Victims of domestic violence often feel helpless, trapped and alone. They may stay with an abuser due to of a lack of resources, issues of custody or fear of retribution if they leave. Enlisting the counsel of an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of the court system can help you break the cycle of violence and be an advocate for you and your family.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you are not alone. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetime.
A domestic violence attorney can assess your case and help you determine the best course of action to take. Before your consultation, sit down and write a list of things you’d like to discuss and questions to ask. If possible, it may also help to write down all incidences of violence, the circumstances and dates that they occurred. Be open and honest with your lawyer. Your attorney is there to advocate for you and needs to know the facts of the case to make strategic decisions, such as specific evidence to present or selecting witnesses to testify on your behalf.
A domestic violence attorney can help in many ways, including:
Get a temporary or permanent protective order in place. In Pennsylvania, victims of domestic violence can seek a protection from abuse order that may prohibit the abuser from making contact or coming within a certain distance of the victim. In certain situations, a protective order can also require that the abuser move out of a home shared with the victim. Each county has its own filing procedure, so having an attorney who is familiar with the local courtscan be a lifesaver.
File a domestic violence lawsuit. Your lawyer can file a civil lawsuit that allows you to recover any medical expenses, financial loss, or pain and suffering caused by your abuser..
File for divorce. If the perpetrator is a spouse, a family law attorney can assist you through the divorce process, including seeking spousal support and receiving your share of marital assets.
Get custody of your children. If the abuser is also a parent of your children, an attorney can help you get custody as well as child support from the other parent.
Represent you in court. A domestic violence attorney will file required documents and be your advocate in court.
Communicate with the defendant (or his or her attorney). Your lawyer will also communicate and negotiate with the defendant throughout the legal process so you do not have to deal with any more abuse or conflict.
Suffering abuse at the hands of a loved one is a traumatic and life-changing experience. Our experienced and compassionate attorneys located in West Chester will be there to support you every step of the way, fight for your rights and help you protect your family.
If you or someone you love is a victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
This blogs was originally posted at http://carosella.com/what-can-lawyers-do-to-help-victims-of-domestic-violence/ .
Although a speeding ticket or other traffic violation may seem harmless, they can result in costly fines, points on your driving record, higher insurance premiums and suspension or loss of your driver’s license. A criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in Pennsylvania traffic laws can advise you on the best course of action to take, and may be able to get charges reduced or dismissed.
What can you Expect when you Receive a Traffic Ticket
The severity of your violation determines the dollar amount of fines and the number of points that will be added to your driving record. If you accumulate six or more points, your insurance rates will most likely increase, and you may even risk having your license suspended or revoked. Serious traffic violations may include:
If you receive a traffic ticket for violating state motor vehicle laws, you must resolve the issue by the date displayed on the citation. You can resolve it one of two ways: either pay the ticket and admit guilt, or submit a “not guilty” plea to the court processing your traffic ticket.
The process of submitting a plea varies by jurisdiction. A criminal defense lawyer can help you avoid further fines and penalties by submitting your plea in a timely manner in the proper jurisdiction. Your attorney will closely examine your ticket to check for any inaccuracies and analyze every aspect of the evidence against you.
On the day of your traffic violation trial, you will have the opportunity to present your defense. If you fail to appear in court on the scheduled date, the judge will hold the trial in your absence. If you are found guilty, the conviction will be reported on your driving record.
Your attorney may use the following defense strategies to get charges reduced or dismissed:
Human error–There are many different scenarios in which human error plays a part when calculating the speed of a vehicle. A police officer who is following you to determine your speed could be distracted or may not have followed you for a long enough distance to get an accurate reading.
Other factors such as darkness at night and curves in the road can also call into question the accuracy of determining your speed. If your car was being tracked by aircraft, a police officer looking down at the controls could easily lose sight of your car or confuse it with another that is similar in color and style.
Faulty calibration of equipment—Automated systems such as VASCAR measure speed by dividing distance traveled by the time it took to travel the distance. In Pennsylvania, VASCAR equipment must be calibrated every 60 days, and radar guns and police car speedometers must be calibrated at least once a year. If these devices were not calibrated within the proper time period, they will not produce reliable results that will stand up in court.
Motor vehicle laws are complex, and an attorney who is familiar with handling traffic cases in the municipality where you received your ticket will have a better understanding of how to proceed with your case. Carosella & Associates’ skilled defense attorneys are knowledgeable about state and local traffic law, and will fight to protect your rights and help you win your case.
This blogs was originally posted at http://carosella.com/you-just-received-a-traffic-ticket-now-what/ .
When facing criminal charges, there are many important decisions you will need to make regarding the charges that have been filed against you. Hiring a skilled private criminal defense attorney can alleviate stress and lead to a more positive outcome for your case.
What is a Public Defender?
A public defender is an attorney who is appointed by the court for defendants who cannot afford a lawyer. Because the court appoints your lawyer, you do not have a choice on who is selected to plead your case, and while public defenders are typically “free”, courts often tack on hefty fees that can add up to be as much as hiring a private attorney.
Disadvantages with a Public Defender
Our court system is overloaded with people who are unable to afford lawyers for their criminal defense, and public defenders often have large and overwhelming caseloads. It is very common for public defenders to be inexperienced, overworked and underpaid, which can lead to lack of time for preparation and making mistakes that could negatively affect the outcome of your case.
Most public defenders juggle hundreds of cases at once, and have extremely limited time to meet or speak with clients. Due to large caseloads, they often attempt to plead out as many cases as possible. Some are so busy that it is not uncommon for them to meet with a defendant just minutes before entering a plea. This can keep a public defender from taking the time, energy and attention necessary to prepare a legal defense that may prevent or minimize the impact of a conviction.
Advantages of Hiring a Private Criminal Defense Lawyer
In a revealing study published by the New York Times, it was found that the average sentence for clients of public defenders was almost three years longer than the sentences of clients represented by private lawyers. Private defense lawyers typically specialize in criminal law and usually have a much smaller caseload than public defenders. This gives them more one-on-one time with clients, and allows them to take the time to become better acquainted with you and the details of your case.
Defense attorneys often hire expert witnesses to explain key aspects of a case, and may hire a private laboratory to test evidence that will be used against a defendant. A criminal defense lawyer may also hire private investigators who can help to unearth important evidence that can make or break your case. With more information, a criminal defense attorney may be able to find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that can help you get the case dismissed or charges reduced.
Simply put, a private criminal defense lawyer has the time and motivation to be readily available and to fight for the best possible outcome for your case. Satisfied clients help attorneys to develop and maintain a good reputation, so your criminal defense attorney will want to do his or her best to keep that reputation alive.
If you are considering hiring a private criminal defense attorney, our experienced attorneys in West Chester, Chester County and Delaware County can provide you with the personal attention you need and fight for your rights incourt.
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/why-pay-an-attorney-if-you-are-entitled-to-public-defender/.
When you feel like you’re drowning in debt you may be vulnerable and looking for a quick way to resolve your financial issues. Enlisting the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you sort it out. Finding the right attorney for you and your situation is vital to understanding which type of bankruptcy you should file. If you are searching for an attorney or aren’t sure if your current bankruptcy lawyer is looking out for your best interest, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your bankruptcy is handled competently and in a timely manner.
Filing for Bankruptcy
There are several types of bankruptcy, but Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are the most popular for individuals. Chapter 11 is often an appropriate type for small businesses. Before you jump into determining which type of debt relief will work best for you, make sure you do thorough research on the options that may be available to you.
There are many misconceptions about filing bankruptcy. Some people think it’s difficult to qualify for bankruptcy, that it will destroy their credit, or believe that they may lose everything they own. Do not assume that advice from friends and family or what you read online about filing bankruptcy is accurate. There are state-specific laws and issues surrounding bankruptcy, every case is different, and many issues will be unique to your situation. Consulting with a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the process is essential.
Is Your Lawyer Looking Out for You?
The quickest path to debt relief is not always the most effective. Unless you are in a dire financial emergency, you likely have time to consider all options to get your finances back on track. A good attorney will present all options to you at the outset, and explain the benefits and pitfalls of each one.
There are a few important things to look for to ensure your lawyer is looking out for your best interest. Does your lawyer:
While many of the questions your bankruptcy lawyer asks will involve your finances and assets, he or she should ask some personal questions as well, such as:
Are you experiencing any immediate medical issues or needs? If your health is not stable it may be best to wait to file for bankruptcy, but if your financial hardship is due to exorbitant medical bills it may be the best option.
At Carosella & Associates’, our clients’ best interest is a top priority in each and every case. Our knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyers can determine the best option for your situation and help you achieve financial stability again.
This blogs was originally posted at http://carosella.com/make-sure-bankruptcy-lawyer-looking-out-for-your-best-interest/ .
Divorce can be a complicated and difficult process, and many people don’t know where to begin. A supportive, experienced and understanding divorce lawyer can advise you on what to expect and help you take the first steps to file for divorce.
How to File
To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must have been living in Pennsylvania for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
When filing for a divorce, certain documents must be filed as required by the court. Filing a divorce complaint with the Court of Common Pleas in the county where you or your spouse resides will start the divorce action. Your complaint must detail your eligibility for divorce in Pennsylvania and the reason for divorce, along with any other matters you want the court to decide. The spouse who files for divorce is known as the “Plaintiff” and the other spouse as the “Defendant”.
There are various time periods in which documents must be filed with the court. An attorney who is well-versed in the law will make sure they are filed in a timely manner and ensure that the process run smoothly.
If you and your spouse agree to proceed with a divorce, you can file for an uncontested divorce by mutual consent, which means that you both agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken. An uncontested divorce is faster and allows the parties to avoid going to court.
If both parties agree on the terms of their divorce they should also have an attorney draft a Divorce Settlement Agreement, which outlines the terms of the rights and responsibilities of each party and division of property, assets and debts. Having a skilled attorney write this document is critical, as this important contract outlines the terms of your divorce.
You also may also file for a fault-based divorce by proving one of the following grounds:
At-fault divorces can be extremely contentious. Consulting with an experienced divorce lawyer is essential to determine the best course of action to take.
Whether you wish to file for no-fault divorce or are facing an uphill battle in court, our knowledgeable and skilled lawyers in West Chester, Chester County and Delaware County can assess your situation, make sure your rights are protected and help you through the process.
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/how-to-file-for-a-divorce-in-pa/.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you may be facing loss of your driver’s license, fines, Drug & Alcohol Education classes, community service or jail time. An experienced criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in Pennsylvania DUI law will protect your rights and guide you through the process. The following tips and questions can give you the knowledge you need to choose wisely.
First Steps to Take
Ask around for recommendations and search the internet for attorneys you are interested in hiring. Once you have narrowed it down to a few, call to set up an appointment for a meeting. Make sure to bring any court documentation, bail papers, police reports and other relevant documents.
Background & Experience
There are different types of criminal defense lawyers, so it’s important to learn about an attorney’s specific background and experience. Consider asking:
Before an attorney can give you feedback about your options, he or she needs to understand the charges and evidence. Answer any questions an attorney asks you with candor. Once you have talked about your case, ask these questions:
Some additional relevant questions you may want to ask include:
Most DUI lawyers charge an hourly rate or will litigate your case for a flat fee. Fees do not always cover everything, so it is important to be clear about how you will be charged to avoid surprises down the road.
Hiring a DUI Attorney
After meeting with the DUI attorneys on your list, you will want to make a decision in a timely manner so he or she can start working on your case. If you hit it off with one of the lawyers on your list and you’re confident that they are qualified to represent you, go for it. If not, a few questions to ask yourself may be:
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-a-legal-separation/.
Divorce is sometimes an arduous and painful process that can have a significant impact on individuals and families. Each state has different procedures you and your attorney must follow to file for divorce, so it is essential to engage the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney who is familiar with current family law, rules and cases that may apply to your divorce.
Questions to Ask at Your First Consultation with a Divorce Attorney
Asking questions and gaining knowledge of necessary procedures can help to ease the complicated financial and emotional burdens divorce can present, and prepare you for what lies ahead. This list of questions regarding issues related to divorce can help you learn the vital information you may need to understand what may be involved in your case.
1. Qualifications: Is divorce your specialty? How long have you been practicing family law? How many cases have you handled? Have you ever handled a case similar to mine?
2. Strategy & Duration of Time: What is your strategy for my case? How long do you think it will take will it take to come to a resolution?
3. Availability: Are you readily available to take phone calls in case of an emergency? What do you consider to be an emergency?
4. Individuals Involved in Your Case: Will any other lawyers be working on my case? What is their experience? Can I meet them ahead of time?
5. Fee Structure: What is your fee structure? Will you be charging an hourly rate or a fixed fee? What is your hourly rate? What do you require for a retainer? What is the rate for the time I spend with other legal professionals in your office? Will I be charged for phone calls?
6. Additional Costs: What additional costs may be involved if you need to hire private investigators, forensic accountants, or psychologists, etc.?
7. Keeping Costs Down: How can I keep the cost of my divorce down? Are there any tasks that I can do myself to save money?
8. Potential Outcomes: Based on what you know about my case, what do you think the best possible outcome could be? The worst?
9. Splitting Assets & Alimony: What are the legalities of splitting marital assets is in my state? Am I entitled to alimony or will I have to pay?
10. Tax Implications: What will be the tax implications of my financial decisions regarding the divorce?
11. Custody & Child Support: If children are involved, what do I need to do to increase my chances of gaining custody? What are your recommendations for how custody should be split (or not)? How much child support can expect to get or will I have to pay?
12. Alternatives to Court Proceedings: Will you allow me to negotiate directly with my spouse? Would you recommend trying mediation or arbitration before going to trial?
Engaging the services of seasoned divorce attorneys who will fight to protect your interests can help to make going through a divorce easier. Our legal team in West Chester, Chester County, and Media, Delaware County will guide you through the process step-by-step and help you understand the ins and outs of divorce procedure.
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/12-questions-to-ask-a-divorce-attorney/.
Trying to understand the process of separation and divorce can be confusing and overwhelming. During a time that may be emotionally taxing and stressful, having a competent and experienced family law attorney who specializes in divorce law in your corner can make the process less complicated for you and your family.
How does legal separation work?
Technically, there is no such thing as a legal separation in Pennsylvania. Spouses are not required to gain court approval for a separation, and marriages can only be dissolved by divorce. However, the date of your separation does impact marital property, assets and debts. The date of separation also affects the timing of when a divorce can be finalized without a spouse’s consent.
Pennsylvania Divorce Code specifies that your separation begins when you stop living together as spouses. This does not mean that you must live apart in separate households; it simply indicates that you are no longer living as partners and are leading separate lives. When you have been apart for one year, separation becomes a no-fault ground for divorce, even if one person doesn’t want the divorce.
Although The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not distinguish legal separation under the law, it does recognize the concept of separation. If you and your spouse agree to the terms of a separation in writing, the state will consider it a legally binding civil contract. Both parties must sign the agreement voluntarily and it needs to be notarized to be considered valid. The scope of such an agreement is similar to a divorce decree, but it is typically more flexible.
A separation agreement can resolve such matters as division of property, marital debt, custody, plus spousal and child support. The terms of an agreement that pertain to children, such as child support and custody, can be modified by the court in the best interests of the children, but all other terms typically cannot be modified by the court. You can designate whether certain terms of the agreement will be permanent or can be renegotiated for the terms of your final divorce decree.
It is best to have divorce lawyers who are well-versed in Pennsylvania law prepare this complex contract for you. If you and your spouse cannot agree on all the terms of the agreement, an experienced attorney may also be able to help you reach a resolution without having to litigate your divorce in a lengthy court battle.
No-Fault Option for Divorce
There is also a no-fault option for divorce in Pennsylvania. If you both want to get divorced without a one-year waiting period of separation, you can file on the grounds that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If you come to an agreement on all issues and both parties sign an affidavit of consent, you can typically be divorced in under a year.
We Can Help
Every divorce case is different, and depending on the complexities of your case, finalization can take from a few months to years. Our knowledgeable and skilled lawyers in West Chester, Chester County and Delaware County can assess your situation and craft a separation agreement that will work for you, or help you with negotiations and divorce procedures if need be.
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-a-legal-separation/.
Family businesses play a substantial role in the American economy and culture. According to the Harvard Business Review, private and publicly held family-owned businesses are responsible for 60 percent of total U.S. employment, and generate 78 percent of all new jobs. Nearly 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies are family-owned. Although family businesses account for the majority of jobs in this country, approximately 70 percent of family businesses last just one generation.
If you run a family owned business, you may have dreams about passing your business on to your children or grandchildren to cultivate and continue a much-loved legacy. Owning and running a family business can be a rewarding endeavor, but careful planning is essential to ensure that these dreams become a reality.
In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world, many business owners get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day operations. It is easy to forget some of the most vital elements that can facilitate success for the next generation. If you overlook these important matters, the legacy of your life’s work may not endure.
The Importance of Business Succession PlanningBusiness owners often neglect to prioritize the legal and financial aspects of protecting and transferring a business. In order to avoid mistakes when transferring a family business from one generation to another, an effective business succession plan needs to be crafted and put in place. The business succession planning process can be very complex and personal, especially when those who are very close to you are involved.
As the founder or current owner of a family business, it is your responsibility to make sure that you have a formal succession plan that outlines how the business will be passed down. Without a plan in place, an unforeseen event such as death or disability can have drastic financial and emotional consequences. Planning ahead can ensure that you, your business and family are protected.
Legal, personal and tax implications of the various options that are available for succession must be considered before the plan is developed. Family dynamics can present unique challenges in many businesses, and should be frankly discussed and taken into account. Have a candid discussion with your attorney about your needs, goals, concerns and expectations. Family squabbles and infighting can quickly erode and destroy the cherished legacy of a family business. A carefully designed process and timeline can help everyone involved understand the process and avoid conflict or confusion down the road.
Making sure your personal finances are in order upon your passing or retirement is integral to the succession process as well. There are a few things you can do to ensure your family legacy remains intact during a transition to the next generation. For starters, seek the counsel of skilled estate planning lawyers to provide a more objective and less emotional perspective, and craft a specialized plan that will benefit both you and your successors.
Seasoned attorneys can also help you create a plan that will allow you to pass your business on while minimizing tax liability for you and your loved ones. A variety of strategies can be used for this, including:
Other assets that are expected to appreciate rapidly can also be given as annual gifts to make use of the annual gift tax exclusion. Gifting strategies can be complex, so it is best to consult with your lawyers to figure out which strategy will work best for you and your family.
Identifying Skills and Defining Roles in a Family BusinessWorking together and establishing a shared sense of goals and a strong work ethic can solidify the success of your family business. Whether someone is a family member or long-time employee, every person who works in your company should hold a position that provides the most benefit to your business. It may seem like common sense, but this step is often overlooked when family is involved.
Make roles and responsibilities clear and defined so there is an expectation of who is in charge of what. Once roles are defined, create a job description of each role to share with all of those involved. This creates a sense of accountability and can help to set people up for success.
In order to build and maintain the trust required to sustain the company’s long-term vision, it is also important to provide insight about the inner workings of the business to different family members who have varying levels of education, experience, and knowledge. Make sure that people’s jobs fit their skill sets, work styles and personalities. For example, if your daughter excels at sales but is ineffective at managing others, don’t make the mistake of putting her in charge of Human Resources.
It is also prudent to avoid over- or underpaying family members. This can create dissent and divisiveness, which can negatively affect employee morale and the success of your business.
Create an Advisory Board
Many family-owned businesses are reluctant to enlist the help of outsiders due to concerns about whether the family’s vision for the business will be truly understood and honored. Your company’s board of advisors should be comprised of non-family members such as your attorney, accountant, and/or colleagues you can trust.
At the very least, the board should meet annually to review how the business is doing and discuss family roles as part of the succession plan. This is an effective way to get invaluable outside guidance and can impact decisions that affect not only your bottom line, but familial relationships. Outside expertise in areas you may not be familiar with can prove to be significantly beneficial to the growth of your company. If you’re not sure where to start, ask people you know who have a history of working in a family business about their experiences with creating an advisory board.
Enjoy Working Together
In an ideal world, family businesses should have a shared vision and value system that can be passed down through generations. Communication is key. Talk openly about issues before they become conflicts. While there will be skirmishes and challenges, when you and your loved ones are working together toward a common goal, ultimately bonds may be strengthened and relationships can be improved. Look for the strengths in one another and work to support and cultivate those strengths. Remember why and how the business was started, as well as the importance of keeping and growing the business for the next generation.
A family business not only provides financial and professional success, it can teach your children the value of a dollar and help them to become financially savvy. Working in a family business also requires them to strategize, solve problems, and resolve conflicts together. Having a shared goal that may ultimately lead to resounding success or unfortunately, failure, can embolden them to be persistent and instill the value of working toward something greater than themselves.
While your visions of your loved ones’ future may be bright, thinking about passing your business on to your family and what may happen when you’re gone can be stressful and overwhelming. Carosella & Associates’ experienced lawyers can help to ensure a smooth transition, allay your fears and put your mind at ease. Feel free to reach our capable and conscientious attorneys in West Chester and Montgomery & Delaware counties for guidance every step of the way.
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/succession-planning-how-to-successfully-transition-a-family-owned-business/.
You may think that a will is sufficient for your loved ones to easily settle your affairs after you’re gone, but this is not always the case. There are some additional steps you need to take that will make the end of your life easier for your family and reduce stress and conflict.
Why a Will is Not EnoughAssuming that a will is sufficient to settle an estate and avoid probate is a common misconception. Although a will sets forth the deceased’s wishes for the distribution of his or her estate, there are other elements of estate planning such as trusts and powers of attorney that can ensure you and your loved ones are protected.
TrustsLiving trusts provide many advantages both during life and after death, and are often used to avoid probate. If done properly, living trusts can also help to avoid court involvement in the event of your incapacity or death.
A revocable trust allows you terminate the trust or add and remove assets from the trust whenever you want. An irrevocable trust cannot be altered or terminated once it has been set up. Irrevocable trusts are often used for life insurance planning and setting aside education funds for children. Make sure to consult with attorneys who can help you set up the proper types of trusts and make sure your loved ones are taken care of.
Trusts may allow you to:
Powers of AttorneyCreating a Power of Attorney is essential, regardless of your age and size of the estate. In the event of your incapacitation, a properly drafted power of attorney gives an agent authority to act on your behalf regarding legal or financial matters, and helps to avoid court involvement. Types of powers of attorney can include:
A Living Will, or Advance Health Care Directive, allows you to designate an agent to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated or unable to make these decisions, including: whether you wish to prolong your life or withhold treatment, pain relief, organ donation, and other specific requests you may have regarding your health care or end of life decisions.
Durable financial power of attorney grants a designated agent legal authority to act on your behalf regarding financial issues. This agent can typically take care of things such as paying bills, medical expenses, and managing your accounts and assets.
Our experienced attorneys in West Chester can help you create a solid estate plan that will make it easier for your loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death, ensuring that that your affairs will be handled according to your wishes and your legacy will continue long after you’re gone.
This blog was originally posted at http://carosella.com/why-creating-will-is-not-enough/.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.