Working Through Legal Issues With the Best Possible Outcome

Are You Liable For Your Guest? Under Social Host Liability Laws You May Be

Posted by on Jul 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Are You Liable For Your Guest? Under Social Host Liability Laws You May Be

Each year over 1 million people are charged with driving under the influence. This number does not even include those who are stopped and not charged, or those who make it home without being caught. While a large number of these people probably have purchased the alcohol they consumed, others were supplied alcohol in the homes of their friends or family during a social event. What many of these hosts may not realize is that by supplying alcohol, and then allowing the intoxicated guests to leave their property, they may be guilty of social hosting. There are steps you can take to ensure this is not you. What Is Social Hosting? When you have guests in your home, you want to make sure they have a good time. This often means providing the food and beverages that they like to consume. Unfortunately, if you are serving alcohol, your duties do not stop there. You must monitor your guest to ensure they do not consume more than they should, and if they do, you must make sure they do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they leave your premises. If you fail to do this, you may be guilty of social hosting. This means that you may be found to be liable, and you can be sued if your guests are involved in an accident on their way home that causes injury to someone else. The social host liability laws vary greatly from state to state. In nine states social hosting liability only applies to you if your guests are underage. These states are: Alabama Arizona Florida Illinois Kansas Michigan New Hampshire Utah Wyoming There are eighteen other states in which the laws apply to anyone who consumes alcohol in your home, or at an event you are hosting. The good news is, there are ways you can reduce, or even protect yourself from this type of liability. How To Ensure Your Are Not Charged As A Social Host When you plan your party, limit the amount of time you will be serving alcohol. Purchase, or create some fun mocktails, or non-alcoholic beverages. There is a wide variety of the types you can create, and you will be able to find one, or more drinks to fit every occasion. Not only will this limit the amount of alcohol your guests consume, but it will also give your non-drinking guests the ability to enjoy a mixed beverage as well. Remember if your event is taking place outside, sun can heighten the effects of the alcohol your guests may be drinking. It is also a diuretic and can cause your guests to quickly become dehydrated. Make sure you serve plenty of water, or other hydrating fluids. Always serve some type of food when you are serving any type of alcohol. Although it may be tempting to simply set a bar up out by the pool, remember that alcohol on an empty stomach will be absorbed much faster. Foods high in carbohydrates such as pasta salads, and potato skins work best to slow the absorption of alcohol. Have one or more designated drivers on hand to ensure all of your guests get home safely. If a driver is not available, consider calling your guest a cab. Picking up the tab...

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Aiding And Abetting: Getting Criminally Charged Without Committing The Crime

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Aiding And Abetting: Getting Criminally Charged Without Committing The Crime

Did you know there are certain cases where you can be criminally charged for a crime without even committing the crime itself? Aiding and abetting is one such phenomenon where you can be held liable for a crime without actually “pulling the trigger,” so to speak. You might have recently been arrested and are unsure just exactly what the charges mean. Luckily, in this article you’ll learn a bit about the ins and outs of aiding and abetting — how you adequately legally define aiding and abetting, how aiding and abetting differs from conspiracy and what defenses your lawyer might use against your aiding and abetting charges. What is Aiding and Abetting? In the United States, aiding and abetting is a criminal provision. It is usually a charge levied against someone (or multiple people) who cannot actually be charged with a crime itself, but were used as agents of sorts in the crime by the person who was or is being charged with another criminal act. Since these charges are actually brought upon people independent of whether the principal crime was committed, someone can be charged with aiding and abetting even if the person who actually committed the crime was found by a jury to be innocent. Aiding and abetting also covers a number of other forms of provisions. For example, it covers intent and extenuating circumstances. There are several extenuating circumstances where aiding and abetting charges will either be dropped or the person being charged stands little chance of being found guilty in a court of law. For example, if a person is a getaway driver for a bank robber, then that person can be found to be either guilty under aiding and abetting or conspiracy depending on the situation. However, If a gun was held to the head of a random person and he or she was forced to driver a car as the getaway driver, this would be an extenuating circumstance wherein the case would most likely be dropped. How Does It Differ From Conspiracy? Aiding and abetting and conspiracy are two forms of charges that are often times confused by laymen, and for good reason. Basically, the two terms both refer to charges that can be brought upon someone who did not actually commit a criminal act. The primary difference between the two is that in the case of aiding and abetting, the crime must have actually occurred. The principal may not necessarily be guilty of said act, but the crime must have been committed regardless. A conspiracy charge occurs when people plan on committing a crime. A conspiracy charge is levied when the crime has not actually occurred, but the potential defendants have plans to commit said crime. What Defenses Might My Lawyer Use Against My Aiding and Abetting Charges? The primary defense your criminal defense lawyer will most likely use is innocence by dint of ignorance. This means that, yes, you acted as an accomplice in the crime, but you were unaware that a crime was actually taking place. This is a defense by way of intent. For example, if your friend wanted to rob a convenience store, but he or she did not inform you that he or she was robbing a convenience store. You wait in the car while he or she goes inside, and...

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What Changes Are Coming to California’s Traffic Laws?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Changes Are Coming to California’s Traffic Laws?

Although no one enjoys the feeling of seeing red and blue flashers suddenly appear in their rear-view mirror, if you live, work, or frequently travel in California, you may be especially leery of traffic stops. With hefty civil fines and traffic laws that can require payment of these fines before any appeal of the underlying charges, California has long had a reputation as a state unfriendly to traffic defendants. However, this tide may be turning, as recent changes in the law are designed to help traffic defendants exercise their rights while avoiding seizure or suspension of their driver’s licenses. Read on to learn more about the recent changes to the way California traffic tickets are handled, as well as what this could mean for your next citation. What changes in the ticketing process are being made?  In most states, when you’re issued a traffic citation, you have a few options. You may choose to plead guilty or no contest and pay the fine assessed for your specific violation. This can often be done by mail, without requiring a trip to court. If you have a good driving record, you could seek a deferral or diversion which requires you to pay a fee to the prosecutor’s office in exchange for having your traffic charge dismissed after a certain period of “good behavior.” A final option may be to dispute the ticket by requesting a hearing in court. If you’re found guilty, you’ll be required to pay the fine within a certain period of time; if you’re found not guilty, the ticket will be dismissed.   However, many California courts have adopted a “pay to play” scheme requiring defendants to pay their fines before scheduling a court date to dispute their traffic charge. Those who fail to pay this fine could find themselves facing a range of possible penalties, including suspension of their driver’s licenses, late fees, and even wage garnishment. Although some defendants may qualify for a fee or costs waiver due to low income, often this waiver can’t be secured before payment of the fine is due. As a result, more than 5 million California residents have faced driver’s license suspensions for relatively minor traffic infractions when ticket fees or court costs were not paid during the time frame determined by the court. This practice was formally overruled by the California Judicial Council in early June 2015, and California residents (as well as out-of-state visitors who are issued traffic citations) are now able to request a court hearing to contest a traffic ticket before being required to pay the fine. However, California courts have been given until mid-September 2015 to update forms and websites, and the implementation of this new rule has been spotty during the early days, with some defendants still being asked to pay their fine before a hearing can be scheduled. What should you do if you receive a traffic ticket in California? This change in the law is not retroactive, so if you received a traffic ticket in California and were required to pay your fine before requesting a hearing, this new law is unlikely to have any effect on your case. However, you may still be able to argue against a suspension of your driver’s license or other penalties on equitable grounds by showing that...

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3 Things You Should Know When Fighting A Sexual Assault Charge

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Things You Should Know When Fighting A Sexual Assault Charge

If you are being charged with a sexual assault crime and believe you are innocent, you are going to need a good lawyer and a good defense strategy. When you meet with your criminal defense lawyer —like one from Clark & Clark LLC — it’s important you to tell him or her your side of the story. From there, your lawyer will begin creating a defense strategy to help you fight this charge. If this is your first time being charged with a crime, here are three things you should know. You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty A sexual assault crime can land you years in prison if you are convicted; however, it may take going through a trial before you are assumed guilty. Your trial will most likely be completed with a jury trial, which means that 12 jurors will be selected to hear the case. These jurors will then be responsible for reaching a unanimous decision about your verdict. While it can be hard to prove your innocence in a criminal case, your lawyer’s main objective will actually be to prove there is not enough evidence to prove you are guilty. The court cannot legally convict you of a crime unless they are 100% certain you committed it. If there is not enough evidence to prove this, they will legally have to give you an innocent verdict. The Evidence Your Lawyer May Use Your lawyer is likely to try to instill doubt in the minds of the jurors. To do this, your lawyer may gather evidence that makes you look good, and that would probably cause the jurors to doubt you committed the crime you are being charged with. Some of the evidence admissible for this purpose may include: Alibis – If you have alibis for the time when the crime allegedly occurred, your lawyer may subpoena them to court to testify on your behalf. Expert witnesses – An expert witness is often hired to help build a person’s credibility. This person might be an expert in a field and could testify there is no way you could have committed the crime. Witnesses can also be subpoenaed for character reference purposes. For example, your boss might be called in to testify on your behalf if this testimony could help your case. In a sexual assault case, the plaintiff might not have any hard evidence to offer in court. All the evidence may be considered circumstantial evidence, which is usually not enough to convict a person. If this is the case, your lawyer may use this as a defense strategy to help you win the case. Defense Strategies To Use Reminding the jurors the evidence the plaintiff is offering is strictly circumstantial is a common defense strategy used in criminal cases. To use this strategy, there must be a lack of direct evidence proving your guilt in the crime. Your lawyer must also remind the jury that convicting with circumstantial evidence alone is not fair or right. Another strategy commonly used in sexual assault cases involves questioning the accuser’s credibility. If the person accusing you of this crime has done things in the past that he or she is not proud of, your lawyer may bring these things up in court. For example, if the accuser has a...

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