movies.  Although what you hear actors saying may be correct; that is where the confusion begins and further it has created an urban legend of misunderstanding in our society.  In this blog I will not delve into the history of Miranda v. Arizona. Nor will I discuss in detail what the specific rights are; as noted above, you can probably recite them!  What I am going to write about is when do these rights apply to you. In other words, when does a cop have to read you your rights?

        The short answer to this question is simple; maybe never.  The Miranda rights do not have to be recited you unless two things occur.  First, you must be under arrest. Police are generally trained to ask a lot of questions prior to an actual arrest, so watch your words.  The Miranda rights do not apply during this questioning and you may incriminate yourself.  So, if an officer walks up to you on the street and begins asking questions (and you’re not under arrest); he/she can do that without Miranda being a concern.  Anything you say at that time is evidence and can be used against you without violating your rights. Officers are trained to say, “I just have some questions, you’re not under arrest,” just to get people to talk.  This tactic is specifically used to get around Miranda. Once the phrase, “you are under arrest,” is said, then Miranda rights may become mandatory.

        The Second item is that the police must want to question you. There are times when the police may not need your statement or even care to talk to you.  Street cameras sometimes speak for you, for instance. If the police are interested in asking you about a crime, they must give the warning. If they are simply making small talk or asking you what you want for dinner while in jail, there is no need for the warning.

        Now you know how Miranda rights apply in a criminal case.  Hopefully, I have cleared up this widely misunderstood area of criminal procedure and you can ignore the television shows that use these important rights for dramatic effect.  Always remember, you are your best protection, so keep quiet until you talk to your lawyer, like a criminal defense lawyer State College, PA trusts.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from De Boef Lucchesi, P.C. for their insight into miranda rights.

Facing a DUI Charge?

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Driving under the influence of alcohol is a grave mistake that can cause you, or someone else, a great deal of pain and suffering. Not only is driving under the influence of alcohol risky because it can cause accidents resulting in bodily injury or death, but it can also cost you a lot more. For example, depending on the circumstances of your case, a DUI conviction may result in losing your license, being charged significant fines, an order to attend mandatory substance abuse counseling, an order for mandatory use of a ignition interlock device, and even substantial jail time. If you feel as if you have been wrongly charged with a DUI, these potential outcomes seem particularly terrible because you did not commit the crime with which you are charged. That is where the attorneys at [law firm] may be able to help. In the event you or a loved one needs legal assistance, do not hesitate to contact a DUI attorney MD relies on to assist.

They Know the Law

Over their years of experience practicing law the attorneys at have learned laws and the court procedures with proficiency. This is an important part of providing competent legal representation. Knowing the courts, judges, prosecutors, and court system can save you time and stress. Knowing the law will help your case. The attorneys  know the defenses available and they know how to assert them to benefit your case.

They Know You

Their years of experience have also allowed the attorneys] to represent a number of criminal defendants and many who have had DUI charges filed against them. They have almost certainly represented defendants just like you with charges similar to yours. Because they have seen so many cases, including cases similar to yours, they have well-developed strategies for handling your case. They know how to spot errors in law enforcement action and procedure. They know your legal rights and defenses, and they are capable of providing competent advocacy to get you a fair result at trial. Not only do they understand your case and the charges against you, they also understand what you are going through and they are capable of providing you the support you need to get your life back on track.


Thank you to the The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn, P.C for providing their insight on DUI charges.

What are my visitation rights after a criminal conviction?

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If a parent is convicted of a crime, they are usually concerned about how it will affect their custody agreements and visitation rights. There is no perfectly correct way to predict how this will change your parenting schedule as no situation is exactly like another. In some cases, a court may make changes to custody orders due to a criminal conviction.

How is the child affected?

Courts prefer to keep a consistent schedule when dealing with family law and don’t typically make changes to a child’s routine unnecessarily. The specific criminal conviction is considered when deciding whether to change a custody order. Most importantly, they want to determine if the behavior that led to the crime could influence their presence with their child and if it will have negative effects on the child. In order to decide, the court looks for unquestionable evidence that it is best to change the order.

  • Types of convictions regarding domestic violence, assault or substance abuse problems are all behavioral issues that could influence your custody agreement.
  • A conviction as a result of illegal sexual behavior is also a likely ignition for change.
  • Something like a bounced check might not have as much weight in custody decisions.

Conditions on Parent Time

A court can place any condition on parental visitation if it will benefit the child. Conditions based on the nature of the conviction that affect parenting time can also be added to changes on custody agreements. For example, a conviction related to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) might result in a court order requiring a third party to transport the children. Possession of drugs in your home may limit your parenting to public space or supervision only. Sometimes drug tests could be required to maintaining parenting time.

Parental Involvement

Unless it is detrimental to the child’s well-being, the court is going to encourage both parents to have a relationship with the child. If it is possible, the court wants both parents to have parenting time available. The court will even arrange for supervised visitation if necessary for a parent. Professional organizations and third party individuals can be allowed by the court to facilitate supervision for visitation. However, a court can also change a custody order or visitation of a non-parent who is involved with the children. If this non-parent has received a criminal conviction and the court believes they are a bad influence, the court can prevent a child from living or visiting with this non-parent.

A Skilled Attorney Can Help

A parent facing a criminal charge or has received a conviction should look to hire a skilled attorney, like a family lawyer Tampa FL trusts. An attorney can help you decide what is best for your family and maintain your family relationship. If your case goes to court, an attorney can help you present well and hopefully maintain your custody agreement, or alter it favorably.  


Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into family law.

 

A Distant Father is Sentenced to Prison for Not Paying Child Support

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Child support payments are meant to cover costs that accrue when raising a child, as a family lawyer Rockville MD trust can explain.  Typically, a child would have two parents who would provide support for his or her growth and development.  However, this often is not the case when the parents decide to separate, and leave the child in the custody of only one of the two parents.

Whether it is through a mutual agreement between parents or a court order, the importance of paying child support is immense, ultimately because it supports the child’s well-being.  Furthermore, to emphasize this, child support laws are always enforced strictly by laws across all fifty states. Many state laws have provided reasonable options for parents who are late with a payment.  For example, in Texas, there is a hotline for these parents to call in case they fall behind on their child support payments. The parents who use this hotline are not subject to an arrest warrant because, after all, the main purpose is not to arrest the parent; rather, it is to provide financial support for the child.

However, for non-custodial parents who continue to fail to fulfill their responsibility of providing child support, the consequences can add up, just as they did for Joseph Sahagun.  Stephen B. Rye, District Attorney for Lyon County of Nevada, declared a prison sentence for Mr. Sahagun, who failed to pay child support.  The Third Judicial District Court ruled in favor of the State and sentenced the 40-year-old man from Yerington to 12 to 32 months in Nevada’s State Department of Corrections of Failure to Pay Child Support.

The District Attorney stated that Sahagun had owed “more than $20,000 in child support, and chose to ignore his support obligation to his children.”  Stephen Rye further commented that Mr. Sahagun had been given multiple opportunities to submit his payments, and stated as well that making the payments was possible for Sahagun, and not a financial burden.

Rye ended his announcement with the following statement:

Parents have a legal obligation to support their children. It is rare that it gets to the point of prison, however, when parents, such as Sahagun, decide to defy court orders, ignore obligations, and engage in a conscious pattern to thwart the justice system and neglect the needs of their children, all during a time they have the ability to support their children, judges should put them in prison. Mr. Sahagun fits this description. He engaged in an intentional pattern of criminal conduct over the course of several years at the expense of his children. The sentence is more than justified. The Lyon County DA Child Support Division works diligently to collect child support, including criminal prosecution in cases such as this.”

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright for their insights into criminal defense.

 

Civil and Criminal Wrongful Death Cases

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It is easy to become confused about the many differences between civil and criminal charges, especially when it comes to the death of a loved one. If the death was unnecessary and could have been prevented because it was caused at the negligence of another individual (whether or not it was intentional wrongdoing), the individual will most likely face manslaughter or murder charges. Laws vary by state, however each one gives a specific outlet for the family of a wrongful death victim to obtain justice for their unjustified loss against the guilty party. Let’s talk about how criminal and civil cases differ. In a criminal case, the proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt to be deemed as evidence. This means that the jury will all need to agree that the defendant is 100 percent guilty without any doubt, and this can be an extremely difficult decision for a group of people to come to. Proof in a civil case is by preponderance of the evidence, which means that the defendant more likely than not committed the heinous act. Because each type of case differs by degree of proof, the same wrongful death case could have a very different outcome if it was put through the criminal system versus the civil.

Also, in criminal cases, charges are brought onto the defendant by the state and will lead to probation, prison time, or hefty times if the defendant is found guilty. In civil cases, private citizens argue against the defendant. The private citizen who is seeking financial compensation for the wrongful death can only be a surviving family member or dependant of the victim. If the victim and their partner were not married at the time, the partner will most likely not be able to pursue a wrongful death claim. However, if they had a child together and brought in income together, this could change. Wrongful death compensation is meant to help with any funeral costs, any income that was to be provided by the deceased, and to compensate for pain and suffering that could have been prevented. These types of compensations are specifically designed to alleviate additional stress from the victim’s loved ones.

Contact an Attorney

However, arguing a civil or criminal wrongful death case is not an easy task, and you should definitely hire an attorney such as the Wrongful Death Lawyer Miami FL locals turn to to help you through the ropes and assist you in your lawsuit.

 

Thanks to authors at Needle Ellenberg P.A. for their insight into Wrongful Death.

Filing a Wrongful Death Claim When Someone is Murdered

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The death of a loved one brings its’ fair share of heartache, but when that loved one has been murdered, it can be shocking. Family may be trying to sort out how to move forward and searching for closure after such a horrific tragedy. You may be looking for justice to be served, or to feel like the guilty has paid for the crime they committed. It may be possible to file a wrongful death claim against the person who committed the crime. It will be imperative to acquire a wrongful death attorney to help carry out the legal process. With their help, you may be able to receive compensation for the suffering you have endured and begin the healing process.

Criminal Trial vs. Wrongful Death

Wrongful death cases when someone is murdered greatly differ from a criminal/murder trial. Wrongful death is a civil suit that is brought forth by the surviving members of the family. Descendants will hire their own private attorney to represent them in the matter. In a civil suit, while you may sue for punitive damages, the person who committed the crime will not be at risk of going to prison if found guilty in the civil suit. When a person is withstanding a criminal trial, the state’s attorney presents the case to the court. In a criminal trial, the defendant will likely be imprisoned if found guilty.

Requirements for Filings a Civil Claim

In order for a family member to file a wrongful death claim, the family must be able to prove that the other person was intentionally negligent. In a situation where the loved one has been murdered, showing that someone intentionally killed the person is key. There are a few different things required to receive compensation due to their passing. Two requirements for a strong civil claim include:

  1. Proving that the person deliberately killed your loved one.
  2. Family must be able to show that they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s passing. An example of this may be medical expenses for mental health treatment or compensation for wages lost if the person who died was the breadwinner of the family.

If faced with the murder of someone you love, a wrongful death attorney is essential. It is not an easy process to go through but, with a personal injury lawyer Harrisonburg trusts on your side, you will be able to take the space needed to grieve while they handle the legalities. Filing for wrongful death can vary from state to state; an attorney can ensure that the appropriate documents are submitted to the courts correctly and in a timely manner.

 

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Martin Wren, P.C., for their insight into personal injury.