People often tell me that someone else is pressing charges against them, or that they want to press charges against someone else. In Minnesota at least, individuals do not decide whether to press, or file charges against someone else, those decisions are made by the prosecutor, either the County or City Attorney depending on where someone lives and what they are charged with. Crimes are reported, either by the police if they think someone is violating the law, or by an individual who reports a crime that they saw. A person who is the victim of a crime has input into the legal process but only the prosecutor decides whether to file charges, and how to handle the case once the charges are filed.
One of the toughest, and most important jobs of a lawyer is to tell clients the bad news, that what they want will not be easy to get, and may be impossible. Having this information allows clients to adjust their strategy to get what is realistic, instead of wasting time and money chasing the impossible, instead of getting some of what they want, getting nothing.
Family law, criminal law, civil law, general law
When most of us think of arrest warrants most wanted posters and hardened criminals come to mind. The reality, most warrants are issued for minor offenses where people miss court, usually due to disorganization, or court notices being mailed to addresses where they no longer live. Huge amounts of law enforcement and court resources are devoted to arresting and jailing essentially harmless people because they did not make it to their hearing on a no insurance ticket, or failed to mail in their speeding ticket payment on time.
Your creditors would like you to believe that only losers file for bankruptcy, people who are irresponsible and do not pay their bills. While bad financial choices certainly figure into some bankruptcies, most people in this economy have very little margin for error, or misfortune. Most of us are one major illness, job loss, or injury away from bankruptcy. Most of my bankruptcy clients filed for one of these reasons. Bankruptcy is just about the only area of the law where regular people can get a small advantage over the financial services industry, that is why they want you to think that only bad people file.
The court system has many strengths, fast action is not one of them. Court rules require notice, usually weeks in advance to everyone involved in a case. Clients often ask me if I can just 'call the judge' to get them what they want. That is almost never allowed.
We have all seen the lurid headlines and pictures, mug shots of people in jail jumpsuits, accusations of heinous crimes. It is easy to assume that anyone accused of such bad things must be guilty. But, it is easy to accuse, all a criminal charge means is that a prosecutor believes someone is guilty of a crime. No judge has made any decision, and no impartial party has looked at the evidence. Prosecutors, being human, can be wrong, and can be subject to political pressure to make accusations against someone. There are many examples of big headlines when someone is charged with a crime, and little or no attention when the charges are dismissed or they are found not guilty. We owe it to our fellow citizens to not judge unless we have seen all the evidence and understand all the sides of a case. The next person in the jumpsuit could be you.
For those young folks out there, this quote comes courtesy of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. It could have been written for divorce law. Anyone who has been through a divorce does not need me to tell them that it is tough, taxing on your emotions, time, and money. As two households cost more to maintain then one, almost everyone who gets divorced has to make do with less, less income to meet expenses, fewer possessions as they are being divided up with their spouse, less time with the kids. Divorce is about fairly sharing the sacrifice, not about keeping everything that you had during the marriage. When both spouses understand that they cannot get everything that they want, what they had before the process is usually faster and easier. When people go into the process expecting everything they do not get it, and waste alot of time and money trying.
Old timers may recognize this as well known lyrics from a Rolling Stones Song. In the song, time was on Mick Jagger's side (Stones lead singer for you young folks) but in family court if you are trying to get custody it often is not. If you are going through a divorce, want custody of your kids, and they are living with the other parent, you need to move fast. Every day that they are not with you lessens your change of being awarded custody as judges often make orders based on what the parents are already doing. If you think they are better off living with the other parent, that is not a problem. But, if you believe they will be better off on a long term basis with you, the faster you move to file your case and get a Motion for Temporary Relief filed the better your chances will be. Don't know what a Motion for Temporary Relief is, stay tuned for my next blog post.