You may think a traffic ticket is merely a costly inconvenience, but some traffic violations can have substantial consequences. Being charged with a DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and other serious traffic violations can lead to a revoked or suspended license, costly fines and even jail time. Seeking the counsel of experienced lawyers who handle traffic tickets in Pennsylvania may help you get charges reduced or dismissed and lower the number of points that are placed on your license. These four steps for contesting a traffic ticket can help you understand how the legal process works when you receive a traffic ticket.
1. Pay Attention to Points
Pennsylvania uses a point system for traffic violations. The more serious the violation; the more points placed against your driver’s license. Points for multiple minor violations can also add up quickly and put your driver’s license, auto insurance coverage and even your livelihood at risk. Serious offenses such as speeding in an active work zone can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.
2. Be Polite to Law Enforcement
It may seem obvious, but being rude or belligerent with a police officer will not help your case. Comply with the officer’s requests and respond politely and calmly. If you are apologetic and compliant, many officers will issue a citation for violation of PA Motor Vehicle Code Section 3111, Obedience to Traffic Control Devicesinstead of speeding, which will help you avoid putting points on your license.
3. Promptly Contest the Citation
If you believe you received an unfair ticket you can challenge it in court. To submit a not guilty plea, check the “not guilty” box and date and sign the citation. Mail it to the court that is listed on the citation in the specified time frame, which is typically 10 days. If you do not pay or respond to a citation within this period of time a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
4. Hire an Attorney
If you don’t feel confident about contesting your ticket yourself, it is vital to hire an experienced traffic violations attorney, which is often less expensive than paying hefty fines and higher insurance rates. Having a lawyer in your corner also increases the chances of charges and fines being reduced or dismissed.
Your attorney will review your driving record and the facts of the incident for potential problems with human error, traffic control and enforcement devices. If you are facing criminal charges such as DUI or were involved in a motor vehicle accident, criminal lawyers should handle your case.
An attorney will take care of negotiations with all involved parties, which may include the officer who issued the citation, the judge and/or district attorney; and will appear in court to handle the resolution of your case. If you are convicted, he or she can also file a summary appeal of your traffic conviction to the Court of Common Pleas to have charges dismissed or reduced.
If you have been charged with a traffic violation, our skilled West Chester criminal lawyer will protect your rights and work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
The stress that comes with being buried in debt can be overwhelming, and many people facing high credit card balances, possible foreclosure and repossession of other assets believe that bankruptcy is their only option to repair their credit problems. In many cases, this is simply not true.
Unsecured debts such as credit card balances are typically dischargeable in bankruptcy, but some debts are not. Student loans, child support and some tax debt will not be wiped when you file bankruptcy. If you are facing financial difficulties, seeking the counsel of local bankruptcy attorneys who are knowledgeable about bankruptcy laws in PA can give you a clearer understanding of your options for reducing or eliminating your debt.
When Bankruptcy May Not Be For You
Your debt is high, but not overwhelming. There are a few ways to bring down your debt without filing bankruptcy. If you own an expensive home or vehicle, selling them and buying a house or car that is more affordable can be a viable option to reduce your debt. It can improve or keep your credit intact and allow you to finance a new car at a reasonable interest rate. Although filing bankruptcy may wipe out your unsecured debt, if the majority of your debt is secured debt like car loans, it is possible that you will lose what you have paid into the loan and the car itself. When you go to buy a new car with a recent bankruptcy in your credit history, you will have to pay significantly higher interest rates.
If you have a decent amount of equity in your home, selling your home or refinancing your mortgage could also help you pay off unsecured debt such credit card balances as well.
You qualify for a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate. With a debt consolidation loan, all of your outstanding unsecured credit accounts are consolidated into a new loan with one monthly payment. Before you apply for a consolidation loan, it is vital to consult with an attorney at a bankruptcy law firm who can help you determine which option will most effectively help you clear up your debt.
It’s also important to note that if you own a home you may be required to use it as collateral for a debt consolidation loan. If this is the case, filing bankruptcy may be a better option. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is similar to a debt consolidation loan in that it works as a repayment plan that consolidates all of your debt into one monthly payment. Although filing bankruptcy may affect your credit for a period of time, you won’t have to worry about being taken for a ride by a disreputable company or paying a lot more interest to get yourself out of debt.
If you are unsure about whether bankruptcy is right for you, our experienced West Chester bankruptcy Lawyers at Carosella & Associates can help you get your finances back on track.
The number of Americans who are choosing to sell their homes by owner (FSBO) is rising. There are quite a few misconceptions about FSBO, and having a good understanding of what the selling process entails can alleviate stress and make it seem much less daunting.
1. You Need a Realtor to Accurately Price Your Home
It is easier than ever to determine how much to ask for your home. Many real estate websites list property values online–check out a few different sites to find out prices of comparable homes in your area; then come up with a reasonable number that’s not too high or too low.
2. A Realtor Has Special Skills and Resources to Market Your Home
Again, online resources can empower you to sell on your own. Most home buyers begin house hunting online, so posting your home on FSBO sites, Craigslist and other websites can give you all the exposure you need. Make sure to include plenty of good photographs of the inside and outside of your home, and include all pertinent information about your home, schools and the neighborhood.
3. Only a Realtor Can List a Home on the MLS
This is simply not true. For a flat, one-time fee, discount brokers and websites will put a FSBO home on the local MLS, which gives agents, brokers and buyers an easy way to find it.
4. FSBO Takes Longer to Sell
Regardless of whether you use an agent or broker, selling a home takes time and effort. As long as you get your home properly prepared for sale, respond to inquiries and schedule showings promptly, it shouldn’t take any longer to sell your home FSBO than it would if you used an agent.
5. It’s Easier to Schedule Showings and Open Houses With a Real Estate Agent
Scheduling showings and open houses according to your schedule instead of a realtor’s actually makes it easier. Meeting and talking with prospective buyers and their agents can also add a personal touch that may lead to a quick sale.
6. Negotiating is Difficult Without an Agent
While it’s true that most real estate agents are skilled at negotiating a sales price, a seasoned real estate attorneycan also negotiate on your behalf, and will always have your best interests in mind.
7. You Need an Agent or Broker to Draft Documents and Arrange a Closing
Many real estate agents use attorneys to draft and review real estate purchase agreements and other transaction-related documents. Hiring a skilled real estate lawyer to review contracts and draft other important documents can cost a lot less than paying a realtor a 3-6 percent commission fee while still ensuring that the entire transaction is completed accurately and all legal bases are covered.
An experienced for sale by owner lawyer can help you develop a successful strategy for selling your home and ensure that your rights are protected from listing to closing. If you are interested in selling or buying a home, our experienced West Chester real estate lawyers at Carosella & Associates can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected from start to finish.
Being falsely accused of domestic violence can affect many different aspects of your life, including your employment, personal reputation, financial security, custody of your children and freedom. If you are facing allegations of domestic violence from a spouse, child, partner or other family member, having experienced criminal lawyers in your corner can help you prove your innocence and overcome the stigma that often comes with being accused of domestic abuse.
Many people automatically assume that a person is guilty when he or she has been charged with domestic abuse. This narrow-minded view can destroy lives and violate your right to due process and a fair trial.
How to Protect Yourself Against False Domestic Abuse Charges
There are several steps you can take to protect your rights and your reputation before you are wrongly accused. If your relationship begins to go south and you believe that your partner or family member may make false allegations against you, being proactive can mitigate the damage his or her actions may cause if you are falsely accused.
Secure your valuables. It may be hard to believe, but some accusers will deliberately set you up to make things harder for you after domestic abuse charges have been filed. If your accuser takes your ID, birth certificate, phone or cash and then files charges, you may lose focus and have a more difficult time getting the help you need to ensure your rights are protected.
Let friends and family members what’s going on. When accusers claim that someone has hurt them or their children, people often take them at their word and refuse to believe the person who is being charged with domestic abuse. Keeping friends and family in the loop about your circumstances at home and sharing your fears about what may happen can help you avoid being wrongly judged if charges are filed against you. Preparing loved ones for potential trouble and allegations may make them more inclined to back you up, and preemptively seeking the counsel of a criminal defense attorney at our law firm in West Chester can also help you avoid some of the headaches that come with being wrongly accused.
Change passwords, PINs and codes on everything. Accusers have been known to log into the accused’s accounts and send messages from cell phones, email and other forms of communication so it appears as if the accused has been sending threatening messages. Make sure to create secure passwords for:
Debit and credit cards
Computers & laptops at home and work
Vehicle entrance/garage codes
Any other devices, accounts or systems that require login information
If you’re being abused, gather evidence. Abusers sometimes falsely accuse victims of domestic abuse to try and get ahead of charges that may be brought against them. If you are a victim of domestic violence, collect as much evidence as you can without putting yourself in harm’s way. Immediate help for domestic violence victims can be found by calling the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Whether you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence or are trying to break free from an abuser, a West Chester criminal lawyer at Carosella & Associates will ensure that you receive proper legal representation and your rights are protected.
A key element at the start of any divorce proceeding, full financial disclosure is an accounting of each spouse’s assets, debts, income and expenses. Pennsylvania has specific procedures that must be followed for full financial disclosure so that each party has comprehensive knowledge of the other’s financial circumstances in a divorce.
Why is Full Financial Disclosure Required?
Courts require spouses to disclose their finances to determine equitable property division and support awards and prevent unfair settlements. Even if a couple reaches an agreement on their own, the court will review debt and asset division, child support, and alimony to ensure fairness.
How can a Divorce Attorney help?
Gathering financial documents can be overwhelming and time consuming. It is not uncommon for one spouse to handle most of the financial issues in the marriage, which can leave the other with limited knowledge of the couple’s financial situation or where financial documents and information are stored.
An experienced divorce lawyer will guide you through this process and help you gather all of the required financial information. If you find it difficult to collect information on your spouse’s finances, your attorney will obtain it though the discovery process. Typically, you and your spouse will be required to present:
Proof of any other income such as social security, public assistance and child support or alimony
Account statements for all bank accounts, including joint and separate accounts
Individual and joint credit card statements
Itemized lists of personal property such as jewelry, furniture and other items
Stocks, bonds and other assets
All retirement and pension accounts such as IRA and 401(k)
Deeds, leases and title to property
Motor vehicle titles
Loan statements for mortgages, student loans, automobiles and personal loans
All insurance policies, including: health, dental, life, homeowners’, and auto
A list of monthly expenses and bills
Seeking the counsel of a skilled divorce attorney in Pennsylvania will ensure that you adhere to all the disclosure requirements for your particular case. A divorce lawyer can also help you with any updates and changes that must be made to your financial disclosure statement during divorce proceedings.
Challenging a Financial Disclosure Statement
The information contained in a financial disclosure statement is completed with the declaration that the content in the document is true and correct under penalty of perjury. Each spouse has the right to challenge a financial disclosure statement that has been submitted to the court, and failing to accurately complete a full financial disclosure statement can lead to being held in contempt of court and monetary sanctions.
Our West Chester divorce attorneys can guide you through the divorce process and ensure that your financial disclosure is accurate and your interests are protected.
Many business owners do not realize that business succession planning is a vital element that should be included in the estate planning process. Not only does it protect your family’s interests if you pass away, it can help your business continue to grow and thrive after you retire or if you become incapacitated.
Drafting a business succession plan before your departure can keep your business on track and make the transition much easier for partners, managers, employees and customers who depend on your business for financial stability.
How to Create a Business Succession Plan
Every situation is different, and experienced estate planning lawyers can advise you on the various factors to consider when creating a business succession plan; and make sure that any partners, co-owners or investors are on board to avoid problems down the road.
Tackling your personal retirement planning and estate planning goes hand in hand with creating a business succession plan. Taking care of retirement planning can help you decide when to retire and determine how much you will need. Estate planning not only outlines your wishes and intent, but can help to preserve your wealth for future generations.
Create a written emergency plan that names a person or persons your spouse or children should consult in the event of your incapacitation or passing. Include specifics about the steps partners, key employees or advisors are supposed to take in these circumstances.
Review and update your shareholder and/or partnership agreements. This becomes particularly important as the shareholder pool changes or if a business is passed down to family members.
Create formal governance processes. Establishing a board of directors or advisors, developing an employment policy, and reviewing strategies for growth and compensation will help the transition process run more smoothly.
Provide training for the next generation. This gives your employees and any family members who work with you an opportunity to learn about how to run the business and the leadership and dedication it takes for continued success.
Tax Considerations and Probate
It is also important to recognize that the value of your business may grow or diminish between the time you plan your estate and when you retire or pass away. Keeping your succession plan up-to-date can ensure that the valuation of the business is accurate.
Another thing to take into consideration is the probate process your family will have to go through after your death. Skilled wills and trusts lawyers can help you create certain types of trusts that can allow some of your assets and business interests to pass outside of your taxable estate.
If you want to incorporate tax minimization into your estate plan, Grantor Retained Income Trusts (GRITs), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), and Grantor Retained Unitrusts (GRUTs) can be very effective estate planning tools. These types of trusts can be complex, so working with estate planning or business attorneys who are experienced in drafting irrevocable trusts is a must.
Consulting with a knowledgeable Chester County estate planning attorney can help you effectively pass on your business and give you and your family peace of mind, knowing that your legacy will continue long after you’re gone.
From doing to time in prison time to paying costly fines, a felony conviction can have damaging consequences. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner is essential to protect your rights and help you work toward the best possible outcome in your case.
The most common types of crimes that may result in felony charges include:
Felony Conviction Penalties
Felony convictions typically come with heavy penalties such as incarceration in state or federal prison and hefty fines. The court may also require you to pay restitution to a victim, the victim’s family or state. Individuals who have been convicted of felony murder may even face the death penalty.
Probation and Parole
Not all felony convictions lead to time in prison–penalties for some felony crimes can include probation or parole. To qualify for probation or parole, factors such as past criminal history and time served in jail awaiting trial are taken into consideration.
Probation is the suspension of jail time. However, it is vital to understand that probation does not mean you are permitted to do whatever you like. The court places certain conditions on you when you are on probation, which may include maintaining employment, drug testing and counseling. It is also important to keep in mind that any violation of the terms of your probation may result in severe penalties, including returning to prison.
Parole is the conditional release of a convicted party before his or her full prison sentence has been served. A parolee must also follow strict conditions, and any violation of the terms of your parole can send you back to prison. If you have been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, a skilled Chester County felony lawyer may be able to help you negotiate probation or parole as an alternative to serving time in prison.
Felony Conviction Appeals
Appealing a criminal conviction can be difficult but it is possible to get a conviction overturned. In order to get a felony conviction reversed, you must prove that an error was made in the criminal justice process during your initial trial. Because the appeals process is very complex, it should be handled by knowledgeable criminal lawyers who have extensive experience in felony conviction appeals.
Criminal convictions stay on your record for life and can limit employment opportunities, prevent you from securing housing and cause myriad other inconveniences that negatively affect your life. Expungement of your criminal record can make it easier to overcome these obstacles.
Expungement is a process in which eligible criminal convictions or arrests are removed from your record in the eyes of the law. If you are considering expungement, consulting with a criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in the law and rules surrounding expungement in your state is essential.