Protect whistleblowers

Oct 04

There’s been a lot said about whistleblowers in the last few years. Depending on who the whistle has been blown on, each side has shown a willingness to forget the benefit such people offer and to attack not just the individual but the process en toto.

Protecting whistleblowers, however, should be a nonpartisan idea. While each side may occasionally suffer embarrassment due to the information revealed on the day, the overall benefit to society is far greater than such momentary considerations.

Whistleblowers have been responsible for keeping us safer, healthier, and more morally aware of our actions as a country for decades. The most famous cases in recent years have revealed illegal activities done by the government. The country should show gratitude for the bravery such acts required, and show a willingness to protect those who did them.

That is not to say there are not negative sides to whistleblowing. These acts are not always clearcut moral or immoral choices. Often, information unrelated to those infractions is revealed. There are unintended victims and unintended consequences to such acts. Whistleblowers who are sloppy in their actions can cause serious damage, and for that sloppiness—and only for that sloppiness—they deserve to face consequences.

We must be careful, however, not to malign the act of whistleblowing itself simply because some famous examples have failed to do their duty properly.

It is also important that we recognize that whistleblowing occurs not just in high profile national cases but every day in more local situations. Those whistleblowers are far less likely to be influenced by grand desires for fame and prestige and are more likely to reveal select, important information.

We would do well to begin holding up those smaller examples as the image of true whistleblowers since their stories are complicated less by national issues. We must also make a point of defending those who blow the whistle on a smaller level with far fewer media attention. Without media attention, it is easier to abuse the rights of such people, and since, as mentioned above, their acts of whistleblowing are uncontroversially good for their communities, such abuses are truly upsetting.

We must, therefore, be constantly vigilant against such abuses. If you see a whistleblower being harassed by their employer, or being pressured to keep silent, then it is your turn to act to defend that person’s rights. Such outright courage may not be required. Instead, be sure to get to know the lawyers who cover such cases in your community.

(As an example, here is a law firm in New York City that deals with such issues.)

All you have to do, then, is notify the employee or the law firm of such issues, and allow the case to proceed from there.

Whistleblowing is a valuable part of our society at every level from the federal government down to local stores. We must all do our part to help whistleblowers protect their rights, even if the immediate issue doesn’t align with our preferred politics or views.

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Natural Disasters: Evacuation Tips

Jun 27

Going out of the house or traveling is not advisable during natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, and hurricanes. It only becomes an option if the house itself or the area is at risk, and this is called evacuation.

When it comes to evacuation, it is important to point out that you may encounter hazardous scenarios, so there are some things you should do to ensure the safety of yourself and your family.

Charge your communication devices

The two most important communication devices in the event of an evacuation are mobile phones and radios. Mobiles phones are used mainly to communicate with family members, while radios to stay updated to the latest news and possible local authority commands, such as evacuations. Make sure your mobile phones are charged up and your radios have strong batteries.

Put outside items inside the house

Some natural disasters may destroy the items you have outside of your house, such as bicycles, chairs, and pet houses. This is particularly true on floods and hurricanes. Before evacuating, it is best to secure these things even before the natural disaster becomes a direct threat to your house.

Make a survival kit

Whether you are evacuating or not, it is important to prepare a survival kit, just to be safe. But what is inside a survival kit? It should contain food, water, first aid materials, and other specialized items you or your family members need, such as eyeglasses and prescription drugs. It is advisable that these supplies can last for about 3 days, or maybe even more especially the specialized items.

Bring your valuables

If you can carry more, you should consider bringing valuables, just to make sure that they are not going to be destroyed or lost. The most valuable objects include documents that may be hard to get back, cash, jewelry, and sentimental items such as photo albums.

Turn off utilities

Before evacuating, it is also advisable to turn off your electricity, water, and gas supplies, to avoid problems that may arise from them, such as explosions and fires.

Return only upon orders

Only return to your house if the local authorities have given the signal that it is safe. Just to make sure, you can get qualified professionals to check the house for structural and electrical damages, so you don’t undeservingly hurt yourself in the possible aftermath hazards such as electrocution.

Call your insurance

Before throwing away anything, you should take pictures and possibly even videos of everything in your house, to document the damage. This can strengthen your insurance claim. Also, the website of K2 Consulting & Services, LLC has said that insurance companies may give you less than you deserve. So, you should be wary of insurance bad faith as well.

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Who should Pay Alimony?

Mar 31

Some divorces do not totally sever the responsibility of one spouse over the other for there is what is termed as alimony or spousal support, wherein one spouse will need to provide financial support to the other to ascertain that the dependent spouse will not live a financially-troublesome life. This is the primary purpose of alimony which state courts always see to. Courts observe the policy of making sure that the spouses and the children are able to continue to enjoy the standard of living they enjoyed before the divorce. Thus, if one spouse gave up all chances for professional and economic growth for the sake of his/her partner and their family, then the more financially able spouse will be required by the court to provide him/her with financial support upon divorce.

Women, traditionally, were the recipients of alimony since it was them who were often required (by societal standards) to cease work and care for the home after marriage. Providing for her and for the rest of the family was, of course, the duty of the husband – the man of the house.

Life’s circumstances, however, have greatly changed. Today, more men than women are without work, making them contribute more time to child-care and in the performance of household chores, while more and more workplaces are being populated by single women and mothers.

The earning capacity of both men and women has changed too with many women now able to earn even much more than their partner in life. Due to these significant changes in economic situation and opportunities, the recipient of alimony can now also be a former husband.

Alimony is a court-mandated monetary payment that one spouse should make to his/her former partner; it is also known under the names spousal support or spousal maintenance. When making decisions on the issue of alimony, courts usually consider the following factors:

  • earning capability of both spouses;
  • age and health of the spouses;
  • earned and potential income, and assets of both spouses; and,
  • length of marriage.

There are different types of alimony or forms of payment recognized in the United States:

  • Temporary alimony or alimony pendente lite: this type of alimony is awarded to one spouses even while the divorce case is still pending;
  • rehabilitative: this type of alimony serves as a re-education or re-training support that will help one spouse find a good-paying job and, so, become self-sufficient;
  • permanent: this court-ordered regular payment (usually monthly) is to enable the recipient spouse to continue to enjoy the standard of living that he/she enjoyed before the divorce. This ends, however, when the recipient spouse remarries or dies, or if the court modifies its order.
  • lump sum: if the spouse supposed to provide spousal support has been deemed as totally irresponsible in ensuring the monthly payment to his/her former partner, then the court may order this single lump sum alimony payment instead.

Failure to pay spousal support can merit the contempt of court. The punishment accompanying this failure can include fines, imprisonment, wage garnishment, liens on property and seizure of earnings, such as earnings from tax refund.

As explained in the website of the law firm Marshall & Taylor PLLC, “When it comes to alimony, there are a number of different legal issues that often need to be addressed. For these and other concerns relating to alimony arrangements, it is often best to have an experienced legal representative on your side, ensuring your interests and needs are represented and heard.

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A Case of Spousal Rape

Jan 02

Spousal rape or marital rape is any form of unwanted or non-consensual sexual intercourse or penetration forced by an individual upon his/her spouse or ex-spouse (penetration, which is completed through the use of force, threat of force or if the spouse lacks the ability to refuse, may be vaginal, anal, or oral). Spousal rape cases involve individuals who are legally married to each other, are cohabiting with one another, divorced or separated. Regardless of the type of relationship, spousal rape, which is a serious and current form of violence against women, is a serious crime

Until 1979, Americans held the belief that no man could ever be held guilty of raping his wife. This belief is rooted on the English common law, a source of various traditional laws in the U.S., which says that once a woman enters into marital union, it will imply a permanent consent that could never be retracted.

A spousal rape conviction after 1979, however, totally changed America’s view regarding rape being committed against a spouse. The conviction was based on a case wherein a wife accused her husband of invasion and sexual abuse while they were in the middle of a divorce. The importance of this conviction rested on the fact that the merits of the decision was not exclusively confined in case, but rather served as a precedence to so many other spousal rape cases and convictions from the 1980s to the 1990s. Due to these early convictions, state criminal codes’ definition of rape today no longer excludes spouses as victims. Besides this, refusing intimate time with one’s husband is also no longer a valid ground for divorce and spousal rape is now declared illegal in every state in the U.S.

Married individuals, who engage in unlawful sexual penetration, can be charged with spousal rape because it is alleged that the defendant was armed with a weapon, caused serious bodily harm, or the couple had been separated and at least one partner has filed for either divorce or separate maintenance. A charge of spousal rape can be elevated to aggravated sexual assault if the defendant was particularly vile, cruel, or otherwise inhumane.

Spousal rape is usually prosecuted as a Class C felony, while aggravated spousal rape is considered a Class B felony. Most states penalize marital rape with fines that can cost up to more than $50,000 and a prison term that can last for several years, or for life, without parole.

According to the law firm Horst Law, simply being accused of a crime can change a person’s life. The penalties of a conviction can haunt him/her for years even after he/she has served his/her sentence and may affect what kinds of jobs he/she will be able to obtain and even where he/she will be allowed to live. However, it’s important to remember that an accusation is just that: an accusation. A person charged still has a real chance to defend his/her rights and protect his/her future from the challenges that would come with a conviction, such as jail time, fines, or having to register as a sex offender.

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What Does it Mean to Have Your Criminal Record Expunged?

Oct 18

Rehabilitating one’s reputation after being charged of a crime can prove to be a challenging experience. Even after you’ve served all your legal penalties and obligations, it’s unlikely that your community will feel comfortable with your criminal record. Separating yourself from these preconceived notions can be difficult, considering how much it can affect your ability to start over and seek out better opportunities for yourself. Fortunately, in such situations, Texan law provides an option to have your records cleared.

The legal process of getting one’s criminal record cleared of certain events is referred to as expunction or expungement. To put it simply, filing for expunction basically means petitioning to have a criminal charge or, barring certain circumstances, conviction cleared from your records. The process of expunction is delineated in the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. It requires filing your petition to a district court where the arresting offense is said to have taken place. With the court’s approval, record of your criminal charge or conviction will no longer be available to the general public, saving you from any prejudice you might face from future employers and the like.

Not everyone will be eligible to have an item from their criminal records cleared or expunged. Generally, expunction is an option saved for individuals that were arrested, charged, but never convicted of a crime. Individuals convicted of a Class C, fine-only misdemeanor also qualify for expunction. Other individuals that may qualify for expunction depending on the specific details of their case include those wrongfully convicted of a crime, those acquitted of a crime, those that received pardoned convictions, and certain juvenile offenders.

Dallas record clearing attorneys of the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter emphasize the immeasurable benefits of having a clean criminal record, so you should take every necessary step to ensure that you aren’t forever living in the shadow of your past. To ensure that your expunction petition is a success, it would be best to contact criminal law experts for their legal counsel.

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