Monday, February 23, 2015
Monday, February 16, 2015
Drug Courts Reduce Crime While Saving Time, Money and Resources
Q: How does a drug court work?
A: Usually administered through a traditional court, a “drug court” is a specialized docket created to manage cases involving drug-addicted offenders. The cases that qualify for management through a drug court can be drug-related (i.e., possession of drugs), or seemingly non drug-related (i.e., theft), but all involve drug-addicted offenders. An arrested person who is determined to have a drug addiction, and otherwise meets the court’s criteria, is screened for eligibility and enters the drug court program shortly after arrest. If appropriate, drug offenders begin treatment within two weeks of arrest. While in the community, they must comply with intensive probation requirements. They meet frequently with case managers, probation officers and the presiding drug court judge. They must prove sobriety through urine testing and must comply with all requirements set by the managers.
Offenders in a drug court program must appear in court on a regular basis to and take responsibility if they do not comply with the program’s expectations. If they fail to comply (for example, by missing a meeting or testing positive for drugs), the court imposes a series of graduated sanctions. The first sanction, for example, may require sitting in court for one day. The second sanction may require two days of community service, and three days of jail time may be required for the third sanction, and so on. The offender will not be removed from the program unless he or she is unwilling to try, but the offender’s willingness to try is gauged on actions, and not just words. Some offenders decline to enter the program, opting for jail or prison instead because they feel the program’s requirements are too difficult.
A: Yes. Successful participants receive court commendations for sobriety or other achievements. Rewards can range from praise to tangible items such as certificates and gift cards. Also, the amount of their fines may be reduced. A formal graduation ceremony acknowledges their successful completion of the program. If the offender entered the program on probation, that probation is concluded. Offenders who enter under intervention in lieu of conviction are eligible to have their cases dismissed.
A: Drug courts reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options. Without drug treatment, more than 70 percent of drug addicts will commit new crimes, but75 percent of drug court graduates nationwide remain arrest-free for at least two years after leaving the program.
In addition, taxpayers realize long-term savings because rehabilitated offenders can hold jobs, pay taxes, participate in the community, and care for their children rather than neglecting them or leaving them to the care of the state. Finally, a rehabilitated offender’s children are much less likely to become offenders. This effectively ends the cycle of crime for many people.
Monday, February 9, 2015
Liens and Encumbrances Affect Residential Real Estate
Monday, February 2, 2015
Subrogation May Determine Who Pays Debts
Monday, January 26, 2015
Non-Bankruptcy Alternatives for Dealing with Government Student Loan Debt
A: Yes, you may receive a one-time chance to bring your loan out of default. Monthly payments can be reset to a “reasonable rate,” but you must make nine payments on time over a ten-month period. If you meet this requirement, your student loan can be restored to a pre-default status. That means your eligibility for deferment, forbearance, alternative repayments and Title IV aid would be restored and your credit report would be updated. These federal loans may be eligible for this sort of “rehabilitation”: Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal PLUS (Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students), Federal Grad PLUS (PLUS loans for graduate and professional students), Federal Consolidation Loans, Federal SLS, Health Professions Student Loans, and Nursing Student Loans. (For more information on this alternative for restoring your federal student loan to a pre-default status, visit: ).
(For more information about these alternatives and others, visit: ).
Monday, January 19, 2015
Divorce Affects Benefits and Inheritance
A: As a matter of strict law, family plan medical coverage terminates on the date of a “qualifying event,” which, in your case, would be the date of your divorce or dissolution of marriage. Federal law requires that, within 30 days of the termination of your benefits, your wife’s employer must notify you about the termination and inform you about COBRA coverage, if that coverage applies. (COBRA coverage allows workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to continue to receive benefits provided by their group plan for a limited amount of time. If you qualify for a COBRA policy, you may be entitled to a maximum of 36 months of additional coverage. However, COBRA plans are expensive.)
A: You and your spouse can divide pension benefits as a term of your divorce or dissolution of marriage. If your spouse’s pension plans are not “qualified” and are not protected by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), then they may be divided through a trustee-to-trustee transfer. This is just an administrative division that the appropriate financial professional can handle.
A: The answer depends on whether you and your spouse signed a separation agreement before your death, and whether there is language in the separation agreement stating that the agreement will be binding if there is no final divorce decree. If you and your spouse have waived the surviving spouse rights in the separation agreement, which is almost always done, AND the agreement is binding in the absence of a final divorce decree, then whatever you and your spouse agreed to in the separation agreement can be enforced. If you and your spouse did not sign a separation agreement, then all spousal rights apply.
Monday, January 12, 2015