An Overview of Misdemeanor Crimes and Probation

Crimes are not all alike. Although all immoral, crimes range in severity from minor infractions to major ones. This is why the law breaks down crimes into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime is called a misdemeanant, whereas anyone convicted of a felony is called a felon. Felonies are the worse of the two, including major crimes like murder, forgery, tax evasion, robbery, auto theft, and repeat offenses. Misdemeanors on the other hand are less severe than felonies, but still carry a cumbersome load of consequences and legal penalties.

This is why it is vital to retain the service of an experienced criminal lawyer for the best chance at reducing or dismissing misdemeanor charges in the case that you are ever charged with a crime. Often times, and especially for first-time offenders, lawyers can get lesser felony crimes reduced to misdemeanors. One of the most common penalties for misdemeanor crimes is probation. Continue reading to learn the basics surrounding misdemeanor crimes and probation, and who to turn to if facing such charges.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanor offenses are crimes that are punishable by up to one year in jail. There are three “classes” of misdemeanor crimes. Depending on the state you live, these can include a series of letters or numbers. In states that classify misdemeanors with letters, they generally range from “A” to “C”, with Class C misdemeanors being the least serious and Class A being the most serious. In states that use numbers to classify their misdemeanors, they generally range from Class 1 to 4, with four being the least serious.

Even though misdemeanors are less serious, but still come with notable penalties. A misdemeanant can expect to pay fines, complete a certain amount of community service hours, serve probation, and possibly pay restitution. The combination or extent of penalties largely depends on the defendant’s criminal history, the particular crimes they are convicted of, and the strength of their legal defense.

Probation is generally between 3 months and one year for misdemeanants. Terms of probation can include, but is not limited to, regular drug screening, monthly meetings with a probation officer, mandatory employment, refraining from committing any more crimes, and more. Breaking the terms of probation results in a probation violation, which in turn, carries a whole other set of penalties, including extension of probation and even possible jail time. It is critical to the sake of your freedom and your rights to obtain the services of a licensed criminal lawyer if ever charged with a crime of any level.

Legal Information for Victims of Assault

Anyone who suffers a sudden or unexpected serious attack from another person or group of people should immediately take three steps: make a police report at the location, seek out immediate medical attention, and then call a personal injury law firm to file a claim against the offender. This is where assault victims begin their journey to recovering compensation for damages and losses related to an attack. Continue reading to learn some tips for anyone who has recently suffered a serious assault, or suspects an impending attack.

Personal Injury Lawyers

Personal injury lawyers represent victims, or families of victims, that have suffered physically, emotionally, and mentally following a wrongful injury or accident. They are helpful to victims and their families that have sustained serious injuries as a result of another’s negligence or poor choices. Assault, and battery, is illegal in our country. So if a person intentionally harms or injures another person out of malice, it is considered a serious crime. No one should have to ever face a physical altercation, but they do take place nonetheless. And when they do, justice is deserved. Fortunately, personal injury lawyers have the passion and resources to obtain this kind of justice, and remain focused on the victims, their families, and everyone’s best interests.

It is important to contact an accident lawyer immediately (or as soon as possible) after suffering a wrongful attack that results in serious injury. The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner they can begin investigating and putting together your case. If you wait too long, you might exceed the statute of limitations in your state for filing an injury lawsuit against an offender. Also during that time, evidence can be lost, offenders can jump state, witnesses can forget details of the crime, and so forth. This is why it is important to act fast. In Indiana, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years, but can differ depending on the crime. Call your local injury attorney’s office for more information about your state’s limitation laws.

Life After a Serious Assault

Once you have consulted and hired a personal injury lawyer to file a suit against your attacker(s), you can then get some closure to your troubling experience by becoming involved in some helpful therapeutic remedies. Look into local clinics that help treat people who have suffered traumatic situations and attacks. You can even get involved in self-defense courses which are great sources of healthy exercise for the mind and body.

Another recommendation for anyone that has experienced a serious assault is to join group therapy. Talking to other survivors about their experiences and how they cope day-to-day can be tremendously healing and helpful. You can meet and make confidants, peers, and long-lasting friendships through these intimate group sessions.

For people who prefer a more private approach to post-trauma therapy, one-on-one therapy is also an effective solution. If therapy is not something you’re comfortable with at any angle, there are still options out there for satisfying resolution and mental recovery. For example, adopting a puppy, taking up a new hobby, getting regular exercise, starting a new relationship, going on a vacation, learning a new language, joining a club, and even relocating are all potential remedies for someone who has recently been involved in a traumatic assault or serious attack.

Offenses Requiring Sex Offender Registration

Florida took the first step in 1997 to make a list of sex offenders available on the internet as well as making that information also available by telephone hotline for people who do not have the internet. It is a requirement in Florida for those convicted of a sex crime to register and report between two and four times per year, to the Sheriff’s Office. Florida’s requirements include more than just an address to register as sex offenders are required to also report any instant message names and numbers, and email addresses to the Sheriff’s Office. A sex offender’s birth month is what is used to determine which months he/she will be required to report in. If they fail to report, submit to all restrictions or provide all information requested will have penalties that classify as felonies. Sex based crimes in Florida are divided into two categories, Sexual Offender and Sexual Predator.

Sexual Predators

Florida law states that all sex offenders are not always considered to be sexual predators, and that for this to happen, the offender must appear in court before a judge who considers the evidence and makes the designation. Even someone who was convicted of sex based crimes, this does not automatically mean they are a sexual predator. There are five different ways in Florida for someone to be classified a sexual predator. These include first time convictions of: lewd and lascivious behavior in front of someone under the age of 16, kidnapping, buying or selling child pornography, false imprisonment, or sexual battery. You should be aware that this applies even if the conviction occurred in another jurisdiction or state besides Florida.

Another way you can be designated a sexual predator is if you commit one of the above mentioned offenses and especially if you were found guilty of having committed other sexual offenses in the past. Past sexual offenses that can get you a designation of sexual predator include: sexual battery, kidnapping, unlawful sexual activity with a minor, false imprisonment, having a child perform sexually, luring or enticing a child or getting someone under 18 for prostitution. Lastly, anyone can be designated a sexual predator if they are determined to be a sexually violent predator at a civil commitment hearing.

Sexual Offenders

he courts in Florida provide three ways to designate someone a sexual offender. The first way includes if you attempt to commit or commit: luring or enticing a child, kidnapping a minor, sexual battery, false imprisonment of a minor, getting someone under 18 for prostitution unlawful sexual acts with a minor, sexual misconduct, selling or buying minors for sex trafficking, or computer pornography. The second way says if you have a conviction that occurred in another state or jurisdiction, you can be considered a sex offender in Florida. If a person has been designated a sexual offender in a different jurisdiction or state, Florida laws will also designate that person as such and they will be required to register their status. The third way says that under Florida laws, if someone attempts to commit or commits lewd and lascivious molestation, sexual battery or lewd or lascivious battery on someone 14 or older, they can be designated a sexual offender in Florida.

Finding Law and Order Online- Building A Legal Information Resource

What do you do if you find yourself, suddenly, in a legal bind? Who do you turn to if you do not have the slightest idea of your rights as a citizen and you do not have your own lawyer? Believe it or not, lots of folks have been caught in this kind of a jam. But lucky for them, more often than not, the solutions are no more than a click away.

A resourceful legal website is certainly beneficial to anyone who needs quick and accurate information about a law suit or anyone who wants to learn more about legal matters. Since people are accustomed to logging on to their computers for all sorts of reasons–to read breaking headlines, check the weather forecast, download recipes, and book airline tickets etc.–it is logical to think that they would turn to a computer when searching for answers to a range of legal concerns.

What is more, a website is an obvious way to promote your company and attract new clients. There are numerous elements that could appear on your site. A full-fledged site defines your company’s mission, explains its background, introduces its employees, and lists contact information. But you can also include several different elements. Consider the following:

  • a dictionary of legal terms
  • a variety of legal forms
  • a directory of lawyers (organized by specialty or geography)
  • FAQs and an “Ask the Expert” column
  • links to articles covering timely lawful issues
  • legal case histories

No matter what your company specializes in, a website can be tailored to cover your areas of expertise. It is also possible to make it as interactive as you desire. Perhaps you want to link to lively message boards and current blogs, or offer the opportunity to have live chats with lawyers. Whatever elements you include, the ultimate purpose of a functional, practical site is to provide information in a way that is as accessible and helpful as possible.

Let’s face it, the ordinary citizen is pretty clueless when it comes to determining lawful behavior, be it at home, at the office, at work, or at play. While we all have an idea of what is legitimate and permissible, most of us don’t grasp the exceptions to the rule or understand the fine print.

Of course, it is impossible to cover every aspect of the law on one website and it is impossible to list all the fields of interest here. But a carefully constructed legal website can, indeed, be a source of comfort and a fount of information for the general public. Here are a few examples of the subjects you might choose to address on your website (either in depth or in a general manner):

  • Bankruptcy laws
  • Accident insurance
  • Copyright law
  • Entertainment law
  • Investment law
  • Criminal law and criminal procedures
  • Discrimination laws
  • Employment laws
  • Family law

It is about time the field of law earned a positive reputation. Your company can blaze the trails by putting up an attractive, effective site that not only showcases your services, but also bestows valuable knowledge on those in need.

Hawaii Law Briefing – Hawaii Security Breach Law and Identity Theft Notification

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes committed throughout the United States. Criminals who steal personal information use the information to open credit card accounts, write bad checks, buy cars, and commit other financial crimes with other people’s identities.

Hawaii has the sixth worst record of identity theft in the nation, according to a 2007 report.

I. Hawaii’s Security Breach Law

Identity theft in Hawaii has resulted in significant losses to both businesses and consumers. This epidemic motivated the Hawaii legislature in 2006 to pass several bills whose purpose is to provide increased protection to Hawaii residents from identity theft:

Act 135: Requires businesses and government agencies that keep confidential information about consumers to notify those consumers if that information has been compromised by an unauthorized disclosure;

Act 136: Requires reasonable measures to protect against unauthorized access to personal information to be taken when disposing of records;

Act 137: Restricts businesses and government agencies from disclosing/requiring social security numbers to/from the public;

Act 138: Permits consumer who has been the victim of identity theft to place a security freeze on their credit report;

Act 139: Intentional or knowing possession without authorization of confidential personal information is a class C felony.

Together, the bills signed into law by Governor Linda Lingle as HRS Chapter 487R impose obligations on businesses in Hawaii to notify residents whenever their personal information maintained by the business has been compromised by unauthorized disclosure.

HRS Chapter 487R does not cover financial institutions subject to the Federal Interagency Guidance on Response Programs for Unauthorized Access to Consumer Information and Customer Notice, or Health plans and providers subject to HIPAA.

The underlying policy behind HRS Chapter 487R is that prompt notification will help potential victims to act against identity theft by initiating steps to monitor their credit reputation. Thus, it is critical that any business subject to HRS Chapter 487R audit the manner in which confidential personal information is maintained and have a security breach team prepared to comply with the notice obligations and effectively deal with any breach of personal information.

II. Security Breach

HRS 487R imposes obligations on the part of Hawaii businesses to notify an individual whenever the individual’s personal information that is maintained by the business has been compromised by unauthorized disclosure and to do so in a timely manner.

Under the statute, “Personal Information” consists of an individual’s first name or first initial AND last name in combination with any one or more of the following data elements, when either the name OR the data elements are not encrypted: Social Security Number, driver’s license or Hawaii Identification Number; or an account number, credit or debit card number, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.

The personal information is protected if on a “record.” A “record” is any material on which written, drawn, spoken, visual, or electromagnetic information is recorded or preserved, regardless of physical form or characteristics. Thus, a “record” can be in digital form or on a paper document, which differs significantly from other states that might cover only digital information.

The notice obligations are triggered when a “security breach” occurs. A “security breach” is defined as an incident of unauthorized access to AND acquisition of unencrypted or unredacted records of data containing personal information, where illegal use of the personal information has occurred, OR is reasonably likely to occur; AND that creates a risk of harm to a person. As the definition indicates many times it is difficult to determine whether information has been “acquired” or to the extent that a “risk of harm” exists.

Several states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, and Florida have devised a risk of harm exception. Such exception generally relieves the business from the notice obligation requirement after consultation with law enforcement. Since Hawaii law has no such exception most incidents of unencrypted/unredacted theft or loss of records containing personal information should carry the presumption that illegal use is likely to occur and a risk of harm. In addition, even if a statutory obligation does not arise other legal obligations may exist with respect to the theft or loss.

III. Notification Obligations

To the extent a security breach has occurred, and personal information has been compromised, the business must satisfy the notification obligations imposed by HRS Chapter 487R. Form notices are made part of this article for educational purposes only. The notice obligations must be satisfied without “unreasonable delay.” The only exception would be if a law enforcement agency informs the business in writing that notification may impede a criminal investigation or jeopardize national security. Once it has been determined that the notice will no longer impede the investigation, the notice must be promptly provided.

Under HRS Chapter 487R, the business must notify the resident (and the Office of Consumer Protection/credit reporting agencies where notice has been provided to 1,000 persons).
The notice must be given to the last available address. The notice may be sent to the resident’s email address only if the person has “opted in” to receive notices in that manner. Direct telephonic notice may be given under the statute, but generally is not the recommended way to notify the resident given the potential legal risk with such form of communication.

Under the statute, “substitute notice” may be provided where the costs to provide if the business can demonstrate that the cost of providing notice would exceed $100,000 or that the affected class of subject persons to be notified exceeds two hundred thousand, or if the business does not have sufficient contact information or is unable to identify particular affected persons.

Substitute notice shall consist of emailing the person when the email address is known, the conspicuous posting of a notice on the website maintained by the business, and notification of the security breach to major statewide media.

IV. Penalties

Statutory penalties can be significant. However, government agencies are exempt from statutory penalties under HRS ยง 487R-3. Under the law, businesses can be fined not more than $2,500 for each violation. Such penalty can add up quickly where hundreds or even thousands of Hawaii residents are not informed that their personal information has been compromised.

In addition, a court may impose an injunction on the business and the business may be liable for actual damages and attorneys’ fees.

V. Final Word

Hawaii and other states have taken significant steps to combat the growing epidemic of identity theft. It is important that both Hawaii businesses and employers, and consumers take reasonable steps to protect their interests and reputations.

For Hawaii employers and businesses:

o Enter into agreements imposing obligations on third-party companies to handle sensitive and personal information of your employees and customers in a reasonable manner and to report security breaches immediately;

o Ensure reasonable administrative, physical, and technical safeguards are placed over the personal information handled both the third-party company and internally;

o Periodically have the IT department conduct a risk analysis over electronically-stored information and computer network systems of the company;

o Have IT draft and periodically review comprehensive security procedures to limit vulnerability of the company’s systems and a plan of action;

o Train and retrain employees on privacy policies;

o Ensure company employees collect only the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the business purpose.

For consumers:

o Ask your employer, doctor, bank, etc., what steps are taken to protect against misappropriation of private information;

o Treat your mail and trash carefully; use cross cut shredders;

o Use locked mailboxes;

o Keep private information kept in your home hidden and secure;

o Don’t give out private information over the phone;

o Use care when using your computer; create strong passwords;

o Use common sense and stay alert (for example, write to your creditor as soon as you believe you have not timely received a billing statement);

o File a police report and obtain the police report number when you learn that your personal information has been compromised and close accounts, e.g., credit card, bank accounts, etc.;

o Follow up with law enforcement in writing and maintain a file; dispute bad checks written directly with merchants;

o Place a fraud alert/freeze on your credit files (Equifax, Experian or Transunion);

o Periodically obtain your credit report and look it over carefully; note inquiries from companies you did not contact, accounts you did not open, debts you cannot explain and report such information immediately to law enforcement.

SAMPLE LETTER 1

Data Acquired: Account Number, Credit Card or Debit Number, Access Code or Password that would permit access to Individual’s Financial Account

Dear

We are writing to you because of a recent security incident at [name of organization].
[Describe what happened in general terms, what type of personal information was involved, and what you are doing in response, including acts to protect further unauthorized access.]

To protect yourself from the possibility of identity theft, we recommend that you immediately contact [credit card or financial account issuer] at [phone number] and tell them that your account may have been compromised. Continue to monitor your account statements.

If you want to open a new account, ask [name of account insurer] to give you a PIN or password. This will help control access to the account.

To further protect yourself, we recommend that you review your credit reports at least every three months for at least the next year. Just call any one of the three credit reporting agencies at a number below. Ask for instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit report from each.

Experian Equifax TransUnion
888-397-3742 888-766-0008 800-680-7289

For more information on identity theft, we suggest that you visit the Web site of the Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at ______________ [or the Federal Trade Commission at ___________________]. If there is anything [name of your organization] can do to assist you, please call [toll-free (if phone number].

[Closing]

SAMPLE LETTER 2

Data Acquired: Driver’s License or Hawai’i Identification Card Number

Dear

We are writing to you because of a recent security incident at [name qt. organization].
[Describe what happened in general terms, what kind of personal information was involved, and what you are doing in response, including acts to protect further unauthorized access.]

Since your Driver’s License [or Hawai’i Identification Card] number was involved, we recommend that you immediately contact your local DMV office to report the theft. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your license.

To further protect yourself, we recommend that you place a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert lets creditors know to contact you before opening new accounts. Just call any one of the three credit reporting agencies at a number below. This will let you automatically place fraud alerts with all of the agencies. You will then receive letters from ail of them, with instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit report from each.

Experian Equifax Trans-Union
888-397-3742 888-766-0008 800-680-7289

When you receive your credit reports, look them over carefully. Look for accounts you did not open. Look for inquiries from creditors that you did not initiate and look for personal information, such as home address and Social Security number, that is not accurate. If you see anything you do not understand, call the credit reporting agency at the telephone number on the report.

If you do find suspicious activity on your credit reports, call local law enforcement and file a report of identity theft. [Or, if appropriate, give contact number for law enforcement agency investigating the incident for you.] Get a copy of the police report. You may need to give copies to creditors to clear up your records.

Even if you do not find any signs of fraud on your reports, we recommend that you check your credit reports at least every three months for at least the next year. Just call one of the numbers above to order your reports and keep the fraud alert in place.

For more information on identity theft, we suggest that you visit the Web site of the Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at _________________ [or the Federal Trade Commission at __________________]. If there is anything [name of your organization] can do to assist you, please call [toll free (if possible) phone number].

[Closing]

SAMPLE LETTER 3

Data Acquired: Social Security Number

Dear

We are writing to you because of a recent security incident at [name of organization]. [Describe what happened in general terms, what kind of personal information was involved, and what you are doing in response, including acts to protect further unauthorized access.]

To protect yourself from the possibility of identity theft, we recommend that you place a fraud alert on your credit files. A fraud alert lets creditors know to contact you before opening new accounts. Just call any one of the three credit reporting agencies at a number below. This will let you automatically place fraud alerts with all of the agencies. You will then receive letters from all of them, with instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit report from each.

Experian Equifax TransUnion
888-397-3742 888-766-0008 800-680-7289

When you receive your credit reports, look them over carefully. Look for accounts you did not open. Look for inquiries from creditors that you did not initiate and look for personal information, such as home address and Social Security number, that is not accurate. If you see anything you do not understand, call the credit reporting agency at the telephone number on the report.

If you do find suspicious activity on your credit reports, call local law enforcement and file a police report of identity theft. [Or, if appropriate, give contact number fur law enforcement agency investigating the incident, for you.] Get a copy of the police report. You may need to give copies of the police report to creditors to clear up your records.

Even if you do not find any signs of fraud on your reports, we recommend that you check your credit reports at least every three months for at least the next year. Just call one of the numbers above to order your reports and keep the fraud alert in place.

For more information on identity theft, we suggest that you visit the Web site of the Hawai’i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs at ____________ [or the Federal Trade Commission at ______________]. If there is anything [name of your organization] can do to assist you, please call [toll-free (if possible) phone number].

[Closing]