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Ask an Expert: Why Is Criminal Justice Important?

Ask an Expert

When you have a difficult question, it’s always best to turn to a subject matter expert for answers. In our blog series, Ask An Expert, National University faculty take turns answering challenging questions in their areas of expertise.

In this post, we put the focus on criminal justice. We sat down with Professor Marc Bailey of the School of Professional Studies and asked him to share a few insights on why criminal justice is important. A reserve police officer and former television news anchor, Bailey teaches in the bachelor’s in criminal justice online program and serves as the Director of Public Safety Outreach for National University. He also earned his bachelor’s in business administration and master’s in organizational leadership from NU.

Criminal justice touches on all aspects of our lives and in ways that most people might not think about. Criminal justice is important because it’s a system that includes law enforcement, courts, prisons, counseling services, and a number of other organizations and agencies that people come into contact with on a daily basis.

Q: What is the criminal justice system and why is criminal justice important?

The criminal justice system is any organization that touches upon the question of law and order in society. As an individual, you can come in contact with the criminal justice system in a number of ways. If you come in contact with a cop out on the street, you come in contact with the criminal justice system. If you are called to jury duty, you’ve come in contact with the criminal justice system. Our prison system is part of the criminal justice system. Our courts are part of the criminal justice system. Our law enforcement is part of the criminal justice system.

When you vote on laws and legislation, you’re voting to influence the criminal justice system. Those laws impact individuals in terms of delineating what society will and will not accept. These laws also then dictate how police officers are going to conduct business; they determine sentencing guidelines and who’s going to be kept in custody. When people get out on probation, that’s part of the criminal justice system. Once you’ve been released from custody, that doesn’t mean you’ve been released from the criminal justice system. If you’re on parole or probation, you’re still very much connected with the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system ripples through society from top to bottom because when you incarcerate somebody, you’re not just affecting them. This criminal justice system is so much bigger than the average citizen realizes and so much more interconnected.

So the criminal justice system is a huge part of our society and a huge amount of your tax dollars are going to support this criminal justice system. Yet most people are really only aware of bits and pieces of it.

 

Q: You currently work as a reserve officer for the El Cajon Police Department, but besides law enforcement, you’ve had a career in the media and in education. Can you talk a little bit about how you got into law enforcement in the first place, and your career trajectory since then?

I started as a police officer with San Diego in 1979. While still working as a young officer, I got my bachelor’s degree business in 1982 from National University. I left law enforcement after about five years and I had a career in radio and television for over 35 years. All kinds of TV, but a major portion of that was as a news anchor, locally and nationally.

From the time I was a child, I knew I wanted to be in radio and television, but I really had a drive to serve my community. When I went into law enforcement in the first place, my approach was a little different than most folks. I told the recruiting officer, ‘I want to serve. Law enforcement allows me to serve in my community, right where I grew up. And I’ll give you four years minimum and then we’ll see where it goes from there and see if it becomes a career.’ And the recruiter said: ‘Wow, that’s a different take. I’ve never really heard that before. Yeah, we’ll take you on that basis, if you’ll give us four years guaranteed.’

I could very easily have stayed in law enforcement and had a great career and really enjoyed it, but I had this other thing that made me want to talk all the time, as you might be able to tell from this conversation!

 

Q: You left law enforcement to transition to a career in media, but you eventually came back as a reserve officer. What is a reserve officer, and why do you do it?

About 10 years ago, while still working in radio and television, I felt the calling to go back into law enforcement. But at that point, I didn’t want to give up my well-established media career, so I went back as a reserve officer. In California, that means you have to have all the same qualifications and training as a full-time officer. I had to go back and re-certify, which I did as a volunteer. And now for the last 10 years, I still work at least 8 to 12 hours one day a week out in the field, answering radio calls like every other cop. You wouldn’t know me from a full-time cop. There is essentially no difference, except I don’t get paid.

I jokingly say, ‘I don’t play golf, so everybody needs a hobby.’ And part of that’s true because I still really enjoy it more than anything else that I could imagine doing. But the truth of the matter is that it’s a calling. There’s no logical explanation for putting on all the gear, a ballistic vest, a sidearm, a taser, a baton, pepper spray, a knife, another weapon hidden away on my body. I feel a deep responsibility to contribute to society whatever tools and gifts that I have.

The truth of the matter is, I love it. I frequently will text my wife when I’m out answering radio calls and I say: ‘I’m in my happy place today.’

 

Q: What kind of support does National offer to people working in criminal justice who want to pursue further education?

The chancellor here at National is committed to supporting police officers and others working in public safety in achieving their educational goals. If you’re in public safety, if you work for a police department, anywhere in the country or world, you’ve got a 25 percent scholarship at National University for any of our degree programs. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a cop, or you’re working in the property room or in the evidence lab, you are eligible for law enforcement scholarships for any academic program.

We also give these professionals as much credit towards their degree for their prior training as we can. We worked really hard with faculty, with the registrar, and with our accrediting bodies to look at basic training, like the police academy, and see where that aligns with our degree programs.

The training that you get in a police academy aligns really well with criminal justice, homeland security, and public administration — but especially criminal justice. There are normally 17 upper division classes in the bachelor’s of criminal justice degree, but you can cross off as many as seven of those based on what you’ve already learned. For degrees like criminal justice, it’s really a two-part offer with the law enforcement scholarship and recognition of prior training.

We also recognize some training in other states, but every state has different training standards. For example, we’ve implemented articulation with the marshal service, because their training is the same throughout the entire country. We can give them extra credit in those degree programs that I mentioned. Throughout the state of California, we’ve also articulated the training with other agencies like Probation and Detentions, that have different training than what the police officers have.

For the police officers, we’ve looked at five other states. In Nevada, for example, we’ve looked at their statewide academy training and we’ve articulated that. It’s not as much credit as California, because California’s police academy is the most robust in the nation, but we can still award substantial credit to police officers who have been through the academy in Nevada.

 

Q: How do the flexible options at National University help working adults fit their education into already busy lives?

National University was the only place that I could take all my units from community college and the four-year schools that I had gone to and concentrate on one class per month. A few others do it now, but we pioneered the one-class-a-month format in 1971 to support an adult population, especially military, who couldn’t commit to a full semester. Now we’ve found that this translates to adult learners in general.

This format is still incredibly applicable to those in public safety who are doing shift work. They’ve got a family, they’ve got their career, they got all these units that they don’t know how to turn into a degree. And on top of that, they’re doing crazy shifts. Not only do we do one class per month, but we can offer entirely online degrees for most of our classes without diminishing the quality of the education. And we can also offer the online degrees asynchronously so that you don’t even have to log in at a particular time. You can get online and do your work anytime and the professor is still available to you, you can still interact with your classmates, but you do it on your time. It’s more accessible now than it’s ever been.

 

Q: Why should prospective students think about earning a bachelor’s of criminal justice at National University? Why is criminal justice important?

A lot of law enforcement professionals naturally gravitate towards criminal justice, because it most directly benefits them and they can apply it in the field immediately. And that’s what we pride ourselves on in our classes. We want you to take what you learned in class and that day take it out to work with you that day.

But a degree in criminal justice can be useful even if you don’t want to be a cop. Understanding the criminal justice system as the whole of all these integrated parts gives you a broad perspective that most people don’t have. It makes you look for integrated and systems-oriented solutions as opposed to quick fixes.

That kind of systems thinking and integrated problem-solving will serve you in any profession, anywhere in the world, in anything that you do. We need new ways to look at problems and how to solve them. And if you decide to go into the field of criminal justice, you’ll go in with your eyes wide open to the fact that it’s a whole lot more complicated than people think.

 

Studying Criminal Justice at National University

Studying Criminal Justice at National UniversityIf you are interested in pursuing a career related to criminal justice, National University offers online degrees in Criminal Justice as well as on-campus classes. The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration prepares students to work in the justice system at the local, state, and federal levels. Studying criminal justice can lead to a career as a police officer, detective, probation officer, correctional officer, forensic science technician, crime scene investigator, FBI agent, fraud investigator, social worker, lawyer, DEA agent, US marshal, or many other positions within law enforcement and judicial agencies.

While a bachelor’s degree is not a requirement to become an officer in a local police department, postsecondary education can be important in being promoted to supervisory or other leadership positions. Many agencies will also offer raises when employees complete degrees. According to the Police Foundation, almost 75 percent of law enforcement agencies pay police officers an extra 1-7.49 percent for earning a bachelor’s degree.

Federal agencies such as the FBI and CIA require a bachelor’s degree and other additional training for most positions. In 2017, the median pay for police officers and detectives was $62,960 nationally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. California has more law enforcement jobs than any other state in the country, employing nearly 73,000 sheriffs and police patrol officers. The annual mean wage in California was $100,090 was 2017.

At National, students can choose between earning a bachelor’s in criminal justice online or taking classes at one of National’s physical campuses in California and Nevada. Students study forensic science, research methods, juvenile justice, corrections, criminology, leadership and management, civil and criminal investigations, court systems, and criminal law.

Elective courses from psychology, sociology, addictive disorders, behavioral science, legal studies, information technology, and human resource management also allow program participants to gain a broader perspective in human behavior. Students also complete a senior capstone project in collaboration with faculty many of whom are also active professionals in various branches of the criminal justice field. Classes are offered in a one-per-month format that allows students to balance their education with personal and professional commitments.

In addition to the bachelor’s of criminal justice online and on campus, National University also offers a Master of Science in Criminal Justice. Four unique transition programs allow students in the undergraduate Criminal Justice program to take up to two graduate courses in the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Forensic Science Program, Master of Public Administration Program, or Master of Science in Juvenile Justice. The courses count as electives in the bachelor’s program and allow students to get a head start on a graduate degree. Students must earn at least a 3.0 GPA to be eligible for the transition programs.

You can learn more about National University’s Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Administration, as well download information about criminal justice careers, law enforcement scholarship opportunities, and how to get CA POST police academy training credit — all on our program page.

About Our Expert 

Marc Bailey joined National University in 2016 after a 35-year career as an Emmy-winning news anchor, host, and producer. He is also a veteran law enforcement professional, joining the San Diego Police Department in the late 1970s. He currently volunteers as an El Cajon police reserve sergeant. Bailey earned a bachelor’s of business administration and a master’s in organizational leadership from National University. As a professor, he has taught investigations, media and policing, corrections, and juvenile justice, among other criminal justice courses.

Bailey joined National University in 2016 as the Director of Innovative Digital Media. He currently serves as the Director of Public Safety Outreach. In that position, he promotes education in the public safety sector, by informing law enforcement professionals about scholarships and credit for prior learning. He regularly visits law enforcement agencies around California to share information about opportunities to earn a bachelor’s of criminal justice online and other degree programs at National University.

July 29, 2021 /
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What Is Criminal Law?

Criminal law is a complex system of laws and rules that define criminal acts, set punishments, and outline the rules guiding the process from investigation and arrest to sentencing and parole.

The area of criminal law primarily concerns those accused of, or convicted for, committing a crime. Criminal law is a complex system of laws (typically called statutes and ordinances) and procedures (such as rules of court procedure and evidence) that define criminal acts, set punishments, and outline the rules guiding the criminal process from investigation and arrest to sentencing and parole.

The U.S. Constitution and each state’s constitution set limits on what the government can and can’t do when it comes to criminal laws and procedures. Courts interpret how statutes and rules of procedure are applied in a criminal case, as well as if these laws violate constitutional limits. Court decisions (case law) provide further guidance on the law.

What Is a Crime?

A crime is wrongful conduct which is prohibited by law and may be punished by a loss of liberty (incarceration). State and federal lawmakers define crimes and their punishments in statute.

Criminal vs. Civil Law

Crimes generally represent conduct that causes a public harm to society as a whole and goes beyond injuries to private parties. For instance, a breach of contract primarily affects the parties to the contract (and is a civil action), but criminal acts—like murder, impaired driving, or theft—cause injury and harm to individual victims as well as to society.

Criminal law differs from civil law in other respects, as well. For instance, a government lawyer (called a prosecutor) brings criminal charges against the accused, usually on behalf of the state or federal government. In contrast, a private lawyer files a civil lawsuit to resolve a dispute between private parties. Criminal charges or a conviction can result in imprisonment and fines, whereas a civil lawsuit typically results in payment of money damages or changes to a party’s legal status (such as divorce or parenting rights) but not imprisonment.

Punishment

Typically, the greater the public or social harm involved, the greater a crime’s potential punishment will be. The law generally punishes crimes by their severity in terms of harm and blameworthiness. In other words: “Let the punishment fit the crime.” (W.S. Gilbert). The penalty imposed for committing a crime represents not only punishment for an offender, but also is meant to deter (or discourage) someone from committing a crime in the first place.

How Are Crimes Classified?

Crimes are classified by their severity in two main categories: felonies and misdemeanors. A third category, infractions, often involves the criminal process but is a fine-only offense.

Felonies. felony can typically be punished by more than a year in prison. Felonies often involve offenses that can or do result in serious physical harm (such as murder or assault with a deadly weapon), but also include offenses that involve serious societal harm (such as mortgage fraud and bribing public officials).

Misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes that generally carry a punishment of up to a year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors include petty theft, vandalism, and careless driving. In certain cases, misdemeanors can be elevated to felonies—for instance, repeat misdemeanor assaults occurring within a certain amount of time could be classified as a felony under statute.

Infractions. An infraction includes petty offenses such as traffic violations. Because infractions can result only in fines and not imprisonment, they are not technically crimes. However, often an infraction involves some interaction with the criminal process (such as being pulled over by the police during a traffic stop) and certain criminal laws and procedures come into play.

What Are Criminal Rules of Procedure?

Some of the Basics in Criminal Procedure | GCU Blogs

Criminal rules of procedure and evidence provide the playbooks for the criminal process. For instance, they dictate when warrants may issue; how pretrial, trial, and post-trial hearings are conducted; and what evidence is or isn’t admissible at trial. The rules also set timelines for court proceedings, such as bail hearings. The judicial branch for a jurisdiction writes and amends court rules.

What Are the Constitutional Limits in Criminal Law?

Criminal Law - consortio Law Firm

The U.S. Constitution grants people accused of crimes certain rights to protect them from being treated unfairly. Some of these rights include:

  • the right to an attorney
  • the right to not incriminate oneself
  • the right to a speedy and public trial, and
  • the right to an appeal.

Each state also has a constitution which may provide its citizens with greater rights than those given under the U.S. Constitution.

What Is Case Law?

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The judicial branch interprets how statutes and rules of procedure are applied in a criminal case, as well as if these laws violate constitutional limits. If a defendant or the government believes a trial judge incorrectly applied the law in a case or a statute violates a constitutional limit, they may challenge the ruling or law. Such challenges may be brought at various stages of the criminal process (not just after a conviction). An appeals court’s (published) ruling on the challenge becomes the law in that jurisdiction.

For instance, you might have heard of the Miranda warning—the warning an officer must give suspects before a custodial interrogation to inform suspects of their constitutional rights to remain silent and consult an attorney. The Miranda warning was named for a case brought by Ernesto Miranda who confessed to a crime after being interrogated for two hours. The U.S. Supreme Court held that his confession should have been tossed out because the police did not advise Mr. Miranda of his rights to remain silent and consult an attorney. The Miranda decision is now the law of the land. (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).)

Should I Speak to an Attorney If Charged With a Crime?

Yes. If you’ve been accused of committing a crime, you should speak a criminal defense attorney who can help you understand and protect your rights and develop a strong defense for your case. An attorney can also explain any immediate or future consequences of decisions you make, such as talking to the police, pleading guilty, and testifying at trial.

Consequences for those charged with, or convicted of, a crime can change a person’s life forever. And these consequences extend far beyond arrest, trial, incarceration, and supervision. A criminal record can affect employment and educational opportunities, family relationships and stability, personal liberties, and more.

Contact us for more information.

July 15, 2021 /
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Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Criminal Lawyer

Criminal law is tough—but if you’re willing to rise to the challenge, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exciting, diverse, or thought-provoking legal career.

From what criminal law entails to what you’ll study in law school to the skills you’ll need to practice in the real world, keep reading for expert insights into what it takes to succeed in this rewarding legal specialty.

What is criminal law, anyway?

Whether they’re prosecuting people who break the law, defending those who been accused of crimes, or performing related work, criminal lawyers play a critical role in our society and in the administration of justice.

As New England Law | Boston Professor Victor Hansen puts it, criminal law is basically our saying, “the conduct you engaged in was outside of what we as a society approve, and therefore you should receive our societal condemnation.” Professor Hansen, who directs the school’s Criminal Practice and Procedure certificate program, says that “societal condemnation” is really the defining factor in criminal law.

Even though a crime may be perpetrated against an individual, it’s considered an offense against the state (aka society) and prosecuted as such. “That’s what distinguishes the whole line of criminal law as different from any other kind of law,” Professor Hansen says. Criminal law then focuses on what conduct should be punished and affixing the appropriate punishment for those wrongdoings.

Underpinning a criminal lawyer’s work is the heady responsibility of cases with potentially life-changing ramifications, as they fight for justice on behalf of their client.

“[Criminal law] made me feel like a detective, and that’s why it really resonated with me,” says Teniola Adeyemi, a 2015 New England Law graduate and Assistant District Attorney in Boston. While so much legal work is black and white, she was fascinated by the gray areas in criminal law. “You’d establish a standard and then you’d have to figure out, well, what does that mean for my case? How does that help or hurt?” she says. “It’s thought-provoking.”

Professor Hansen adds that certain interests and personality traits are particularly well-suited for the law. As with any legal professional, criminal lawyers need to have solid critical thinking, interpersonal, and written and verbal communication skills. The ability to analyze complex information is also a must, as is the ability to deal with potentially disturbing situations, such as discussing or viewing evidence related to a violent crime. Last but certainly not least, underpinning a criminal lawyer’s work is the heady responsibility of cases with potentially life-changing ramifications, as they fight for justice on behalf of their client.

Challenging? Yes. But this can all add up to an incredibly rewarding career.

Upon entering the workforce, criminal lawyers enjoy many diverse job options. Some focus on defense, working as private attorneys or public defenders. Others serve as prosecutors at the local, state, or federal level. Later in their careers, these lawyers might become judges or enter the political arena, effecting change at the highest levels.

How do you become a criminal lawyer?

Whether you hope to become a criminal lawyer or enter another practice area, your career path will begin to take shape once you enter law school. You’ll complete a combination of required courses and electives, many of which will expose you to the practice and particulars of criminal law. It all starts with a first-year course covering the foundations of criminal law (required by virtually all accredited law schools).

In the criminal law course he teaches first-year students, Professor Hansen focuses primarily on two key crimes: murder/homicide (where students look at relevant statutes, different degrees of murder, and the elements of proof needed to prove the guilt) and sexual assault (where students learn how that crime and the law itself have evolved). The class also covers potential defenses to those crimes as well as mitigating factors.

Though such horrific crimes might spring to mind when you think of “criminal law,” there’s more to the specialty than the cases ripped right out of a Law & Order screenplay. In fact, there’s a surprising universality to criminal law. “It really touches on a lot of the different areas that any lawyer would be interested in,” Professor Hansen says. “Plus there’s the added component of working with people, whether it’s victims, defendants, family members, or organizations within governmental institutions.”

Then, as an upper-level law student, you might take such classes as Juvenile Law, Mental Health Law, Prosecutorial Ethics, Trial Practice, and White Collar Crime. You’ll also have opportunities to get hands-on experience in criminal law through law school clinics, internships, moot court/mock trial, and more.

At the end of all that course work, the big prize is your Juris Doctor (JD). After law school, some students go on to pursue advanced degrees such as the Master of Laws (LLM) or the Doctor of Science of Law (JSD or SJD), but those individuals are typically planning to conduct scholarly research or teach law. For most students hoping to pursue criminal law, the JD is what they need to practice—after passing the bar exam, of course.

Where can you learn more about studying criminal law?

“Most students have been exposed to some aspects of criminal law through books, television, and movies,” Professor Hansen says. “While that can be helpful to some degree, it can also be somewhat misleading.” Naturally, the examples found in entertainment are designed to be just that: entertaining. The realities are often more subtle.

To gain a better understanding of the real-world practice of criminal law, students should take advantage of internships, summer programs, and experiential course work in law school. They might also consider participating in professional organizations that support students as well as working professionals. Just one example is the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association. It provides students the opportunity to network with their peers as well as professionals, plus access to resources such as videos and journals.

Other resources for students curious about criminal law include the National Center for Law Placement, which offers helpful information like average salaries in the private and public sectors, employment trends, and more. A section targeted to law students and graduates provides plenty of career advice. Another organization, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers serves private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors, and judges.

Students are also strongly encouraged to network and seek out mentoring relationships, which might involve attending professional events on campus, reaching out to law school alumni, and simply tapping into personal connections. For example, sitting down for an “informational interview” with a family friend who happens to be a criminal lawyer can be immensely helpful in clarifying your career choices!

All this being said, even if you’re strongly considering criminal law, it’s best to keep your mind and options open in law school, Professor Hansen says. “Keep your eyes open, particularly entering into your first year,” he says. “Don’t shut any doors.”

Students frequently discover previously untapped interests through their law school courses and experiential learning opportunities, Professor Hansen says. He notes that the first-year criminal law class consistently inspires students to pursue this path. At the same time, students who start law school focused on a particular area often end up changing their plans. In any case, it’s important to be realistic and gain as much experience as you can in the legal areas that interest you so you can make informed decisions.

From the LSAT to the bar exam, from that first criminal law class to the day you get your diploma, becoming a criminal lawyer takes a great deal of time and effort. But wherever they end up, criminal lawyers invariably have a significant impact on the clients—and society—they serve.

July 1, 2021 /
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How to Choose an Elder Law Attorney

 

In the United States, the 21stcentury has seen increased longevity that originated with the Baby Boomer generation (who were born between 1946 and 1964). The lengthened lifespan of aging Americans leads to increased individuals seeking benefits from elder law.

When choosing an elder law attorney it pays to take your time

Elder law itself takes root in the Older Americans Act of 1965, which offers social services to senior citizens. State bar associations in 39 states have committees dedicated to issues surrounding aging and disability.

The majority of aging Americans will benefit from the services of an elder law attorney. They will represent the older individual in several matters, including guardianship, estate planning, living wills, trusts, estate administration, insurance, probate, long-term senior care and power of attorney, and additional services.

Choosing the right attorney to represent you or an elder loved one is a task that should be given considerable weight. Here are some helpful tips for seniors to choose the appropriate elder law attorney to best represent their individual needs.

1. Assess Your Concerns

Before you start on the journey to choose an elder law attorney, seniors and/or their families should create a list of current and foreseeable concerns that an elder law attorney can address. Recognizing your needs will assist in evaluating potential lawyers who should be qualified in handling specific areas of elder law.

2. Seek Referrals

Referrals are an excellent way to lead to an initial consultation with an elder law attorney. Friends, family, financial advisers, and clients who have had positive experiences with a particular elder law attorney can pave the way to a fruitful client-lawyer relationship.

3. Hire KnowledgeElder-Law-Book-Gavel

Laws change constantly and elder laws are no exception. States’ elder laws differ across the country. The attorney you choose should be knowledgeable of the existing laws and policies of your geographic location. A skilled and educated lawyer stays updated on current practices in elder law.

During your search, you may consult with lawyers who are extremely knowledgeable about one or two specific issues revolving around elder law while others can help with general inquiries.

4. Visit the Bar

Elder law attorneys should be registered by the American Bar Association and licensed to practice in their state. An attorney’s credentials can be researched online through any of several professional organizations, such as ElderCounsel or the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. An elder law attorney who also pursues board certification receives verification of the lawyer’s expertise and ethics in specific areas of the law.

5. Schedule Consultations

Brief, in-person interviews with potential elder law attorneys are important in helping to determine if you are comfortable and at ease with conducting business in their offices. You also have the opportunity to gain feedback about the staff. Know beforehand that specific legal firms offer free consultations, while other lawyers charge a fee.

6. Evaluate Relatability

The elder law attorney with whom you eventually settle is someone with whom you will ideally establish a trusted partnership. You should feel comfortable discussing all areas of concern with the elder law attorney.

A lawyer who is attentive and whom you sense will fight for your rights is someone you want on your side. Choose someone with whom you are able to have open conversations, and you’ll be less likely to struggle with an uncommitted or unsympathetic elder law attorney.

Practical services, such as the power of attorney, wills, and advanced directives, can be handled by an elder law attorney.  But the right lawyer will offer you a customized approach to your situation, along with the pros and cons of each scenario. In short, a skilled elder law attorney will invest the time to offer you personalized solutions.

7. Ask QuestionsElder-Law-Attorney-Books-Gavel

Schedule brief meetings to consult with potential elder law attorneys. An interview should consist of a series of relevant questions that will help you determine whether or not you’d like to start a possible long-term association. Questions may include the following:

  • How long have you been practicing elder law?
  • How do you stay abreast of current elder laws?
  • Do you hold a license to practice elder law in this state?
  • What elder law organization are you a member of?
  • If it becomes necessary to go to court, do you possess litigation experience?

An elder law attorney who is sensitive to your concerns is one who will help you know your options.

8. Investigate No- or Low-Cost Options

Pro bono services are available to the elderly who qualify for low-cost representation; these individuals must meet certain criteria to be eligible. Veterans have the option to seek help from free law clinics that operate through their local chapter of the Veterans Administration or the National Veterans Legal Services Program, and other similar programs.

When your loved one needs help with planning for healthcare, patient’s rights, or long-term care options, the right elder care attorney will guide you through the processes.

Choose a Home Care ServiceCaregiver-Helping-Patient-Walk

While helping a loved one look toward the future, you’ll discover a wide range of in-home care services through senior care agencies, such as Assisting Hands Home Care. You’ll find legal support through an elder law attorney, but you’ll find compassionate in-home care through the reliable caregivers on staff at Assisting Hands Home Care.

Assisting Hands Home Care is a licensed, bonded, and insured home care agency in Fort Myers, FL with the experience and skill to accommodate the non-medical care needs of the elder populations.

Our services include, but are not limited to:

  • Personal care (such as grooming, bathing, toileting, and dressing)
  • Hospice care
  • Post-operative care
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s care

When working with our home care agency, families are updated with the care recipient’s condition and provided with peace of mind knowing their loved one is in good hands.

Get a Free Consultation

Get a free consultation with our home care agency by calling (221) 239-6326 to discuss your loved one’s care needs and how we can help.

June 1, 2021 /
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What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

Unlike most jobs in the legal field, the role of a criminal defense attorney is to represent clients charged with crimes in court. Although it may not sound appealing, the court needs someone to help the accused throughout the process. From minor offenses to the most heinous of crimes, a criminal defense attorney must do their best to ensure the client’s constitutional right to a fair trial. Although they’re just doing their job, most people deem them as legal protectors of the villains of society.

A criminal defense attorney plays an essential role in society because they help represent individuals or companies charged with crimes. While we don’t like the idea of providing legal assistance to criminals, a client charged with a crime is only a suspect until proven guilty. Wrongfully accused clients also require legal representation in court to prove their innocence. If you need legal assistance to balance the scale of justice, here are some tips to consider when looking for a criminal defense attorney.

A Criminal Defense Attorney Must Not Be Judgmental – Despite the crime, defendants have constitutional rights, and every criminal defense attorney must protect these in court. If everyone allows their feelings to get in the way in court, then every defendant would be sent into prison for their crimes. While this may seem like an act of justice, it prevents the wrongfully accused individuals or companies to get legal representation. If you’re that person, you’ll never get a chance to prove your innocence in court. Therefore, it’s important to look for criminal defense attorneys who don’t let their feelings about the crime to get in the way.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Who Will Fight for You – Representing society’s perceived villains isn’t an easy feat for most attorneys. Most of them receive hate mails or threats from anonymous sources throughout the whole legal process. If your criminal defense lawyer isn’t willing to stand up and fight for you, there’s a huge chance you’ll lose your court battles. Legal representation of notorious criminals may lead to serious problems for criminal defense attorneys. Some of them may lose friends and families along the way because they chose to represent their clients. They Give You the Best Deal Possible – While most of these cases are unwinnable, a good criminal defense attorney will come up with the best deal for your convenience. They will ask the client to take a plea bargain to receive a concession from the prosecutor in return. Although taking a plea bargain doesn’t sound right, taking the best offer on the table is better than losing the case itself. A competent criminal defense lawyer knows when to make a deal and when to keep fighting in court.

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4 Ways to Get a Red Light Ticket Dismissed

Nobody enjoys getting a NY red light ticket, whether it’s from a camera or a police officer. When you get such a ticket, you have two choices: you can simply pay the fine and be done with it, possibly adding points to your driving record. Or you can take it to court and hope to get it dismissed. If you choose the latter, then there are some things you should know.

Traffic Lights, Red, Stop, Light Signal

1. Challenge the police officer’s view of the intersection. During a red light traffic stop make a note of where the officer was sitting before pulling you over. If you can show the court that the officer’s view of the intersection was obstructed in any way, you can argue that the officer made a mistake. To prove the view was obstructed you’ll need to take pictures of the intersection from the officer’s point-of-view to show the court.

2. Ask for a deferral or dismissal. A deferral means that if you don’t commit any further traffic violations for the next six months, then the ticket will be dropped from your record. A dismissal means the ticket is dropped. Having a clean driving record will make it easier to argue for a deferral or dismissal with the prosecuting attorney.

3. Your view of the light was obstructed. If there was a large 18-wheeler in front of you or your view was obstructed by trees, then you can argue that you never saw that the light was about to turn red. For this defense to be successful, you’ll need to take pictures or video of the intersection to show the driver’s obstructed view.

4. You were trying to avoid an accident or there were hazardous road conditions. In some circumstances, running a red light might be necessary to avoid a potentially major accident. Or sometimes the road conditions are so hazardous that you had to run the red light. This defense is tough because the prosecuting attorney will argue you should’ve adjusted your driving to the road conditions.

Red Light Cameras

Getting a NY red light camera ticket is a different story. Most jurisdictions don’t let you question the validity or timing of the picture. However, if the picture is blurry or somehow the car is obstructed, you can argue that it’s not your car. Further, tickets will go to the registered owner of the vehicle. If you can prove that you weren’t driving, your ticket will be dropped. To prove this you’ll need a strong alibi.

An Attorney Can Help You Fight Red Camera Tickets

When in doubt, it’s always best to hire an attorney, like the lawyers at the Law Office of James Lynch and Associates with office located in Poughkeepsie, New York, to help you fight your ticket. They’ll know how to properly argue your case in court, and if they can’t get the ticket dismissed, at least lower your fine.

August 7, 2020 /
Legal
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6 Things You Have To Know About Personal Injury Cases

If you’re suffering from a personal injury and is currently going through a case. You should take note of the 6 Things you should know about personal injury cases.

February 4, 2019 /
Blog
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