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Legal Dangers of Texting and Driving

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DUI Defense Attorney

While many states have made texting and driving a civil infraction, punishable by only a fine, there are often far more legal risks to engaging in texting and driving than a fine or points on your driver’s license.

While the act of texting and driving in and of itself may not have criminal penalties, if something bad happens while you are in the act of texting and driving, or even near the time that you were texting and driving, you may be subject to severe criminal penalties. For example, if you are texting and driving and then are in an automobile accident that results in the serious injury or the death of another person, you could be charged with a range of serious crimes, like involuntary or voluntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, murder, moving violation causing death or serious injury, reckless driving, negligent driving, and more.

The criminal penalties for causing the death or serious injury of another person can range from probation and community service to serious prison time.

The police who investigate a crash involving a death or serious injury are likely to obtain a warrant to seize your cell phone, and a forensic examination of your cell phone will likely reveal if your phone was in use and in what way it was in use at the time of the crash. If it is discovered that you were using your phone at the time of a crash that resulted in injury or death, the likelihood that you will be criminally charged is great.

In addition to the potential criminal penalties that might result from such an accident, there are also legal concerns about potential civil litigation. If you are in an automobile accident where you were texting and driving, and it results in injury or death to another driver or passenger, you could be sued by that person for their damages. Depending on the injury, the amount of damages can be incredibly high. While many people’s car insurance will defend and pay such a claim, you could be responsible for any amount that exceeds your insurance coverage, and will be subject to the stress and other financial costs of being involved in such litigation.

While the legal dangers of texting and driving should be enough to prevent you from using your phone while behind the wheel of a car, the potential legal consequences are not the only reason to refrain from texting and driving.

Texting and driving is dangerous. You risk injury to yourself, your passengers, and those in vehicles around you. The risk of death or serious injury so that you can send or receive a message is far too great. Further, texting and driving in front of your kids will only encourage them to use their phones while driving when they someday get behind the wheel of a car. Take whatever steps you need to prevent yourself from giving in to the temptation to pick up the phone while you are driving. A criminal law lawyer Grand Rapids, MI offers suggests avoiding both the legal and human consequences of texting and driving.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal defense cases and texting while driving.

Self-Defense

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Decatur Criminal Lawyer

Imagine you are hanging out with your loved ones and having a very good time. As you are leaving a venue, a gentleman approaches you complimenting your dress. You thank them, but they move in closer in an attempt to place their hands on you in an inappropriate and sexual manner. You move their hand away before it makes contact and they immediately strike you, “in their defense”. Now, imagine being a friend in this person’s presence, and deciding to step in “in their defense”. Let’s go an extra step and imagine you are the gentleman that gave the initial compliment and moved the other party’s hand away, “in your defense”. Who committed a criminal act here?

Just as law enforcement has a duty to protect and serve the community, it is expected that individuals have a right to protect themselves as well. However, not every defense is reasonable, so it is important to understand what constitutes self-defense or the defense of others, and what does not.

There is a fine line between a premeditated action and reactions to an imminent threat. In a criminal case, in order to use self-defense as a defense there must be an imminent threat. This means there must have been an instant threat that required an immediate reaction. Revenge, or retaliation cannot be a factor in this example, as it is not immediate if it is a deliberate act.

There must also be a sense of natural and actual fear for your or another persons life or safety; this is considered reasonable fear. No matter if there was no direct or specific threat made to you, if you are afraid and respond in defense, the courts may consider this to be self-defense as well. Much like the previous example, when approached by a gentleman, the victim pushed the suspect away when they figured the accused were coming to strike them. While the accused may have never placed hands on the victim, she believed he would, and she defended herself. This is not always the easiest to prove, so while reasonable fear can contribute to a self-defense defense, you are likely to have charges lessened if not dropped totally.

There are several loopholes on both a prosecution, and a defense’s end when discussing self-defense. Rather than figure it out on your own, speak with a Decatur criminal lawyer. If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime and feel you acted in self-defense, be sure to speak to a skilled criminal defense attorney so that a strong defense can be built for you in the courtroom.


Thank you to our friends and contributors at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and self-defense cases.

Process of Sentencing

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Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta, GA

Life tends to happen very fast and if you are not careful, trouble may find you. Sometimes, we find trouble intentionally. Regardless of if you committed a crime deliberately or by accident, or not at all, if you happen to be convicted of a crime or plead guilty to any charges, a judge will sentence you. There are several ways your sentencing may go, in some cases the worse may be community service, and in others there is jail time and even worse, the death penalty. However, there are a few factors that a judge uses to deliberate how your sentencing would go, shall you be found guilty.

It is not too long after a conviction is made, or you decide to plead guilty. Depending on the extent of the case, the judge will use all facts and arguments brought forth by accuser, the defendant and state laws that express the worst that can happen. Below is a list of more specific elements a judge uses to make their final decision:

• Any previous offenses (repeat offenses especially).

• What lead to the commission of the crime in question

• If the crime put any one else in harms way

• If the person in question showed any shame

There are several options a judge can choose from such as:

• Jail time

• Prison time

• Fines

• Community service

• Probation

• Suspended licenses, etc.

Some sentences can be combined. You may receive a shorter jail sentence in exchange for probation for the duration of your original sentence. Judges do have free-range in most cases, however some charges require mandatory sentences, this would mean judges are required to impose these sentences on you for that time.

Laws vary from state to state when regarding sentencing, so if you or someone you know has been convicted or has plead guilty to any criminal charges it is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney in your area that will be able to review the details of your case and weigh out your sentencing options in the event of a plea deal or an appeal.  The earlier you speak with a criminal defense attorney Atlanta, GA relies on the better, because a skilled attorney may even be able to have your sentence reduced before you are convicted at all.


Thank you to our friends and contributors at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and the process of sentencing.

How to Succeed on Probation

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Criminal Lawyers

Probation is an opportunity to prove to the court that you’re able to comply with the court’s rules, the law, and avoid incarceration. As simple as it sounds, to be successful on probation, all you need to do is follow the rules.

1) Read the probation order. Then read it again. Seriously, one of the biggest complaints we hear as criminal defense attorneys is that our clients didn’t know a particular behavior was prohibited by the terms of their probation. Probation is your chance to avoid jail — take the time to make sure you know the rules.

2) Ask, if in doubt. If you don’t understand what a specific term of probation means, ask your criminal defense attorney or your probation officer before you take a chance. For example, if you have a probation term that says you can’t be in a place where alcohol is served, you need to ask your probation officer how broadly that is interpreted. Does it mean that you can’t be in a restaurant that has a liquor license or you just can’t be in the bar area? What if you work as a bartender or waitress? These are all questions that your probation officer can answer, if you ask before you do something. When in doubt, you should ask.

3) Check your mail. I know this is 2018, but most courts still communicate via snail mail. This means that if the court or your probation officer wants to get in touch with you, they will likely send you a letter. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring your mail for weeks or you might find that the court issues a warrant for your arrest.

4) Show up for your probation meetings. Most probation sentences require you to report and meet with your probation officer regularly. Show up early. If you wan’t to avoid jail, don’t be the guy calling the next day saying he forgot to go.

5) Have a good attitude. Probation officers deal with angry people all day long. Probation officers are humans — they don’t want to be treated poorly. Stand out by being polite and respectful. Don’t argue over things that don’t matter. Get things done before the deadline and be happy about it. For example, if you’re ordered to do a class and some community service in 60 days, get it done in the first 15. You’ll stand out in a good way that might result in an early discharge from probation.

6) Don’t commit new crimes. One of the biggest things that gets probationers into trouble is committing new crimes. If you’re on probation, this is your chance to prove that you made a poor choice and don’t need to be punished harshly. If you commit a new crime while on probation, you can bet you’re going to have an angry judge. Stay away from the people and situations that might get you into trouble.

Probation can be a great way to put a poor decision behind you, but it requires that you pay close attention to the terms and conditions of your probation order. Often times it feels like you’re being asked to jump through hoops for no apparent reason. While this may be true in some cases, the alternative is less pleasant. If you have questions about what a probation term means or how to get through probation successfully, contact an experienced criminal lawyer Greenville, MI relies on.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Blanchard Law for their insight into criminal cases and tips for probation.

Felony Charges

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Decatur Lawyers

As many people may already know, felonies are typically categorized as the serious criminal offences, in comparison to misdemeanors. If a defendant is found guilty of a felony they have been accused of the punishment is a minimum one-year in prison, which means not a county or local jail. Much like bonds, when you are charged with felonies you are also obligated to pay fines for your actions in most criminal cases, which can result in high amounts.

Serious types of felonies include but are not limited to murder, attempted murder, escaping from prison, assisting in the act of a felony, arson, and rape. There are several other crimes that are also considered felonies and you should learn these to ensure you avoid acting these crimes out.

You may also be familiar with the term “misdemeanor” but have never understood its difference from a felony. Misdemeanors are not as serious as felonies and are often resolved by paying off fines, attending classes as a form of rehabilitation, or jail time as opposed to prison time. It is easy to depict what type of crime was committed based on time served or given. There are certain factors that could escalate a misdemeanor to a felony. Crimes that typical remain misdemeanors are vandalism, trespassing and theft, amongst a few others. In the event that there is the use if a deadly weapon during the commission of a misdemeanor, there is now room to escalate the charge. If there was a theft committed at a small convenience store, this is a misdemeanor. However, if this theft involved the use of a deadly weapon such as a pocketknife it then becomes an aggravated crime, aggravated theft. When this occurs, there is a possibility of more felony related punishments and conditions such as longer jail time or larger fines to pay.

Without the knowledge it is difficulty to understand the trouble you potentially face when committed a crime. Felonies are misdemeanors are very different but share several similarities that would advice an attorney to ensure you are not taken advantage of in the courtroom. Skilled Decatur lawyers at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. will be able to educate you of your rights as they pertain to your state and area, as well as possibly defend you if you are brought in front of a judge. If you or a loved has been charged with a felony, speak with an attorney sooner than later so that you all may receive the best options available to you.

How a Trial Goes

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Criminal Defense Attorney Atlanta, GA

Ok, so you have been accused of a crime you may or may not have committed and pleading guilty is the furthest thing away from your mind at this time. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully accused or if you do not want to plead guilty, you will be taking your case to trial. When you are not an attorney, the courtroom may not be your favorite place. However, it is important to know what goes on in trial so that you are well aware of the process you have signed up for.

While you cannot always determine the time-span of your trial, there are certain steps that will allow you to know how close you are to the end. There are six practical steps in a trial:

  1. Jury selection
  2. Opening Statements by Defense and Prosecution
  3. Witness Testimony
  4. The Closing Arguments
  5. Jury Instructions Are Given
  6. Jury Discussion and Verdict Announcement

Jury Selection:

Several of people in the community are asked to appear in court for “Jury Duty”. This is when a few people are interviewed and asked very precise questions by the defense and prosecution. The defense is due a fair trial so the extensive interviews are to pick out those that may be prejudice or are in no way fit to sit as a juror.

Opening Statements by Defense and Prosecution

At this time, the legal counsel of both involved parties summarize their version of the facts of the case as to explain to the jury the direction of the case and what exactly has gone on.

Witness Testimony

Witnesses are cross-examined by opposing counsel. This is designed to allow the opposing side to ask you questions that will somehow benefit their argument or discredit the other parties’ argument. This does not mean that the witness is guilty, but that there is some information that the witness provides that will change or confirm the facts of the case.

Closing Arguments

Once all of the evidence is presented, and all reasonable questions are asked and answered by the witnesses, the closing argument gives the defense and the prosecution the time to sum up the case. Both sides will then take what occurred in the trial, and their opening statement and in a sense plead their case for the last time.

Jury Instructions Are Given

This is when the judge explains to the jury what it is they must do with the information that they have gathered. There are legal guidelines that must be followed and this is the time the jury is informed of what they are.

Jury Decision

There is no say exactly how long this part may take; in some cases the evidence is so clear it takes a short time for a jury to make a final decision or verdict. In other cases it can take days.

This is not something that you will want to go through alone. No matter your charge, be sure to speak with a courtroom experienced criminal defense attorney Atlanta, GA relies on at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. that understands how a trial works, and will be able to fight for you while you go through it.

Witness Testimony

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Decatur Attorneys

Throughout the process of a trial, witness statements are the most important and longest part of the time spent in court, of course other than the jury deliberation towards the end. A witness testimony is a piece of evidence by an involved (to some degree) party in a case. Normally, both legal counsel parties will ask the witness questions, and based on the oath taken prior to speaking it is believed that the information given by the witness is the truth. You are not also obligated to speak in a courtroom if you decide, or are called to be a witness; they can also be written and submitted into evidence. If you lie under oath while giving your witness statement this is considered perjury, the information you provide as a witness is looked at as hardcore fact and can be the largest deciding factor in a criminal case so it is imperative that the information provided by you is accurate and correct.

If you have decided to provide a witness statement or are called as a witness in a case, be sure to replay the facts of the incident you have been called to testify about. When your memory is refreshed you are able to give clear and concise details. Attorneys will ask questions that may confuse you; they will even try to manipulate you into saying things that benefit their argument. So it is important to listen carefully to the questions asked of you, they may be asked several ways and several times so you must be sure to have understood what you have answered and that you know what you are talking about.

While this may be your first time as a witness, and testifying in court, always remember to be as truthful as possible and calm your nerves. If you are not asked a question, do not volunteer information. Do not lie under oath, or share your testimony with anyone once you are done. It is wise to speak with an attorney that has experience in the courtroom or cross-examining witnesses. This way, if you are faced with the task of becoming a witness in a case, you know how to testify in court the right way. The skilled Decatur attorneys at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. will be able to prepare you for the pressures of the courtroom, and also help you practice giving a testimony by questioning you the way opposing counsel may question you in court. You are not obligated to go through this alone.

What constitutes a ‘legal’ search by the police?

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Decatur Lawyer

The Fourth Amendment defends civilians against irrational search and seizures. So, it is vital to understand what a reasonable search and seizure is and when these actually begin when police are involved. While it is the police officer’s duty to search property or seize any possessions connected to a crime, there are also laws in places that protect the privacy of people against any illegal searches and seizures.

Expectation of privacy and reasonable expectation of such are the main focuses when regarding a legal search. If you or your property is searched by the police while you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated. The police must show that a crime has likely happened in order to prove that a search was indeed reasonable and legal, and the search will likely lead to evidence or a crime of some sort.

There are conditions that grant law enforcement the capability to search and seize property:

  • Police often retain search warrants to gain the ability to search and seize property with or without the person’s consent. A search warrant is a court order issued by a judge and authorizes law enforcement to search and confiscate any evidence they discover with the consent of the occupant/owner of said property.
  • While you are not entirely obligated to grant their request, if you have given the police consent to search your property they are then allowed to do so. If they discover anything that may connect to a crime, they are then permitted to seize it and submit it into evidence, and it some cases it may lead to an arrest.
  • If the cops have reason to believe that their own safety, or the safety of others, is in jeopardy the premises will be searched.

Law enforcement has several legal alternatives and somehow still find ways to conduct a search and seize illegally. Due to the exclusionary rule, when a search and seizure happens unlawfully, any evidence that is found through this irrational or illegal search, may not be used against you should you appear in court. Neither can the police use the evidence found in an illegal search and seizure to discover any other evidence. If you or a loved one has been subjected to any illegal searches and seizures, please be sure to speak with a skilled Decatur lawyer at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. that will be able to inform you of your rights and ensure justice is served in court.

What you need to know about manslaughter

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Decatur Attorneys       

Webster defines “Manslaughter” as the unlawful killing of a human being without express or implied malice premeditation—this would mean someone was killed with ill intent. In comparison to first or second-degree murder, manslaughter would involve far less moral blame. This indicates that the kill was likely an accident or not aforethought. Manslaughter typically does not get punishment as great as murder does, despite the seriousness of the crime. Experienced Decatur attorneys at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. can explain all of this to you in detail.

There is voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, which are the two main distinctions of manslaughter.

Voluntary manslaughter is also considered a killing in the “heat of passion”, which typically occurs when an unlikely person is provoked in some way to commit a murder. There is an irresistible impulse of emotion that is sparked in a normally rational person. Like a snap. It is difficult to call it intentional when the emotional context almost justifies the action.

To explain the basic concept of how voluntary manslaughter verdicts are determined, here is an example of a voluntary manslaughter scenario:

A husband or wife comes home in the middle of the day. Unbeknownst to them, their spouse is home. Upon more inspection, they find them in bed committing adultery. In the “heat of the moment”, emotions arise that were in no way premeditated, and things happen. Out of anger, hurt, or shame a life is taken. It is very likely that a judge and/or jury will find this to be a case of voluntary manslaughter based on the basic facts.

Involuntary Manslaughter refers to an unintentional homicide from the commission of a crime or negligence. With the defendant having a clear understanding of their disregard of human life it is reason to be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

To explain the basic concept of how involuntary manslaughter verdicts are determined, here is an example of a voluntary manslaughter scenario:

A couple of friends have a drink or two at a local bar and decide to drive home because it is not that far away. On the way home, the driver loses control of his car and strikes a light post. The passenger is then ejected from the vehicle and dies due to the injuries sustained. The driver’s blood alcohol concentration level was higher than the legal limit. Although he may not have intended to kill his friend, he will be charged for involuntary manslaughter due his negligence. He is well aware that is illegal to drink and drive, he made the decision to do so, and his passenger and friend died because of this negligence.

When concerning an accidental murder, there are two different charges that are on the table: second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Depending on the incident itself, there may be no charges allocated to a suspect. Which leaves a prosecutor to rely on the extent of the negligence that occurred. Accidental second-degree murder is also named as implied malice, abandoned and malignant heart murder, and depraved murder.

Self-Defense

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Decatur Criminal Law Lawyer

Causing another person physical harm by striking, shooting or otherwise injuring that person is considered a criminal act in most jurisdictions and the person who committed the violent act will probably face prosecution under criminal statues in the state in which they live.  However, some states have statues in place that allow for one person to injure or even kill another if they are acting in self-defense.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the defensive action had to be reasonable.  For example, if a small woman threatens to beat up a two-hundred-and fifty-pound muscular man and approaches him with her fists, it would not be reasonable for that man to take out a gun and shoot the woman in the head.  If the man tried to use self-defense to explain his actions, the court would not look favorably upon this and the man would probably lose his case. A Decatur criminal law lawyer will sometimes use the expression “you can’t bring a gun to a fist fight” to help clients understand this concept.  Another way to look at it is, while it may be reasonable to push or strike a person who is attacking you with their fists, it may not be reasonable to shoot that person dead.  However, if that same person has a gun and is shooting at you, you may be authorized by the law to shoot them in self-defense.

The ability to claim or demonstrate fear of imminent injury to one’s self or another is critical to a successful claim of self-defense It’s not just that the person claiming self-defense had a right to be really mad or felt really disrespected, they have to have been in fear of their life or afraid for the life of the person they were defending in order to have a valid claim of self-defense.  One exception to this general rule is people suffering from battered person syndrome who act in self-defense. It cases where a person has been abused over a long period of time, the court may be willing to take into consideration the mindset of a person having suffered years of abuse, even if they were not in danger of losing their life at the moment they lashed out.

It is more difficult to establish a defense of property defense, but some states do recognize that a homeowner has not duty to back down if someone is invading their home.  Again, the actions taken by the property owner must be reasonable. If someone is knocking on your door in broad daylight and you shoot them because you don’t want them on your property, this will generally not be considered legitimate defense of property.  However, if you are asleep in your bed at night and you hear a person breaking into your home, you may be justified in shooting that person.

One goal of claiming self-defense is to ensure that the accused person in not convicted of a crime.  However, some states take it one step further than that and offer immunity from even being prosecuted to people who can show they were acting in self-defense.  Speak to your lawyer at Andrew R. Lynch, P.C. about whether your jurisdiction offers the option to have an immunity motion prior to trial. In an immunity motion, the judge listens to evidence of what happened during the incident and makes a ruling of whether the accused person is immune from prosecution because they were acting in self-defense.  If the judge rules that the violent act was an act of self-defense then the prosecution will be barred from pursuing the charges any further.