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Shalimar Legal Blog

Estate planning: trust basics

Many Floridians hate thinking about their own mortality. This is completely natural. Yet, considering our ultimate demise is important when it comes to estate planning. After all, those who fail to figure out how to address their assets and debt in the event of their passing may wind up leaving their loved ones with unexpected probate costs. Also, if they fail to plan, then they may be unable to have their assets passed down in accordance with their wishes.

To avoid this, many individuals turn to popular estate planning tools. Amongst these tools are trusts. In the most basic terms, a trust is created when an individual transfers property to a trustee who is then responsible for managing those assets and distributing them in accordance with the creator's wishes. The recipient of these disbursements is the beneficiary. The trustee, who may be the creator him or herself, must live up to this fiduciary duty of holding assets in trust for disbursement to the beneficiary.

Three Floridians facing serious drug charges after search

Most Floridians have probably heard about the opioid epidemic that many claim is spreading throughout the country. While many are concerned about the health effects of this ever-growing problem, others see it as a looming legal problem. After all, in an attempt to curb the problem, law enforcement officials are aggressively pursuing those they believe to be furthering the spread of drugs in the community. This work is admirable, but it can also lead to the trampling of accused individuals' legal rights. Criminal defendants may need to rely on these violations in order to put forth a strong defense and, hopefully, suppress otherwise compromising evidence.

This may be the situation for three Floridians who were recently taken into custody on various drug charges. According to reports, the three were arrested after a resident at a hotel called police with a tip about potential drug activity in another room. Police then obtained a search warrant and searched the room in question. There, according to police, several drugs were found, including five grams of heroin, methamphetamine, Xanax, marijuana and cocaine. Police also indicated that they found other materials that made it appear as if these drugs were meant for sale.

Breathalyzer test results may be inaccurate

With the start of a new year often comes the pursuit of a significant number of drunk driving charges. New Year's Eve often brings saturation patrols and DUI checkpoints, which leave many Floridians facing allegations of criminal wrongdoing. If convicted, these individuals may wind up facing serious penalties, including jail, prison, fines, license suspension, license revocation and damage to one's reputation that may be difficult to remedy. In other words, those accused of drunk driving have a lot on the line. Failing to aggressively defend one's self can thus result in significant negative changes to one's life.

As we have discussed previously on this blog, prosecutors often rely on evidence from field sobriety tests to obtain a conviction. In addition to these tests, law enforcement officials and prosecutors turn to breathalyzer test results. Although the process of undergoing a breathalyzer test can seem very scientific, the truth of the matter is these tests are often flawed. Sure, blood tests can accurately, and scientifically, determine blood alcohol content, but studies have shown that breath tests can be inaccurate by as much as 50 percent. This margin of error could make all the difference between being deemed drunk and sober for driving purposes.

Florida firm providing competent criminal defense services

Putting forth a strong criminal defense requires dedication, legal know-how and skill. One element of this defense, as we discussed previously on the blog, is knowing the rules of evidence, which includes hearsay. Without raising proper objections to hearsay and responding appropriately to such objections, as well as failing to find exceptions to hearsay, one's criminal defense can be significantly diminished. This means that lacking the knowledge and skill to address this one seemingly minor issue can leave one susceptible to conviction and the penalties that accompany it.

With so much at stake, Floridians who are accused of criminal wrongdoing need to thus ensure that they are represented by someone who knows the law and how to utilize it to one's benefit. The law firm of James C. Campbell has dedicated a significant part of its practice representing those who have been charged with various criminal offenses. Utilizing this experience, as well as our firm grasp of the law, we aggressively advocate for our clients, which includes negotiating plea bargains as well as litigating cases in court.

Divorce might be the best option for you and your kids

Some might have an impression that, for the sake of the kids, it is better to remain in a loveless marriage than to divorce. However, in some cases, such an approach might actually run against the very goal a parent is trying to further: protecting their kids' well-being.

Many studies show that divorce can be much more beneficial for children than living in an environment with two parents who want nothing to do with each other. Here are some precautions parents who have decided to pursue a divorce can take to protect their children in the divorce.

Child custody and the child's best interests

There are many important areas of family law. Depending on one's specific set of circumstances, certain family law issues may prove to be more pertinent. Those who are concerned about their post-divorce financial health, for example, may find that property division is of the utmost importance to them. On the other hand, in many cases where children are involved, child custody and visitation is usually thrust to the forefront. Those who want to protect the time and relationship they have with their child need to ensure that they know the law and how to use it to their advantage.

The first, and perhaps most foundational, aspect of child custody that one needs to know is that custody and visitation determinations are made based on a child's best interests. This is a pretty broad phrase and one that can contain many different factors. Amongst them include the child's preferences, the parents' physical and mental health, the child's relationship with others in the home, how a custody arrangement may affect a child's schooling and social life, as well as any history of domestic violence and substance abuse on the part of the parents.

What is hearsay and why is it important?

If you've been charged with a criminal offense, then you are probably considering your criminal defense options. Researching these options and making important decisions can be challenging, though, especially if you have very little or no legal experience of your own. If that is the case, then you may not know what to look for when choosing an attorney to represent you, which can place you at a significant disadvantage. This week we want to discuss one important legal concept that is crucial for your defense attorney to know and understand: hearsay.

Hearsay is a statement made outside of court and testified to by another individual for purposes of proving the truth of the statement's contents. For example, if Jim testifies that Bob said the sky is blue for the purpose of proving that the sky is blue, then Jim has just testified as to hearsay. Generally speaking, hearsay is inadmissible in court, as it disallows the other side from cross-examining the individual who made the statement.

How to determine if a plea bargain is right for you

Those who are accused of committing a crime can find themselves facing aggressive prosecutors who diligently work to build strong cases. This means that the evidence mounted against a criminal defendant can be quite extensive. Yet, it is important to know that even in cases where the evidence makes it look like an individual is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, there may be criminal defense options available to him or her.

Although one can always try to challenge the legality or trustworthiness of the prosecution's evidence, another option is to try to negotiate a favorable plea bargain. Generally speaking, plea bargaining occurs when prosecutors and defense attorneys negotiate a guilty plea in exchange for lesser charges and/or less severe penalties. The court system typically favors plea bargains, as it eases the already overwhelmed system, but that is no reason to accept a plea bargain. Instead, those who are considering pleading guilty need to carefully consider whether doing so is in their best interests.

Where To Look For Hidden Assets

If you and your spouse had significant assets during your marriage, one spouse may be tempted to try to that people hide some of those assets, thus making them unavailable to be split up in a divorce. While there are several ways a person can try to hide assets, including the straightforward method of moving joint funds into an individual account, there are some methods for hiding assets that may only be available to people with considerable resources.

Delayed compensation

Florida family law firm fighting for post-divorce finances

The process of getting divorced can take a toll on you in many ways. Of course, bringing about the end of a relationship, sometimes one that has been decades in the making, can be emotionally damaging. To make matters worse, divorce often brings up difficult financial problems, the outcomes of which can set the stage for your post-divorce life. When it comes to property division, alimony and child support, Floridians need to ensure that they are doing everything they can to protect their financial interests from the get-go. Although spousal support and child support may be modified post-divorce, it can be challenging, and property division is permanent.

Therefore, if you are considering marriage dissolution, then you need to protect yourself by putting forth strong legal arguments to support your positions. This may mean uncovering your spouse's secret accounts, arguing as to why some property is jointly owned while other property should be considered being separately owned by you and why you are entitled to a certain value of the marital property. Putting forth these arguments requires legal skill and an eye for what judges and other attorneys will be looking for.

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James C. Campbell, LLC

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Shalimar, FL 32579

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