The Legal Insider

June 2012

Top 5 Legal Woes of Summer

There’s nothing like summer days off. Summer is the perfect time for family bonding, home improvement projects, or just an excuse to barbeque and drink a few cold ones. The last thing on your mind is a legal trouble.

Below are the 5 most common pitfalls you should keep mindful of to avoid making this summer one you may never forget:

  1. Speeding Tickets—These may seem unavoidable sometimes. However, it is possible to beat a speeding ticket by contesting it.
  2. DUI/DWI—This criminal offense carries the widest range of consequences, from fines to jail time and license suspension. DUI and DWI charges are very serious and should be handled by a local lawyer who’s familiar with procedures in your area.
  3. Assault & Battery—We all have little scuffles now and again. Disagreements are especially volatile when alcohol is involved, and things can quickly resort to old-fashioned fisticuffs. Assault and battery carries a criminal charge that may entail consequences like jail time, probation, court-ordered anger management classes and heavy fines.
  4. Slip and Fall—These accidental injuries can cause serious legal headaches even among friends and family. Slip and fall lawsuits are also some of the easiest to avoid. Be mindful of slick surfaces and places with tricky footing. Remedy any faulty steps before that big get-together.
  5. Disturbing the Peace—Summer is practically the only time you can have an outdoor party into the wee hours of the morning.   However, remember to be mindful of your neighbors. Disturbing the peace with your rockin’ jams can cost thousands of dollars in fines and even land you in jail for repeated offenses. These can be avoided by warning your neighbors in advance or simply inviting them.

4th of July Fireworks and the Law

Fireworks are a hallmark of Independence Day celebrations.  For many Americans, nothing says “Hurray USA!” like blowing stuff up.

However, there are certain precautions you should take before your blowout pyrotechnics display of patriotism. Breaking a fireworks law could have series legal consequences, above and beyond the safety of you or your family.

  1. Check your local laws regarding the sale and use of fireworks. In many states you can buy and use fireworks only during specific time periods. However, a number of states like Michigan and Alaska have barred the sale, possession, and distribution of fireworks all together.
  2. Pick a safe location for your firework storage and display. Definitely keep fireworks out of the reach of children. If you injure a person with your display, you may be liable for civil damages. Pick the location of your display carefully - make sure it’s free of low hanging obstructions and flammable objects.
  3. Wet down the surfaces under and around where you plan to set your fireworks off. This will reduce the risk of unintentional fires.
  4. A bucket half-full of water is the perfect place for the burnt out fireworks. A bucket of sand also works - just don’t throw those hot/possibly still burning things into your garbage can.

The Maury Special: Paternity Tests

You haven’t lived until you've seen a Maury Paternity Special.  Of course there are plenty of accusations of infidelity from both parties. But the real fact is that paternity testing is a crucial part of obtaining child support and custody agreements

Paternity laws are very complex from state to state. One nuance you may not know is the difference between a “presumed father” and an “acknowledged father.” 

A presumed father may be ordered to pay child support if he was married to the mother when the child was conceived, legally agreed to be the father of his wife’s child, or has acted/behaved as if the child were his own.

An acknowledged father must also pay child support, however, acknowledged fathers are normally unmarried and have admitted to being the father.

Paternity testing is used to prove someone is the legal father of the child. You must petition the court/judge to subject the suspected (or known) father to a paternity DNA test, also known as a Paternity Action. If the man is indeed the father, he is obligated to pay child support. As with any legal matter, child custody and support cases must be handled carefully to prevent mistakes.


Legal Guide to Summer/Seasonal Employment

I can still hear the nagging voice of my parents telling me “it’s time to get a summer job”. Although not thrilled by the idea, it turned out to be a worthwhile learning experience (and a great source of spending money).

The tips below outline some of the commonly overlooked considerations of potential employers and employees during the summer months:

Seasonal Work Contracts—These little documents outline everything from length of employment to your wages. Both parties should spend time reviewing the contract before signing it.  Otherwise, you may end up needing the services of a contract dispute lawyer.

Illegal Labor—This is a hot topic subject closely tied with immigration laws. Known employment of illegal aliens is illegal in all states. People who have entered the country illegally should consult an immigration lawyer immediately. Employers who give a job to an illegal alien can be liable for thousands of dollars in fines even if the illegal employee incorrectly or fraudulently filled out the I-9 form.

Age At Which You Can Start Working—This number varies from 12 years old (in some cases) to 16 and 18 years of age. Your local and state laws will offer even more specific provisions beyond the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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