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How To Use Medicaid Planning To Fund Long Term Care

Until fairly recently, most people in need of long term care had few alternatives to entering a nursing home and wreaking havoc on family finances. Today, long term care can be obtained in various settings and we frequently help clients preserve assets and avoid impoverishing a spouse who remains at home. Yet, most people who need long term care eventually must turn to Medicaid for funding.

When first enacted with Medicare in 1965, Medicaid extended basic health care to poor people, especially children. Over the years, Congress has greatly expanded Medicaid, and it now also funds long term care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, private homes, and other settings. While all Medicaid applicants must satisfy very restrictive financial criteria, not every Medicaid recipient will qualify for all benefits because each Medicaid program has its own eligibility criteria.

As Medicaid eligibility rules are byzantine and complex, it’s nearly impossible to do effective Medicaid planning without expert guidance. Thus, the uninitiated often spend everything on nursing home care, even though elder law attorneys can help most individuals protect part of their hard earned savings and still qualify for Medicaid to fund long term care.

Although federal rules set basic standards, states have substantial leeway to fine tune available Medicaid benefits and qualification requirements. Since Medicaid programs vary by state, Medicaid planning should be based on the law of the state in which an individual will receive long term care, and Medicaid recipients who change states must qualify anew. Therefore, as with wills and powers of attorney, Medicaid planning may require significant change when seniors move from Florida or other states to be closer to their children.

Depending on the kind and extent of impairments, individuals can receive long term care in many different environments. Still, most people either enter a nursing home or assisted living facility or receive care at home. Fortunately, Medicaid can fund each of these arrangements.

Care Options and Medicaid Coverage

Nursing homes have a poor popular image, probably due to their decidedly institutional look and feel. Unfortunately, however, they usually are the only option for people who need substantial assistance with many activities of daily living. Assisted living facilities are an intermediate step more akin to a senior citizen apartment building with dining, activities, and staff on site. Without question, assisted living facilities offer nicer amenities than nursing homes, but because only limited care is available, they usually won’t accept people who need substantial aid. As professional round the clock care is extremely expensive but Medicaid coverage is modest, home care usually works only when provided primarily by family with paid home health aides as supplements.

New Jersey Medicaid pays for long term care in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and private homes, but not all states cover costs in each of these venues. Medicaid is divided into two broad categories: long term care and other care. Other care includes the usual diagnostics, preventive medicine, surgeries, and treatments that we all need from time to time. Long term care Medicaid covers nearly all nursing home costs, most assisted living facility charges, and some home health aide and other expenditures to help an individual remain in a private home. All Medicaid applicants must satisfy financial eligibility criteria, but persons who seek long term care Medicaid benefits also must demonstrate that they can’t live independently.

Medicaid Eligibility Requirements

To receive Medicaid, an individual who demonstrates a medical need for long term care must satisfy financial requirements. Medicaid may fund nursing home, assisted living, or at-home care when an applicant’s countable resources and income do not exceed modest resource and income limits. Countable income and resources are cash and other assets that are available to pay for food and shelter. Resources are amounts owned at the outset of a month while income is received during the month. Because Medicaid has few exemptions, receipts that wouldn’t be taxable income (e.g. gifts, Social Security, and tax exempt interest), security deposits, and jointly owned property generally are countable.

An unmarried person can qualify for Medicaid funded long term care by reducing countable resources to the applicable resource cap of up to a few thousand dollars. However, Medicaid planning is more complicated for married people because their combined countable resources are taken into account. When only one spouse needs care, an allowance of half combined countable resources up to a cap is allowed to the spouse in the community. This community spouse resource allowance (“CSRA”) is intended to protect the spouse at home from being impoverished, but in high cost states like New Jersey, Medicaid planning to protect savings is essential to afford a community spouse a reasonable standard of living. While the CSRA cap is adjusted for inflation, it is $109,560 as of Spring 2011.

Because couples typically must dissipate nearly all countable resources beyond the CSRA before Medicaid will pay nursing home charges, many people mistakenly believe that they must lose everything else when a loved one needs long term care. However, this merely illustrates the risks in acting on limited knowledge. Since excess countable resources need not be “spent down” only for long term care, we have many tools to help families preserve assets.

Medicaid Planning to Protect Savings

Despite popular misconceptions, Medicaid planning does not involve hiding assets, particularly since making a false Medicaid application is a serious crime. Rather, we help clients preserve savings by maximizing CSRA and spousal income allowances, converting excess countable resources into exempt items, spending down fruitfully, and minimizing penalties when making gifts.

Couples sometimes can increase a CSRA by borrowing (commercially or from loved ones) but the loan must be carefully timed and designed to be effective. Married Medicaid applicants also can preserve other resources as non-countable expenditures that benefit the community spouse. For instance, it can be beneficial to improve or buy a residence or vehicle for the community spouse.

Gifts often are a key element in Medicaid planning. While more can be saved by gifting early, Medicaid gift planning can prove useful even after entering a nursing home despite the sixty month gift look back period. However, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 substantially changed the Medicaid planning landscape to impose stiff penalties when gifts aren’t properly timed. Giving too much or applying for Medicaid too soon after gifting can needlessly trigger years of Medicaid disqualification. By the same token unduly small gifts may unnecessarily limit savings. No penalty results from qualifying gift to a disabled person or qualifying gift of a home to a caregiver child, but as with so many aspects of Medicaid planning expert advice is essential because technicalities abound.

To facilitate gift planning, a power of attorney that explicitly authorizes Medicaid gifts must be in place before a donor becomes mentally incapacitated. Otherwise a family will have to convince a guardianship court to authorize Medicaid gifts, which may prove difficult. Although a well designed Medicaid plan can preserve considerable amounts, everything can unravel if assets aren’t titled properly. Thus, it is crucial to ensure that wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations and default rules don’t cause distributions to a Medicaid beneficiary on death of a community spouse or other loved one. Similarly, addressing Medicaid estate recovery early can prevent substantial liens when a Medicaid recipient dies. Avoiding these traps for the unwary may require new deeds, account registrations, beneficiary designations, wills, and trusts.

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Which Country Is Better for a Permanent Residency Visa – Australia Vs Canada

Both Australia and Canada are beautiful countries; both have high living standards and quality education to offer. Both have common elements including British heritage among other things. Both these countries are popular among the immigrants who are thinking to migrate. People often approach us looking for Visa Immigration Services but most of them are always confused between Australia and Canada. So, here are some comparisons made out.

Australia the smallest continent in the world but is the largest island with warm weather, typical climates are temperate, subtropical or Mediterranean. Canada has mostly the continental type of climate it’s very cold here, during winters. The northern part of Canada mostly covered with snow for around 6 months. When comes to unemployment, Canada has the higher unemployment rate which is 7.1% whereas Australia has an unemployment rate of 6.0% also immigration to Canada is easier and less stringent. The cost of living including housing, rent, groceries are a little high in Australia than in Canada. Healthcare system is slightly better in Australia. People of Canada are friendlier towards the immigrants than in Australia. It would be bad and judgemental if it’s said Australia is a racist country which is not anymore, even though few cases of racism are found but then those don’t make the headlines. Canada is ethnically diverse and multicultural nation which is a product of large scale immigration from many parts of the world.

For permanent residency, both countries follow a point based system, the processing is around 3-4 months in Australia where as in Canada it’s around 5-6 months.

Permanent Residency in Canada

To become a permanent resident, a foreign national must make an application to IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizens of Canada). There are various ways in which one can the fastest being The Express entry system. The express entry is considered the fastest in Canada it has 2 stages first, apply for PR invitation and get selected from a pool of candidates based on total point score (based on age, language, work experience, studies etc.). Secondly, on receiving an invitation, the visa application form has to be to the immigration office. Then it is processed by the IRCC within 6 months from the receipt of application. The PR in Canada sub categorised as federal PR and PNP (Provincial nominee program), the former is applicable all over the country. PR expires after every 5 years and has to be renewed after 5 years. The benefits being a permanent resident holds same rights as Canadian citizens, they also may obtain other social as well as Canadian pension plan benefits.

Permanent Residency in Australia

The processing time is around 3-4 months for key permanent residency visas. There are the skilled independent visas and the skilled nominated visas. To apply for PR one needs to follow the point based immigration system firstly there has to be an online submission of an application that is EOI (Expression of interest) in Skill select online system which is an online form which asks a series of questions about your skills depending upon the visa subclass you select. The score is calculated based on education, skills, experience etc. And if you are selected you will get the ITA for the visa.

Also, there’s another factor that affects your visa which is the rules and regulations, considering the immigration rules and policies of both the countries Canada has easier and flexible immigration rules.

Significance Of Character & Police Clearance Certificate In Immigration

If you are planning to settle permanently in any foreign country, police clearance certificate is one of the essential documents you will need in order to qualify successfully for the permanent residence visa process. A police clearance certificate is issued to Indian passport holders by the concerned police authorities covering the time period of the applicant’s stay in the particular region. If any applicant has been involved in any kind of illegal activity or was arrested for violating the law anytime, the police clearance certificates notes the entire nature and reasoning of the applicant’s case. In much simple words, a police clearance certificate represents how ethical or unethical your character is in the eyes of law of the counties you have lived after the age of 16 years.

Necessity and validity of the police clearance certificate in the immigration process

It is necessary for a prospective immigration who is 16 years older and currently residing in India to have his criminal check done. If the candidate is an Indian citizen age 16 or older and currently residing in India, whose passport was issued MORE THAN six months prior to their immigrant visa interview date, should obtain a Police Clearance Certificate from both the nearest Indian Passport Office and the District Police in the area in which they reside. However, if their passport was issued LESS THAN six months prior to their interview date, they only need a Police Clearance Certificate from the nearest Indian Passport Office.

Factors that impact police clearance check

The following factors will have an impact on your police clearance check:

  • You have a substantial criminal record: By this, it means that past records will be assessed. A sentence(s) of 12 months or more in prison will impact your police check.Also, a suspended sentence is considered as a prison sentence.
  • You have been convicted of escaping: In case you have been found guilty of escaping from immigration detention (during or while detention or had escaped and were taken into detention later), it may bring an adverse impact on your PCC.
  • You are/were associated to a criminal group: In case you have been a member of organization or group that has bad records and the Minister for Immigration reasonably suspects your involvement in the group/organization criminal activities, it may impact your police check.
  • You are/were involved in any crime or offensive acts: If the Minister for Immigration reasonably believes your involvement in criminal acts like human trafficking, smuggling, genocide, sexual offense, torture of slavery, a crime against humanity, a crime of serious international concern, it becomes difficult for you to obtain a PCC.
  • Your past records prove you of an immoral character: If your past and presents records show that you are not of a good character and the government of the country thinks that you can be a threat to the country, you will be denied of a police clearance.

Procedure to apply for a police clearance certificate (India):

If you are 16 years or above, you can apply for a PCC at the places listed below, as per the associated conditions:

  • If you are residing in India and your Indian passport was issued within past 6 months
  • Apply at the Passport Office
  • If you are residing in India and your passport was issued more than 6 months prior to visa application
  • Have to apply at the Passport Office and the District Police Office near your place of residence
  • If you are an Indian passport holder and is staying outside India
  • Local Embassy or Consulate confirming you have no criminal record (a statement from Embassy or Consulate is acceptable)
  • If you are an Indian passport holder and currently resident in India, but has lived in another country (except for the U. S.).

You need to apply at the passport office, d District Police Office serving your place of residence (if the passport was issued more than 6 months prior to visa application) and the country of previous residence (if available).

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The Basics of Acquiring a US Visa

It’s not uncommon to dream of visiting places you see in the movies. Let me guess, most of them are in the United States. To name a few, New York, LA, Miami, Washington and Chicago are some of the common tourist destinations in the US. You have the resources but you harbor this apprehension of being denied.

This should not stop you from making your travel plans a reality. If you have relatives in the US or you would like to travel solo, the key is to know what type of visa you must apply for, the necessary documents you must fill out, and more importantly, the purpose of your visit to the US.

First things first, know the difference between a US Visitor Visa (B-2) and a US Visa Sponsorship.

These two things are not the same.

The visitor visa often known as B-1/B-2 visa is a non-immigrant visa for people wishing to enter United States temporarily for pleasure, medical treatment, and business. In this case, you apply for your US Visa with the US Embassy or Consulate. Whereas, a U.S. visa sponsorship is applied for by the employer or close family member by filing an immigration petition with the U.S. government for getting a residency card (Green card) for their employee or close family member. This is also known as non-immigrant petitions such as work visa (e.g., H, L visa) as well as family visa (e.g., Fiancé or K visa).

What is the purpose of your visit?

You will be asked this question by the US consul who you will meet when you get to the embassy. But before that, determine the purpose of your trip. If the purpose of your trip is to visit USA for a short duration for pleasure, tourism, and visit relatives, family, or friends, then visitor visa known as Tourist visa to USA or B-2 visa is the right visa for you.

However, keep in mind that you if apply for a visitor’s visa, among other things, you must show to the US Consular officer that they have strong ties to the Philippines as you home country and they intend return after their temporary stay in the U.S. You must also show that you have enough money available to take care your expenses for your U.S. trip such as air tickets, visitors insurance, lodging/boarding, transportation expenses, tourism expenses and all other expenses.

What if I don’t have enough resources but my friends and relatives in the US are willing to shoulder my stay there?

Then this is where sponsorship sets in.

Who can sponsor my trip?

Any US-based person can sponsor visa for his/her parents, relatives, and friends. This means that he/she must either be a holder of an I-94 (US Green card) or a US Citizen. Your sponsor should provide an affidavit of support (form I-134). The form is a confirmation that the sponsor is ready to undertake the financial liability of the applicant during the visit.

What documents do I need to submit?

Must have Documents for US Visitor Visa interview:

  1. A valid passport that does not expire prior to 6 months beyond of your intended stay.
  2. Printout of your confirmation page from the form DS-160
  3. Fee receipt US Visa Fees
  4. One photograph
  5. Original/Copy of Visa interview appointment letter

Supporting documents to show your Ties with your home country include:

You must demonstrate strong economic, social, and familial ties with your home country. You must also show that you will not become a burden on US by proving your financial stability to cover the expenses in US. These facts will ensure the interviewing officer that you will return to your home country after the authorized period of stay in USA. The required documents are:
1. Evidence of sufficient funds for the visit to US (Bank statement and passbook, etc.)
2. Evidence to show that you have strong ties to your home country. Documents related to the property you own and your employment are good evidence
a. If you are employed get a verification letter of employment
b. If you are self-employed get a financial and other documentary proof of the ownership
c. If you are a government employee get a Certificate of Employment and an Authority to Travel Certification
d. Tax ID, and recent tax-related documents
e. Original property papers like house, shop or business ownership documents etc. which you own in the Philippines/home country. If no papers available, make a notarized affidavit for the same
f. Documentary evidence of running any business or organization
g. Evidence of family ties like unmarried children, old aged parents and other family responsibilities
h. If person is an employee, other than proof of employment and proof of leave granted from the office, any such document that would show proof that you have reasons to come back

Documents and other proofs aside, the assistance of an immigration counsel/consultant who would facilitate your application and better your chances of getting approved is strongly suggested and highly encouraged.

Can I Get Ticketed By an Off-Duty Police Officer?

We are thankful for our law enforcement personnel who sacrifice their lives every day to protect our rights and our safety. As citizens, we expect police officers to be honest, respectful, and un-biased figures of society, so that we may trust them to carry out their duties responsibly.

But sometimes, a cop can exhibit overconfidence and carry out personal agendas that are not necessarily a positive contribution to our communities. One common example of this involves off-duty cops and unmarked police vehicles. Continue reading to learn about your rights as a citizen in the case that you are pulled over by an off-duty police officer in an unmarked vehicle.

Off-Duty and Unmarked

Have ever been pulled over by an unmarked police vehicle? They appear to look like any other normal vehicle on the road, and then all of a sudden, you see their flashing lights and sirens in your rearview mirror. Unmarked police cars are purposeful and used in several types of investigations and routine applications. So if you are pulled over in one, by a cop that is actually on-duty, then you are being legally pulled over. However, if you were pulled over by an off-duty police officer in an unmarked vehicle and out of uniform, the situation changes.

According to Indiana Code § 9-30-2-2:

A law enforcement officer that is off the clock and driving in an unmarked vehicle does not have the authority to pull someone over and issue them a citation or ticket.

Accordingly, any evidence gathered by the police officer during an unauthorized stop is suppressible, and carries no weight in a court of law whatsoever. Many drivers have had their citations and tickets revoked under these circumstances, after an attorney successfully presented their argument regarding this Indiana Code.

How to Challenge an Illegal Ticket

It is important to understand the limits of a cop’s authority, and when and where they have jurisdiction. This way, you can know whether or not a ticket is being issued legally. If this has ever happened to you, you might want to consider challenging it, or expunging the violation altogether. Talk to a record expungement lawyer to see if you qualify.

Remember, an off-duty officer in an unmarked vehicle has just as much right to pull you over as you have the right to pull over the car in front of you. So if a cop on his way home from work wants to pull you over, keep this in mind. But of course, never keep driving. It is best to just stop and talk to the police officer. Do not argue, accept the ticket, and then immediately call a defense lawyer when you get home.

Things to Know About Domestic Violence Laws in the US

In every household there comes a time that an intense verbal argument occurs for a number of reasons: jealousy, financial problems, sibling rivalry, etc. However, sometimes people may physically assault a family member because they cannot control their anger, want to assert control or may have been verbally provoked. In so doing, the aggressor has committed Domestic Violence.

Whenever such serious matters occur, you may think of seeking outside help either by calling the police or by consulting an attorney. It is preferable to discuss the issue with an experienced legal professional first, since you may have trouble handling the legal ramifications that may ensue following the crime’s disclosure.

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the most important legal aspects of Domestic Abuse, in a simplified and accessible way and to provide a starting point for more specialized study.

1. What is Domestic Violence?

Any person who physically abused a family or household member has committed the crime of Domestic Violence. Domestic assault is a distinctive and more serious case than Assault and Battery -which involves strangers- and is treated accordingly.

2. Domestic assault can be difficult to prove.

The easiest way to identify an abused victim is by looking for signs of assault on the body (scratches, bruises, etc.). In the absence of such evidence, eye witness’s testimonies are valuable, but are not always available. What adds complexity when evidence is inconclusive, is that it can be hard to prove the crime or ascertain who the instigator was (both parties can claim to have been abused or acting in self-defense and the aggressor could deny the charge).

3. The severity of the assault, the victim and the aggressor’s medical history and potential addictions are taken into account for the sentence.

Simply put, an aggressor who slapped his spouse will be punished more leniently, than one who punched and kicked her. If a child was abused the law is more severe. A person with addictions (a drug-user or an alcoholic), or mental disorders may also be required to undertake therapy.

4. If domestic abuse is reported, it can severely disrupt family relations.

Domestic assault is a serious criminal charge, which means that if the authorities find out about the crime, they are obligated to take legal action, whether the victim intents to or not. The state laws of Virginia dictate that the authorities can issue a no-contact (protective) order, effectively prohibiting any form of communication between the aggressor, the victim and the rest of the family.

5. First time offenders can have their case dismissed or may be judged more leniently.

The guilty party can have their sentence dismissed, if they have never committed a crime before. It is also possible that the state offers a plea bargain to the accused. If the abuser admits guilt before the case goes to court, the sentence can be more lenient.

6. The alleged abuser’s and the accuser’s personality and habits play an important role in court.

A person with a toxic and abusive personality, will have a harder time convincing the court about his innocence. On the other hand, the accuser may have an ulterior motive or may be a habitual liar. All of the above aspects come into play when the case is tried.

7. It’s advisable for both parties to avoid contact after the crime has been reported.

Whether you are the accuser or the perpetrator it is preferable to refrain from communicating between each other, as any form of contact could have a detrimental effect to your case, especially if a protective order is in effect.

Conclusion

Domestic Violence can be a complex and challenging crime to handle. Whether you decide to press charges against an abuser, or think you have been wrongfully accused, you should always consult with an experienced criminal law attorney.

Common Bail Bond Questions and Answers

There is a lot to know about bail and bail bonds. Many people are very unfamiliar with the difference between the two, and the details of the industry and the services they offer. Fortunately, you have resources like these to help you understand what bail bonds are, what a bail bondsman does, and how to obtain bail in your time of need. In this article, we will cover plenty of frequently asked questions regarding the bail bonds industry, arrest warrants, getting out of jail, and more. Continue reading to learn about all of these topics, and more, when it comes to the indemnity industry.

What is Bail? What are Bail Bonds?

Bail bonds are formal documents that allow a release from jail for a person being detained on suspected charges or crimes. Bail is the amount of money or surety set by the courts. These amounts differ for everyone; depending on the crime, a person’s criminal history, and more. Once bail is set, a bail bond can be obtained so that a person can be temporarily released from jail to await their following court hearing at home.

What is a Bail Bondsman? How Much is a Bail Bond?

A bail bondsman, or bail agent, is the individual who operates a service that provides bail bonds for people who need to turn themselves into authorities, or need a release from jail. They operate by lending, or covering, the bail amount for those who cannot afford the entire fee upfront, in exchange for a non-refundable fee. Bail can be set as low as a few hundred dollars for minor infractions, and some in the high-thousands.

To get out of jail, a person has the option to pay this money as a deposit to the court, and then receives this money back when they show for their scheduled court hearing. The issue is that not everyone has this type of cash on hand, and cannot afford to pay the courts these amounts to get out of jail. This is where a bail bond agency comes in handy. They will pay the entire bail amount for you, in exchange for a fee.

These fees are regulated by the state, so bail bondsmen can only charge between 10-15% of the person’s total bail amount. So if a person’s bail is $5,000, they would pay a bail agency $500-$750 for bail. They do not get this money back. They are also obligated to sign a contractual agreement promising their return to court. If a defendant obtains a bail bond, then skips their court date, the bail bondsman does not get that money back. This is when they come for you.

Are Bail Bondsmen Bounty Hunters?

Bounty hunting is not a real vocation, and bail bondsmen are nothing of the sort. If a person skips bail, the bail bondsmen will simply track them down with the information they have, and give police a heads up on the whereabouts of a fugitive. They do this in order to get their bond money back. They will send police to your home, office, work, daycare, gym, friend’s house, and any other place they think you may be. Before they come looking for the fugitive, they will contact the person who signed for the bail contract, and pursue recompense from them. Since most individuals do not wish for their loved ones to get stuck paying thousands of dollars, most people choose to show up for court. An arrest warrant is issued for anyone who skips a court date, so police can arrest them anywhere at any time; such as routine traffic stops, the BMV, the post office, border crossing, and more.

First Offense DUI

There are strict penalties for a First Offense DUI conviction. If you are arrested for a First Offense DUI in Michigan, here are some of the penalties you are facing upon conviction.

  • Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) $100 to $500 fine:
  • Up to 360 hours of community service.
  • Up to 93 days in jail.
  • Possible vehicle immobilization.
  • Driver license suspension for 30 days, followed by restrictions for 150 days.
  • Six points added to driver record.
  • Possible ignition interlock.
  • $1,000 Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years for OWI.
  • $500 Driver Responsibility Fee for two consecutive years for OWPD.

Not only is an arrest for a First Offense DUI embarrassing, it can cost your job, thousands of dollars in legal fees leaving you and even fear about what is what your future holds.

You need to find a good lawyer to help you fight your first offense DUI charge. You need to find a lawyer that is dedicated to providing their client with an aggressive drunk driving defense no matter the complexity of your OWI/DUI case. Most good lawyers offer a free OWI/DUI case evaluation to help you better understand the complexity and uniqueness of your case. A good drunk driving defense strategy aims for the absolute best results.
While the law is the same throughout Michigan, local courts often employ differing procedures in how they handle such cases, and it is important to have an attorney representing you who is familiar with these differences and able to use them to your advantage.
Being stopped and put under arrest for drunk driving is an embarrassing event. The penalties are extreme and are becoming tougher by the year. If you are arrested for DUI, OWI or impaired driving, you probably have many questions such as: am I going to jail? Will I lose my driver’s license? Can I take my case to trial and win? Again, a good Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you figure out these issues with you. Do not face these kinds of charges alone.

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case and your previous record, a drunk driving conviction can result in jail time, significant fines and costs, community service, work crew, loss of your driving privileges and probation.

I am amazed at how many times I see people think they can handle a first offense dui offense by themselves. This is a grave mistake. Always have a lawyer by your side when you are facing a dui charge.

10 Criminal Law Tips Everyone Needs to Know

Whether you are a past offender, currently facing criminal charges, or have a clean record, these criminal law tips are facts that everyone needs to know. Not only can having this knowledge protect you and your loved ones in various situations, it can help you navigate current and future legal issues that are in the works. Continue reading to learn 10 criminal law facts and advice, and be sure to pass this information onto your friends, co-workers, and loved ones.

Important Criminal Defense Tips

1. If you are pulled over and an officer suspects you have been drinking, you have the right to refuse a sobriety test. But there is a serious catch. Keep in mind that this also means law enforcement will arrest you on the spot, and your drivers’ license will be automatically suspended for 12 months. This is because most states, such as Indiana, are “implied consent” states. This means if you have a drivers’ license, then you automatically consent to BAC testing anytime.

2. If law enforcement shows up at your house or office requesting to conduct a search of the premises, you have the right to refuse. If they have a search warrant, you do not have this right and you must cooperate with them completely. If they do not have a search warrant, close the door and immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer.

3. If you are confronted by law enforcement, always be courteous and cooperative. Having an attitude, being disrespectful, and refusing to cooperate will only get you in more trouble. If you want the best experience possible with police, whether you end up getting arrested or not, be sure you are polite, well-spoken, and cooperative. They have all the power at the moment, and you must remember that you do not have control over the situation, so it is best to just give in and relinquish all the control. This will make your time with police and jail (if it gets to that) a lot easier for you.

4. If you are already on probation or parole for a previous offense, and you commit another crime, you will face additional legal sentences and penalties on top of the one you are currently serving. Many people are unaware how serious of an offense it is to violate probation or parole, especially by committing another crime. You can most certainly expect to be sentenced to jail time.

5. A minor is a person over the age of 10 and under the age of 18. However, minors can be charged as an adult in certain cases. This usually happens if the crime is very serious or if the minor is close to turning 18 years old. Being tried as an adult means that a minor faces adult penalties.

6. If you are a past offender, and it has been many years since your last offense, you may qualify to have your criminal record sealed from public access. This means that employers, banks, landlords, and the general public cannot look up a particular criminal charge or arrest. You must have a criminal defense lawyer help you file for record sealing, as the process is highly complex and demanding.

7. To get a complete copy of your criminal record, you must compile all records in every county and state they exist. That is because local, state, and federal records are all different. You will have to contact the clerk’s office or local authorities to get the records you need. You can also have your criminal defense lawyer help you with this.

8. Never waive your right to an attorney. Furthermore, never attempt to represent yourself in court. If you want to avoid the maximum penalties for your criminal charges, you need to have an experienced lawyer working on your defense. They are the only ones who have the knowledge and resources to protect your rights and preserve your freedoms.

9. You have to be very careful what you post to your social media accounts. You must understand that your social media activity can be used against you in a court of law, even traffic court, divorce court, and other civil courts. Law enforcement and government organizations have technology that allows them to identify IP addresses, locations, coordinates, times, dates, and more. If you post from a coffee shop on the corner of 9th and Main, they can find out. Nothing is private on your social media, and all activity is permanently logged forever.

10. The best way to avoid getting in trouble with the law is to surround yourself with positive and healthy people, and to partake in healthy activities. Furthermore, educating yourself on certain particulars of the law can help you understand your rights and obligations as a U.S. citizen. If you ever have questions about the law, contact a trusted criminal defense lawyer for professional advice and answers.

Is the Cost of Bail Higher for Felony Charges?

Discovering that your loved one has been arrested is not an enjoyable experience. No one wants to get this phone call; especially because your first thought is likely about the expense it will cost you. Finding out that your loved one was arrested on serious felony charges is even more disturbing, and can cause your mind to go into a whirlwind of questions and concerns. As history shows, many people want to know if a felony charge will increase the cost of a bail bond. The answer to this question, however, is not cut and dry. Continue reading to learn how the cost of bail is calculated, and whether or not the severity of the crime affects the total price of bail.

Cost of Bail

Bonds are set by judges who consider various factors before deciding on an amount. These factors include, but are not limited to, the defendant’s criminal history, the severity of their crime, and whether or not they are a flight risk. So in short, “yes”; the cost of bail is absolutely affected by the severity of criminal charges. This is for many reasons.

Bail Schedules

Most states have bail schedules with predetermined bond amounts for certain categories of crimes. For instance, shoplifting might come with an automatic bail schedule of $1000, while domestic violence might have a $10,000 bond or more. The more serious the crime, the higher the bond amount set by the judge. If a charge is a violent one, such as assault, battery, domestic disturbances, and child abuse, you can guarantee that the bond will be set high. Furthermore, all preset bond amounts, however, can be increased upon the judge’s discretion depending on the previously discussed factors. But not to worry, our U.S. Constitution protects us from excessive bond amounts. So they will be fair.

Bail Bondsmen

Unless you want to pay the jail or courts the full bond amount in cash or property, you will need to hire a bail bondsman. They charge a nonrefundable fee that is a set percentage of the total bond amount. For felony charges, bond amounts will be higher, which means the cost of a bail bond will be too. The premium a bail bondsman is allowed to charge is controlled and regulated by the State’s Insurance Department. Currently, this rates are set between 10 and 15 percent. This means that the total allowable premium that bail bond companies are allowed to charge can be anywhere between these percentages. They get to choose how much they charge within this range. If a person is facing a felony charge and they have a history for fleeing, a bail bondsman will charge on the higher end, closer to the 15% marker. For first time or minor offenses, most stick with the 10% charge.