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How Has State Legislation Changed the Laws in Your State? 

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Criminal LawyerWhat a change one day can make.  When does new legislation take effect in your state and how do you find out about it?  In Virginia, for example, that day is July 1.  On that day every year, the newly passed laws (individually called “statutes”) typically come into effect.  Changes in the law can alter the life of the common citizen significantly, overnight.  And, for defendants facing criminal prosecution, the changes can be tremendous.  It is the obligation of the citizen, ultimately, to know what is legal and illegal.  But until a new law is actually published, even lawyers can find it exceedingly difficult to follow the legislative process and to know what changes are underway. 

New legislation generally affects the criminal sphere in three different ways.  The first is the most fundamental: a new statute can make an act that was previously lawful, illegal.  Or, it may remove or alter an existing law thereby making an act which previously was illegal, now legal.  A failure to act, called an omission, may also be the subject of a criminal law.  So, for example, a new statute could make it unlawful for private motor carriers (Uber or Lyft drivers) to operate without a commercial driver’s license.  Or, a new law may rescind an existing statute that had made it illegal to gamble with real money on the internet.  

Sometimes, when it comes to prosecuting people, changes in the law have an impact on the prosecution and sometimes they do not. When evaluating whether a person’s actions in the past were legal or illegal, the question is what was the law when the person committed the act.  Most states have statutes of limitation which define for how long a person is subject to criminal prosecution, exposing those accused of violent sexual assault or murder to prosecution years or decades after the crime.  So when the police solve a cold case from 1979 and charge rape and murder, the defendant will be prosecuted for those crimes as they were defined in 1979.  The difference could be very significant.  For example, rape in 1979 may have required evidence that the woman physically resisted or almost certainly would not have ever applied to the spouse of the defendant. 

A second way in which changes in criminal law can affect prosecution is procedural.  Here, the focus is not on what a person was prosecuted for doing, but how they are prosecuted for having done it.  The general rule in this category is that judges and lawyers will follow the most current and all new rules regarding the way the trial happens.  This applies to things like the admission of evidence, the discovery and exchange of information between the parties and the general rules of trial itself.  These sorts of changes are just as important as changes in the definitions of what is criminal.  For example, Virginia just enacted a law that prohibits the prosecutor from using evidence gathered during a medical response to an overdose.  Thus, in a recent case I had, there was no doubt my client had violated the criminal law by possessing narcotics when he overdosed, but changes in the procedural law that took effect before my client was brought to trial prevented the prosecutor from being able to move forward with the case. 

Finally, as the Law Office of Paul C. Galanides, P.C., can explain, new legislation that is not purely of a criminal nature can have an indirect but still significant impact on criminal law.  Such situations are somewhat rare and defy categorization, but still happen when legislative bodies sometimes will take a circuitous route to attain their goals or sometimes unknowingly fall prey to the law of unintended consequences. For example, a new law may make it illegal for the state to obtain the chemicals necessary for lethal injection, making it impossible for the state to carry out executions of death sentences.     

When making the decision to hire the right attorney, be sure to spend the time to read their biography and confirm if the law firm provides a frequent update of case results on their website. 

Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation for an RSI?

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Criminal Lawyer

When you think about work-related injuries, you probably think about a single event. You may think about a person who slipped and fell while at work or an equipment malfunction that led to the injury. Of course, you can file a workers’ compensation claim for these injuries too, but what about injuries that occur over time. Not all injuries manifest at once. Sometimes, you may develop a condition due to repetitive movement over time.

This is where repetitive stress injuries or RSIs come in. Is it possible to develop an RSI like carpal tunnel and still file a workers’ compensation claim? The answer is that yes, you can still file for workers’ compensation but you have to prove that the RSI was work-related and developed at your current job.

What Are RSIs?

Carpal tunnel and other repetitive stress injuries can happen to anyone. The majority of workers who suffer from RSIs are those who work with computers or touchscreens regularly. The types of occupations that may suffer from carpal tunnel include nurses, grocery store clerks, delivery workers, firefighters, athletes, secretaries and more. If you have a job that requires repetitive movement, then you could be at risk for an RSI.

Repetitive stress injuries are also over-use injuries. These are cumulative traumas that occur over time. Some of the most common repetitive stress injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, back pain and more.

How can You Prove RSIs are Work-Related?

This is the hardest part of a workers’ compensation case. You have to prove that your injuries were caused by your occupation. You must go to the doctor as soon as you first present symptoms of an RSI. This way that you can document the medical journey. If you try to deal with it on your own, then it may be more difficult to receive workers’ compensation benefits. You need to tell the doctor when you first experienced the symptoms and what you were doing. In many cases, the doctor may prescribe certain work-restrictions to treat conditions like carpal tunnel. Keep documentation of all prescriptions and recommendations.

Many workers’ compensation insurers will try to fight you on your claims. It is important that you have documentation and do not be afraid to file a claim. Most people need assistance when it comes to filing a claim. Consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer, like a workers compensation lawyer from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, for a better chance of receiving your benefits.

What to Know About Modifying an Alimony Agreement

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Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a payment made after a divorce to provide financial support to a spouse who may have earned less in the marriage due to taking care of children. Spousal support is not the same as child support. Child support can be modifiable for many different reasons. Often, the divorce negotiations can include spousal support and the terms for modifications. Child support is not limited by your own negotiations. Here’s what to know about modifications for spousal support.

What Does Your Divorce Decree State? 

Before modifying alimony, you should check what the limits are in your divorce. In some cases, both spouses have to agree to a modification or there are certain times when a modification could be made. You should also check your state laws. If you and your ex-spouse agree to a modification, that’s great. You should still file the agreement with the court to make sure that is enforceable.

Common Reasons Alimony Modifications Are Made 

Beyond an agreement between former spouses to modify alimony, there are other reasons the court might approve higher or lower spousal support payments.

  • Cost of Living Adjustment: In most cases, a COLA clause must be included in your original settlement for this modification to occur.
  • Escalator Clause: An escalator clause gives the recipient of spousal support an automatic raise when the payor gets an increase in earnings. This, too, should be negotiated as part of the original settlement, as it is very difficult to approve following a divorce.
  • Change of Circumstance: A change of circumstance may apply to changes in state law or in the particular circumstances of the payee or payor. If the payor loses a job or takes a significant reduction in pay, the court may modify support. If the payee has a change in circumstance, such as a substantial change in income after graduating from a college program and taking a new job, the court may modify support downward. A financial emergency or change in disability status may also indicate the need for modification.

Spousal Support Modifications Are Subject to Local Laws 

Some states don’t allow any modifications of spousal support upward, only downward. Once your divorce is final, your spousal support order may not be changed by the court. It depends on your state laws. Talk to a divorce lawyer, like a divorce lawyer from the Law Office of Daniel J Wright, about spousal support and what you can do to modify it in your jurisdiction.

The Court’s Role in Divorce

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Criminal Defense Attorney

Dealing with a marital split is something that you never dreamed would happen, yet it is precisely what you find yourself doing. When a relationship ends, even when both parties agree it’s over, it doesn’t make it better.

A divorce is a legal process dictated by the laws of the state in which you live. Since states set their requirements, you may find that friends who have divorced in other jurisdictions had a much different experience than the one you have. Understanding local laws can help prepare you for what is to come in one of the most divisive and challenging things a person can go through. Here are some of the things you may face in your divorce.

Property Division

When divorcing, you and your ex may reach resolution and agreement on some issues, but others may find you deadlocked. In these circumstances, the court will step in and review the record to make choices. Dividing property is something that the court often has to deal with. Financial issues are something that couples may find themselves unable to agree on. Aside from child custody, money and debt can cause the most pressure, stress, and fights during a divorce. The court may be forced to step in and divide what the couple cannot.

Court-Ordered Counseling

Depending on where you live and the type of divorce you have, the court can require you through court-ordered counseling. In many cases, this has to do with children. When kids are involved in a divorce, the court wants to ensure that it has the children’s best interests over all others. Thus, the parties may need to attend a session with a psychologist. The purpose of such a session is to decide if there is any reason why one parent should have more or less custody than the other. After the initial session, the judge may send one or both parents back for more, or they may be satisfied with one.

Mediation or Arbitration

The judge may allow you and your spouse the opportunity to maintain control over your future and attend mediation or arbitration for your case. This allows you and your lawyers to talk things out with the assistance and in the presence of a third-party. This person is there to help you reach compromises that can significantly benefit your future. If either of these processes fails, the next step is court.

The divorce lawyer, like a divorce lawyer in Frisco, TX, you choose to help you through your divorce is integral to its success. Finding one close to your town may prove more beneficial than you realize. 

 


 

Thanks to Scroggins Law Group for their insight into the court’s role in divorce proceedings. 

Do I have a business interruption claim because of COVID-19?

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Criminal Lawyer

The current coronavirus pandemic is having a negative impact on both families and businesses worldwide, causing economic hardship that may be impossible for some businesses to overcome. Many businesses have been forced to either temporarily close or have seen a sharp drop in customers due to COVID-19, and although many have been able to get loans under the federal government’s stimulus package, for some, that has not been enough to stay afloat. For those businesses, many owners are looking at their insurance policies — most importantly, business interruption insurance — in order to determine if they are potentially covered for the loss of business.

What Is Business Interruption Insurance?

Business interruption insurance is designed to prevent events from leaving a business devastated financially, most often a hurricane, tornado, or other weather event. Also known as “business continuation insurance,” business interruption insurance is designed to cover the loss of income after a business suffers a disaster-related closing — in some cases, throughout the rebuilding process. It expands coverage beyond insurance for property damage to cover more extensive losses as well.

What does that mean for those whose businesses are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic? Many policies rarely mention disease outbreak, and generally, the insurance covers fire, transport network disruption, IT outage or cyberattack, industrial dispute, and civil unrest, which lead to physical losses. Pandemics would not traditionally be covered under such a policy, but many businesses are filing suit against insurance companies to force a claim.

What Would It Cover?

If a business interruption insurance policy covered COVID-19, businesses would be able to recoup losses including:

  • The actual loss sustained by the business interruption, including loss of income.
  • Business income, including net income and operating expenses, such as payroll.
  • Period restoration, which in the case of a disaster would include the time required to restore the business’s damaged property.
  • Extra expenses that would not have occurred if there was no damage to the property.
  • Extensions of coverage, which addresses losses caused by damage to gas, water, sewer, telephone, or electrical service.
  • Interruption by military or civil authority, which covers losses sustained when either the military or a civil order forbids entrance to the business for a period of at least 14 to 30 days. While the government ordered shutdowns of most businesses, it is unlikely coronavirus pandemic losses will be covered.
  • Contingent business interruption losses are caused by damage or destruction of property owned by a third-party supplier or receiver that would negatively impact your business, and are also often covered.

Lawmakers, however, are encouraging insurance companies to cover COVID-19 losses under business interruption insurance, likely so the entire cost of the pandemic does not fall on the government, and businesses are better able to recover from the drastic loss of income many have sustained.

Some Policies Do Have Coverage

Some – but only a few, mostly larger firms – have business interruption policies containing coverage for Interruption by Communicable Disease. Still, the policy’s language may exclude viruses such as COVID-19. Contact an insurance claim lawyer, like an insurance claim lawyer in Delray Beach, FL, for more information today. 

 


 

Thanks to the law office of Eric H. Luckman, P.A. for their insight into whether or not your business can get insurance if it closes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Questions and Answers About Out of State Speeding Tickets

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Traveling across the country can be a great adventure, but it can also be like heading into the unknown. If you’re not familiar with a particular area, or the state’s traffic laws where you’re driving, you may be more likely to get a speeding ticket. Receiving a speeding ticket in a state other than where you live could bring up some questions. The following are just some you may want answers to.

Does It Affect Insurance?

Every situation is unique, but in most cases your speeding ticket from another state will affect your insurance rates. Traffic tickets are listed on your driving record, and your record follows you from state to state. Your insurance company takes your record to determine rates. Whether you’re moving to a new state, just passing through or on a vacation there, your insurance provider will catch wind of traffic violations. Depending on your coverage and the company it’s through, your rates could go up.

Does It Have to Get Paid?

Living in another state does not exempt you from paying your speeding ticket. The law is the law, and you are under obligation to abide by it. When you don’t, there are consequences. All but two states in the nation belong to certain interstate traffic compacts. These agreements are created so authorities in another state will willingly help authorities enforce the consequences of an out of state traffic ticket. If you receive an out of state speeding ticket, you will get points on your driving record, and they will show up in the state where you live. Your state will then determine how to handle the rise in points.

Can Someone Contest the Ticket?

If you wish to contest your ticket, you have every right to do so. Keep in mind you’ll need to contest it within the county where you received the ticket, so it may cost you money for travel. Also keep in mind it will be less expensive to hire a lawyer in that county as well, as it cuts down on travel costs for him or her.

Getting the Assistance of an Attorney

When you get a speeding ticket, there may be some consequences you’re not particularly excited about, but don’t think they won’t show up if your ticket is from another state. Speeding tickets get placed on your driving record regardless of where you received them. If you’re worried about a ticket you received, contact a traffic lawyer in Hillsville, VA today for assistance in dealing with it.

Thanks to The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into criminal law and out of state speeding tickets.

What Happens After You Get a Speeding Ticket?

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When you get a traffic ticket, you can’t ignore it and hope it will go away. The officer will probably tell you that you have to appear in court, but you can simply pay the fine through the mail (or online) before the due date. How do you know what is better for you? Here are some things to consider.

Should You Plead No Contest?

Typically, on the ticket, there is an option where you can send in the money and plead “no contest.” Basically, when you do this, you are saying that you are guilty and just want to get through the process with as little effort as possible. This takes care of the ticket, but it will go on your driving record. How that affects you depends on a number of factors, such as how many other tickets you’ve had in the past, the severity of the violation and the actual charges. If you send in the fine, you don’t have to appear in court. For some violations, you may have to appear in court. Check with the court clerk if in doubt.

Some jurisdictions offer traffic school as an option to avoid having the ticket go on your record. You should check this option out as soon as you get the ticket. You may need to attend the class and show proof to the court before the court date. You want to get your certificate of completion in time to avoid penalties. Show your certificate to your insurance company, too. You may get a discount.

Should You Dispute the Ticket?

If you believe you got the ticket unfairly or if the ticket might cause you to get more points on your record than you can afford, you can dispute the ticket. If you plan to dispute the ticket, you will need to appear in court. You should also plan to have evidence that supports your contention that you shouldn’t have gotten the ticket. Some people simply hope that the officer won’t show up that day in court, but that is not a good strategy. You want to be prepared to demonstrate the unfairness of the ticket. If you were speeding, but didn’t see the sign because it was hidden, this could show the judge that you don’t deserve to pay a fine.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you plan to dispute your traffic ticket, you may want to discuss your case with a speeding ticket lawyer in Abingdon, VA who can help you take the right steps to be more successful.

Thanks to The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into criminal law and what happens after getting a speeding ticket.

Make Your Estate Planning Easier with the Personal Property List 

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Criminal Lawyer

If you’re like most, you’ve probably considered how you will pass on your family heirlooms or your favorite and most valuable personal possessions like rings, paintings, a grandfather clock, or the kitchen hutch. Questions may arise, like: 

  • “Do I have to write every one of my cherished possessions into my will?” 
  • “What if I later change my mind, wouldn’t I have to re-do my will?”
  • “What if later circumstances affect my decision, such as a child’s untimely death or disinheriting an estranged son-in-law or daughter-in-law?  

Thankfully, there is an easy answer — it’s called the personal property list. The personal property list is like a shopping list, but instead of reminding you what you’re going to buy at the store, the personal property list tells your loved ones who gets what upon your passing. 

Benefits of the Personal Property List

The beauty of the personal property list is its simplicity. The personal property list is simply a separate document that accompanies your will, where you list who gets what household and personal items upon your passing. Because it’s a separate document from your will, you won’t have to re-do your will—or worse, write all over your will—if you later change your mind about who gets what. For example, if you change your mind about who gets that special heirloom ring, you can simply indicate so on your personal property list. No need to see an attorney to make changes to your will.  

Personal Property Checklist

There are a few things to make sure you get right about your personal property list: First, your will should indicate that you have a personal property list. Second, items on your personal property list must be described with enough specificity so as to not cause confusion about what items you are referring to. Third, cash, money accounts, and real property (land, homes, and other buildings) may not be on the personal property list. Fourth, you must sign your personal property list. Fifth, you should keep your personal property list in a safe place where it will be easily discovered upon your passing, presumably in the same spot as the original copy of your will. 

Make sure you incorporate the personal property list in your estate planning. If you do, you will save yourself a few estate planning headaches. Contact an estate planning lawyer, like an estate planning lawyer in Belgrade, MT, to begin creating your personal property list today. 

 


 

Thanks to Silverman Law Office, PLLC for their insight into how to make estate planning easier with a personal property list. 

4 Must-Haves for Your Estate Plan

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Criminal Lawyer

If you’ve been looking into getting a will or a trust, you may have come across the term “estate plan.” This takes your will a step further to include everything that comprises your estate. It helps you make a determination about how your assets will be handled after your death, as well as instructions for your family members to handle your assets if you are unable to during life. What should you include in your estate plan? The following are four must-haves.

  1. Will or Trust

The main part of your estate plan is often the will or trust. This document will outline how you want your property distributed after you die. If you decide to implement a trust, your assets can sometimes be protected against estate taxes and other legal obstacles.

As you create your will, be true to your word. If you have already told one of your children he or she could have the family boat after your death, keep to that in your will. If you bequeathed your retirement account to your brother, don’t bequeath it to your sister in the will. These types of situations open the will up to be contested, which often leads to contention.

  1. Power of Attorney

You need to assign someone you trust to be your power of attorney. This person has power to act on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. For example, if you are mentally incompetent and your home needs to be sold, the power of attorney would decide what to do with the funds from the sale of the house. Without a power of attorney, the court may be left to decide these types of things.

  1. Healthcare Power of Attorney

Different than a durable power of attorney, a healthcare power of attorney has the power to make decisions about your healthcare while you are still alive. Be sure you choose someone you trust with your life, as that could quite possibly be the decision that needs to be made. Someone with similar religious beliefs might also be a good consideration.

  1. Guardianship

If you have children who are minors at the time you create your estate plan, you’ll want to include guardianship designations for them. Without this designation, the state will be left to decide where your children will live after you die.

Contacting an Attorney to Get Started

Making an estate plan is an important part of taking care of yourself, your family and your assets. Contact an estate planning lawyer in Gilbert, AZ today to get started with your plan.

 


 

Thanks to Citadel Law Firm for their insight into estate planning and must haves for your plan.

Whistleblowing and Employment Retaliation

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Whistleblowers have reached prominence in modern society as public protectors. Whistleblowers often take personal risks to protect the public from fraud and misconduct by businesses and even governments that would otherwise go unchecked. This admirable role, however, is not without consequence. Many people who “blow the whistle” on their employer do so at the very real risk of losing their jobs. Sometimes, it is more than just a job, it is a decades-long career that they put on the line to make sure that the misconduct they observe is identified and stopped. 

If you have blown the whistle on your employer, and you feel as if you have suffered workplace retaliation or even termination, consider calling a qualified whistleblowing attorney who also has significant experience in employment law to help you consider your options. In the meantime, here are a few frequently asked questions to get you  started:

 

  • How do I know if I have faced workplace retaliation? Workplace retaliation after whistleblowing can take many forms. The most obvious form is the termination of employment or demotion that has nothing to do with your job performance. Less obvious forms of retaliation may include the creation of a hostile work environment or a change in job duties that makes your job more difficult, less desirable, or have less room for upward mobility. It can be difficult to prove workplace retaliation, so it is important that if you think you have been the victim of retaliation after whistleblowing, make sure to keep excellent records of your workplace interactions, job performance, and any correspondence you have with human resources or management regarding changes in your job requirements. 

 

 

  • What kind of protection do I have? Both state and federal laws offer whistleblower protection. The purpose of these laws is to encourage employees to report the misconduct of their employer that otherwise may go unchecked. The law that applies to your retaliation claim is dependent on the type of whistleblower report that you have made. Not all laws offer the same degree of protection from retaliation, so it is important to consult with a whistleblower attorney familiar with the law that applies to your claim who will be able to advise you regarding your rights. 

 

 

  • What should I do if I have been retaliated against? If you are certain that you have been fired or otherwise retaliated against due to a whistleblowing report, you should consult with a qualified and experienced attorney as soon as possible. Make sure that you preserve any evidence surrounding the circumstances of your termination or other retaliation and share it with your attorney. The sooner you consult with an attorney and file an employment discrimination claim related to the whistleblowing, the sooner you will have a resolution to your difficult situation and the more likely you are to be successful in your claim.

 

Whistleblowing and workplace retaliation is a somewhat common combination, but there is something you can do. Know your rights and consult with a qualified whistleblower attorney, like a whistleblower lawyer in Richlands, Virginia, to make sure you take advantage of the protections in place for whistleblowers.

Thank you to the experts at the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into whistleblower law.