What Is Small Claims Court?

You feel like you have been screwed. Yeah, it may be only a few hundred dollars, but on principle … you got screwed.

You have tenants who missed pent payments. You have a mechanic you paid to fix your car, but he didn’t’ fix the car. Your paid roofers to fix a leak and yet the leak is still there.

The amount you are missing is small enough that it would not make sense to hire legal representation and file an actual court claim, but it’s large enough that you can’t’ bring yourself to just forgive it and chalk it up as a lesson learned.

But gosh darn it, o principle … you’ve been screwed. You need to be whole.

Enter what is called small-claims court.

Small-claims court is an opportunity for people of the street to be lawyers, representing themselves in a claim for compensatory damages due to a loss from a breach of contract. The court features a judge and the two parties giving their cases for the claim or counterclaim and the judge ruling on a dollar amount based on the evidence provided. If you have ever seen the People’s Court or Judge Judy, this is basically how small claims court works. (Except the judges aren’t necessarily as snarky and opinionated as Judge Judy, as much as we all may like or hate her.)

Most states have a maximum amount of award for a small-claims court case; anything larger than that amount or includes any punitive damages would be bumped up a regular district court and would involve lawyers and all the associated expenses thereof.

Small-claims courts usually handle cases of less than $1,600-$2,000 and usually only require a small filing fee for the claim. The parties involved will have to appear before the judge and present their evidence (payment records, inventory of damages, a contract, etc.) that will support or refute the case. Usually, there is no punitive damage tacked on; it’s is usually decided who was the wronged party and how much did that person lose, and that becomes the award in the case

At some point, virtually everyone gets screwed (or scammed), and many of us are fortunate enough that we don’t lose our life savings or more in the process. But just on principle, even if we lose a few hundred dollars, we may want to pursue some relief if we tried to do the right thing and the other party wronged us by not doing the right thing. And of course, cheaters should never win.

Small-claims court is not something to be abused, but it can be a valuable tool in standing up for your rights when you are always looking to do the right thing by people and you’re not getting cooperation in that endeavor.


What Is Embezzlement?

In the simplest of terms, embezzlement is when a person steals or misappropriates money and/or property from either an employer, business partner or another person who trusted the embezzler with the asset. This is very different from larceny (theft) as the embezzler has permission to handle the money or property in some aspect but clearly does not have permission to take it. Embezzlement happens when the embezzler uses their position of power and takes the money or property for themselves.

Common Forms of Embezzlement

  • charging more than the listed price and taking the difference for personal use
  • taking money from the cash register – even if it’s “borrowing”
  • depositing vendor checks to the business in a personal account
  • taking office supplies for personal use
  • tampering with employee time records or creating a fake employee
  • moving money from a client’s account to a personal account
  • taking settlement money from a client and using it for business expenses
  • adjusting the books to hide any movement of funds

Embezzlement: A Federal, State and Civil Crime

If you’ve been accused of embezzlement there can serious consequences as it can be tried in Federal Court, State Court and there can be a civil claim brought against you. Most cases will be under state jurisdiction but an embezzler can face federal jurisdiction if he embezzled from the government (i.e. taking a person’s social security checks). Penalties include but are not limited jail time, fines, and victim restitution.

The persons who are wronged in the embezzlement also have the opportunity to file a civil trial. A judge can garnish wages, levy a bank account, or put a lien on a property on top of whatever is owed from the victim restitution awards in the state trial to ensure that the victim gets their money back.

Do not go through the process alone, contact a white collar crime criminal defense attorney!


What Is A Settlement Protection Trust?

If you’ve been injured and successfully filed a personal injury lawsuit or won a class action lawsuit against an employer, there might be a large sum of money coming your way. Rather than being handed over the award outright, may choose to put their settlements into a support trust. There are many advantages of putting your settlement into a support trust such as:

Asset Protection: Many people are not able to successfully handle their finances and make them stretch long term. In fact, the average length that a personal injury settlement last is 3-5 years a lot less than what people expect when they are receiving funds for future income loss. A settlement protection trust prevents the assets from being used foolishly and protects the income from being seized by creditors and divorce.

However, the only drawback is that the beneficiary will not have direct access to the money. A third party known as a trustee will be in charge of the trust and make distribution of money to the beneficiary when he or she believes it is necessary. The goal of the trustee is to keep the money safe in the trust as long as possible and make sure the money lasts a lifetime. Common reasons for distribution of funds include buying a home, vehicle, and paying for household and medical bills. The trustee should be a professional meaning that they have a bond from the court. They should have experience in investment management and taxation.

 


Wrongful Death of a Pet

Our pets are a part of our family. No matter what is going on, they are there to listen and comfort us without talking back or to bring us endless joy for no reason at all. Pets are not limited to dogs and cats, as many people enjoy the company of other animals like birds, snakes, lizards, fish, turtles, and so on. For the large majority, owning a pet means to own a dog or a cat. Whether that dog or cat is a rescue or a pure breed, you will love them like a child. The last thing you ever want is for your pet to suffer an injury or die, especially if it is in the hands of a negligent individual. If this is the case, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss.

What can I Recover in a Wrongful Death Suit of my Pet?

Pets are a part of the family. If your pet is injured or killed due to the negligent behavior of another individual, it is important that you file a police report and hire an attorney experienced in this field. Some of the things you can recover in a pet wrongful death lawsuit are:

  • The most common type of compensation for your lost pet is to be compensated for the “market value” of your pet. In other words, you will receive compensation for the cost of replacing the animal.
  • Recover veterinary costs as long as the animal receives “reasonable treatment”. Reasonable treatment is determined is based on the animal’s health before the injury and the type of injury inflicted.
  • The value of the animal is determined by factors like the type of animal, the length of your relationship, the quality of your relationship, etc. This is not a common reward for this type of case.
  • Emotional distress is difficult to recover, but it is possible depending on the state you live in. Emotional distress covers the grief and anguish of losing a pet may cause an owner.
  • Punitive damages can be rewarded if the individual acted maliciously with intent to kill your animal.

The loss of a pet is tough for anyone to deal with. If your pet was injured or killed by the negligent acts of another individual, you should contact the police immediately and file a police report. After contacting the police, you should contact an attorney that is experienced in this field, as you may be entitled to compensation to recover damages from the loss.


What Does It Mean To Embezzle Money?

You’ve likely heard about embezzlement in the news and on many a website, but you may not be sure what it means. When a person embezzles money, they’re taking money that they were trusted to manage or handle at some point. Instead of using the money for its original, intended purpose, the individual may set the money aside for themselves, using it to pay their mortgage, go on shopping sprees, make car payments, or even use their new funds to live a more luxurious lifestyle.

Is It a Crime?

Embezzlement is a crime and it’s often considered a premeditated one. The reason the crime of embezzlement is often considered premeditated is due to the fact that the person who allegedly committed embezzlement usually may think about stealing some of the funds and then puts a plan in motion to try to conceal the fact that they’ve used those funds on themselves rather than using the funds on whatever they were intentionally meant for. The exact type of punishment a person will receive for the crime will vary from case to case because each case is unique.

In some instances, when only a small amount of money has been taken, the individual may be required to pay the money back. However, when a larger sum of money is taken, the individual may be looking at the possibility of spending up to 20 years behind bars for embezzling funds. The person may need to start paying off a fine for stealing the money in the first place.

Why Do People Do It?

Some people embezzle funds because they’re in bad situations and are tempted by the cash they’re seeing in front of them when they’re at work. However, it’s not an excuse for their decision to commit such a crime that takes money away from the person, people, or organization it was intended for. Some people even choose to embezzle funds from organizations that are raising money to help other people, which is downright wrong.

There are a lot of different cases of embezzlement that occur in the United States and there is a chance you’ve heard about some of these different cases at some point. If you’re ever in a trusted position where you’re dealing with funds that are meant for an organization or business of some sort, make sure you’re documenting everything and keeping those funds in order. The last thing you’d want to be accused of is committing a crime that is as serious as embezzlement because it could cause you to lose your job, deal with fines, and end up in jail.


The Five Most Expensive Trials in U.S History

Going to trial in the United States can be an expensive process. The longer the trail carries on, the larger the bill can get. Some of the most expensive trials in the history of the U.S Court system have blown the one billion dollar mark out of the water. With help from Connor Reporting, we were able to put together a list of some of the most expensive trials in the history of this country.

The McMartin Daycare Trial

Cost: $15 million

At the time of the McMartin Daycare Trial, it was the most expensive trial in the history of the court system. The criminal trial carried on for six years. The owners of the daycare were accused of committing sexual abuse on a number of children that attended their daycare. The daycare center was located in Manhattan Beach, California. The trial was drawn out as the end result was the court ruling to have the charges dropped.

Wildenstein Divorce Settlement

Cost: $2.5 billion

The Wildenstein divorce is one of the largest civil settlements in recent history. Alec Wildenstein was an art collector. He and his former spouse, Jocelyn Wildenstein were able to build a massive fortune that included one of the largest art collections in the world. After the divorce, Jocelyn was awarded $2.5 billion. Additionally, Alec was ordered to pay $100 million annuity over the next 13 years.

Apple or Samsung?

Cost: $40 billion

It all started in 2011 when Apple decided to file a patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung. This was only the first of a series of lawsuits that Samsung would be served with by Apple. To the victor goes the spoils. Apple was able to win the case as well as a $1 billion dollar payout from Samsung. Other patent infringement cases filed by Apple are ongoing.

BP Oil Spill

Cost: $42 billion

In 2010, BP had oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. One day, the Deepwater Horizon rig began to malfunction. The result was the largest accidental oil spill in the history of the industry. According to the U.S Government, an estimated 4.9 million barrels spewed into the ocean that day. The damage seemed irreversible at the time. The oil spill caused chaos for the marine life in the area as it turned the gulf black. In addition to the immense loss of marine life in this area, BP lost 11 workers in the incident. When the case went to trial, BP was hit with a slew of charges. In 2013, BP was charged with 11 counts of manslaughter, two misdemeanor penalties, and a felony for lying to Congress. A civil lawsuit followed this in 2014. BP was ordered to pay $18.7 billion in fines.

Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA)

Cost: $206 billion

In November 1998, the Tobaccos MSA took place between Philip Morris Inc., R.J. Reynolds, Brown & Williamson, and Lorillard. The tobacco companies agreed to reduce spending on marketing and lobbying. In addition, they were ordered to make yearly payments to states that settled. The payments were meant to go towards funding for the American Legacy Foundation (anti-smoking foundation) and the states that settled received a portion of the money to assist those who were suffering from tobacco-related illnesses. The end all be all was a payment of $206 billion that was to be paid in full over the next 25 years.


If You Go To Trial For Identify Theft, Will You Get Your Money Back?

If someone has stolen your identity, it’s likely that they’ve caused a lot of financial issues for you. If you’re taking this case to trial, you probably have a lot of questions. For example, you may be wondering if you will get your money back after your case is resolved.

The Culprit May Be Ordered To Return Funds To You

If you are able to prove that the culprit stole funds from you, the culprit may be ordered to repay everything that they have stolen. Even if they have spent the money that they took from you, there’s a very good chance that you will be able to get some — or all — of that money back.

If an identity thief stole property from you, they would be ordered to return that property to you. The same is true of money. If you are able to prove they stole money from you, they will have to give that money back.

The Culprit Won’t Necessarily Be Able To Pay The Money That They Owe

Even if the culprit is found guilty and is ordered to return the funds they stole from you, you may not be able to recover everything that you have lost. If the culprit doesn’t have the money to repay you, repayment will be impossible.

With that said, you should have a lot of options when it comes to recovering your money. For example, if the culprit is not sentenced to prison, you may be able to have their wages garnished. There’s a good chance you’ll be able to get back the things you have lost.

Your Credit Should Be Restored

Even if you don’t get all of your money back, you should be able to take care of any issues with your credit report. If your credit was shattered by these issues, you should be able to bring your credit back to where it was.

You should be able to dispute any inaccuracies on your credit report. If you’re struggling to remove a particular item from your credit report, you can work with a credit repair agency. They should be able to get your credit back to where it is supposed to be.

Not everyone that is a victim of an identity theft is able to get their money back. However, you are entitled to some restitution. Suffering from identity theft doesn’t have to ruin your life. You may be able to recover everything that you have lost.


How Can I Sue For Personal Injury Without A Lawyer?

Facing issues regarding personal injury usually requires the presence of an expert attorney who specializes in this field, especially if you were in a hit and run accident. If you are in this situation, there are processes to follow to make sure that you will succeed in this matter. There are many considerations to make before taking a step forward. You must plan very well before doing anything. You must be able to be familiar with the rules and laws associated with personal injury. Otherwise, you will not receive the compensation deserve.

If you are dealing with such concern, you are probably wondering if you can sue for personal injury, even without a lawyer. In some cases, people can handle their personal injury lawsuits without asking for the help of an attorney. In fact, they get compensated and obtain a similar justice.

Personal Injury Cases

If you cannot afford to pay for legal fees and other miscellaneous expenses, you can choose to resolve your case alone. Make sure you know what to do, where to go, and whom to reach out. You must be responsible for your actions and the decisions you make. Furthermore, you should also be patient and alert in processing legal documents necessary to solve your case.

One major advantage of working on your own personal injury case is that you can save money from legal expenses. You can negotiate your own personal injury or car accident claim settlement. This is called self-representation.

When To Consider Self-Representation

Before you decide if you need a lawyer or want to represent yourself, there are key factors you should not overlook. First, check how badly you were hurt. If you fell and slipped in a store and gained some bruises, that store may just offer a quick settlement of the medical bills. On the other hand, if you faced a serious road accident, you will need a large sum of money. You will go through expensive medical treatment, loss of income, or inability to work.

The second key factor is to clarify which party is at fault. If it was the fault of any of the employees, you can settle the case on your own.

If you are filing a claim against a large insurance company, you should not be nervous. You can achieve a satisfactory result. You should be willing and capable of standing up for yourself and represent your case in a professional and thorough manner.


What Is Dealer Fraud?

Buying a new vehicle can be a terrible headache, especially since dealers have such a bad reputation. It’d be nice if we could just get in and out without having to barter for a price or find the right financing option when buying the right car. Unfortunately, that isn’t the way things work. Dealer fraud is alive and well, and too few people know the signs to watch for when they walk through the front door. But what exactly is dealer fraud?

Dealers will likely use a number of uncouth tactics to seal you into a deal as quickly as possible. Dealer fraud encompasses a number of unlawful strategies, including financing options, advertising, negotiation, and exaggerated prices.

One tactic that dealers will use is the classic bait and switch. In this scenario, a dealer will advertise for a car that isn’t actually available. When you show up to purchase that car, the dealer will hit you over the head with a more expensive vehicle.

Another tactic takes the form of a mileage rollback. In this scenario, a car dealer will illegally alter the numbers displayed on a vehicle’s odometer in order to make it look less used than it actually is.

These days, it’s not difficult to find a full car history online. This can be especially beneficial since dealers are usually legally obligated to provide a full accounting of any serious damage that was incurred during a pre-owned vehicle’s lifespan. Considering how many vehicles were damaged in flooding during the 2017 hurricane season, this is even more important.

The good news is this: you have the right to sue if you encounter dealer fraud during your search for a new vehicle. The problem is knowing what to look for, and most people don’t. When you start the search for a new car, be sure to research whether or not the dealer selling you your car is rated highly. On top of that, try to find a history of the car you want. This will help you avoid any unwanted surprises when it comes time to make the final purchase.


What Happens If You Can’t Afford A Criminal Defense Attorney?

Whether or not you’re guilty of doing anything wrong, the criminal justice system is not kind to those accused of committing a crime–no matter how minor. It’s also not about whether or not whatever you may have done was “right” or “wrong”. Instead, it’s about the difference between legal and illegal. If you violated society’s code of ethics, it doesn’t matter why. It also doesn’t matter if you can afford a proper legal defense. What happens if you can’t afford a criminal defense attorney?

Well, it can be complicated. When you’re first brought into court or arraigned on charges, you’ll likely be asked if you can afford counsel. If you don’t believe you can, you’ll fill out a form to help the court determine whether or not you’re indigent enough to afford a lawyer. You’ll write down a list of expenses, from rent to credit card debt. Be honest, and don’t miss anything.

Keep in mind, your definition of what you can reasonably afford and what the court believes is affordable may differ greatly. You’ll have to manage either way.

If the court decides you can afford a criminal defense attorney, then you’re on your own. This can be an even greater pain if your financial situation changes because of your charges. For example, if you need to find a new place to live, things can go from bad to worse very quickly.

If you fall below a certain threshold and are declared indigent, then the court must give you a helping hand. If the potential penalties for a conviction of the crime you’re charged with committing could lead to jail time, then you may be provided with free counsel. Alternatively, you might qualify for partial indigency in some states. You would pay partial costs if this applies for you. In Florida, the court does make the final determination as to your financial status, but you can attempt to bounce an application back for additional review if you disagree.

If you aren’t determined to be indigent but don’t believe you can afford a qualified criminal defense attorney, then go find one anyway. They offer free consults, and you can have a chat about your financial status. You may be able to come to a reasonable arrangement based on your individual situation.