Five Things Criminal Defendants Should Know About Deferred Adjudication

Those facing a criminal conviction aren’t limited to the options of pleading either “guilty” or “not guilty”. There are also often certain plea deals available that can minimize the penalties a criminal defendant will face as a result of charges. One such plea deal is a deferred adjudication.

The following are five things defendants should know about deferred adjudication if they’re attempting to fight a criminal conviction:

Deferred adjudication is a way to enjoy a lesser sentence while pleading guilty.

With deferred adjudication, a defendant will agree with the court to accept certain requirements for a given period of time before a formal decision is made on the defendant’s sentence.

Deferred adjudication is not necessarily available in every case.

It’s important that criminal defendants are aware of the fact that deferred adjudication may not be available in every jurisdiction. However, if deferred adjudication is not available in a certain jurisdiction, that jurisdiction might offer a similar plea deal agreement like a diversion program.

Also, some states use a different term for deferred adjudication. For example, deferred adjudication is known as “probation before judgment” in the state of Maryland. 

If a defendant pleads “guilty” through deferred adjudication, it’s possible that no criminal conviction will go on his or her record.

One of the biggest advantages deferred adjudication offers to criminal defendants is that it can prevent a criminal conviction from going on the defendant’s record.

For example, in the state of Texas a deferred adjudication will not result in a criminal conviction on the defendant’s criminal record. Instead, the case will be dismissed once the defendant successfully fulfills the terms of the agreement. 

Deferred adjudication may require community service, probation, and restitution.

A variety of different requirements can be included in a deferred adjudication agreement. These requirements will be determined by the court.

Of course, the defendant’s lawyer can assist in negotiating these terms and in giving the defendant advice on whether or not the terms being offered are reasonable. 

Defendants should always discuss deferred adjudication with a lawyer before seeking such an agreement with the court.

Criminal defendants who are fairly certain that they will be found guilty in court almost always stand to benefit from negotiating a deferred adjudication agreement. However, such an agreement may not be in the best interests of a defendant who can be reasonably confident of being found not guilty.

It’s important that defendants discuss the deferred adjudication with their lawyers before pursuing such an agreement with the court. To learn more, contact a law firm like Mesenbourg & Sarratori Law Offices.

Learn More

What You Need To Know If You’re In A Motorcycle Accident That Involves Lane Splitting

Lane splitting happens when a person who is riding a motorcycle drives down the middle of the lanes in the road — between two lanes of slow-moving or stopped cars — to bypass traffic. If an accident occurs when a motorcycle driver is splitting lanes, it might be difficult to determine which driver is actually liable for the accident because there are several different factors that need to be considered.

Your State’s Lane Splitting Laws

California is the only US state that has deemed lane splitting legal, and it’s only legal for motorcyclists to split lanes if it’s done safely — which is determined by the police investigating the accident and the court. Even though California is the only state that has ruled lane splitting legal, many states don’t have laws that specifically prohibit it. Because of this, it’s typically a good idea to discuss your options with a motorcycle accident attorney if you’re involved in an accident that involved lane splitting, especially if someone was injured.

Determining Liability

Because lane splitting isn’t seen as a legal maneuver in most states, the motorcyclist is often considered liable for accidents that involve lane splitting. This means if you were driving a motorcycle between lanes of traffic and an accident occurred, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to recover costs for damages. However, if you can prove that the other driver played a role in the accident, there is a chance that you may be able to recover all or some of the costs incurred by the accident. Your lawyer will have a better chance at winning your case if you can prove that you’re an experienced motorcyclist with a good driving record, you weren’t speeding or weaving between lanes at the time of the accident, and the other driver did something dangerous that caused the accident — like changing lanes abruptly without signaling.

What to Do if You’re in a Motorcycle Accident That Involved Lane Splitting

If you’re involved in an accident that occurred while you were driving between two lanes of vehicles, you need to make sure you don’t do or say anything that could be considered an admission of fault. After all, chances are, the deck is already stacked against you — you don’t want to make the situation worse. So when you speak to the police, stick to stating the facts. While it’s important to make sure the passengers in the other vehicle are okay and to exchange insurance information, you should avoid apologizing or saying anything else that could imply that you’re at fault in case you need to file a personal injury claim later.

Even though it may be difficult to win a personal injury claim for an accident that happened while you were driving a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic, it isn’t impossible. So if you’re involved in an accident, you should talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible.

Learn More

Forcing A Unicorn Into The Open: Using The Law To Get Financial Disclosure From Start-Up Companies To Prove Their Worth

Do you believe in unicorns? If not, you’re in good company—many investors and employees of so-called unicorn companies (start-ups valued at over $1 billion, like Uber and Snapchat) are questioning the actual value of their company shares. Many of them meet with some understandable resistance because the unicorn companies aren’t eager to divulge their financial information, partially for fear that the values might not hold up to inspection. If you own shares of a private start-up that seems to be almost mythically lucrative, what can you do to force them to disclose information?

Small investors should look to state laws for relief.

Since companies typically only reveal their financial information to major investors, those with minority stakes often get left in the dark. Most states have laws to remedy this. In Pennsylvania, for example, there are at least two laws designed to protect minority shareholders from oppression by closely-held companies.

If the company is incorporated in Delaware (which many are, due to the state’s notoriously lax regulations and aggressive marketing as a corporate-friendly place), the law does give you the right to inspect the company’s financial records if

  • you own at least one share of the company,
  • you want to determine the value of your shares,
  • you make your request in writing for the specific documents you need.

If the company ignores your request or denies it, you can then file a lawsuit to force the issue. You may consider reaching out to other shareholders who are in a similar position, in order to split the costs of any legal fees associated with the action.

Employee investors should ask if the company meets the federal threshold for disclosure.

What if you’re an employee of one of these unicorn companies, who has traded a slightly more lucrative position or some other benefits for shares in the company itself? It isn’t uncommon for start-ups to offer shares to employees both as a way to foster a feeling of joint-entrepreneurship or to simply take advantage of certain tax breaks. Unfortunately, the feeling of entrepreneurial camaraderie may not extend to giving those same employees access to the financials they need in order to really determine what their shares are actually worth. 

Rule 701 of the Federal Securities Act may force the company to open the records a little wider. If the company sells $5 million or more of its securities in a 12-month period (which isn’t hard to do if you’re a company valued at $1 billion or more), rule 701 goes into effect. Employees can ask the company to voluntarily comply with the rule and seek relief through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if they won’t.

If you’re a minority shareholder in a unicorn start-up company, don’t assume that you can’t get access to the information that you need to really place a value on your shares. If you’re struggling with a company that is less-than-willing to be forthright about your shares, talk to an corporate lawyer.

Learn More

Being A Witness In A Personal Injury Case: What Should You Know About Giving A Deposition?

In a personal injury lawsuit, there are many different ways of uncovering information that could be important to the case. One of those is the witness deposition. If you’ve been named as a witness in a lawsuit, this is what you need to know.

What is a deposition and why is it done?

A deposition is a formal part of the process of discovery in a legal action. It’s done long before a trial, and it serves several different purposes:

  • It allows both sides to find out exactly what a witness knows and can testify to in court.
  • It preserves the testimony, on record, in case something happens to the witness between the time of the deposition and the time the case goes to trial.
  • It can reveal unexpected weak spots or strengths in a case.
  • It gives each side the opportunity to prepare a rebuttal for damaging testimony.
  • It can encourage one side or both sides to seek a settlement rather than go to trial.
  • It allows both sides to see how a witness is likely to handle himself or herself under the pressure of interrogation.
  • It locks witnesses into their testimony so that they can’t easily change their version of events later.

Depositions are usually held in conference rooms and they can be videotaped. A court reporter is usually on hand in order to create a transcript of what is said during the deposition and you’re required to take an oath to testify truthfully before you begin. If you lie you can be subject to prosecution for perjury.

What happens if you don’t want to give a deposition?

Many people would prefer not to be involved in a lawsuit at all—especially if they have information that could be damaging to the case of a friend or relative. For example, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner recently faced a deposition in the civil case for sexual battery against his longtime friend, comedian Bill Cosby. Unfortunately, you rarely have any sort of option to refuse.

If you try to ignore the deposition request or use some other delaying tactic, the opposing party can go to the court for a motion to compel. The court can also grant a motion to compel if you refuse to answer specific questions or try to give an evasive or incomplete answer. If you continue to refuse, you can be prosecuted (and even jailed) for contempt of court.

There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. If your testimony could possibly implicate you in something illegal, you may be able to assert your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in order to avoid giving testimony. The spouses of defendants are also able to avoid giving testimony due to marital privilege laws. For example, Bill Cosby’s wife, Camille, was able to refuse to answer certain questions about private communications between herself and the comedian. 

For more information on depositions and personal injury claims, talk to a personal injury attorney in your area today.

Learn More

Drunk Driving: 4 Good Tactics For Fighting The Charges

Being charged for driving under the influence can be detrimental. Not only do you face losing your license, you also face possible fines and jail time. This can interfere with your daily life, including your ability to keep your job. Fortunately, you can fight these charges against you. All you need is a skilled lawyer and the right tactics.

So what tactics can you use to fight the charge? Here are four:

1. Witness Testimony

If you had another person that witnessed your arrest, you might be able to use their testimony to fight back. Perhaps the witness knows that you only had one drink. Maybe the witness knows you ran the stop sign because you were distracted by conversation. Whatever the reason, a witness can be a key tool for fighting your charges.

2. No Reason To Be Pulled Over

Another method for fighting your charges is proving that there was no probable cause to pull you over. If the police officer pulled you over for no apparent reason, you might be able to get the charges thrown out. This might include reasons such as ethnicity. However, this tactic can also sometimes work for random stops.

3. You Weren’t Driving

If you weren’t actually driving your vehicle, you might be able to get the charges dismissed. This is because the vehicle actually has to be in motion to count as driving under the influence. If you were sitting in your parked car, but the police charged you anyways, the chances are good for getting the case dismissed.

4. You Weren’t Drinking

Finally, you might also be able to fight the charges if you weren’t actually drinking. The tests that the police use are very sensitive and will often pick up on alcohol in foods, such as cooking sherry. Other items, such as mouthwash, can also cause a false positive reading. So if you hadn’t had anything to drink, but were still charged, you can probably get the case dismissed. However, you will have to have evidence that you weren’t drinking.

As you can see, there are many methods for fighting these cases. So if you feel that you were wrongly charged, talk to an attorney about what tactics might work for your case. Just make sure that you have the evidence to back it up, as these charges are often very serious and require evidence in order to convict or dismiss.

For more information, contact a local firm like Eaby Firm LLC.

Learn More

Can You Be Sued If Someone Is Hurt On Your Property?

You may not think that it’s all that big a deal to let the neighbor kids climb your trees, jump on your trampoline, or swim in your pool. And probably 9 out of 10 times it is. However, if one of those kids gets hurt, you are at risk for being sued for their medical bills. 

Premises Liability

A homeowner has something called premises liability. That means that you are liable for any injuries that take place on your property. If the person who got hurt can prove that you were negligent or didn’t take all due safety measures when installing a pool or setting up a trampoline, then you can end up being sued and paying their medical costs.

However, there are some things which can affect a potential lawsuit. One of those things is the status of the person who got hurt your property. 

Invitee

An invitee is a person whom you have invited to your house so that they have direct permission to be at your property. That would include kids who have been invited to play with your kids. Invitees also include people who have implied permission to be at your house. That can include people like family members or close friends. As the homeowner, you have to provide them with reasonable care for their safety while they are on your property. 

If an invitee is injured while on your property by swimming in your pool, jumping on your trampoline or climbing your trees, then your duty of care has been violated and you can be held responsible for their injuries. 

Trespasser

A trespasser is someone who has no permission to be on your property. That includes kids who aren’t friends with your kids and are on your property even though you have told them repeatedly to stay off your property, or people who go door-to-door selling or seeking information. It also includes burglars or other people who are seeking to cause damage to your property. You owe those people no duty of care. If they get injured while on your property, you have little to no liability. 

If someone gets injured on your property and they decide to sue you, what you need to do is visit a lawyer who specializes in personal injury law, such as those at Bishop Dorfman Kroupa & Bishop PC. It can be a tricky situation and only a lawyer who knows this property law can help you fight this kind of case. 

Learn More

3 Signs You Should Hire A Social Security Disability Lawyer

Some people fill out their own disability forms in an attempt to save money. However, even though some of these people are successful, it is still often a good idea to hire a disability lawyer. Your lawyer shouldn’t require you to pay anything up-front and shouldn’t require a payment at all if the case is not successful. These are a few signs that you should hire one of these attorneys to assist you.

1. You’ve Already Been Denied

Have you already tried to fill out your own form? If you have and have been denied, then you could be afraid that you will never get the payments that you deserve. However, a lawyer can walk you through the appeals process and can get the ball rolling. It might take multiple tries for you to get approved, but your lawyer can help handle it all.

2. You’re in a Dire Financial Situation

Not being able to work can be hard on anyone, but it can be harder on some than others. For example, if you live alone and are solely responsible for your bills, or if the others in your household aren’t able to work or can’t cover the bills, you could be on the verge of losing your home, having your utilities disconnected or being unable to buy food for yourself. If you’re in a dire financial situation, you really can’t afford to jeopardize your case by filling out your paperwork incorrectly, which could happen if you don’t have a lawyer to help you out. Plus, if your home is going into foreclosure or your situation is otherwise particularly dire, your attorney can fill out the paperwork to potentially expedite your case.

3. You’re Very Ill

Obviously, if you are filing for disability, you have some sort of medical issue. However, if you are very ill, you might have a lot of medical bills that you can’t cover. Your attorney can try to speed up your case and can help improve the chances of it getting approved so that you can get the healthcare that you need and so that you don’t have to worry so much about finances while you are trying to get better.

Overall, it’s often smart to hire a social security disability lawyer to help you with your disability case. If you are in any of these three situations, it is definitely a good idea to talk to a social security lawyer about helping you with your case. Contact a lawyer, such as Todd East Attorney at Law, for more information.   

Learn More