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child abuse

Will a Misdemeanor Conviction Affect My Immigration Status?

Immigration is a complicated and nuanced area of the law. Many different factors can have a significant impact on a person's immigration status. Possibly the most feared factors are criminal convictions. A criminal conviction can result in deportation and other consequences when it comes to a person's immigration status. Fortunately, not all criminal convictions will have a significant impact on a person's immigration status. But, whether or not a person is convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony is actually less significant when it comes to immigration status than the type of crime a person is convicted of. Serious Crimes and Aggravated Felonies Generally, serious crimes, like murder, drug trafficking, human trafficking, conspiracy, and others, will be grounds for deportation. However, starting in 1988, congress created a list of "aggravated felonies" which also can be grounds for deportation, and has expanded that list over time. It is worth noting that the list of aggravated felonies includes many crimes that are typically only charged as misdemeanors. The list initially only included serious offenses that one might expect to be grounds for deportation, but is continually being amended to include more minor violations, such as: Simple battery Theft Filing a fraudulent tax return Failure to appear in court In addition to the above crimes, any crime that is considered a crime of moral turpitude can also have grave impacts on a person's immigration status. Crimes of Moral Turpitude Crimes of moral turpitude generally include acts that infer a person has breached another person's or the public's trust. These can include both felonies and misdemeanors. While crimes like fraud, embezzlement, perjury, child abuse, and tax evasion are easy to understand as crimes where trust has been broken, small crimes like petty theft or shoplifting, which are typically misdemeanors, can also be considered as such. If a non-citizen is convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, or an aggravated felony, they may not only be deported, but they may be ineligible to return to U.S. forever. Therefore, it is incredibly important for any non-citizen facing criminal charges to not only consult a criminal attorney and inform them of their immigration status, but to also consult an experienced immigration attorney, especially before agreeing to any plea bargain. Related Resources: Find Immigration Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) How to Fight Wrongful Deportation (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can ICE Agents Make Arrests at Courthouses? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Can This New Chatbot Solve Refugee Legal Issues? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Study: Payouts Are up in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Insurance companies might be seeing fewer medical malpractice claims, but they seem to be awarding more money to the injured patients that do make them. A new study found that paid medical malpractice claims declined almost 56 percent between 1992 and 2014, but the average payout for a successful malpractice claim jumped over 23 percent, reaching $353,000 for the 2009-2014 time period. So what accounts for the decline in claims and rise in payouts? And what does it mean for future medical malpractice plaintiffs? Fewer Claims = More Money The research comes from physicians at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who analyzed numbers from a centralized database of paid malpractice claims: Researchers report that the overall rate of claims paid on behalf of all physicians dropped by 55.7 percent. Pediatricians had the largest decline, at 75.8 percent, and cardiologists had the smallest, at 13.5 percent. After adjusting for inflation, researchers found that the amount of the payment increased by 23.3 percent and was also dependent on specialty. Neurosurgery had the highest mean payment, and dermatology had the lowest. The percentage of payments exceeding $1 million also increased during the same time period. Dr. Adam Schaffer, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study, speculated that recent tort reform, which places statutory limits on medical malpractice damages, could be responsible for the decline in paid claims. "Fewer attorneys could be interested in taking claims if there's going to be a smaller potential payout, given that most attorneys are paid on a contingency basis," he explained. Schaffer also pointed to claim screening panels and additional procedural hurdles to explain the decline in claims, but this could also account for the rise in payouts -- if only the most ironclad malpractice claims are being made and meeting the procedural requirements, the average payout per claim would be expected to rise. What Does It All Mean? The study could mean that lawyers are more skittish about taking on medical malpractice cases, but those that they do accept might be in for a bigger payday at the end. Medical malpractice claims are complicated, and even just dealing with a physician's insurance company can be difficult. If you've suffered an injury in a medical context, contact and experienced attorney near you. Related Resources: Think you have a medical malpractice claim? Get your claim reviewed by an attorney for free. (Consumer Injury) Fewer Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Succeed, but Payouts Are Up (CBS News) Getting Paid: Collecting on a Judgment or Jury Award (FindLaw's Injured) How Much Is Your Personal Injury Case Worth? (FindLaw's Injured)
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Can You Sue Your Parents for Child Abuse?

Technically, the law permits a child to sue their parents as a result of child abuse. There are no special rules preventing this type of lawsuit. However, what a child considers to be abuse may not actually be legally considered abuse. Parents are generally permitted to punish their children, which can include depriving children of luxuries such as video games, computers, internet access, a car, dating, seeing friends, or even dessert. A parent can make a child sit in the corner, go to their room, do chores, or worse, babysit their siblings. Depending on the manner in which it is done, even corporal punishment or spankings can be okay in the eyes of the law (so long as they are not excessive) . Why Children Sue Parents Even though it seems rather out of character for a child to sue their parents, it happens. Most frequently, like all lawsuits, it’s about money. Recently, the Canning family’s case in New Jersey made national headlines.The 18-year-old daughter, still in high school, was suing her parents after moving out over disagreements over the house rules. However, the legal complaint that was filed alleged all sorts of objectionable, questionable, and downright deplorable parenting, ranging from crude comments to irresponsible boozing. The matter did not make it very far, particularly after the judge denied the child’s request for an emergency child support order of $650 per week. When to Sue? In every state, the statute of limitations for a minor’s legal claims do not begin to run until the minor reaches the age of majority. That means that if a state provides a two year statute of limitations on a particular claim, and a child is injured at age 12, they will have 2 years to file their claim after they turn 18 years old. Even if an adult child is suing a parent as a result of sexual abuse, or rape, there will likely be a short statute of limitations of no more than a few years after the child turns 18. Worthwhile to Sue? Regardless of whether the law supports an abused child’s case for damages against their parents, a prospective plaintiff may want to think twice before filing suit. Even assuming that the case is winnable, whether or not a judgment can be collected from a defendant is a wholly different issue. If a parent was convicted of a criminal act related to the abuse, or is presently incarcerated, there is a strong likelihood that any judgment a plaintiff secures won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.To find out if it’s worth your time to pursue a legal claim, speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) Student Suing Parents Loses 1st Round, but Case Isn’t Over (FindLaw’s Legally Weird) Son Sues Mom, Pop for Overtime at Family Biz (FindLaw’s Free Enterprise) Homeless Man Sues Parents for Not Loving Him Enough (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)
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How Much Is a Dog Bite Injury Lawsuit Worth?

When it comes to evaluating the value of any injury case, most people understand that bigger injuries correlate to bigger settlements. When it comes to dog bites and animal attacks, the owners will usually be held liable, barring extraordinary circumstances. Not all animal bite cases will be severe injuries, or equate to large monetary damages. Typically, larger monetary awards occur if an animal attack leaves visible scarring, requires surgery extended medical care, or results in the need for mental health therapy, such as PTSD counseling. What’s a Dog Bite Case Worth? An injury settlement or award will generally reimburse an injury victim for their medical bills, out of pocket expenses, lost wages, and other consequential damages. However, if a person receives a settlement that includes reimbursement for medical bills, they may be required to pay back a health insurer, or even pay outstanding medical bills (if any). A person can also receive monetary compensation for pain and suffering. Usually awards for pain and suffering will depend on the severity of the injury and the extent to which the recovery and injury disrupted a person’s regular life. There is no standardization to the valuation of pain and suffering. When to Sue? After being bitten by a dog, you may be very upset, to the point where you may consider suing simply as a matter of principle. But all strong feelings aside, when should you actually take steps to bring legal action? Is it worth your time to sue? Here are a few points to consider:Frequently, a pet owner’s home-owner’s insurance will provide coverage for dog bites. But, if the pet owner responsible for your injuries is uninsured and has no assets, then there may be no way to actually collect a judgment.The decision not to sue for this reason, however, should be carefully evaluated with the help of an attorney. Also, if you decide not to sue, you may wish to re-evaluate that decision down the road. But be forewarned, most injury claims must be brought within one or two years, depending on your state law. Related Resources: Injured in an accident? Get matched with a local attorney. (Consumer Injury) How Much is My Pet’s Injury Worth? (FindLaw’s Injured) Housemates Could Be Liable for Dog Bites (FindLaw’s Injured) Dog Bite Injuries: Do You Have a Case? (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Can You Refuse a CPS Drug Test?

When Child Protective Services knocks on your door, many parents are so confused that they may make some poor decisions or give some suspicious answers without even realizing it. CPS investigators are trained in working with confused, worried parents. If they observe certain behaviors or things around the house, they may ask a parent to take a drug test. When CPS asks you to take a drug test, many parents assume they must comply. This is simply not the case. Just like any law enforcement officer, unless you consent, a CPS investigator would need a warrant to force you to submit to a drug test. In order to get that warrant, they need probable cause. Although you do not need to comply/consent, oftentimes doing so is the path of least resistance, or it may be a condition to get custody back. While you can refuse, doing so may have other consequences. Comply or Cry Frequently, CPS shows up because they receive an anonymous report that they must investigate. If they don’t find any evidence to substantiate the report, typically, that will be the end of it. Because CPS has a position of power over parents, many parents believe that not complying with a CPS request for a drug test will automatically lead to their children being taken away.Sometimes parents believe that by taking the drug test, the investigation will end. However, none of this holds true in every situation. If there are other issues being investigated, a drug test may just be one piece of evidence, and one that may not even be needed. Unless there is a court order, refusing to take a drug test will be viewed in the context of your case, and negative implications can be drawn from the refusal. When CPS Can Drug Test Generally, CPS can drug test only when they have consent, or a court order. CPS will often require parents who have had their children taken away to pass drug tests in order to get their children back. Some agencies will have parents sign an agreement stating that they will comply with CPS’s rules and conditions, and will include random drug tests, as a condition to get their children back. While a parent may still refuse to take the CPS drug test, CPS can then refuse to return their children. In essence, CPS is still getting the consent of the parents before administering a drug test, but that consent may feel rather forced from the parent’s perspective. For CPS to get a court order, they generally will need to involve law enforcement. If law enforcement is involved in a CPS investigation, you should be concerned about potential criminal charges, and should contact a criminal defense attorney. Related Resources: Have family law problems? Get help now. (Consumer Injury - Family) Do’s and Don’ts: False Allegations of Child Abuse (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law) Ending or Changing Alimony Payments After Retirement (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life) Under New Facebook Policy, Newsworthy Trumps Nudity (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
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Can I Hire a Family Member to Be My Lawyer?

If you have a legal issue, it's only natural to ask the lawyer in the family some questions. Whether you want to hire family as counsel is another matter, however, and one to consider carefully. There are advantages to knowing your lawyer well and to having counsel that really cares about you. But family relationships can be complicated, and mixing it up is not always wise, even if it is allowed. So let's take a look at why you might not want to hire your cousin Vinny to be your counsel, although technically there is no prohibition. Too Much Information? When you talk to a lawyer about a matter, counsel will often have questions that touch on a personal or private aspect of your life. Whether you're planning your estate or defending against a criminal accusation, legal issues can be extremely personal. Do you want Vinny to know everything, considering that you'll also be eating Thanksgiving dinner with him next year? You need to be forthcoming with your lawyer. For some people and for some matters it is easier to share private details with a stranger in a professional context than with a cousin you used to have slumber parties with. For other people, a close cousin is the perfect representative. What is best for you will depend on your case, your relationship, and your other options. Maybe Vinny knows somebody he can recommend to represent you. Having a lawyer in the family is a great starting point for an inquiry but your cousin's office should not necessarily be the last stop. Also, because attorneys are licensed by state bar associations, you can always inquire with local authorities and find out more about your prospective lawyer. Money Matters Other awkward matters arise when it comes to representation, like legal fees. Depending how established your cousin Vinny's legal practice is, you may or may not be able to afford his fees. Maybe Vinny offers you a deal or graciously says he will handle the matter and not to worry about the money. Sounds nice, but you should still find out Vinny's usual price for representation in this type of matter. You do not want your lawyer to feel taken advantage of because resentment doesn't lead to great representation and it is hard not to resent someone who wants work for nothing. Lawyers do all kinds of things for clients -- from making phone calls to writing letters to going to court to filling out forms and much more. All of it is informed by their study of the law. Years of training and practice go into becoming a lawyer. Keep that in mind when you take up Vinny's time with your personal legal matters. Consult With Counsel If you're in need of legal representation and have no family lawyer or prefer to avoid involving that person in your matters, do not worry. There are many able attorneys and many of them consult for free or a minimal fee. Meet some people, tell your story, and find the lawyer who is right for you. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Top Ten Reasons to Hire a Lawyer (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Interviewing a Lawyer (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Where to Find a Lawyer (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Top 5 Child Abuse and Reporting Questions

Child abuse can manifest in physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological cruelty, or a combination of these. States define abuse in statutes, and there may be some variation in the wording of the law from place to place, but all states prohibit cruelty to kids. Children are especially vulnerable to abuse and less able than adults to articulate complaints, which means that adults in certain professions have an obligation to look out for and report suspected mistreatment. But we should all be aware of child abuse and do what we can to stop it. Let's consider the top five child abuse and reporting questions. 1. Mandatory Reporting Laws: Report Child Abuse ImmediatelyNo one wants to be a busybody but you can't just let child abuse go unreported. In some states and some professions it is more than a moral imperative -- it's a legal one. Depending on your state laws and your particular profession, you may be required to report any suspected abuse and subject to punishment for failure to do so. 2. Legal Responsibility of Teachers to Report Abuse States all have different statutes that define abuse and outline who is under obligation to report it. Teachers very often fall into the mandatory reporting category because they have extensive daily contact with kids. In addition to the state statute that dictates who must report abuse, the time frame for reporting, and who to tell, individual school districts may also have obligatory internal reporting procedures. 3. What Should You Do If You Suspect Child Abuse Abuse can be difficult to spot but not always. If you have encounters with a child who is continually injured or marked, that may be the result of a rough and tumble approach to play or it may be a sign that someone in the child's life is being physically abusive. When you have real reason to suspect abuse, call the authorities. Many states do have toll-free hotlines that take these kinds of calls and you will not be liable if, happily, it turns out you were wrong about the abuse. 4. What to Do If You Suspect Your Ex of Child Abuse Accusing someone of child abuse is a big deal. But if you are a divorced parent and think you see signs of abuse when your child comes home from visits with their other parent, you must protect your family's most vulnerable members. Don't be rash in your accusations but do not let abuse go unremarked upon just because it's a difficult topic. 5. Emotional Abuse Laws: When to Seek Legal HelpJust because an abuser doesn't leave bruising on a kid's skin does not mean that there is no serious harm resulting from their emotional cruelty. When an adult manipulates a child through intimidation or otherwise terrorizes the kid, that can qualify as a crime. Talk to a Lawyer If you're concerned about your obligation to report suspected child abuse or have any other legal concerns, talk to a lawyer. Many attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to talk to you. Related Resources: Find a Lawyer Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Child Abuse Overview (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Child Abuse Laws State-by-State (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Child Abuse Cases (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Can You Change Your Name Back to Your Ex’s?

The Kardashians are hard to keep up with, but Kris Jenner wants to make it easier by going back to the family name. It's a little strange because Jenner was not born a Kardashian. She become one through marriage and the man she married is deceased, but some of her children do have the now-famous family name. Can she do that? The answer is most likely yes. Although states have different statutes that outline the process of reclaiming a name or changing a name, generally speaking people are free to change their names within some limitations. Let's consider. Legal Name Change The process for a legal name change differs from state to state. For the most part, you can change your name to anything you want that is not obscene or a racial slur, does not contain numbers or symbols, and does not cause undue confusion. For example, if you decide to change your name to Kardashian it might not be approved as you would be appropriating a name that now symbolizes a specific family. You cannot change your name to that of someone famous in the hope of appropriating their shine, and you cannot change your name for criminal purposes or to evade the law. No court will approve of a name change based on the fact that you wish to escape your debt-ridden past identity. But a court will allow a name change for an adult child who wishes to take his mother's maiden name, for example, in a sign of solidarity. The Original To restore a name after a divorce, in many states all you will have to do is ask that the restoration be noted in your divorce decree. If you don't do it immediately and decide later to shed your married name, you can also follow a procedure subsequent to the divorce as laid out by your state's statute. Kris Jenner says that is what she wants to do, reports E! News. Her daughters have done very well with the name of her first husband, now deceased. Now that Bruce Jenner is Caitlyn and Kris is single again, she told her daughter Khloe in a deleted scene on their reality television show that she's planning to be a Kardashian again. Khloe was apparently shocked, asking, "Why? You haven't been that in over 24 years." "I was that before you were that," Kris Jenner explains. "I was the original Kardashian." But Kris is not the only reality television mom who longs to share a name with her super star children again -- in February, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills mom Yolanda Foster, a former model and the mother of models Gigi and Bella Hadid, said she was going back to her ex-husband's name. She wants to be a Hadid, just like her kids. Related Resources: Changing Your Name After Marriage (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) So You Want to Legally Change Your Name (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Get a Different name Day: Why and How To Do It (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Taking Your Wife's Last Name (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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What Counts as Community Service?

In criminal cases, criminal offenders are sometimes ordered to perform community service in exchange for a reduction of fines or term of imprisonment. But the exact nature of this community service is not always specified by the court. This can lead to disputes regarding what actually suffices for community service by a criminal offender. In one recent example, actress Lindsay Lohan may be facing jail time after she tried to count socializing with fans toward the 80 hours of community service she was ordered to perform for a reckless driving charge in 2012, reports Time. Prosecutors are arguing that Lohan's meeting with fans should not be counted towards her required community service. So what does typically count as community service? General Requirements Community service rules and procedures vary by state, but community service obligations will commonly be related to the type of offense a person is charged with. Court-ordered community service must also typically be of some benefit to society, by providing restitution for a person's crimes, serving as a deterrent to others, or a combination of the two. An offender's community service will be monitored by the court to ensure that the offender meets the requirements ordered by the judge. The court will typically require a person serving community service to maintain records of the amount and type of service he or she has performed. Types of Community Service There are many different types of activities that may be ordered as community service, including picking up trash on the side of the highway and working with local non-profit groups. Here are just a few examples from some recent high-profile cases: In a previous incident in which Lohan was found to have violated her probation, the actress was ordered to serve community service at a women's homeless shelter and at the Los Angeles County morgue. Rapper Kanye West was able to cut a plea deal in his misdemeanor battery case in which the rapper was ordered to serve 250 hours of community service teaching classes at the L.A. Trade Technical College. One Ohio judge has made a name for himself through his use of public shaming as a form of community service. His orders have included ordering a man who posed as a Salvation Army bell ringer in order to steal money to perform 400 hours of community service while wearing a Santa hat and ordering an 18-year-old who stole from a porn shop to sit outside, blindfolded, while holding a sign reading "see no evil." If you have questions about community service in lieu of or in addition to reduced criminal penalties, a criminal defense attorney can explain your legal options. You can also learn more about community service and other types of alternative sentences at FindLaw's section on Sentencing. Related Resources: Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw) House Arrest and the Top 5 Alternatives to Jail (FindLaw's Blotter) Katt Williams Sentenced to Community Service for Evading Police (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice) UFO Hoaxers Hit with Fines and Community Service in NJ (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)
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What Do Federal Child Abuse Laws Say? 3 Things You Should Know

In addition to state laws prohibiting child abuse, the federal government has its own laws meant to protect children from neglect and other forms of abuse. These laws include minimum child welfare standards to which the states are required to conform. However, a recent three-year study by the Children's Advocacy Institute found that none of the states are actually meeting these standards, NPR reports. What do federal child abuse laws require? And what did the study find when it comes to enforcement of these laws at the state level? Federal Child Abuse Laws As the Department of Health and Human Services explains, federal child abuse laws are found primarily in two sources: the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act and the Social Security Act. What should you know about these laws? Here are three quick facts: The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was enacted in 1974 and established the federal Office on Child Abuse and Neglect. It also provides grants to states for child abuse and neglect programs that meet certain federal standards. The Act also sets the minimum definition of child abuse and neglect as "Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation," or "An act of failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm." The relevant portions of the Social Security Act further established federal child welfare oversight of state welfare policies and practices by the Department of Health and Human Services, including the collection of child welfare statistics and the administration of child welfare information systems. Report's Findings According to the Children's Advocacy Institute's study, over a three-year period, no state met the federal child welfare standards, but the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for enforcing these rules has largely taken a hands-off approach. "There is no meaningful oversight and the states know it," the report asserts. The report estimates that at least 686,000 American children were the victims of abuse or neglect in 2012, including 1,640 who were killed as a result. The report suggests that Congress should require HHS to take punitive action against states that don't follow federal regulations and sanction the executive branch, of which the HHS is a part, if it fails to meet its regulatory responsibilities. Related Resources: Federal government failing to protect children, report says (The Associated Press) What To Do if You Suspect Child Abuse (FindLaw's Blotter) Meth-Related Child Abuse Cases on the Rise? (FindLaw's Blotter) Adrian Peterson Indicted on Child Abuse Charges; Freed on Bond (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
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