When it comes to the law, a person may turn to any sort of community legal services in the area to advance their interests, from getting hard money loans done right to hiring a criminal defense attorney to a debt settlement lawyer, among others. Even getting an auto loan may mean turning to community legal services or other experts to make the process smoother and more practical. A hard money loan, or home loans will similarly go better if community legal services are involved somehow. So, what is there to know about approaching these community legal services and hiring a professional to make a loan or criminal defense case go your way? While no particular outcome can be guaranteed here, this outline of community legal services may help you figure out your next step and plan your way to a favorable outcome.
Criminal Defense and Eviction
Let us first consider a common need for community legal services: criminal defense. In the United States, a person accused of (or charged with) one or more criminal acts is allowed to find community legal services and hire a lawyer, from a drunk driving defense lawyer to a federal criminal defense lawyer. While no outcome can be guaranteed here, as mentioned above, hiring such community legal services can go a long way toward trying to get the desired outcome in a court of criminal law. A defense lawyer will know how to use the law, and argue in court, to protect their client’s interests and attempt to dismantle the case that the prosecution has made. Such community legal services can also attempt to have certain criminal charges dropped, or at least changed to lesser ones that carry lighter sentences.
To find these community legal services, you may start by looking online, if you do not already have a trustworthy and reliable source or experience for finding them. In many cases, community legal services are quite specialized, and some law firms are dedicated to particular court types. Some law firms, for example, may specialize in drunk driving criminal defense, or drug-related charges. Try looking up law firms for the type of crime that you are charged with, and get a consultation with some of the lawyers working there (doing this may or may not incur a fee). You may then hire an attorney whose experience, skills and personality are to your liking, and hire them for the case. There are certainly many to choose from; over the past decade, the population of active lawyers has increased 15.2%, based on data from the ABA’s National Lawyer Population Survey.
During a court case, there are some typical defenses that your lawyer may try to use, though some of them may carry certain risks when attempted. One of them is the “insanity defense,” which is often seen in movies and on TV. Be advised that this tactic is quite risky in real life since the use of it means admitting that the accused party indeed committed that crime. A surefire method must be used to prove that the accused suffered from a mental illness or defect during the time frame when they committed that crime. If this is indeed the case, mental illness means that the accused party was not aware of his or her actions, or their consequences, while carrying them out. If this defense tactic fails, it may be as good as “I’m guilty” where the court and jury are concerned.
Another form of defense to try, if appropriate, is the duress defense. What does this mean? In some cases, a person committed a crime, such as a robbery or assault or dealing drugs, because another party threatened them (or a family member) with unlawful force. Put another way, ‘so-and-so would murder my family if I did not do X for them.” It should be noted, though, that this defense does not work if the accused performed any actions that put them in a position to have duress used against them, such as approaching a criminally-inclined person and doing business with them. The third form of defense is to claim that the crime, for whatever reason, was not even possible for the accused party to commit, at least not based on the details provided.
What may come next? In some cases, the defendant’s charges might be changed to lesser ones or even dropped, if their lawyer can manage to sway the judge and jury correctly. For example, someone accused of drunk driving may pay some moderate fines and undergo court-mandated drug rehab, rather than be put in jail or prison. For drunk driving cases, another common compromise is to have an ignition interlock system installed in the convict’s car, which is attached to a breathalyzer. By submitting a clean breath sample, the driver can get their car started. Damaging or removing the court-mandated hardware may result in some serious penalties, however.
Meanwhile, what about eviction? In this case, the defendant believes that their landlord evicted them for unfair reasons, or by unlawful means, and is attempting to reverse that decision. An attorney can be hired to defend the evicted tenant’s case, and use the law to represent them. For example, a landlord may not use brute force to evict a tenant, such as locking them out of the building or shutting off all the utilities to pressure them into moving out. The defendant may also present this case if they believe that their landlord evicted them due to discrimination, such as on basis of real or perceived ethnic identity, racial background, faith, or physical or mental disability. What is more, the landlord might lose the court case if they cannot provide paper evidence of the lease’s conditions and financial transactions. It requires more than eyewitnesses to prove that a tenant has been grossly negligent about paying their due rent.
It may not come as a surprise to hear that divorce lawyers are often hired during a messy divorce, but note that not all divorces actually do require these particular community legal services. Some divorce cases are uncontested; that is, the divorcing spouses are in relative agreement about how to handle the divorce’s terms, and they negotiate the divorce terms personally. This may be the case if there are few assets to divide, or if neither party has been abusive or suffered emotional trauma. A divorce mediator can be hired instead.
But some divorces indeed require legal aid, and a spouse may look up local divorce law firms when they want to file for divorce. The client can find an attorney whose skills and experience are to their liking, hire them, and file for divorce. Once this happens, it may be likely that the other spouse will hire a divorce lawyer of their own, and the two spouses may battle over the divorce’s terms through their respective lawyers. In some cases, an abused spouse (and their children) may relocate to another, private residence during this time. The divorce lawyers will use the law to fight over assets such as bank accounts, a house or vacation home, vehicles, or even a privately owned business, family heirlooms, or valuable jewelry. When it comes to the custody of children under 18 years old, the spouses may turn to child custody lawyers to battle over that. And while nothing is being guaranteed here, custody may most likely end up with a parent who has a stable income (for child support) and has not demonstrated any abusive behavior or drug/alcohol abuse. If the child is aged 12 or over, he or she may also speak to the judge privately about their preferences on where they will end up living.
Working Americans are expected to pay income taxes, property taxes, or even self-employment taxes (SE taxes) to the IRS and state governments. In many cases, this is a straightforward affair and no community legal services are needed. But in other cases, a taxpayer may believe (or know for sure) that the IRS, their credit card company, or some other legal entity has used unfair methods to collect outstanding debts. A good example of this is bank levying. What is that? This describes when an entity, such as the IRS or credit card firm, directly forces the debtor’s bank to withdraw the desired funds from their bank account and transfer them to that creditor. Someone who has this tactic used against them may not even be notified, and only find out when they look directly at their checking or savings accounts. Wage garnishing, a similar concept, describes when some money is withheld from the debtor’s paychecks to pay off a debt.
The problem is that many working Americans may feel indignant that the owed money was taken without their input, and in many cases, they will not even have money leftover for bare necessities such as rent, mortgages, groceries, or medicine. Should this be the case after a bank levy takes place, the victim can turn to tax lawyers to represent them in court or litigation, and try to have that levy reversed. Acting quickly is best; after more than a few days have elapsed since the levy, it might be too late for action. The victim and their lawyer may use paperwork and bank accounts to prove various information, such as the amount of money taken due to the bank levy, how much is owed overall, how much the debtor makes during work, and how much money they need for their essentials vs how much they have left after the levy.
Lawyers and Loans
Meanwhile, what about taking out loans to pay for cars or houses? Taking out an auto loan or a mortgage is serious business, and the borrower might not be confident that they can determine how much they should borrow or for what, or when. So, they can refer to community legal services, such as a real estate lawyer, or a financial advisor, who can help them out. The client can provide all sorts of information, such as the item that they want to borrow money to finance, as well as their current credit score, financial history, current income, and anything else of that nature. Buying a house is a major undertaking, and the buyer might want a lawyer’s aid to make sure that all paperwork and finances go through correctly the first time.
Not only that, but the home buyer can also make use of community legal services if the previous owner acts in a dishonest manner. For example, maybe the previous owner attempts to claim the property as their own for tax exemption purposes.
Homeowners can also take out what is called a hard money loan, a sort of loan that is not to be made lightly or for the wrong reasons. How do they work? A hard money loan is made when the borrower offers a piece of property as the collateral, and the loan’s total is based on a percentage of that property’s value. The money being borrowed will not come from a bank, but rather, from an individual or from a small company. Such loans have fairly high-interest rates and are expected to be paid back relatively quickly. The appeal is that the loan process is much faster than with a traditional bank, and this is helpful if the borrower urgently needs the money sooner than later for some reason. The lender may also be quite willing to cooperate and provide that loan since it is expected to be paid back quickly (not to mention how it is a secured loan due to that collateral).
Often, a person makes this sort of loan when they buy a house and then use the loan to pay for remodeling and other investment work in that property. Then, the property can be sold for a much higher price, and the borrower can easily pay back the hard money loan. And if the borrower fails to pay back the loan and defaults on it, the borrower can simply acquire the property and sell it (or make money off of it one way or another).
On a final note, legal aid may be enlisted by a client who is going to take out, or already took out an auto loan. Such loans are quite common, and a car buyer may have a number of financing options laid out before them. To find the best one, that client may turn to a financial advisor. In other cases, where a loan has been taken out already, the client finds themselves struggling to pay it off, and may face a bank levy or other legal action as described above. A financial lawyer can be hired to help protect their client from bank levy actions that would cripple their financial life, and find a more palatable solution for all parties involved.