Four Ways to Be Kind to Your Lawyer

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid. They lived in a log cabin in the county, and the only way to describe their (When I say “their,” I mean my grandmother; my grandfather probably never noticed.) decorative style was “eclectic.” This included Norman Rockwell paintings, Zane Grey books, obnoxious timepieces, afghans, a huge console TV, and various things to remind them of their youth.

One of her more fascinating pieces was a thing to protect the table from hot pans (I would probably now call it a trivet). It hung on the wall next to a large wooden paddle. It had a (strikilawyerngly sensual, for the time) image of Mae West, taken from her 1937 movie “Every Day’s a Holiday.”

As a nerdy kid, I often wanted to point out the odd apostrophe, but I didn’t because Ms. West was so intimidating. I now understand that the apostrophe is correct. I am still intimidated by Ms. West.

I have thought about that that wall hanging recently, because it seems like every day really is a holiday now. We now have “National Pancake Day” and “Bubble Bath Day” and “Winnie the Pooh Day.”

Today is no exception: It is “Be Kind to Your Lawyer” Day. As a lawyer, you can imagine, I’m a fan of this holiday. If you do have a lawyer and you want to be kind to him or her, forget about flowers, gift cards, or a cool lawyer coffee mug. The best way to be kind to your lawyer is to make his or her job easier.

So here are four ways you might be kind to your lawyer today.

Leave A Detailed Message

I get many, many phone calls per day; some are from clients, some are from potential clients, and some are from people just wanting to kick the tires.

I try to answer every call that I can, and I want to call everyone back as soon as possible. (I really do.) I don’t mind talking to people who won’t hire me, because I can usually understand their situation quickly and give them some good advice about how to proceed. That’s one of my favorite things about being a lawyer—I can think about something and give some good advice.

But I can’t do that if I have no earthly idea about why someone is calling me. I am significantly more likely to call someone back quickly if I know what they need.

The message doesn’t need to be lengthy, but it does need to be more than “Hey, can you call me back.” If I know why someone is calling, I can take the time before the call to review their file and, if necessary, do a little research, which makes the return phone call much more productive for everyone.

Do What Your Lawyer Tells You to Do

Lawyers, in my experience, are not always the smartest people in the room. Neither are they the wisest people. They are almost certainly not the people you want to ask for advice in every aspect of your life. But when it comes to your case or your legal issue, you need to follow your lawyer’s instructions.

When you’re in the middle of a court case, you have to live under a microscope. You have to cross every “t” and dot every “i,” as they say. (Although, thankfully, almost no one uses this worn-out cliché.) It’s not enough that you continue to be a good person. It’s not enough that you are honest. (Of course, you shouldn’t be less than this.) The law is usually pretty clear in most instances; it’s the facts and following procedure that can change the game.

In the event that a lawyer instructs you to do something illegal or obviously immoral, you shouldn’t ignore them; you need to fire them. Most of a lawyer’s worth is his or her advice, so you’ve got to be able to depend on that.

Tell the Truth

Over the last 800 or so years, our legal system has developed in such a way that it’s pretty good at getting the truth.

If there are two good lawyers on a case and a judge that cares, you will not be able to get away with a lie. It will find you out, and that typically happens at a particularly inopportune time, when you’d like to be believable.

If you have lied, the best thing to do is let your lawyer know immediately. It will save a lot of headache.

Do not Fail a Drug Screen for Methamphetamine

That’s pretty much the extent of it. Just don’t.

Back to Bremen – Book by Cecelia Wilson

Back to BremenOur very own Cecelia Wilson has a non-fiction book being published today. With that being said, let’s transition to the shameless plug:

A little about the book, the book’s website, and Facebook page below —

Edith Röpke, her seven siblings and their mother Marta have already learned to be silent and live inconspicuously…

It is 1939. On the cusp of World War II, the city of Bremen holds its breath with quiet unease. For years, the Jews have been excluded from everyday life. Now, all of Germany will suffer for their Führer’s mad ambitions. In his quest for Aryan utopia, Adolf Hitler invades Poland, and Britain and France declare war on Germany.

Bremen’s ports and factories soon bear the brunt of payloads from RAF Wellingtons and Lancasters, and Edith’s childhood is defined by unrelenting Allied bombing raids, streets strewn with dead bodies, and the ever-present reminder to trust no one outside the family.

Seen through Edith’s eyes as a child and through her memories as an adult seventy years after the war’s end, Back to Bremen depicts her harrowing nine-week journey through war-torn Germany. It’s the story of a child’s fear and the sheer determination of a mother risking it all so she and her children can return home. Back to Bremen is a vivid reminder that war creates countless victims, but hope can make heroes of the most common among us.

You can meet Cecelia, the book’s subject, Edith Röpke Harris, and get the book signed on Saturday, April 22 from 10 AM – 12 PM at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, 10415 Mount Pleasant Cutoff, Cabot, AR 72023.

You can pick up your copy here:

Amazon.com

BarnesandNobles.com

Or Follow her on Facebook

Check out the website

How Do I End My Probation Early in Arkansas?

probationMany defendants in Arkansas who enter into a plea deal will end up on probation. If you end up on probation, it is important to understand how it can be terminated.

The first step in attempting to end your probation early is contacting an Arkansas criminal defense lawyer.

In assessing whether to terminate a person’s probation early, the court will look to many different factors. Some of the factors include: the relationship with one’s probation officer and whether a person has completed all the requirements, such as completing classes, community service, having paid all restitution, and any other requirements set forth by the court.

If a person has completed all the requirements, other than the time, a criminal defense lawyer can file motions with the court to terminate the probation early. It is important to consider ending it early.

The sooner you are off probation, the less likely you are to engage in some activity that can cause you to face a revocation. It is important not to get revoked because in many situations, a revocation can do away with the ability of a person to receive the benefits of being sentenced under certain acts such as the first offenders act

(Act 346 or Act 531).

If you think you may be eligible for early probation termination, contact one of our Arkansas criminal defense lawyers today.

Probation Revocation: What You Need to Know

Introduction to probation revocation. What is probation? How many people are on it? How do you get on probation? How long can you stay on probation? etc.

First, you need to know how you can get revoked. Violating any of the requirements of a probationer will get you revoked. Some of the most common requirements are; passing random drug tests, failing to make appointments with your probation officer, not completing community service, not competing required treatment programs, and picking up a new charge.

If the state feels you have done something that qualifies as a revocation, they can file a petition for revocation with the court having jurisdiction over your current case. Arkansas law requires that a hearing must be held within 60 days of the filing of the petition to revoke. This hearing will be to determine whether you have violated the terms of your probation.

The standard for determining a probation violation is not the same as required for a conviction of a crime. Preponderance of the evidence is the standard used, this basically means that if more than 50% of the evidence shows that you violated your probation, the judge will find you guilty of the revocation.

It is very important that you have a competent defense attorney with you at this stage of the revocation. Your probation attorney will be able to cross examine the state’s witnesses and put on witnesses that are favorable to you. If the judge finds that you are guilty of the violation, he or she will then decide what will happen to you. Your attorney will be able to make an argument for why you should be reinstated and continue with probation rather than be sent to the pen.

Although a hearing of the allegations of the revocation petition is a reality, if after assessing your case, it is determined that the state will likely prevail in their pursuit of a revocation, a good lawyer may be able to strike a deal with the prosecutor to keep you on probation and out of the pen.

If you or someone you know is facing the possibility of a probation violation or probation revocation, you should contact a good criminal defense attorney.

What Happens in a Ch. 7 Bankruptcy?

All of your pesky bills magically disappear and you are able to spend your money without being bothered by consequences!!!

(Well, not exactly. If a bankruptcy attorney tells you that, you probably want to find a new one.)

The first thing that happens when you hire a bankruptcy attorney to file in Arkansas is the “automatic stay.” As you might have guessed, the court issues this automatically. The automatic stay means that (with some exceptions) creditors have to leave you alone. If your wages are being garnished, you can stop that. If you’re being sued over a bad debt, you can stop that. If your house is being foreclosed on, you can even stop that.bankruptcy

The automatic stay is like a time-out for your finances. It allows the Arkansas bankruptcy court enough time to hear from everyone and determine what the plan will be.

If your creditors continue to contact you after the automatic stay, they can face heavy penalties and potential lawsuits for violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You should definitely tell your bankruptcy attorney if that happens. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could pay off your creditors with their own money? Now that is justice.

Within approximately one month of filing your case in Arkansas Bankruptcy Court, you will have a creditors’ meeting. (This is also called a 341 meeting under bankruptcy jargon.) Again, as you might have guessed, this is a meeting of all your creditors. Most will not show up, but they’re invited, anyway. Your bankruptcy attorney will be there.

The bankruptcy trustee is the person who oversees your Arkansas bankruptcy, and he or she will run the meeting. They will ask you a lot of questions to see if you have property that might be sold to satisfy your debts. They will also ask questions about why you are filing. The creditors, if they are there, can also ask similar questions.

If you have provided all the correct paperwork and documentation for your Arkansas bankruptcy, your part is basically done. Before the bankruptcy is final, you will need to attend another debtor education class. The bankruptcy trustee will create a plan to get rid of your debt, which will be given to the judge. If there are no objections from any creditors within 60 days, your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is over.

Life happens, and that’s why there are Ch. 7 Bankruptcy laws on the books. If you need relief from your debt, please call us. We can help.

3 Reasons to Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer

Most people think of a traffic ticket as one of life’s simple annoyances.  No matter how good of a driver you may be, odds are, eventually you will get caught committing a minor violation. And there are times when the best thing to do is just pay your fine and move on.

The problem is usually not the small fine that accompanies the ticket, but the inconvenience and time it takes to go to court and the increase in your insurance that can come after a speeding ticket. A good, Arkansas traffic ticket attorney can guide you through the process, keep the ticket off your record, and potentially reduce the fine you must pay.

Here are the 3 most important reasons you want to hire an Arkansas traffic lawyer to handle your traffic ticket:

You Can Reduce the Price of Your Ticket

traffic ticket lawyerEven for a routine traffic violation, you will normally pay around $200 for a ticket. If you are traveling in excess of 15 mph over the speed limit or are charged with reckless driving, that amount can double. It is often possible to negotiate with a prosecutor so that you only have to pay a civil penalty, which is normally $115 plus court costs. For many situations, those savings alone will pay for a lawyer.

The real costs of a ticket, however, lie in the increased costs to insure you. It is routine for one traffic ticket to increase your insurance premiums by $300 to $400 per year for three years. This means that your traffic ticket may end up costing you closer to $1,000. Depending on your insurance company and your driving record, that amount could actually be much higher. It could also result in you being dropped from your current insurance provider.

The ultimate cost of a traffic ticket might even be the loss of your job or freedom. If you have a CDL or drive for a living, a ticket could result in you being fired. If you are on probation, certain Arkansas traffic violations may be considered violations of your probation. A ticket on your record might result in revocation of your probation.

You Can Save Time Dealing With Your Ticket

If you have ever been to traffic court, you know that it is not an orderly affair. There are long lines, and it is often hard to know where you are supposed to go. The courtroom is full of people, most of whom are upset about having to be there and act like it.

If you hire an attorney for your traffic ticket, your case will probably be one of the first ones called by the judge. You can probably avoid the lines, as well. This might mean the difference in waiting for ten minutes or waiting for one hour and ten minutes.

This is even more significant if you live out of the area but got a ticket while you were passing through. In that situation, a local lawyer should be able to argue on your behalf without you having to travel to Arkansas.

You May Be Able to Get Out of Your Ticket

We’ve already talked about how much money you can save with a lawyer, but there is some chance you may not have to pay anything.

The police have many procedures that they have to follow. Many times they don’t, but it usually doesn’t matter because no one challenges it. Depending on the size of your ticket and what’s at stake, it may be important to actually fight the ticket.

There is almost no chance of defeating a ticket without a traffic lawyer. The judge sees many people with traffic violations, and they all have the same story: “I didn’t do it.” No one is more convincing than a police officer, and it is almost impossible to put your story up against the police and win. The law is (unfortunately) technical, and it doesn’t matter who is right. It matters who can prove that he or she is right.

The judge is much more likely to take you seriously if you hire an experienced Arkansas traffic lawyer.

The process of hiring an Arkansas traffic lawyer is simple; usually it will not require more than a short phone conversation and an emailed copy of your ticket. In most cases the traffic lawyer can have your ticket handled for you within a few days or even a few hours.

If the case has to go to trial, we will promptly begin an investigation into what actually happened and prepare to defeat the ticket.

If you have received a traffic ticket within the State of Arkansas, please contact us. If we can help, we will. If you don’t need our help, we will tell you.

 

Arkansas Speeding Tickets for CDL Drivers

For CDL Drivers – If you received a speeding ticket in Arkansas and have a Commercial Driver’s License, there are a few things you should know.

The vast majority of drivers play by the same rules of the road.  However, if you are a person who holds a CDL license and makes their living by driving, the rules can be very different, and much stricter. The consequences of getting a simple speeding ticket can be devastating to a CDL driver, it can add harmful points to your license and in some cases even cost you your job.Arkansas CDL

CDL violations are broken into two categories, Major traffic violations and Serious traffic violations.

If you commit one major violation, the result is having your license disqualified for one year, or three years if you happened to be hauling hazardous materials.  A second major violation can result in a lifetime disqualification.

Major violations consist of: DWI, Refusal, leaving the scene of an accident, using a vehicle in the commission of a felony, driving a commercial vehicle when your license is suspended from operating a commercial vehicle, and others.

If you have a CDL, and get charged with committing two serious traffic violations within three years, you are subject to having your license suspended for sixty days.  Committing three serious traffic violations within a three-year period can result in a license suspension for 120 days.  Furthermore, violations are required to be disclosed to the CDL driver’s employer.

Serious violations consist of: speeding (over 15 miles per hour beyond the posted speed limit), improper lane change, reckless driving, driving a commercial vehicle without a CDL, driving a commercial vehicle outside the class you are licensed, and others.

It is important to be aware of the risk associated with simply entering a plea of guilty and paying your fine if you have a CDL.  Keeping your driving record clean is extremely important.  To keep your record clean when you are charged with a violation, you should contact an experienced traffic lawyer.  Our firm has the experience to navigate the technicalities surrounding CDL tickets and help protect your license and your job.

If you have any questions please chat with us or contact us.

 

4 (good) Christmas Ideas for a Lawyer

Whether you’re married to a lawyer, friends with a lawyer, or simply stay just close enough to a lawyer to get free legal advice, most people have a lawyer on their Christmas list. And we are not easy people to buy for. We are trained to be particular—particular about evidence, particular about words, particular about time—which means that we are often pretty particular about presents.

I have seen a few of these lists at other places on the internet, but I think mine is better. Most lawyers already have enough trinkets and paperweights with Lady Justice or Oliver Wendell Holmes on them. If you actually want to get your lawyer something he or she can use, here are my suggestions:

lawyer gift

1. Subscription to Adobe Acrobat

Dollar for dollar, this is the most valuable thing I own in my professional life. (In my personal life, for those interested, it would have to be my styptic pencil, which costs 78 cents, lasts for years, and will instantly seal up any cut from shaving. Moving on  . . . )

The full version of Adobe Acrobat allows you to manipulate PDF’s endlessly. Want to stamp a document with your signature? Takes 5 seconds. Want to remove the crap that goes on the top of faxed pages? Easy. It’s just like deleting normal text. Want to build hyperlinks into a brief? Boom.

For those who handle appeals, this gift would be particularly helpful because the Arkansas Supreme Court is now requiring functionality that you cannot get through Adobe Reader, which is the free version.

I use this everyday and could not live without it. It’s 15 bucks a month. Go to Adobe.com and find “Adobe Acrobat DC.”

2. Audiobook – “To Kill a Mockingbird”

I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks, but Sissy Spacek’s version of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorites. Her voice and inflection are perfect for the subject matter. When I read, I have my voice in my head, which means everything just sounds like a redneck reading out loud. Atticus Finch is much less believeable when he sounds like Bubba. Spacek’s performance captures all the good things and bad things that come along with the Old South

You can download the “Audible” app for free, and your first book is also free. Any subsequent books are usually around 10 bucks if you buy credits.

3. Levenger Legal Pads

My office has largely gone paperless, but there are times when you just have to take notes. These legal pads are made of high-quality paper with a backing so stiff that you could also use it as a weapon or sled or shim in a pinch. These pads are also built for the Cornell note-taking system, which, although I don’t use it methodically, is nice. The pages are thick enough to be written on both sides.

They’re also fountain-pen friendly, which is pretty rare in legal pads.

They’re here on Amazon.

4. Subscription to the Green Bag

Most legal writing is awful, and all lawyers get tired of reading the same old drivel. That’s where the Green Bag Almanac comes in. It is a collection of the best legal writing from each year. It is compiled by a who’s who of legal writing. If you love a lawyer, give him or her a much-need break from terrible legal writing.

You can subscribe here.

 

How Much Does an Arkansas Divorce Cost?

Divorce is expensive. The biggest divorce cost is obviously the emotional toll. No matter how difficult a marriage has been, it is hard to end it.

The financial cost of an Arkansas divorce can also be significant, but it doesn’t have to be. There will be expenses involved, of course, but there are several factors that can make a big difference:

1.The Lawyer

Some lawyers minimize conflict; other lawyers create it. That’s why it’s so important to choose your Arkansas divorce lawyer carefully. It’s really a question of the lawyer’s business model. Some lawyers take easy situations and make them difficult, long, and, you guessed it, increase your divorce cost.

Unfortunately, the other lawyer can have just as much control over the situation as your lawyer can. If your spouse hires a difficult lawyer, you can expect more conflict and more fees.divorce cost

2. You

You also have a lot of control over the total divorce cost. Most Arkansas family lawyers charge by the hour, so more time = more money. If you call your lawyer every day to talk about your situation, you can expect it to cost you. That’s not because your lawyer is greedy or unsympathetic. Time spent on your case means that he or she can’t spend time on another case.

This illustrates another important thing to consider before hiring a lawyer. When you hire an Arkansas divorce attorney, you need to make sure that he or she has a communication policy. It needs to be clear how and how often you will receive updates about your case. If there’s no agreement how to communicate, you can expect there to be some confusion and, probably, some added costs.

You can also make your divorce more expensive by being difficult. Very few cases should actually require going to Court. The more you can agree on, the more money you can save.

3. The Court

Some courts are easy to deal with. Some court aren’t to deal with. If you happen to live in a county where things take longer and require more work, you’re likely to be charged more. If the lawyer has to travel a long way to go to court, then that will also make it more expensive.

4. Your facts

Some situations are just more complicated than others. If you have no kids and no property, that will make your divorce cheaper. If you have significant assets, including retirement accounts, real property, or own a business, you can expect more costs.

Children can also make a divorce more expensive in Arkansas, especially if you can’t agree on a child custody arrangement.

Speaking broadly because there are so many factors at play, this is what you might expect:

  • For a truly uncontested divorce, even with kids or property, you should expect to pay somewhere between $750 and $1250 to complete the process. I know lawyers that charge less and I know some that charge much, much more, but that is a good place to start.
  • If you have mostly agreed on everything but the case requires some back-and-forth, you might expect a few more hours of the lawyers time. This might add $500 or $750 to the cost of your Arkansas divorce.
  • If you need to go to a temporary hearing, you should expect another $750 or $1000 so that the attorney can properly prepare. If for some reason you need to go to for a full trial, you should expect the case to cost a few more thousand dollars.
  • These figures don’t factor in things like experts or private investigator fees, which might make it significantly more expensive. (Many experts are more expensive than lawyers.)

The most important thing you need to know about the costs of an Arkansas divorce is that a) they are manageable, and b) your lawyer should be completely up front with you about costs. If you think that he or she is not being completely upfront with you, you need to hire someone else.

Why Was I Charged for Someone Else’s Drugs?

One of the many strange things about criminal law is that it’s not illegal to use drugs; it’s just illegal to have them. But what does it mean to “have them”—also known as possession. If you’ve ever received a drug charge for constructive possession, you know that it’s not a simple question.

Most constructive possession cases start the same way: There are several people are in a car that is stopped by police. The police search the car and find drugs in the console. No one wants to claim the drugs, and so everyone gets charged. This is what’s known as constructive possession. Because everyone had access to the drugs, everyone can be charged for possession. If no one possesses the drugs, then everyone possesses them.

constructive possession

(Note: Another common scenario is the one where a gun is in the console. If you’re a felon and cannot possess a firearm, make sure you’re not riding around with a gun. You can also have constructive possession of a firearm.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I see these situations all the time. I agree that it is unfair, but it doesn’t stop a prosecutor from charging you.

The police and the prosecutor both know that a constructive possession case is a weak one. They don’t usually go to trial because juries also think it’s unfair. The main purpose of the charge is to get the other occupants of the vehicle to testify about where the drugs came from.

You will have a good chance of beating the charge if it’s not your car and the drugs or gun was actually in the console. If it’s your car or the items were under your seat or in your portion of the car, it becomes a little more difficult.

If you’ve been charged with constructive possession, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately. There are problems with constructive possession that a lawyer can use to reduce or eliminate the charge.