Lancaster Legal Issues Blog

Defend yourself against theft allegations with these 3 tips

If you're accused of theft it may not only surprise you but also insult you if you are innocent. While not everyone who defends him- or herself is innocent of the allegations, many people are.

How do people who are innocent get accused? Some may have borrowed an item on the wrong day, failed to return an item to their offices or even walked out of a store with an item because they were thinking about something else.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s child support formula

Many in Lancaster may hope their divorces signify the end of their association with their spouses. However, those relationships often never truly end give that they still may have to continue to work together on certain matters, particularly if they have children together. One matter that must be coordinated is the payment of child support. Even in cases where both parents share custody of the children, some degree of child support is likely to be ordered (the exception would be those rare cases where both parents make the same income and spend the same amount of time with their kids). The U.S. Census Bureau reports that as recently as 2013, $32.9 billion was owed in child support in the country. Those who are preparing to contribute to that amount may want to have firm understanding of how the state determines their obligation.

First, the combined monthly income of both parents is determined. This includes income from salaries, property dealings, pensions and retirement funds, Social Security benefits and earned interest. The, certain deductions are calculated to come up with a net monthly income. According to the Pennsylvania Code, these deductions may include:

  •          Federal, state and local taxes
  •          Unemployment benefit taxes
  •          Social Security and other non-voluntary retirement payments
  •          Union dues
  •          Spousal and child support due to other parties

These DUI penalties can impact your life immediately

There are three levels of DUIs in Pennsylvania. The first level is general impairment, which is when a person has a blood alcohol concentration of .08 to .099 percent. The second level is a high BAC, which ranges between .10 and .159 percent. Finally, there is the highest BAC, which is .16 percent or higher.

With the new laws in Pennsylvania, minors, those who drive school vehicles, commercial drivers and those who cause an accident resulting in injuries or property damage may be subject to high BAC penalties, even if their BAC is not between .10 and .159 percent.

Possession of marijuana can still lead to jail time

With the current and growing acceptance of the use of marijuana for recreational as well as medicinal use in states across the country, Pennsylvanians should know that the criminal penalties still exist. Although possession of an illegal drug is typically considered far less onerous a crime than an act amounting to drug trafficking, sentencing rules do provide for prison time.

Possession of marijuana for individual use can be charged under that of a controlled substance, 35 Pa.C.S. 780-113(a)(16), in addition to the less onerous section (a)(31) dealing with a small amount of marijuana. The tougher, former section includes not only marijuana, but a wide range of drugs including heroin as well as prescription drugs when the accused lacks a valid prescription. The sentence can include up to a year of prison time and a fine of several thousand dollars for a first offense. But a subsequent offense can land a convicted individual in prison for up to three years and a $25,000 fine. However, the lighter crime, which deals only with a small amount of marijuana such as an ounce, can also result in incarceration of up to thirty days, as well as a fine.

A house almost blown down by a drunk driver

A man suspected of driving under the influence in Waco, Texas, apparently almost succeeded where the Big Bad Wolf had failed.

The "Three Little Pigs" house gained fame on the HGTV series, "Fixer Upper." The season three, episode 12 edition featured the "fixer-uppers" Chip and Joanna Gaines upgrading the existing home with dark wood accents, a porch, and other improvements. The remodeled dwelling was said to be custom-made for a neighborhood described as "quaint."

Understanding the walk-and-turn test

Most Pennsylvania residents have heard about field sobriety tests. However, how well do you really know what these are, how they are administered and what they are actually for? FieldSobrietyTests.org explains that while some people may think that these tests are used to prove that you are intoxicated, that is not true. The point of field sobriety tests is simply to collect enough evidence to support the fact that you might be intoxicated. Based upon this, a law enforcement officer may then be able to legally arrest you. 

One of the tests used is called the walk-and-turn test. As the name implies, a person is asked to walk, turn around and then walk back. In compliance with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines, the test should require nine paces in each direction. Arms are to be kept securely by the sides and not used to help provide balance at any time. As steps are taken, they must be counted out loud by the person taking the test. A heel-to-toe formation must be maintained at all times. 

Higher standards for asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania

Law enforcement in Pennsylvania have their work cut out for them in the future if they want to seize property with alleged connections to drug crimes.

After unanimous passage by the state House of Representatives this week, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law reforms that raise standards on proof in the Commonwealth.

What are the benefits of a QDRO?

If you are one of the many Pennsylvania residents who must give a portion of your 401K savings to your spouse as part of your divorce settlement, you will want to know about the qualified domestic relations order. Many people might thinkj it seems logical that if you include details of how an account should be split in your divorce decree you should be able to take money out of the account and give it to your former spouse with no issue. However, this is not so.

If you do this, you may be on the hook to pay early withdrawal penalties and taxes that could eat up a large portion of whatever savings you have left in your account. The United States Department of Labor explains that you may be able to avoid these repercussions by using a QDRO. It is through the QDRO that your spouse can be identified as an alternate payee on your account.

What is the one-leg field sobriety test?

If you are like many people in Pennsylvania, you might have heard references to field sobriety tests in discussions related to drunk driving arrests. However, do you really know what these tests are and whether or not they are accurate? FieldSobrietyTests.org explains that there are three such tests approved for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration yet none of them are completely accurate.

Among the standardized field sobriety tests is the one-leg stand test. As the name implies, in this test you would be asked to lift one of your feet and stand on only the other one. While you do this you would also need to count out loud exactly as the officer instructs you to. Any movement of your arms for balance may be used to indicate your failure of the test as you would be required to keep your arms at your sides.

Do you understand the benefits of a prenuptial agreement?

Whether or not you create a prenuptial agreement before your wedding day depends on many details, including your personal beliefs and your current financial standing.

This is a personal decision that should never be taken lightly. Instead, you need to learn more about creating a prenuptial agreement, including the many benefits.

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