HIGHLIGHT: Does the Criminal Justice System Need Reform?

There are a lot of things out there that need to be changed in our system, and one of the biggest areas of change needs to be in the area of the criminal justice system. Kentucky is just one of many states who is standing up and saying that they want to try and reform the system, and they are trying to make sure that it actually goes into play instead of just talking about the issues that the system currently deals with.

One of the main reasons that the criminal justice system needs to change, according to a criminal defense attorney in San Jose, is because of how much money is being wasted on the criminal justice system. Think about all of the money that is being used in the courtroom every single day; even though about 90% of cases are dealt with using plea bargains nowadays, there are still a lot of criminal cases that go to court. Those cases require a lot of cash flow and such. Of course, these court cases are necessary – everyone in our country has the right to a fair trial and to a jury, so that’s not really somewhere that cuts can or should be made.

So where is the biggest issue? The same issue that seems to be plaguing the entire country – the jail system. The biggest problem that is going on is the fact that no one really knows what to do with the growing prison population (says one criminal defense lawyer). There are a lot of people in jail at this point in time, and it costs a lot to keep them there. The longer that they are there, the more that they cost. Even those that are in for light drug charges end up being there for a long while, and it’s causing a lot of financial strain on state and federal government funds.

That’s why Kentucky has spoken up, and they’re working to reevaluate their system. They are considering reforms that will help them to reduce the prison population and to put more people into rehabilitative and probationary programs, which seem to be the future of the United States’ criminal justice system. Will other states start to follow suit? What else will need to be done in order to reduce the amount of money that is being spent on keeping people “in the system” for as long as possible?

Are Cities Becoming More Immigration Friendly?

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Around the nation, numerous urban areas are embracing immigrants that are new to their areas and bringing them into the community. The common negative talk concerning immigration strategy that has been identified with the inaction of Congress doesn’t impact the communities that these people are moving into. These newcomers are, in reality, adjusting and becoming buyers, entrepreneurs, mortgage holders, and so on. As a result, this is helping their buying power, which is helping the neighborhood economies develop.

Positivity Toward Immigration Isn’t Just Because of Goodwill

The good viewpoint towards immigration at the neighborhood level is not just out of a feeling of goodwill; nearby neighbors are seeing the financial and formative quality workers have for their companies. The inviting feeling that is being shown by some American cities ought to serve as proof towards rethinking our national approach toward immigration in general.

In any case, wouldn’t it be less demanding to deal with these issues at a local level where the issue of national security may not so much be felt as much? The people in neighborhoods have some concerns to deal with, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean that they still won’t welcome these children with open arms. The important part is that change is happening. People are taking in these immigrants, encouraging diversity, and supporting these people in everything we do. As we wait for immigration changes to actually happen, cities are stepping up and taking care of these people and making them feel welcome in our borders.

Can Neighborhoods Make a Difference?

Sure, they don’t have the money that some larger community groups have, but neighborhoods and locals are doing a better job of offering an inviting environment to unaccompanied child immigrants. Numerous people, including some government officials, see this as a fundamental obligation in a country looking to advance human rights for people all over the world. These unaccompanied child immigrants are escaping terrible circumstances in their nations of origin to try and make it somewhere that they don’t know, but will feel safer. In this place, they can dare to dream and they can hope that they will find peace and security, which is what every person deserves to have. As these unaccompanied minors wait for their cases to be dealt, they are left powerless. Locals are reacting to the need and taking care of these children while they wait, also working to give them the rights that they deserve while Congress continues to stall on immigration reform.

Pain & Suffering & Your Personal Injury Case

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Pain and suffering is one of the types of financial compensation an individual may be entitled to during a personal injury lawsuit. This damage is used to compensate an individual for the emotional and physical stress that has resulted after an accident has occurred. Emotional stress can include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, nightmares, insomnia and similar symptoms.

No Pain & Suffering?

Pain and suffering is not awarded on all lawsuits, and   the amount that is awarded in cases where it is a part of the deal will  vary from case to case. The monies awarded for pain and suffering are in addition to the amount awarded for medical bills, lost wages, etc., although still considered a part of the general lawsuit. This means you might get two separate settlements or awards.

If you expect to receive pain and suffering damages, filing a lawsuit is probably the only way that you will get it. Insurance companies are not keen on paying for these type of damages, assuming that a victim is receiving all of the money they deserve in the amount offered for settlement.

Additionally it is important to know that not all states allow an individual to sue for pain and suffering. Some states in the US have a no-fault legislation that prevents pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages.

How Much is Your Case Worth?

If you qualify for pain and suffering in your case, there are several different things that will be used to determine the amount that you will receive. This includes the therapy and medical treatment that you have endured. You should have all of this information available for the lawyer when it is requested. This will smooth and speed up the process. The more proof of your pain and suffering that you have the better.

Some of the things that are taken into consideration when determining how much you might receive for pain and suffering include:

  • Seriousness of the injury
  • The part that the victim played in the injuries
  • What will the future hold?
  • What does the jury say?

The Bottom Line

Some cases are eligible for pain and suffering damages while others are not. It is always in your best interest to talk to a lawyer to learn more about this rule, whether your case may qualify for, and more about the amount of money that you can receive in your settlement.

Dealing With Divorce: The Divorce Process, In Brief

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The divorce process, when broken down into steps, is pretty simple to grasp at first glance. Using information from Nolo.com, let’s look at the divorce process in brief.

 

The divorce process, in brief

The divorce process is as simple as both parties make it. Parties who agree to end their marriage by having one party file and initiate the process often have simpler divorce processes. If one party chooses to ‘blindside’ their soon-to-be ex-spouse, there’s a large chance the process will be prolonged. The process of divorce follows similar steps no matter how they’re carried out.

 

Filing the petition

This is the first step of the divorce process. One spouse holds the responsibility of filing the petition, even if they both agree to file the divorce. The petition generally states the grounds for divorce. The grounds usually vary between jurisdictions across the country.

 

Temporary orders

These orders are usually issued on certain conditions. The most common condition involves spousal support and child custody. Usually, one spouse is required to ask the court for a temporary order granting them support or custody if they require one, the other or both. Most temporary orders are granted within days, and usually remain in full effect before a court hearing. If the party who filed the divorce petition wants a temporary order, they should file both at the same time.

 

Service of process

The filing party also needs to file proof of the service of process. This document informs the filing party that a copy of the divorce petition was issued to the other party. In amicable divorces, the service of process should be issued to the other parties attorney, as it’s most appropriate.

 

The response

The opposing party, after they receive the service of process, needs to file an official response to the petition. If the responding party does dispute the petition, particularly if it was filed under fault grounds, they need to address that issue in their response.

 

The negotiation

If the parties can’t amicably agree on their issues, they need to enter negotiations to attempt to resolve their differences. The court gets involved in the negotiation process to help both parties move toward a final resolution of their issues. Sometimes, the court introduces mediation to attempt to resolve trickier issues like child custody or support.

 

The trial

If both parties can’t resolve their issues between themselves, their issues will have to get resolved by trial. Going to trial, however, often takes longer to resolve and costs more money. It’s also considered relatively unpredictable for both parties.

Order of dissolution

The order of dissolution essentially ends the marriage. It also lays out how the property, debts, custody, support and other matters will be divided between both parties. If both parties decide to negotiate and resolve their issues on their own, they draft the order of dissolution themselves and submit it to the court. For divorce trials, the judge usually issues the order of dissolution at the end of a trial.

Dealing With Divorce: Learning Divorce Terminology

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Several specific terms are used throughout the divorce process to define actions, since it’s a legal process. These terms allow legal professionals (and, subsequently, other people) to describe divorce in layman’s terms without the need to go into further detail about the process.

 Let’s look at some divorce terminology, as provided by Nolo.com’s page about divorce terminology.

 

Divorce terminology

 

Petition for divorce. This document is what the filing party uses to file a divorce with the court. In some jurisdictions, it’s known as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.

Temporary order. Also known as an Interim Order, this court order isn’t permanent (as implied by the name). This court order usually lasts until a hearing or a final order is issued; sometimes, it ends when an unspecified event occurs. An example of this type of order is a temporary custody order, which grants one parent custody of the children while the final custody determination remains pending.

Community property. This applies to states who govern community property in this context. Community property is the property (or assets) acquired by both parties during their marriage, which means the property belongs to both. Property owned by either party individually is their separate property, even after they’re married.

Sometimes, separated property can become community property. This usually happens when both parties merge their bank accounts to create a joint bank account upon marriage. The money in their account then becomes community property, since the newly merged account is in both names.

Equitable distribution. Many states require this during marriage, specifically for property or assets. This term generally means that any property or debts will get divided fairly, though not equally. Various factors are used to determine ‘what’s fair’ in this case, including both parties’ earning power and the length of their marriage.

Spousal support. Also known as alimony, this is the compensation given to one spouse from the supporting party. The court usually award alimony to the recipient spouse if they determine that the supporting spouse has a legal obligation to keep supporting their lifestyle. The supporting spouse usually earns enough money to keep providing spousal support for the other party.

Child support. Child support is the compensation paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the purpose of financially supporting their child (or children). If joint custody is in play, the parent with primary physical custody will receive child support from the supporting parent.

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A Look at Personal Injury Law

A Personal Injury lawsuit is a legal dispute that develops after an injured individual files a case in a court of law. They file a lawsuit because they feel that another person is the direct cause of the accident, and that had reasonable action been taken, the accident, and the injuries resulting, could have been prevented. While some personal injury cases go to court, many are settled out of the courtroom before a judge hears the case.

There are a few different things that you should know if you plan to file a lawsuit. A formal lawsuit is filed when the individual who is injured files a complaint against the other party involved in the accident. An informal settlement is an agreement that is reached before the case gets to court. The settlement is what the parties of the case have agreed upon with their lawyers and it must be signed and dated and put into court records before it becomes official.

A time limit to file a lawsuit is in place for personal injury cases. Anyone who feels that they have been wronged and should be compensated for those damages should understand the statute of limitations that is in place. The period of limitations begins on the date the accident occurs, and varies according to the type of lawsuit that you plan to file, and the type of accident that has occurred. The state is also a factor in the amount of time that you will have to file a lawsuit.

One of the most common types of personal injury lawsuit filed in today’s judicial system is those resulting from car accidents. A car accident occurs every 3 seconds in the USA, and oftentimes they occur because one of the drivers wasn’t focused on the road. However, it is important to note that a car accident is not the only type of accident that can result in a personal injury lawsuit.

Injuries at work are also commonly filed cases, as are those involving medical malpractice and even lawsuits filed after an individual has been injured because of a slip and fall in a store or on a public walkway. Again, not all cases qualify for a personal injury lawsuit. Talking to a lawyer is the easiest way to determine if your case qualifies. Most lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your case and the next steps that should be taken.

Dealing With Divorce: How Spousal And Child Support Gets Calculated

In a divorce, one party may be responsible for providing both spousal and/or child support payments. When ordered to pay one, the other or both, the supporting party is responsible for paying the amount ordered by a court of law. Before they have to pay, the amount they’re required to provide is calculated under specific criteria.

 

Spousal and child support

 

In a marriage, one or both parties provide financial sustenance for themselves and their children whether it be through employment or personal loans. During a divorce, the highest earning party becomes responsible for maintaining that sustenance in the form of financial support. That type of financial support is divided into child support and spousal support.

Spousal support is monetary compensation given to separated or ex-spouses in accordance with a separation agreement or divorce decree. It more or less allows the ex-spouse to continue supporting their lifestyle after divorcing the supporting party.

On the other side, child support works much like spousal support. It’s the monetary compensation paid by the supporting party to the child’s parent or guardian (the ex-spouse) for the purpose of financially supporting their children. In most cases, the supporting party is responsible for paying child support for all of their children, if they have multiple children.

In regards to how both are calculated, that’s generally decided by the courts. According to federal laws, both types of support are calculated in different ways.

 

Calculating child and spousal support

 

Child support payments vary between states, since the calculation formula varies between states. The courts generally take various criteria into consideration when calculating child support payment amounts. Some of those ‘extra’ criteria include:

  1. A child’s needs, including health care, education and special needs.
  2. The needs and income of the custodial parent.
  3. The supporting parent’s ability to fulfill child support payments.
  4. The child’s standard of living before the separation happened.

As mentioned, each state has their own standards for calculating child support. Both parents are required by family court to provide information (and complete forms) before making a final decision regarding that particular financial support.

Spousal support or alimony is relatively straightforward when compared to child support, since it takes the considerations of the ex-spouse in mind. Alimony is usually awarded to an ex-spouse based on factors like:

  1.  The length of the marriage.
  2. The time both parties spent separated while married.
  3. Their age and health at the time of their divorce.
  4. The income of both parties, including income from other sources.

 

Besides those factors, spousal support is usually awarded if one spouse has remained dependent on another spouse for a long time.

 

Dealing With Divorce: Mediation And Family Counseling

Sometimes, both parties can’t begin their divorce proceedings without trying alternatives first. In fact, many jurisdictions around the country require both parties to participate in counseling or work with a mediator to settle their differences. Long before the trial preparation or even the filing of the divorce itself, both parties will be given an opportunity to resolve their issue and make the impending divorce amicable.

Mediation and counseling: who needs it?

The prospect of divorce makes both parties feel significantly emotionally charged. That reason alone is why some states require the divorcing parties to seek guidance from a mediator or a counselor before going ahead with the divorce proceedings.

Mediation is a settlement of a dispute, which involves setting up an outside meeting between both contentious parties and a neutral third party to help both come to an amicable settlement. When it comes to impending divorces, a successful mediation helps keep a divorce uncontested and, in other words, completed as soon as it starts.

Counseling, on the other hand, works much like mediation, though it’s more of a way to help both parties ease their emotional tensions before going forward with their impending divorce. The act of counseling places a neutral party in a situation where they help either spouse resolve their emotional problems stemming from their relationship and the impending divorce.

Most, if not all, divorcing couples will need some form of counseling or mediation before proceeding with their legal matters. As mentioned, that’s probably the most important part of keeping a divorce uncontested.

The necessity of mediation and/or counseling

Emotions run high when entering a divorce. That makes mediation and counseling important to the divorce process. Sometimes, a divorcing spouse gets completely blindsided by their spouse’s unexpected behavior during the course of the divorce proceedings. Entering counseling sessions helps both parties resolve their emotional distress toward one another and move forward with the divorce.

Mediation works in a similar way, only it helps both parties come to an amicable agreement. Although both methods work to help resolve issues before proceedings start, they don’t work all the time. Due to that, both parties are required to keep their lawyers ‘in the know’ about their counseling or mediation sessions.

Keeping a lawyer at your side will help you navigate ‘deceptive’ sessions that lead to nowhere. Though, in most cases, your lawyer can help you stay aware of what you need to do to make the divorce proceedings amicable. That’s the key to having your divorce conclude as smoothly as possible.

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Dealing With Divorce: Fees For Attorneys And Other Legal Aid

Legal fees are a mainstay of the divorce process, especially if the divorce is a contested one. And, unfortunately for one party, they might be responsible for shouldering all of the legal fees for themselves and their spouse.

Divorce and legal fees

Individuals who are the sole provider in their marriage may be permitted to pay legal fees for themselves and their spouse. Many courts come to this conclusion based on one reason: if you’re financially viable, you’re responsible for paying the fees.

Though, that party might not think that’s fair. However, it’s the result of common sense that makes that the inevitable conclusion in most cases. Sometimes, the other party can’t afford or are physically unable to pay for their legal fees. Since, at the time of the trial, both parties are still legally married, the providing spouse must take their legal fees if ordered to do so.

Interestingly enough, courts may order providing parties to pay fees if they chose to ‘run up’ those fees in pursuit of settling the divorce proceedings. Depending on the judge handling the case, the providing party may have to pay a portion or the entire share of their spouse’s legal fees.

There’s also the prospect of receiving their share of split or redistributed assets from their spouse. If those assets consist of money, there’s a possibility the providing party might have to recoup their legal costs by using those very assets. As you can see, paying for fees can be tricky.

It’s not that tricky to handle if the providing party seeks legal and financial help from qualified professionals. The problem with that is they may also have to pay for their assistance, too.

Seeking help from professionals

A divorce takes up time and money. That’s why it’s important for a provider to get professional help about managing their finances during the divorce. Though, there’s a catch.

When you work with an attorney or other form of legal aid, it takes a lot of time out of your life. Much of the divorce process involves completing and reviewing documents and other transmissions regarding your marriage and the divorce. When you think of it like that, you’re more or less paying to work with your attorney throughout the course of the divorce process.

That’s how the fees add up. And, those fees can double if you’re responsible for covering your spouse’s legal fees. But, if you seek help from professionals, they can help you figure out a way to deal with your financial situation throughout the divorce process.

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