Lancaster Legal Issues Blog

Before you arrange to get marijuana in the mail...

Even just ten or fifteen years ago, it was difficult to imagine widespread legalization of marijuana. Today, several states have legalized the drug for recreational use, and many more either decriminalize small amounts of it or allow medical uses.

However, we are still a long way from marijuana enjoying the same generalized status as alcohol or tobacco, which each also bear different restrictions depending on the state where one lives. At the federal level, marijuana remains (perhaps unfairly) categorized as a schedule 1 drug, which means that the federal government maintains that the drug is still very much illegal.

What can a prenup include?

If you are in a romantic relationship that you believe may have the staying power to be a lifelong union, you may want to open up dicussions with your partner about creating a prenuptial agreement before you walk down the aisle and say "I do." While some people may think that such a discussion is the opposite of romantic, some people in Pennsylvania might find that it allows them to preserve their relationships and even enhance them by forcing couples to talk openly about difficult topics. This type of communication is important for a successful marriage. 

Forbes explains that when a couple does decide to entertain the idea of getting a prenup, it is important to know what can and cannot be included. One important rule is that both parties must disclose all assets and liabilities. If this does not happen, any prenup created may not be valid later on. Provisions in a prenup must also follow laws and not violate any statutes. Clauses about child support would also not be allowed.

Failure rates of field sobriety tests

If you have experienced the full process of being arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Pennsylvania, you may well not only feel scared but even potentially helpless. You might have taken field sobriety tests as well as breath or blood tests. The results of these tests would all be used in the case against you. However, before you give up hope and assume that there is no way you can fight the charges against you, think again.

FieldSobrietyTests.org clearly explains that the field roadside tests are anything but fully accurate. Of the three tests that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sanctioned for use in these cases, none are said to be accurate all of the time. In fact, the most accurate test is the one that measures your eye's natural reflex action and this test's accuracy rate is only 77 percent. When testing your ability to balance on one leg, this test is given an accuracy rate of 65 percent. A an accuracy rate of 68 percent is associated with the walk and turn test.

IIDs to be required for first-time DUI

The war on drunk driving is heating up in Pennsylvania it seems. While certainly the need to keep people safe is important and something nobody would disagree with, there is also the need to be fair to all parties. Now the state has stepped up its penalties for drivers convicted of some driving under the influence charges and the move is said to be in line with virtually every other state in the nation.

The state legislature passed the bill that the Governor signed that changes the penalties for drivers with first-time drunk driving convictions and blood alcohol content levels higher than 0.09 percent. Previously, these drivers were subject to the loss of driving privileges for 12 months. If they were convicted of a subsequent offense later on, they might have been required to install and use an ignition interlock device. Now, under the new law, they may have to use the IID after their first conviction.

New bill to end financial bail

Many in Pennsylvania have gone through the financial pressure brought on by a loved one's need for a cash bond after being arrested and charged with a crime. Without the money, they were unable to leave jail, but coming up with the amount is sometimes difficult or impossible, and that can have serious repercussions on a person's life. Two senators have introduced a bill to try to change this system so that the ability to pay is not what keeps people in jail.

As they explain in their New York Times op-ed, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) are sponsoring the Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act to end the bail pretrial detention system, which costs taxpayers $14 billion a year and is more likely to detain the poor and the marginalized. Bail amounts are more likely to be higher for black and Latino men than for white men who commit similar crimes, by 35 percent and 19 percent, respectively. This can cause people to lose their jobs, and in some causes, to have custody of their children taken away as well.

New law makes harsher penalties for DUI

Drivers across Pennsylvania should take notice of a new law that has gone into effect increasing punishments for first-time DUI offenders. According to WITF, Pennsylvania will join the ranks of 48 other states that mandate ignition interlock devices be installed on the vehicles of those convicted of drunk driving.

The devices, which require a driver to blow into a breathalyzer test before the car can start, were previously only required in the state for repeat offenders. The system has shown to provide a significant decrease in drunk driving. If the device detects any alcohol at all, the car will not start, and the test data will be stored. The devices must be paid for by the driver convicted of DUI, and they cost between $900 and $1,300. Any driver who is found to have a blood-alcohol level of .10 or above will be required to use an ignition interlock system, as well as drivers who refuse the alcohol test.

What's involved with changing your child custody plan?

Your life circumstances and schedule will change from year to year. You might change jobs; your children's needs and schedules might change; or, you might get married to someone who has different scheduling needs.

If you're a divorced parent -- and you organize shared parenting with the other parent -- these changing factors, might require a change to your parenting plan. If you're currently facing the need to make adjustments like this, keep reading.

What is retail theft in Pennsylvania?

If you are like many Pennsylvania residents, when you think about shoplifting you might think about someone walking into a store, grabbing an item off of a shelf and leaving without paying for that item. While certainly this act may be alleged as shoplifting there are actually many other things that could result in you or someone else being accused of retail theft. 

As explained by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the term retail theft covers a broad array of actions and includes not only potential customers of an establishment but employees as well. For example, if a person working at a cash register deliberately rings up an item for less that what it is supposed to be sold for, they may be accused of theft. Customers or employees who move items from one location in a store to another so that they may be identified as having a lower price may also find themselves accused of retail theft.

What's a gross misdemeanor?

Pennsylvania residents who are charged with gross misdemeanors may be wondering if these differ at all from misdemeanor charges. Not many people know that these two different categories exist, but they both carry different types of repercussions with them and can impact you on different levels.

WiseGeek describes a gross misdemeanor as something between the level of a regular misdemeanor and a felony. It can include things like simple assault, petty theft, and DUI crimes or charges. Fines and jail sentences can be lengthened for people who face gross misdemeanor charges, though generally speaking, you won't get over a year of jail time.

What support payments will you pay post-divorce?

As a parent in Pennsylvania who has divorced your ex-spouse, you'll be looking at several different types of potential expenses. The Marinaro Law Firm works with you to help you determine what those expenses may be and how much you might end up paying.

One of the most well-known types of support payment is child support. The parent who does not have primary custody will handle child support payments in order to help the primary custodial parent raise their child. This typically covers expenses like:

  • School attendance fees
  • Extracurricular classes or activities
  • Life-enrichment like musical instruments or sports
  • Medical expenses
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