What’s happening in law and at MPL Law Firm.

In an effort to maintain ongoing communication with our clients and colleagues, here’s a look at our latest thinking on a variety of legal issues as well as what’s happening in the practice areas we serve.

Avoid A DUI This Holiday with Friendsgiving

Posted by on Nov 11, 2015 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

Avoid A DUI This Holiday with Friendsgiving

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us in York County have already started planning gatherings with family and friends that will fill our calendars with hustle and bustle well into the New Year. Whether it is an all-out family feast, or just a night of catching up with friends over a few drinks, these types of gatherings send us traveling from one end of the county to the other, and often directly into downtown York. One particularly popular night for younger people to gather downtown is Thanksgiving Eve. On the last Wednesday night each November, the twenty-somethings of York County make a mass exodus to the bars of downtown York – some bars are more notorious for this than others – and meet up with friends old and new. Why this night in particular? It’s simple: most college students are home for the holiday, and nearly everyone is free of work or school responsibilities the next day. The Risk of DUI on Thanksgiving Eve While visiting a local bar on Thanksgiving Eve offers its moments of fun and rekindled friendship, there are often severe negative consequences. Because these events take place in an environment where the excitement of old friends is paired with an endless supply of alcohol, there is an overwhelming tendency for gatherings of this type to become excessive. And while we support the rights of individuals to decide their own safe limits with regard to alcohol, when events like this occur in public places, it can be a recipe for disaster. Simply put, on one of the most popular drinking nights of the year, police will be out in full force, and the possibility for an alcohol- or drug-related DUI will be very high. Aside from the police doing their duty to keep civilians safe from drunk drivers, waking up on Thanksgiving morning with a criminal charge is nothing to be thankful for. Related: Learn About PA Drug Possession Laws > Friendsgiving: A New Solution to An Old Problem One emerging trend that could help lower Thanksgiving weekend DUIs in York County is Friendsgiving. Because many young people are opting to live farther away from family than in the past, Friendsgiving – a thanksgiving-like dinner gathering with friends – has taken hold as a way for people to form holiday bonds and memories with people close to them. But Friendsgiving does not have to be a direct replacement for its traditional counterpart. For those that live close to family or are visiting home for the holiday, Friendsgiving can be a creative way to replace the old bar night while keeping you and your friends safe from drunk drivers and DUI this holiday. With just over two weeks until Thanksgiving, however, the time to get started is now. Here are a few tips for starting your first Friendsgiving off right: 1.) Choose A Home That Can Properly Accommodate The Event. Because part of the goal of Friendsgiving is to avoid encounters with the police, it is important to consider the space you’ll use for the event – and especially the neighbors surrounding you. Inviting thirty people to a second-floor apartment for food and drinks could start out fine, but many of your neighbors will be waking early to start cooking their holiday meals, so things could turn ugly quick. Talk with your friends first, and maybe even your neighbors, and choose a venue appropriate to the gathering. 2.) Invite Your Favorite People. Invitations for this event can be as complicated as you want them to be – something as simple as a Facebook event will do,...

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Mistakes to Avoid When Facing Criminal Charges

Posted by on Nov 10, 2015 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

Mistakes to Avoid When Facing Criminal Charges

Being arrested and accused of a crime can be a deeply intimidating experience. You may be worried about your family, your job and your reputation. Unfortunately, the situation can get even worse if you make certain mistakes after being arrested. Some mistakes can mean you end up being found guilty or facing harsher penalties. 3 Common Mistakes After Being Arrested The most common mistakes people make after being arrested or charged include: 1) Talking. You have the right to remain silent, and you should absolutely exercise your right. Many people get nervous when they’re arrested and worry that remaining silent is an admission of guilt. That is not true, however. When you answer police questions without any legal counsel, you are literally giving the police evidence they can use against you. Even if you make very innocent statements, they can be turned against you. 2) Assuming your innocence will set you free. You may not have committed a crime, but that doesn’t automatically mean you won’t be found guilty. It is the job of the police to find evidence against you or to get you to confess. Even if you think the charges against you have no basis in fact at all, take the matter seriously. 3) Resisting. Whether you talk back to a police officer, try to flee from authorities or fail to show up in court, any sort of resistance can work against you. Try to stay calm and work on clearing your name or addressing the charges with the help of a qualified attorney. Mistakes After Getting a DUI Being charged with a DUI is different than being charged with other types of crime. This type of arrest can affect your ability to drive and even hold down certain jobs. Common mistakes after a DUI arrest include: 1) Continuing to drive. If your license has been revoked, do not get behind the wheel of a car. It may be inconvenient if you have to run errands or get to work, but if you are caught driving without a license, the penalties against you will be very severe. 2) Take steps to address any underlying issues. If you’ve been arrested on more than one DUI or have a hard time controlling your drinking, consider treatment. It can show you’re serious about stopping your behaviors and can help you avoid further arrests. 3) Talking about the case with anyone. Making comments about drinking or discussing your case on social media or with your friends can be a problem. People in your life may act as witnesses at the trial, so anything you share with them may end up hurting your case. One of the big mistakes to avoid after a DUI or any arrest is not seeking the correct support. If you need a defense attorney because you have been arrested, contact MPL Law. With more than 25 years of trial experience, our attorneys understand what it takes to defend a client. We take the time to listen to each client and to get to know the circumstances that have led them to our offices. We understand an arrest is often a highly-charged time, and we do all we can to fully support you during this difficult...

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How to Choose the Best Estate Plan for You and Your Family

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in Personal Law | 0 comments

How to Choose the Best Estate Plan for You and Your Family

Not having an estate plan is like not having an emergency plan. When the worst happens, you want to make sure you and your family are protected. Many people think estate planning is just about having a will, but in reality, it can involve other decisions and legal protections, too. Tips for Estate Planning Everyone needs an estate plan. Even if your estate is very small and your situation is straightforward, you’ll need a will, a power of attorney to protect you if you can’t make decisions for yourself and a document to indicate your wishes for end of life decisions. If you have any property at all, estate planning ensures your property goes where you want it to. It also ensures your wishes are respected if you are seriously injured. Estate Planning Tips for Non-Traditional Families If you are living with your partner but are not married, your partner does not have the same rights as a spouse. You will need a will to ensure your partner gets your assets and property. Without it, your immediate family, such as parents or siblings, are more likely to receive your property. You may also want to sign a power of attorney to ensure your partner can make decisions for you if you are seriously injured or cannot make decisions for yourself. Similarly, if you have step-children, your will and estate plan will need to reflect that fact. You may need to appoint a guardian if the children are minors. Otherwise, a court may decide who will take care of your step-children. In addition, without a will, your step-children may not be granted any of your property, either. Proper estate planning ensures everyone in a blended family is provided for. If you have a child with special needs, you may need a special needs trust to bequeath your estate and to ensure your child gets the best care even if you’re gone. Without a special needs trust, your children may have some of their government benefits taken away, and you may not have a say in who provides for them. Estate Planning Strategies for Business Owners If you own a business, you need to decide who will take care of it. If you are the owner of the business, you may need a succession plan so someone takes over your company after you’re gone. Even if you have a business partner, you may want a succession plan or buyout plan in place. Estate Planning Checklist If you are considering your estate plan, keep these steps in mind: Draw up a will Create a Power of Attorney in case of incapacity Create a living will for end of life decisions Name beneficiaries on your insurance plans Name beneficiaries on your IRA, 401K or other retirement documents Buy life insurance or preplan and prepay your funeral Discuss your plans and preferences with your family Consider trusts or succession/buyout plans, depending on your situation If you have questions or are ready to create an estate plan that works for you, contact MPL Law. With more than 30 years of experience in estate planning in York, PA and the surrounding region, our attorneys can help you design a personalized plan to respect your wishes and protect your...

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Things to Consider While Writing Your Will

Posted by on Nov 4, 2015 in Personal Law | 0 comments

Things to Consider While Writing Your Will

Writing a will can be a difficult and emotional experience. Few of us want to consider a time when we will no longer be with our families. However, a will is an important legal instrument to help ensure when your family is grieving, your wishes will be respected. A will can protect your family from disputes, offer you peace of mind and ensure your loved ones don’t have to see your estate divided by Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws.   What to Think About Before You Write Your Will Before you do sit down to create a will, there are several things you will want to consider first: How much property and how many assets do you have? Take a close look. Keep in mind that if you own joint property, the property will generally pass to the other owner. Carefully evaluate all your property and assets so you don’t neglect to mention a component. How do you want to distribute your property? You can leave your property to organizations or to people. Do you have minor children or loved ones who cannot care for themselves? If so, you may wish to leave a personal guardian and a person you trust to manage the assets you leave to your children. Are you leaving specific gifts? It can be a challenge to leave specific gifts, such as “$100,000 to my daughter” because your estate may change over time. If you need extensive medical care at some point in your life, for example, your estate may shrink. Once your specific bequests are made, some people in your will may be left without any property. What taxes will your beneficiaries have to pay? If you leave a specific item in your will — such as a piece of art — you must have it appraised, and your beneficiary will have to pay taxes once they inherit the item. Depending on the value of items you wish to give, you may choose to give some property to beneficiaries now to avoid appraisal expenses and other costs. Who can act as your executor? An executor ensures your wishes are carried out and the provisions of your will are followed. One of the things to consider when thinking about how to prepare your will is whom you can trust for this position. How to Write a Will in PA Once you have considered whom you will leave your property to and how much property you have to leave, you may be wondering how to create your will. Laws for wills in PA do not require you to notarize your will. However, to save your beneficiaries time, you may still want to visit a notary to make your will “self-proving.” Essentially, this means your beneficiaries won’t have to wait for the court to contact the witnesses on your will. While there are many websites about how to draw up a will, one of the simplest ways to plan your estate is to speak to an experienced probate attorney. An attorney can prepare all the paperwork for you and can have your will made to your exact requirements. If there are any unusual requirements, an attorney can reduce the chances of any issues or problems later on. If you’d like to write your will so it is legal and really assists your family during what will be a time of grief, contact MPL Law. Our attorneys take the time to listen, and we work hard to ensure your will reflects your true wishes....

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What to Do if You’re Arrested or Stopped by the Police

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

What to Do if You’re Arrested or Stopped by the Police

Being arrested or stopped by the police can be a frightening experience. You may wonder whether the incident will lead to embarrassment, a mark on your record or other serious legal problems. If you’re arrested, what exactly are your rights? What are your rights if you’re stopped by the police? What should you do if police approach you or tell you that they’re taking you into custody? You may have a lot of questions, but knowing what to do in these situations is vital. Having the right knowledge can help you make the best choices so you can protect your rights. What to Do When You’re Stopped by the Police If stopped by the police, your main goal is to avoid anything that will lead to an arrest. The good news is that you have rights if you’re stopped by the police, and taking a few precautions can help protect those rights. Start with these steps: Know your rights. If you’re stopped by the police while you’re in a car, you must provide your driver’s license and registration if asked. If you’re properly detained, you may be asked your name. The police may also ask additional questions or may ask you to search your person or property. You do have the right to refuse. In fact, consenting to a search can affect your rights later. Stay calm. Acting agitated or anxious is a bad idea. Stay calm and pleasant, and keep your hands visible at all times. Politely clarify the situation. Ask whether you’re free to leave or whether you’re being arrested. Be careful about what you say. When stopped by the police, you should weigh your words carefully. They may decide whether you are arrested or detained. Don’t get into any disagreement with the police or use words that can be mistaken as hostile. Say as little as possible, and watch your body language, facial expressions and movement. Learn About Our Criminal Law Practice > What Are Your Rights When You’re Arrested? If you’re arrested, what are your rights? What should you do to protect those arrest rights and get the best possible outcome? In this situation, it’s normal to be upset but remember that you need to focus and act strategically. Here’s what to do if you’re arrested: Don’t talk. You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise that right for your own protection. If you’re arrested and the police ask you questions, simply say “I’d like to remain silent.” Even if police officers tell you that they have evidence or witnesses, don’t take the bait. Don’t run or resist. In both cases, you may hurt your case or face additional charges, even if no one is hurt. Even if you don’t know what to do when you’re arrested or you start to panic, avoid flailing, running or doing anything that might be seen as resisting. Do not allow the police to search your person, car or property. You have the right to refuse unlawful searches. If the police ask to search your car or property in any way, it means they are seeking your consent. Never agree to this. State clearly to the police and to any witnesses that you do not consent to a search. Get the contact information of any witnesses to your arrest. As soon as possible, have the witnesses write down what they remember from the arrest. Your rights may protect you, but if the police violate these rights, it’s helpful to have witnesses to prove the police did something wrong. Watch your social media presence. Immediately change your...

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Understanding a DUI Charge: Is It a Felony?

Posted by on Apr 28, 2015 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

Understanding a DUI Charge: Is It a Felony?

If you’ve ever been charged with a DUI, you know the panic and confusion that grips many people while in the presence of the arresting officer. In the immediate aftermath of an arrest, however, what’s most important is understanding the legal consequences. Penalties for a DUI in Pennsylvania can range from fines and community service to potential jail time and the loss of your license. The main factors that determine the extent of the punishment are: The driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest A prior history of DUI arrests Whether or not an accident, injury or fatality was involved In addition to the legal consequences, a DUI conviction can also lead to higher insurance rates for as long as the charge remains on your record. When making decisions following a DUI charge, it’s important to be informed of the law and take these factors into consideration. Misdemeanor DUI Charges Although Pennsylvania has some of the strictest alcohol-related laws in the country, most DUI charges are classified as a misdemeanor. State law categorizes misdemeanor DUI charges into three severity levels based on BAC: Lowest penalty, for BAC levels between 0.08 and 0.099 Higher penalty, for BAC levels between 0.10 and 0.159 Highest penalty, for BAC levels of 0.160 and above First offenders generally face a fine of up to $300. Penalties increase considerably for repeat offenses, and for a second infraction, fines can range anywhere from $300 to $2,500 depending on the severity level. There is also the potential for a 12-month license suspension and up to 6 months in jail. Third and subsequent offenders may face up to two years in jail and $5,000 in fines, and they can have their licenses suspended for up to a year. When Is a DUI a Felony? Felony DUI charges are typically only pursued when an injury or fatality occurs. Through the use of sentencing enhancements, the prosecutor in a DUI case may petition to bump charges up to one of the following: Felony DUI with injury — When someone other than the driver is hurt in an accident, the state will often choose to pursue felony DUI with injury charges. A conviction of a felony DUI can entail fines up to $5,000, six months in jail and a one-year license revocation, regardless of BAC or prior offenses. Aggravated assault while under the influence — Felony DUI with injury usually involves minor injuries. In cases where long-term impairment or permanent disfigurement occurred, aggravated assault charges may be pursued. Penalties for these offenses include up to $25,000 in fines and 10 years in jail. Homicide while under the influence — As the most severe type of DUI charge, homicide while under the influence is a second degree felony punishable by fines of $25,000 and between three and ten years in jail for each victim. Representation Without Judgment From MPL Law Due to the wide range of potential consequences, anyone facing a DUI charge — regardless of whether or not there was an injury involved — should speak with a lawyer for a clear picture of their legal options. For an honest assessment of your case, contact the York, PA office of MPL Law...

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