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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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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Interview with Caroline Judge Mehta

Caroline Judge Mehta, a member of Zuckerman Spaeder’s Legal Profession and Ethics Practice in Washington, DC, is an experienced advocate who represents individuals, business organizations, and other entities in criminal, regulatory and administrative investigations. She also advises lawyers and law firms on a variety of issues before the District of Columbia Bar and federal agencies. She has been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America and Legal 500 US, in White Collar Criminal Defense. But her day doesn’t end with her legal work; she also writes a blog that’s published on Huffington Post, which she started at age 40. Her topics reflect what’s close to home, she says, and much of them relate to some of the topics in this interview. “Like so many lawyers, I love to write and express myself in ways that briefs and motions don’t allow,” she explains. Our conversation on topics both professional and personal will no doubt strike a familiar chord with many of you. How did you get experience in handling white collar matters? I’ve been so fortunate to be trained by the best trial lawyers anywhere.  I took every meaningful litigation opportunity you can get at a “small” trial firm – civil or criminal – and got on my feet in court every chance I could.  I’m at one of the few firms that wants to train lawyers from the bottom up.  That means pushing young people out in front, early on, making them an equal player on the team in the client’s eyes, and trusting younger lawyers to handle larger and larger portions of cases. What do you see as the biggest hurdle for women in the white collar field? Keeping younger women in the profession.  It’s still an extremely tough tightrope walk, and I get why many women leave.  But we won’t have a healthy white collar bar unless we keep making strides on gender equality.  In the private sector, that means generating business, and it means mentoring and supporting each other and the women of the next generation. Has there been a representation of a client that has most stayed with you through the years and why? I think they all stay with me.  One of the best moments of my life was calling a client who had been the target of a criminal antitrust investigation that dragged on for about four years.  We made a last pitch to DOJ, along with the company’s outside counsel (who both had the temerity to fight and stood up for the individual executives), and we got a declination – and that was after we’d all received target letters.  I reached my client in his car, and he had to pull over because he was overcome with emotion.   There aren’t enough days like that, but when they happen you cherish them and remember why you chose to do this work. What part of defending a client most fuels you? Drains you? Like most of us, I want to win.  But I’m fueled by the challenge of helping a person navigate one of the most difficult crises he or she will face in life.  I get to do everything in my power – a unique power we as lawyers wield in society – to help my client get to the other side of that crisis. And what drains me?  In a way, the very same thing.  You carry that weight with you throughout, and you never put it down.  You’re either on that journey with your client, or you should be in a different line of work. Is there any unique aspect about being a woman that either helps or hinders you when you are defending a client? It’s hard to answer that without falling prey to stereotypes.  But I often observe that women will sit back and listen a lot longer before they insert themselves into the conversation.  You learn a lot more by listening than by talking.  I’ve often had male colleagues ask, “How did you know ___?”  And the answer will be that I heard the client or a witness or an opposing counsel say it. This is a profession in which all of us like to talk, and that’s a lot of the fun of it.  But I always think of that quote by Maya Angelou, who stayed silent for five years after a childhood trauma.  In that time, she read all of Shakespeare, Poe, Kipling, Burns. ...
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Controversial Louisiana Law Makes Targeting Police a Hate Crime

A new law in Louisiana makes it a hate crime to target law enforcement and emergency personnel. The bill making these professions a protected class -- dubbed Blue Lives Matter -- was reportedly proposed in response to the Black Lives Matter movement criticizing police brutality in the black community. It is the first of its kind in the country. Hate crime legislation makes punishments more severe when crimes target a protected class, such as age, race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability. Critics say that adding law enforcement to this list of protected classes dilutes the value of this type of legislation by basing it on a mutable or changing characteristic, such as a profession, rather than an unchangeable one like race or national origin. Protecting Blue Lives According to NPR, crime statistics show an overall decline in officer killings. Still, the Louisiana law making police, firefighters, emergency medical crews, and other first responders a protected class reportedly passed easily. Anyone convicted of intentionally targeting someone in this protected class will be punished more severely than previously based on the now-protected status. "Coming from a family of law enforcement officers," Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement. announcing the signing of the bill into law, "I have great respect for the work that they do and the risks they take to ensure our safety." State Police Superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson expressed his support of the law, too, pointing out the heroism of law enforcement and first responders who run toward trouble when others are running away. Edmonds said, "For those individuals who choose to target our heroes, the message formalized in this legislative act should be clear and the consequences severe. On behalf of first responders throughout Louisiana, we thank the legislature and the governor for helping to make this law a reality." Diluting Hate Crime Legislation? Critics say, however, that this legislation dilutes hate crime laws by enlarging the protected class to include people who are not targeted for what they are but for what they do for a living. The Anti-Defamation League, for example, opposed the legislation and explained the basis for its opposition to what it called the "Blue Lives Matter" bill before it was signed into law. In a statement issued earlier this month, it wrote, "The ADL strongly believes that the list of personal characteristics included in hate crimes laws should remain limited to immutable characteristics, those qualities that can or should not be changed. Working in a profession is not a personal characteristic, and it is not immutable ...This bill confuses the purpose of the Hate Crimes Act and weakens its impact by adding more categories of people, who are better protected under other laws." There is something to that argument. After all, people can choose to be blue. But there is little choice about being foreign or black or having a handicap or any of the more traditional protected classes. Accused? If you are accused of a crime of any kind, talk to a lawyer. Get help with your defense. Many criminal defense attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Understanding Criminal Law -- How to Read a Statute (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Are Judges Becoming More Critical of Excessive Force? (FindLaw Blotter) Top Legal Questions on Hate Crimes (FindLaw Blotter)
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Top 5 Reckless Driving Issues

The dangers of driving are many and you must pay close attention when you're on the road. Not only do you risk serious injury or even death when you're distracted, but there is also the possibility of being stopped by the cops and being charged with a traffic infraction or crime. Aggressive driving and road rage are not crimes in and of themselves. But they do lead to reckless driving, which is an offense. Let's look at the top issues surrounding reckless driving. 1. How Road Rage and Reckless Driving Are Related The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers aggressive driving a serious danger. Aggressive driving occurs, according to the NHTSA, when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." Aggressive driving and road rage lead to reckless driving, which leads to accidents and criminal cases. 2. Is Road Rage a Crime? In some states there are added penalties for crimes that arise from road rage. According to the NHTSA two-thirds of all accidents are caused by road rage, which leads to recklessness. So keep your eyes open, signal lane changes, and breathe deep when you feel angry, t could save you time, money, and your life. 3. Distracted Driving: Would You Pass a Textalyzer? Law enforcement officers are concerned about the prevalence of phone use on the road and though there is not yet a way to examine the role of phones in accidents, there may soon be. The textalyzer will allow police to analyze the phone activity of drivers before a crash =, and New York is the first state considering adopting the technology. 4. Can My Car Turn Me In for a Hit and Run? New cars are great for their innovations but would you feel the same way if one of those developments allowed your car to call the cops on you? Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime and, depending on your car's Emergency Assist functions, your car could call the police even if you don't think you need it. 5. Texting and Driving: 5 Potential Consequences You don't want to miss a text as plans can change at any minute. But you also don't want to drive and text or you could end up in an accident or facing a reckless driving charge. In California, fees and fines stemming from a first texting and driving ticket can reach $300. Talk to a Lawyer: If you are charged with a driving offense or a crime, speak to a lawyer today. Many criminal defense atorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to assess your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Reckless Driving (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Distracted Driving and Texting While Driving (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) State Traffic Laws Directory (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Top 9 Search and Seizure Questions

Now that the FBI has been caught bugging two California courthouses, many people are wondering about the limits of police surveillance. Recording conversations falls under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits "unreasonable searches and seizures." So what's considered unreasonable? It's been a long time since the Constitution was written, and society and technology have changed quite a bit since then. Here are some of the limits of police search and seizure today: 1. Valid Search Warrant? 3 Things to Look For If police have a warrant, the search or seizure will almost always be reasonable. But how do you know if the warrant is legit? 2. When Are Warrantless Searches OK? While police need a warrant to search, seize, or conduct surveillance in most instances, there are quite a few exceptions to the warrant requirement. 3. Can Police Read or Search Through Your Mail? The privacy of written communication was one of the leading interests behind the Fourth Amendment. But it only protects the contents of the letter, and only until you throw it away. 4. Legal for Police to Read My Text Messages? State law on electronic searches can vary, and many allow searches of cell phones if you've been arrested, but the Supreme Court has ruled that police will need a warrant to do so. 5. When Can Police Search Your Home? Police almost always need a warrant to search your home, but can come in without one if you give them permission, if they see something in plain sight, if you've been arrested at home, or there's an emergency. 6. Can My Home Be Searched If I'm on Parole or Probation? Some states require that parolees and probationers sign an agreement giving officers permission to search their homes for contraband. 7. Is it Legal to Search Based on The Smell of Marijuana? Is every officer a K-9? It may depend on whether police smell marijuana in your house or in your car. 8. Can Police Follow You Without a Warrant? What if cops are really searching you, but just keeping an eye on you? What kind of surveillance requires a warrant? 9. When Can Police Conduct a Strip Search? Strip searches and cavity searches are extremely invasive and can be humiliating and embarrassing as well. But they are allowed in some cases. In most cases, if police perform an illegal search or seizure, that evidence can't be used against you. To find out if a particular search was legal, you should ask an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. Related Resources: Find Criminal Defense Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) What are my Rights During a Traffic Stop? (FindLaw Blotter) Can Cops Pose as Cable Repairmen and Search My Home? (FindLaw Blotter) Wrongful Arrest? ...
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Holiday Injuries and Decorating Disasters

That beautiful star for the top of the tree has ruined Christmas! Well, to be truthful it was more the rickety ladder you used to get to the top of the tree, the one that caused you to topple over and fall. If you find yourself in the hospital emergency room from a holiday decorating injury, you will not be alone. The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with consumer products, and it has some pretty surprising data on holiday decorating injuries. Last Year’s Data According to the CPSC, during November and December 2014, there were 12 estimated fatalities and 145,000 injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms all related to holiday decorating. That amounts to an average of 240 injuries per day during the season of cheer and giving. The consumer protection organization warns that falls, lacerations, back strains, and ingestion of foreign objects were the top reasons for injuries. Here is how the CPSC suggests you can avoid decorating disasters. Avoid Decorating Disasters Use caution on ladders. The CPSC says that 36 percent of holiday decorating injuries are the result of falls. Half of those are falls from ladders. Check live Christmas trees for freshness. Keep them away from heat sources. Make sure to keep trees well watered. Purchase fire resistant artificial trees. Not as fun, but safe. Place lighted candles away from trees. Also be extremely wary of candles around wreaths, curtains and furniture. Examine new and old Christmas light sets for damage. Discard sets with cracked or broken sockets, frayed or exposed wires, and loose connections. Buy lights that show markings of a safety testing laboratory. Fires sparked by holiday lights caused ten deaths last year. Keep small decorations away from children. Tiny decorations make huge choking hazards. Be extremely conscious when hanging ornaments on the tree or placing decorations around the house. Also avoid trimmings that look like food or candy. Be mindful of sharp, weighted, or breakable decorations. Lacerations were the top-reported decorating-related injuries last year. Consult With Counsel If you do end up injured this holiday season, first see a doctor, and then, speak to a lawyer. Sometimes injuries occur due to product defects or because a product is inherently dangerous. Consulting with counsel costs is often free for the first meeting and you may find you have a claim. Related Resources: Have an injury claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) First Steps in a Personal Injury Claim (FindLaw) Meeting With an Attorney (FindLaw)
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5 Things You Need to Know About Checking Into a Hospital

When checking into a hospital, legal concerns are often the last things on your mind. But as it turns out, there are quite a few legal questions you should be aware of if you’re checking into a hospital. Here’s what you need to know: Obamacare: Obviously, you’d like to know whether your hospital visit is covered by insurance. the recent Supreme Court decision upheld Obamacare’s subsidies for low-income Americans, so if you don’t already have health insurance through your employer or otherwise, you can purchase coverage at a state or federal health insurance exchange. Patient Rights: All patients have certain legal rights when it comes to their health care, most importantly, informed consent. Informed consent requires physicians and medical providers to inform patients of all the potential benefits, risks, and alternatives regarding their medical treatment, and to obtain written consent before treating a patient. Living Will and or Durable Power of Attorney: A living will sets out your preferences for medical care in case of emergency or if you become incapacitated. A durable power of attorney designates someone else to make those (and other) decisions for you. Both may be essential in determining your medical treatment should you be unable to make your own health care choices. HIPAA: The acronym that sounds like a large animal, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has two main functions: (1) prohibiting employed Americans from being discriminated against in connection to their health insurance coverage, and (2) prohibiting doctors and medical professionals from disclosing patient records without consent. HIPAA protects the confidentiality of your medical records. Medical Malpractice: The last thing you want to think about heading into the hospital is something going wrong while you’re there. Unfortunately, medical malpractice does happen, and you should be aware of your rights and legal recourse should you receive negligent medical treatment. If you’ve been injured, either leading to a hospital stay or during your time there, you may want to consult with an experienced injury attorney about your claim. Related Resources: Have a medical malpractice claim? Get your claim reviewed for free. (Consumer Injury) What is Informed Consent? (FindLaw’s Injured) Do You Have The Right to Refuse Medical Treatment? (FindLaw’s Injured) Who Has Access to Your Medical Records After You Die? (FindLaw’s Injured)
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Do I Have to Notify My Employer of My Pregnancy?

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Now that the initial excitement and adrenaline has worn off, you probably have a lot of questions. Many mothers like to wait until after the first trimester to tell friends and family about a pregnancy. But, what about your employer? Do you have to notify your employer about your pregnancy, and when? Sharing the Good News As always, the answer to this question is complicated. Legally, you are under no obligation or deadline to tell your employer about your pregnancy. However, you may want to consider doing so as soon as possible. There are many legal protections and benefits for pregnant women at work, and the only way you can take advantage of those benefits is to notify your employer about your pregnancy. Disability and Accommodations Don't be afraid to tell your employer about your pregnancy. Under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), employers are prohibited from discriminating against you based on your pregnancy. They cannot refuse to hire, fire, change your job assignments or pay, or make promotion or demotion decisions based on your pregnancy. Also, the Americans with Disabilities Acts covers impairments resulting from pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. This means employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy related disability. Family Medical Leave Act In addition to accommodations, you may be entitled to leave during and after your pregnancy. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires employers to allow eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave for family or medical reasons each year. Pregnancy is a covered medical reason for FMLA leave. To be eligible to take FMLA leave, you must: Work for an employer with at least 50 employees within 75 miles Worked for the employer for at least 12,50 hours over a 12 month period Notice Normally, you should notify your employer at least 30 days before you want to take FMLA leave. If leave is needed in an emergency and was unforeseeable then you have to notify the employer as soon as possible. While there is no legal requirement on when you must tell your employer of your pregnancy, you should do so as soon as possible if you think you may need accommodations or at least 30 days ahead of time if you intend to take FMLA leave. If an employer discriminates against you because of your pregnancy or denies leave, consult with an experienced employment lawyer for help. Related Resources: Browse Employment Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) EEOC's New Pregnancy-Discrimination Guide: What Moms Need to Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)/li> UPS Pregnancy Case at the Supreme Court: 5 Things You Should Know (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Do Employers Have to Provide Accommodations for Pregnant Employees? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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Can a Winter Storm Travel Ban Get You Arrested?

The Northeast is preparing for a snowstorm that could bring what The New York Times calls "near hurricane-force winds." the governors of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey have declared states of emergency, with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordering a shutdown of the New York City subway and bus systems starting at 11 o'clock tonight. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took the additional step of declaring a travel ban, also starting at 11 p.m. this evening. What does such a ban mean, and what happens if you disobey the order? A State of Emergency New York state law empowers the chief executive of any county or city -- like a mayor -- to declare a local state of emergency and issue orders establishing curfews, preventing people from being on the road, and close "places of amusement and assembly." Knowingly violating an emergency order is a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a maximum fine of $500 and/or a sentence of no more than three months in a county or regional correctional facility. Officers have the discretion to do everything from citing an offender to arresting him. Walk, Don't Drive (On 2nd Thought, Don't Even Walk) De Blasio's order requires non-emergency vehicles to be off the streets by 11 p.m. He was quick to point out that the ban applies to any vehicle that's not an emergency one, even food delivery bicycles. First responders and "essential" public servants, however, will be permitted to use the roads. The order doesn't apply to foot traffic on a sidewalk, so residents who absolutely have to get somewhere in a non-emergency can still walk there -- though given the extreme measures the city and state are imposing, it's probably not a good idea. However, if de Blasio did want people to remain inside, period, he could have issued a curfew requiring everyone to remain indoors after 11 p.m. (As of this posting, there is no curfew in place.) Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy issued a similar order that applies to the entire state of Connecticut and will take effect at 9 p.m. The penalty for violating that state's driving restrictions could be a $92 fine, according to the Hartford Courant.Malloy said, however, that police and state troopers wouldn't be towing cars that violated the ban, as they would probably have more important things to worry about. Related Resources: RI Issues Travel Ban; Motorists Could Be Arrested (Providence, Rhode Island's WPRI-TV) Blizzard 2015: Things to Know (CBS News) Ice Storm Car Accidents: Prepare for the Worst (FindLaw's Injured) Is It Legal to Trespass in an Emergency? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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5 Reasons Criminal Trials Are Often Delayed

Although an accused criminal is often arrested immediately following an alleged crime, that person's criminal trial may take years to complete because of delays in the proceedings. The ongoing trial of accused Colorado theater gunman James Holmes, for example, was delayed several times before jury selection began earlier this week. According to Yahoo! News, the trial has been delayed for two and a half years, more than three times the timetable recommended by the Supreme Court of Colorado for felony criminal cases. The case has already had five trial dates and two judges, with a request for a third denied. In addition, more than 1,700 motions, notices, orders, and other court documents have been filed in the case. What are some of the more common reasons for delays in a criminal trial? Here are five: Psychiatric evaluations. Criminal trials may be delayed while the defendant undergoes psychiatric evaluation to determine whether or not he is fit to stand trial. The trial of another accused gunman, Jared Loughner -- who was convicted of killing six people in a shooting in which former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was also injured -- was delayed for more than a year after Loughner was found mentally unfit. Loughner eventually plead guilty. Change of venue. In high-profile cases like Holmes', defense attorneys often ask for a change of venue, arguing that it'd be impossible for their client to get a fair trial in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. This may lead to delays, even if the request is eventually denied, as it was in Holmes' case. More time needed to prepare. Trial delays may also be granted if attorneys can show they have not had adequate time to prepare. Judges generally have wide discretion to grant delays in order to allow attorneys to prepare or review evidence. But these requests may also be denied, as it was in the trial of George Zimmerman when his attorneys requested a six-month delay to ready their case. Scheduling conflicts. If an attorney involved in the case has a scheduling conflict with another case, a judge may agree to delay a trial in order to accommodate the attorney. In some instances, a judge may even agree to delay a trial for more personal reasons, such as the birth of a lawyer's grandchild. Emergencies. Personal emergencies, such as medical issues or family issues, may also delay a trial. But criminal trials are generally bound by a defendant's constitutional guarantee of a speedy trial (though this can potentially be waived). The need for a speedy trial may compel a judge to deny a request for a continuance, even if it means an attorney is obligated to appear in court along with her newborn baby. Find more information about criminal proceedings, criminal procedure, and a defendant's constitutional rights at FindLaw's section on Criminal Trial. Related Resources: Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw) Zimmerman Seeks 6-Month Trial Delay (FindLaw's Blotter) Why Do DUI Cases Take So Long to Resolve? (FindLaw's Blotter) Judge Urged to Reject Rod Blagojevich Trial Delay (FindLaw Blotter)
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