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.

How to Talk to Kids About Underage Drinking

Posted by on Jul 18, 2019 in Criminal Law | 0 comments

How to Talk to Kids About Underage Drinking

The statistics regarding underage drinking are alarming. The average age for a first drink is 14, and one out of three kids will try alcohol before they’re eight years old. Although the legal drinking age in every state is 21, people from 12 to 20 are responsible for 11 percent of alcohol consumption in the U.S. What’s more, kids who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop an alcohol dependency issue at some point in their lives. As a parent, you can play a crucial role in preventing your kids from engaging in underage drinking. You can start by being a good role model by demonstrating responsible alcohol consumption behavior around your children. Finding ways to talk to your kids about the dangers is also one of the more effective solutions to underage drinking, and it’s probably easier to do than you think. Here are four tips to help. 1. Be Casual Avoid starting the conversation with a phrase like “we need to talk about something important.” You’ll immediately raise your child’s defenses and make the situation uncomfortable for both of you. Instead, pick a time when you’re relaxing at home and casually broach the subject. Don’t interrogate your child — ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no answer. For instance, if you’re watching a TV show where one of the characters is drinking, you can ask your son or daughter what they think about the behavior. 2. Find Out What They Know Kids often know more than their parents think they do about a lot of things, including drinking. Ask a simple question like “what do you know about alcohol?” and allow your child to elaborate. You’ll likely gain a better understanding of their knowledge level regarding alcohol and its effects. You might even be able to tell if they’ve already started drinking, especially if it sounds like they’re speaking from personal experience. 3. Take Age Into Account You’ll need to talk to a teenager differently than an eight-year-old child about alcohol consumption. With a teen, drinking can have consequences such as losing a driver’s license or being kicked off a sports team, so you’ll want to mention these and other potential ramifications during your discussions. You might be able to “scare” younger kids by warning them about the physical dangers of drinking or how they could get into major trouble with their parents if they get caught. 4. Talk About Possible Scenarios Taking a proactive approach such as discussing scenarios they’re likely to face — and how to get out of them — can help your kids avoid underage drinking. For example, if your child has a cell phone, give them a code word they can text to you if they find themselves in a situation where alcohol is present. You can then call them, so they can use the excuse that you need them to do something at home right away. Kids also may find themselves in situations where friends are trying to find ways to get alcohol, such as stealing it from an adult’s liquor cabinet, getting someone older to purchase it for them or even trying to buy it themselves. Talk to your child about suggesting alternative activities when these circumstances arise, such as going to the movies or the mall, that can get their friends’ minds off their quest to obtain alcohol. Getting Help for Teenage Drinking Legal Issues Even if you make an effort to talk to your children about underage drinking, peer pressure and other factors can make it hard for them...

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Can You Get A DUI for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?

Posted by on Jul 18, 2019 in Criminal Law, DUI | 0 comments

Can You Get A DUI for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana?

Many of us associate driving under the influence (DUI) with being arrested for getting behind the wheel after consuming too much alcohol. But it’s also possible to get a DUI when using other substances that impair the ability to drive safely, including marijuana. Marijuana contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a substance that can impair judgment and motor coordination, slow down reaction times and affect the ability to concentrate. Some reseach studies indicate that driving while high can double the risk of causing an accident. Drivers who are impaired by marijuana may exhibit conduct such as swerving, weaving between lanes, driving too slowly, running stop signs or red lights or falling asleep at the wheel. Police officers who suspect someone of driving under the influence of marijuana will have the individual take a blood or urine test to determine the level of THC in the system. How Do DUI Laws Apply to Marijuana in PA? In PA, you can get a DUI for driving high. Under the state’s DUI laws, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any Schedule 1 substance, which includes marijuana or THC metabolite. The legal threshold for THC in the blood system in Pennsylvania is one ng/mL. This standard applies whether the individual is using marijuana for recreational or medical reasons. Marijuana DUI Penalties Driving while high in PA can have severe legal consequences. The penalties also increase with each offense: First offense: An initial conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana is a misdemeanor that carries a minimum prison term of 72 consecutive hours and a maximum of six months. Offenders can also receive a fine ranging from $1000 to $5000 and lose their driving privileges for 18 months. They must attend alcohol highway safety school and a victim impact panel and complete 150 hours of community service. Second offense: A second DUI marijuana conviction is also a misdemeanor that carries a prison term ranging from 90 days to six months and a fine of not less than $1500. Additionally, offenders must attend alcohol highway safety school, complete 150 hours of community service and attend a victim impact panel. They’ll also receive an 18-month driver’s license suspension. Third and subsequent offense: All succeeding convictions for driving while high are second-degree misdemeanors that include a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail, a fine of at least $2500 and a license suspension of no less than 18 months. The court may also require the offender to attend alcohol highway safety school and a victim impact panel. Drivers may refuse to submit to a chemical test for driving under the influence of marijuana when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer. However, under Pennsylvania’s implied consent laws, the refusal can result in an automatic driver’s license suspension of up to 18 months. Marijuana DUI Defense in PA Retaining the services of a capable DUI lawyer is crucial after an arrest for driving under the influence of marijuana. A skilled attorney can mount an effective legal defense by uncovered indications of flawed testing procedures or other potential violations of your rights. A lawyer can also find the path that will lead to the best outcome in a given situation. If you’ve been arrested and charged with DUI marijuana in the York, PA, area, contact DPL Law Firm right away. We’ll take the time to listen to assess your unique needs and provide the personalized representation you deserve. Contact us to schedule a consultation...

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How Do I Get Custody of My Grandchild?

Posted by on Jun 28, 2019 in Family Law | 0 comments

How Do I Get Custody of My Grandchild?

It is an unfortunate reality many families in Pennsylvania face: due to the opioid epidemic, many parents are unable to care for their children. Partly as a result of this issue, more than 80,000 grandparents in Pennsylvania alone are raising their grandchildren, according to government estimates. If you are in a situation where your grandchild is at risk, a Pennsylvania bill aimed at offering temporary child custody to grandparents may help your family. Overview of the Temporary Guardianship Bill On March 19, 2019, the Pennsylvania Senate unanimously passed House Bill 1539. The state governor is expected to sign the bill to bring it into law. The bill offers grandparents temporary custody of their grandchildren in 90-day increments. The guardianship can last up to 12 months and will be held by grandparents and other family members in situations where a child’s parents are unable to offer care. How Does the Bill Help Families? The bill makes it easier for grandparents and family members to step in and gain guardianship of children made vulnerable by their parents’ substance abuse. In the past, it has been difficult for family members to obtain custody of children when parents were struggling with addiction. Children could easily end up in the foster system or remain living with parents unable to care for them. The bill makes it easier for grandparents and other relatives to take over care by ensuring grandparents do not need to work to seek guardianship of their grandchildren. This bill also relieves pressure on the foster system and allows children to receive help from family members. It also provides concerned family members a pathway to secure temporary guardianship. When parents overdose or are not able to care for their children due to substance abuse, other family members may not be able to sign the children up for school, get them medical care and otherwise act in a guardianship capacity that allows them to make decisions in the best interests of the child. This bill closes that gap and will enable grandparents to step in more quickly and easily when necessary, so children get the care they need. Pennsylvania has also received a $479,307 federal grant from the Department of Health and Human Services. This money will go toward helping grandparents find resources to assist their grandchildren. Future Outlook If the opioid epidemic worsens, unfortunately more adults with children may pass away due to substance abuse and overdoses. While many states, including Pennsylvania, are working to find ways to stem the epidemic by raising awareness and encouraging doctors to be judicious when prescribing opioid medication, the epidemic may worsen before it starts to improve. If the epidemic gets worse, new laws and supports may be needed to help grandparents and extended families get longer-term custody of grandchildren who are permanently deprived of their parents. As parents struggle with relapses, more drastic measures may be needed to ensure grandparents can intercede quickly when their grandchildren are at risk. The current bill allows for guardianship for up to a year. Some adults struggling with addiction battle for many years, so a pathway may be needed to help grandparents gain long-term or even permanent custody in such situations. What Can I Do Now as a Grandparent? If you have a grandchild or young family member who is at risk due to their parents’ substance abuse, contact MPL Law. Our attorneys have supported families in York, Pa., and surrounding areas for more than three decades. In a consultation, we can review your legal options and discuss whether a temporary guardianship letter for grandparents is needed. We’ll work with you to...

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How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in PA?

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in Family Law | 0 comments

How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in PA?

Adultery in any relationship is deeply hurtful, but in a Pennsylvania marriage, cheating can also be used as the “fault” of a divorce. If your partner has not been faithful and you decide to end the marriage, it is crucial to consult with a divorce attorney and to understand PA divorce laws surrounding adultery so you can protect yourself. What Is Adultery? Adultery in PA is defined as consensual sexual relations with a person who is not your spouse. Divorce laws in the state only allow one partner to claim adultery as the grounds for a fault divorce if the infidelity was not forgiven and if the non-cheating spouse did not take back the unfaithful partner. In addition, adultery cannot be named as the grounds for a fault divorce if both partners sought sexual relationships outside the marriage. Proving Adultery in PA If you want to use adultery as grounds for a fault divorce in PA, you must prove your spouse cheated. You can do this with pictures, hotel names and dates where various rendezvous took place, text messages, online activity or the testimony of a partner’s lover. How Adultery Affects Alimony in PA Alimony is a form of spousal support paid in some Pennsylvania divorces from one spouse to another after the divorce. It is awarded in the final divorce decree. This support is intended to ensure each partner has the financial resources to reasonably live their lives and meet their financial obligations. In some divorces, alimony may be for a set time period, while in others it may continue until the individual receiving the alimony no longer qualifies for such support. Divorce courts in Pennsylvania take many factors into consideration when determining alimony, including the financial resources of both partners and the potential for future earnings. One factor considered is any marital misconduct, such as adultery. Any infidelity occurring before the final separation can mean the at-fault partner may be asked to pay alimony. However, a partner’s health and financial resources may mean they get alimony, even if they were not faithful. Pennsylvania courts can also use accusations of infidelity to reduce the award of other forms of spousal support. For example, an attorney may argue that because a partner cheated, he or she should not be eligible for temporary alimony before the divorce is finalized. Courts can determine even an unfaithful partner should get some spousal support, however. If your partner has been unfaithful and you are the higher-earning partner, you may find it difficult to accept you still may need to pay alimony to your former spouse. If you are concerned and seeking to leave your partner after they cheated, consult with a divorce attorney. Does Adultery Affect Child Support? In general, divorce laws in PA are interested in protecting the best interests of any children in the marriage. For this reason, adultery does not affect visitation, custody or child support unless the infidelity may negatively affect the children. Even in such a situation, child support is unlikely to be affected by accusations of cheating. Do You Still Have Questions About Adultery and Divorce? If your partner has cheated and you are now facing divorce, contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible in the process to ensure your interests are protected. The attorneys at MPL Law understand the end of your marriage may affect your financial, personal and professional life, and they will carefully listen to you to make legal recommendations based on your current and future needs. Contact MPL Law for a...

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How to Deal With a Divorce in the Workplace

Posted by on May 3, 2019 in Family Law | 0 comments

How to Deal With a Divorce in the Workplace

Deciding how to deal with divorce is always difficult, but chances are that you will need to continue working, even as you go through the legal process. Dealing with the stress related to divorce along with work projects can quickly become overwhelming, but there are ways you can stay professional and positive on the job despite the turmoil at home: 1. Report the Divorce to the Appropriate Parties at Work You may want to let HR, your supervisor and your employer know about your divorce, especially if you have court dates coming up or if you may need to take some calls. You may also want to let your team members know, in case they notice mood changes. In addition, talk to HR about any benefits that can help you now, such as childcare, paid time off or counseling services. When speaking about your divorce at work, stick to the facts and keep things brief. Your employer does not need, or likely want, details. 2. Be Discreet While divorce is stressful, try to keep the impact on your work to a minimum. Avoid making it the primary topic of conversation and work hard to avoid any slowdown in your performance. Try to arrange your life so you miss as little work as possible as well. If you need to vent, try to do it with friends and family at home so you can keep your work life as professional as you can. 3. Have a Plan for When Things Feel Overwhelming Working through divorce can cause many emotions to unexpectedly arise. One day you may feel hopeful and upbeat about your future, and just hours later, you may feel despair and intense grief. Expect the emotional ups and downs and have a plan for dealing with them. Consider going to a private area in the workplace or going for a walk to clear your head. Use soothing music or deep breathing and meditation to get a handle on your emotions. You might also try working out your feelings before work, so you are clear-headed and prepared for your day. 4. Minimize Calls, Texts and Emails With Your Spouse When going through a divorce, you will likely have some contact with your spouse to discuss childcare or other urgent matters, but try to keep contact to a minimum. Not only will the calls, emails and texts impact you emotionally, but any disagreements you have can potentially affect your case in court. Trying to handle personal matters at work can also affect your work performance and can be a big distraction. The best course of action may be to work with a divorce attorney, who can contact your spouse and their attorney when information needs to be passed on. 5. Create a Focused and Positive Environment Take good care of your health and be kind to yourself so you can create the best environment possible. Consider speaking with a therapist if you are struggling or having trouble sleeping. A professional can teach you how to work through a divorce by showing you how to manage your emotions and navigate the uncertainty of the divorce process. Speaking with your divorce attorney is also helpful as they can often set out a firm plan or timeline for how the process with progress in a way that makes you feel comfortable and informed. At work, create the best possible environment, whether that means asking to be placed on specific projects you are good at or removing all memories of your marriage from your desk. Where possible, try to keep your work place as divorce-free...

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Social Media and Divorce: What You Need to Know

Posted by on Apr 29, 2019 in Family Law | 0 comments

Social Media and Divorce: What You Need to Know

If you’re going through a divorce, using social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other sites can seem like a way to feel better during a difficult time. The ability to vent online, keep loved ones up-to-date about proceedings and find new friends is tempting, but social media and divorce are an uneasy combination. In fact, if you use social media, your divorce can be negatively impacted by your online presence. What Not to Do Attorneys routinely turn to social media for divorce evidence, and you can be sure your spouse’s attorney is looking through any sites and accounts you have online for information. There are several key mistakes you’ll want to avoid making: Displaying your spending habits. During a divorce, both attorneys will be looking at ways to split assets, and you may even qualify for alimony. You may be accused of having hidden assets or a better income than you represent if you show lavish spending online. Even a simple new purchase, such as a car, can be misconstrued. Making aggressive comments. It can be tempting to commiserate with friends and family, but be wary of posting negative comments about your spouse. These can be used by an attorney when determining custody and visitation. Venting your feelings can cause harm to your family and be used against you. Negative comments you make can be interpreted to mean you are aggressive or have undiagnosed mental health issues which can directly impact your ability to see your children. Even joking comments can be misinterpreted, so proceed with caution. Providing any evidence of extramarital affairs. Even if you are both dating again, be wary about posting photos of anything that could be used to suggest you had an affair prior to the “official” end of your marriage. You don’t want such claims influencing the division of marital property. Deleting old posts. Some social media users assume deleting old pictures or setting all accounts to private will eliminate any negative impact on a divorce. This is not the case. Deleting old posts or pictures could be considered destruction of evidence, something that may not bode well for you in the future. If you have posts you are worried about, your best option is to speak with your divorce attorney about them to determine how to best address the potential issues going forward. Posting anything without speaking to an attorney. If you have any social media accounts and have filed for divorce, be sure to discuss your online habits and friends with your attorney. Your attorney may have specific advice for you based on your situation. The Basics of Social Media and Divorce If you have social media accounts, don’t forget about them while you are going through the process of a divorce. It is natural to want to post online to show you are doing fine or use your accounts to vent. Unfortunately, you are never the only one looking at your social media. Your divorce is already painful, and it can become more so if an attorney misrepresents innocuous pictures or if your offhand comments online cause a rift between you and family members. Even a simple picture of you celebrating at a bar with friends can be misconstrued in court, so make sure to review your accounts and online habits with your attorney. Share any posts or images online you may be worried about with your attorney and be sure to give your lawyer any aggressive or belittling comments your former partner has made about you online. Being on your best behavior online is key to protecting yourself from the perils of...

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