Understanding Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Posted by on Jul 14, 2019 in Law | 0 comments

Anyone interested in criminal justice has likely heard of the term “mandatory minimums.” I heard the term while watching the news recently and decided to do more research to learn more about mandatory minimums. Keep reading to see what I found!

What are Mandatory Minimum Sentences?

Mandatory minimums are required sentences a defendant must be given if convicted of a certain offense. In other words, if you are convicted of a certain offense that has a mandatory minimum sentence attached to it, you will serve at least that minimum of years in prison.

Judges are not responsible for deciding the mandatory minimum sentences. They are decided on by Congress. Mandatory minimums were originally put into place to speed up the sentencing process and to prevent sentence disparities in the criminal justice system due to discretion by the judge.

The Different Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Under the law, every felony offense has a mandatory minimum sentence of at least one year in prison. Class A felonies — considered the most serious of all felony offenses — are attached to a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 15 years.

In the case of drug crimes, Congress decided that the first offense for a drug crime would carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 2-5 years while the second offense would carry a mandatory minimum of 5-10 years.

Arguments Against Mandatory Minimums

There are many arguments against the current mandatory minimum sentencing system:

A Shift in Discretion from Judge to Prosecutor

Many believe that mandatory minimum sentences give prosecutors too much power over the defendant. When deciding what charges to bring against the defendant, the prosecutor can stack up charges with mandatory minimums to compel the defendant to plead guilty to avoid some of the charges.

Ineffective in Reducing Crime

Some argue that mandatory minimums are not an effective deterrent of crime. Studies have shown that criminals are dissuaded from committing criminal acts from the increased chances of conviction, not an increased sentence. With one of the goals of the criminal justice system being reducing crime, many have found mandatory minimums to not be effective in completing that goal.

Mandatory Minimums and You

If you’ve recently been accused of a felony crime, you may be concerned about how a mandatory minimum sentence may affect your case. It is important that you don’t attempt to represent yourself and rely on the expertise and knowledge of a criminal defense attorney who has represented a wide variety of clients.

A good criminal defense attorney like the ones working at Horst Law will be able to discuss with you the possible mandatory minimum you may be facing in your case and will come up with the best defense possible or you to avoid serving that sentence.

No matter how much time you are facing, it is important not to panic and to stay calm — which is easier said than done of course. Make sure to spend time researching all your options for an attorney and to select one who truly knows the criminal justice system inside and out.

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Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Posted by on May 21, 2019 in Bike accidents | 0 comments

It’s not unusual to see people trying to cut down on their carbon footprint. Aside from reducing, reusing, and recycling, there are a bunch of methods to help save the planet. Composting has grown in recent years as a way to reduce the impact that food waste has on the environment. The invention of paper straws, as well as reusable metal ones, has helped to cut down on the amount of plastic clogging up landfills around the world. There are even alternatives to driving cars and using up fossil fuels. Public transportation has become the norm for many people who wish to cut down on their gas usage. Busses, trains, and subways are all convenient ways to commute around the city without burning unnecessary fuel. Walking to work is also an option for people who live near their places of business. However, biking around town is a tried-and-true method of transportation that is lower effort than walking and is also virtually waste-free.

With biking quickly becoming a trendy means of commuting, many major cities have adapted their roads to accommodate for cyclists. From adding bike lanes to creating special signage to warn drivers of popular biking areas, many people who ride bikes feel safer than ever. However, cyclists still need to be aware of the dangers that lurk on the road. Collisions between a bicycle and a car can often be fatal. Even with proper headgear, the cyclist is often launched off of their bike and into the middle of traffic. Their bikes are almost always destroyed, and it is notoriously hard to get a negligence claim, even when the person driving the car or truck was clearly at fault. In these cases, the cyclist has to fight against shady insurance adjusters who are just out to prove that they were at fault. The Law Offices of Jeffrey R. Caffee are experts in how to handle these situations. A lawyer that is well-versed in the laws surrounding bicycle accidents will be a valuable asset for anyone who has suffered an injury at the hands of a driver.

The laws regarding bicycle are often confusing and wordy. For example, the state of Washington does not require people to wear helmets while biking, but certain cities within the state do. Even with a helmet, paralysis and injuries to internal organs are common sights to see after a crash. Unfortunately, a lot of these accidents also end up in death. In the case of wrongful death, the family of the deceased may be able to file a wrongful death case against the driver. In the case of negligence, a lawyer working for the victim or the victim’s family will be able to show that the driver was not being careful and taking the proper precautions to keep the road safe. Distracted driving accidents might result in a dented bumper or flat tire for the driver, but distracted driving can kill or seriously injure a cyclist at the drop of a hat.

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Are insurance companies really on your side?

Posted by on Nov 12, 2018 in Car accidents | 0 comments

I see commercials from insurance companies all the time while I’m watching TV. Insurance companies always claim that they’re “on your side” and here to help, but they exist for the same reason as any other private company: to make money. Of course, insurance should help when we get into a car accident or have to go to the hospital unexpectedly. However, I just found out that they go to great lengths to not pay out settlements. I found this website for The Law Offices of William J. Luse, and realized that there are attorneys out there who will help injured victims fight back against insurance companies that are unwilling to pay for fair claims.

First of all, insurance companies will look through your social media pages to see if you’ve posted anything that would give them cause to deny your claim. They’ll also try to give you the run around so that you go through another driver’s insurance company to have your claim paid. This one really angers me, sometimes insurance companies will hire private investigators to secretly videotape people and get information that undermines their claim. If all of this doesn’t work, they might try to discourage you from hiring a lawyer.

If you end up not getting a lawyer, statistics show that you will end up settling for up to three times less than you would with a lawyer. In court, insurance companies will bring in expert testimonies to undermine the extent of your damage and injuries. All of this makes me so upset. Insurance companies are great at marketing themselves as friendly, helpful companies but when they go to this much trouble in order to not pay a claim, it shows a much more menacing side of the insurance industry. I understand that some people may try to take advantage of insurance companies after an injury, but some people really do need insurance claims. When insurance companies deny people who need the money, it could cause them to be in debt for several years to come.

An aunt of mine had to go through insurance companies to have her medical bills paid for after a car accident. The insurance company tried to get her to file a claim through a third driver’s insurance, and this made the process much more complicated and stressful for her. She had several thousand dollars in medical expenses. While she was trying to rest and recover, she had to worry about if insurance would accept her claims at all. I hated to see her so stressed out while she should have been able to relax after an already traumatic experience. If an insurance company tries to give me or my family the run around again, I am going to tell them that I’ll be speaking with a lawyer immediately. I don’t want to go through the process of hiring a lawyer and potentially going to court over a settlement if I don’t have to, so hopefully just bringing up a lawyer will motivate insurance to accept the claim.

 

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Should You Treat Your Dark Gums?

Posted by on Feb 16, 2018 in Oral health | 0 comments

Dark gums are one of those universal problems that despite being common, few people ever discuss. For those who are affected by dark gums, though, it can be a constant worry. In a culture where smiling—and therefore teeth and gums—is so important, having discoloration in the gums area can make people self-conscious and seem shy and cheerless. While it is painless and doesn’t have any health implications, that doesn’t mean dark gums don’t impact people’s quality of life.

To help those who are struggling with this issue, here is some information I discovered on the site of Dr. Gary Bram, a Bayside, NY dentist.

What are dark gums?

Dark gums refer to the pigment in the gums that impedes the pink color that most prefer. The pigment is often not a unified whole over all the gums but appears instead in large splotches. The color can be anything from brown to purple to red to black. The causes vary but come from an excess of melanin or carotene in the gum tissue. Some of this can come from genetics (it usually shows up in people with darker skin tones, but it can affect people of any race), but it can also come from certain lifestyle habits or events. These include smoking, poor oral hygiene, or contracting certain illnesses or regularly taking certain medications that create an imbalance in the gum tissue. Even specific dental procedures can lead to dark gums. This can happen when metal fillings corrode.

The good news is that dark gums are not painful and are not necessarily the sign of anything wrong with your teeth or gums, although certain types of dark coloration may be the sign of black gum disease, which comes from dead gum tissue. This must be treated immediately.

What can you do about it?

Treatments vary depending on the cause of your dark gums. If it is disease, the gums can be treated with antibiotics.

For those who simply have a darker coloration without cause from disease, the options are somewhat limited. Removing the dark layer of gum tissue on top is possible. This often leads to slightly less dark gum tissue growing back and replacing it.

The most effective treatment for dark gums, however, is the Erbium Laser, which can alter the level of melanin in the gum tissue and return it to a healthy pink color. The treatment is easy and can be performed by trained dentists. It is relatively painless and requires relatively little anesthesia. It only results in a certain amount of itchiness after the treatment, but even this disappears after a few days. And, best of all, it can be used on gums no matter how darkly colored.

While having dark gums is not necessarily something that requires medical assistance, it can be something that makes people feel self-conscious and uncomfortable with themselves. If that applies to you, then find a dentist able to perform the Erbium Laser treatment on you and see new confidence in your smile.

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The Modern Worker: A New Breed or Product of Strange Times?

Posted by on Sep 16, 2017 in Employment Law | 0 comments

It is no secret that the jobs today are becoming radically more complex. There is talk to teach programming skills to students in elementary schools and more school districts have iPads for their students than those that don’t. What does this mean for the modern workforce? It means that the workforce is being trained for tasks now that used to require a master’s degree. America and her economy are changing and that change is a constant grey area. While it benefits many there are still those it leaves in the dust.

Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are already dominating the e-market, and more people are ordering their goods online than ever before. This may seem like the inevitable march of the future. However, it means that the future marches on without the brick and mortar malls and shopping centers of yesteryear. There is one city who has felt these effects more than any, and is dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as the “center of America’s retail meltdown”. Elmira, New York has seen a 20 percent reduction for the past two years in its normal city revenue from sales tax. This means that the municipal government has four-fifths of the funding it normally receives and has had to resort to laying off some police and firefighters. 

Younger workers are looking for flexible jobs that reflect their fast-paced and nonregular lifestyle. Working hourly for companies like Uber and Lyft or being an Amazon delivery driver appeals to the labor force today more than ever. However whenever you are working for these types of companies the official status of your employment can get complicated. Because of the way our labor laws are designed, many companies are opting to hire workers as a contractor rather than a full-fledged employee. This has caused an unseeable but all-too-prevalent rift between today’s workers and the companies they work for. No longer do they work for a company they believe in but a technological giant they are just familiar with.

Interestingly the New York Times compares these times to the era of American history leading up to the sweeping New Deal pushed by FDR that brought our country out of the great depression. The reason is that in order to build a strong competitive economy working people need strong labor unions so that their voice can be heard all the way to the executive office of corporate giants. In fact, according to the labor and employment attorneys at Cary Kane LLP, when labor unions have legal help when going against large companies their voice is louder, and change is more likely to happen.

Times are weird. The internet is an economy in and of itself, and it can suck up the profits from older companies that either don’t jump on the bandwagon or can’t work it. For now, all we can do is support small business, use overly convenient digital services in moderation, and try to learn new marketable skills to appeal to a morphing world.

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