If You Don’t, Who Will?

Pre-Trial Diversion in Florida

Posted by on Nov 2, 2014 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

When an individual who has no criminal record is charged with a crime in Florida, it is possible to keep an arrest to be kept off the record with a program called pre-trial diversion which in Florida is called the Felony Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. The purpose of a pre-trial diversion is to give the accused a chance to avoid getting branded as a criminal for life for making a mistake.

In general, crimes up to only third degree felonies are considered for felony PTI and not all third degree felonies are included. In most cases, these are misdemeanors such as petty theft, but even the most minor charge is not eligible for PTI if there is a prior offense. The charge has to be relatively minor and the defendant is not likely to commit a similar or other crime in the future. Excluded offenses (not eligible for PTI application) include but are not limited to:

  • More serious felonies (2nd degree or higher)
  • Attempted residential burglary
  • Felony driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Offense involving more than $5,000 at the time of application
  • Offenses against governmental agencies
  • Organized scheme to defraud
  • Possession of methamphetamine, LSD, heroin, or more than ½ gram of cocaine
  • Robbery
  • Selling, forging or counterfeiting private labels
  • Weapons charges
  • Welfare fraud

Inclusion into the PTI program requires the defendant to allocute to the crime, which is technically an admission of guilt. If the defendant violates the terms of the program, he or she will no longer be entitled to a trial but will go straight to a sentencing hearing. However, if the defendant successfully completes the program to the satisfaction of the Office of the State Attorney, the slate is wiped clean as if it had never happened.

The Florida PTI program is overseen by the Florida Department of Corrections, but an individual will only qualify for it upon referral from the State Attorney’s Office with the help of a qualified criminal defense attorney. As mentioned on the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm, taking on the criminal process can be intimidating as well as confusing, and it would be best to discuss your options with a lawyer before making a move.

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Court Denies J&J Division’s Motion to Xarelto Lawsuit

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Health | 1 comment

The first lawsuit filed against a division of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Janssen Ortho LLC for anti-coagulant drug Xarelto was shifted back from federal court to state court contrary to the motion of the drug distributor to keep the case in federal jurisdiction. The case was filed by Kentucky resident Virginia Stuntebeck who claimed that using the drug for her atrial fibrillation, for which the drug is primarily designed for, resulted in serious injuries. While this was the first case, it is anticipated that many more will be following.

Janssen’s motion was based on the fact that because its co-defendant Bayer Corp has yet to be served with the complaint, it was practical for the out-of-state distributor to want the case brought to federal court instead of in the state of Pennsylvania, where Bayer is located. Others believe that this move was an attempt to avoid being tried in Pennsylvania, where a recent Supreme Court decision (Lance vs Wyeth) upheld that a drug manufacturer can be held responsible for any injuries resulting from distributing a product that was too dangerous to be in the market in the first place.

This is the main contention of Stuntebeck, that Janssen and associated companies should not have sold Xarelto in the first place because they knew or should have known about the risks involved in using the product, which according to the website of Williams Kherkher specifically involves unstoppable bleeding. This constituted an act of negligence, for which the plaintiff is suing them for damages to compensate for her medical expenses and accompanying pain and suffering.

This recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the first to raise the bar regarding the duty of care of pharmaceutical companies. In previous cases, as long as the drug company provided adequate warning regarding the risks involved in using a product, they may be able to avoid a claim of negligence. With the Pennsylvania decision, drug companies that push through with marketing a product that they knew presented excessive harm to patients can be held liable for any resulting injuries even if they warned them about it.

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Choosing the Best Water System

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Health | 3 comments

The water that flows through our pipes may not be as pure and pristine as we would like it to be. Even if it looks fine, eyeballing water will not guarantee that there are no microscopic demons in there just waiting to take over our body. It is highly unlikely, but still, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to our health, right? The solution is to filter it, but how to choose the best system?

There are many filtration methods available out there to fit all budgets, and each has its set of pros and cons. Here are some tips on how to narrow down your choices.

Have Your Water Tested

Until you know what your problem is, you won’t know what filtration system you need. Depending on the extent of the problem, the system you choose could be overkill or inadequate. Most water filter system companies such as www.americanwatertx.com offer free water testing which will help you decide what kind of filter you need. You could also get the same test done by a state-certified laboratory for a small fee.

Find out What Filters You Will Need

Once you get back the results of your test, you will be able to ask the right questions. What system works best for water with heavy metals such as copper, lead, and mercury? Activated carbon. Perchlorates, parasites, and pesticides? Reverse osmosis. Arsenic? Distillation. And so on. If you want a complete list of contaminants and the filter you need to address the problem, you can obtain it from NSF International. It would be worth it to note that the Environmental Working Group considers reverse osmosis as the most effective water filtration and softening system although activated carbon is less expensive.

When choosing a water filter system, keep in mind that while the best system may cost more, they ultimately save you money by being more efficient and keeping you safe and healthy. In the end, the decision boils down to what is more important to you.

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The Role of Car Insurance in Car Accidents

Posted by on Aug 21, 2014 in Vehicle Accidents | 0 comments

Most drivers complain about the costs of car insurance, but it is only in cases of car accidents do they realize its value. All states require a minimum third-party liability insurance, which kicks in for the at-fault driver that would otherwise have to pay out-of-pocket for the property damage and personal injuries of another person. In cases where the car accident involves another vehicle, the insurance also covers injuries of passengers.

Of course, the minimum coverage required by state law will not always cut it. That is why it is recommended that additional coverage be purchased. This is especially desirable when the at-fault driver is found to have been negligent; the insurance company will be the one paying for all damages subject to the limit of the policy. The driver will be liable for anything over and above that, so the higher the coverage, the less the driver will have to personally pay.

Car insurance rates vary from state to state. In Illinois, for example, the average annual premium for minimum car insurance coverage for 2014 is $1,370, compared to Michigan’s $2,551. Purchasing Chicago car insurance, therefore, would be less costly than Lansing car insurance.

However, the comparison may not be entirely accurate. Some no-fault states such as Michigan require personal injury protection (PIP), because in no-fault states each driver is responsible for their own injuries as well as those of their passengers to the limits of their insurance and may be restricted from pursuing a claim against a negligent driver.

Illinois, on the other hand, is a fault state, and a car accident victim can get a Danville car accident lawyer to make a claim with the insurer of the other driver for damages and injuries provided it is proven that said driver was legally at-fault. If the insurer denies the claim, the case can be elevated to civil court with a personal injury lawsuit.

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Technical Criminal Defenses for Drunk Driving

Posted by on Aug 17, 2014 in Criminal Law | 3 comments

The law in general is difficult for a layperson (and some lawyers for that matter) to understand, and these include drunk driving laws. There are many, many technical issues that may come up even in the most unambiguous drunk driving charge in any state, something that any self-respecting Wisconsin criminal defense lawyer or Cape Cod drunk driving lawyer will explore for the benefit of their client.

Technical criminal defenses for drunk driving typically center on the field sobriety tests and blood alcohol content (BAC) results because these are usually the linchpin around which a prosecutor will base their case. Depending on the state, there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify a test or BAC result for submission to the court. These can include certification of the tester or machine, calibration of the machine, the solutions, replacement of the mouthpiece, and whatever else that can possibly affect the results in any way.

Many lawyers overlook these details, but these can most likely get a drunk driving charge mitigated or even dismissed, especially for defendants who have clean criminal records. Experienced and successful criminal defense lawyers, however, go over these procedures with a fine-toothed comb, especially when the odds are stacked against the client.

The main value of using technical criminal defenses in drunk driving is to introduce reasonable doubt during a trial. The science behind breath tests is far from infallible which is why procedures have to be strictly followed, and criminal defense lawyers know this. If they can prove that there were irregularities in the performance of the tests, they can argue that the results are inaccurate. Once this is introduced into the proceedings, it poses doubt in the mind of a reasonable individual regarding the validity of the charges.

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Spastic Types of Cerebral Palsy

Posted by on Aug 12, 2014 in Health | 1 comment

Cerebral palsy (CP) is one of the most common developmental disorders that usually develop in children. This can be due to genetic predisposition, birth injury, maternal disease, head injuries, or infections affecting the brain. CP is a complex condition that varies from patient to patient and it is a life-long condition; it cannot be cured, but it can be managed. The types of cerebral palsy are spastic, athetoid, and ataxic, but the one that most commonly occurs is spastic CP which affects at least 70% of all CP cases.

People with spastic CP, which is also called bilateral spasticity, experience muscle tightness (hypertonic) in certain groups of muscles in excess of what an individual with normal muscle development will experience. The muscles are always contracting, which can eventually lead to abnormal postures and movement. This is thought to be due to a lesion in the upper motor neurons of the brain, and perhaps the motor cortex. CP is classified as neuromuscular mobility impairment, although some experience co-morbid language and cognitive impairment.

There are different types of spastic CP:

  • Spastic Hemiplegia – one-sided; may manifest as a limp but otherwise does not significantly affect mobility
  • Spastic Diplegia – affecting the legs only; affects up to 80% of all spastic CP cases; may manifest as a scissor-like gait; severe cases may require assistive devices for mobility, such as walkers; many also present with strabismus
  • Spastic Monoplegia – affects only one limb
  • Spastic Triplegia – affects 3 limbs
  • Spastic Quadriplegia – affects all four limbs and severely restricts mobility

A person with spastic CP may lead a normal life, especially with the proper care and treatment during the early stages of the disorder. However, the degree of independence depends on the severity and type of spastic CP.

Regardless of the type and severity of CP, the long-term consequences can include significant physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and psychological issues. If your child’s CP was caused by the negligence of a physician or other third party, you may be able to get compensation for your child. Consult with a cerebral palsy lawyer in your area to have your case assessed.

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Legal Issues about Severance Agreements

Posted by on Aug 10, 2014 in Employment | 1 comment

All states in the U.S. except for Montana are at-will employment states. At-will employment means that the employer has the right to terminate the employment of a worker without being required to show just cause. Some states do recognize exemptions, specifically the public policy, implied contract, and covenant of good faith, so it would be in the best interests of employees to know if their termination falls under these exemptions.

At any rate, when a termination satisfies the state’s at-will employment policies, employers are under no obligation to provide severance pay unless it is specifically stated or implied in an employment contract, company rules, or employee’s handbook. For example, when a worker is laid off, he or she is entitled to receive compensation for work rendered as well as any paid leaves (with the exception of sick days) still remaining, but nothing else.

Severance pay is a certain amount that the employer may give an employee that has been terminated. In some companies, a severance agreement may be offered upon being let go which can be something like a week’s pay for every year of service, and most employees would be happy to sign. However, this can present problems for some employees that may not know what rights they are waiving by signing.

Some employers may offer severance pay with sincere intentions of helping the laid-off worker to some extent, but in most cases employers ask terminated employees to sign a severance agreement to avoid litigation. Most severance agreements include conditions which can severely limit the legal options of an employee to redress grievances, such as the right to sue the employer for any reason.

Furthermore, in some states such as New York there may be laws that bar employees from receiving unemployment benefits if they are receiving severance pay in excess of a certain amount. If you are a New Yorker, consult with a New York City employment lawyer to look over your severance agreement as well as advise you about the pros and cons of signing.

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