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Ridgeland Legal Blog

What are your divorce priorities?

Divorce is different for each couple, and each divorce requires a different approach to reach satisfactory terms for the parties involved. A friend's divorce that you witnessed may seem very similar to your own impending divorce, or have some of the same moving parts, but it is unlikely that the exact same legal actions will lead to the same results. If you face a divorce, you need to assess your priorities before you begin building your strategy for getting through this difficult season.

In almost all cases, no single party actually gets everything. While states differ in how they maintain their respective divorce laws, no state generally tends to leave one spouse with everything and the other drifting in the wind. If you hope to leave your spouse out to dry, you may want to reconsider your approach. It is far wiser to identify your priorities in the divorce process and build a strategy specifically tailored to seek those results.

Facing Mississippi DUI charges

Drinking and driving under any circumstances is never wise, even if you believe that you are under the legal limit. In Mississippi, drunk driving charges can carry significant legal penalties and trigger consequences that may last for years to come. However, this does not mean you should simply accept DUI charges. Like any criminal charge, it is always wise to fight the charges and push for dismissal. If convicted, you may lose your license, face a hefty fine and in some cases, serve jail time.

Sometimes, beating the charges entirely is not possible, but it is still possible to lessen the punishments and protect your liberties with a strong defense. If you receive a conviction, you must attend the Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program (MASEP). Every DUI-convicted driver must attend the course before he or she may regain driving privileges.

Can I change my child support payments if I can't afford them?

As a parent, you want the best for your child, even if you are no longer with the child's other parent. However, child support orders regularly become heavier burdens than a parent can reasonably bear. This can happen a number of ways. A court may hand down an order that is unreasonable during the initial custody dispute, or your circumstances may change, making a once reasonable order very difficult to honor.

If you need some relief from a child support burden you cannot carry, you may be able to modify the order itself. If you cannot agree with your child's other parent on how the support should change, you may be able to go before a judge and argue your case. Similarly, if you face a decrease in your income or an unavoidable increase in your expenses, you may qualify for a modification.

When is violence considered self-defense?

There are many ways that a disagreement can lead to a physical altercation, but not all of them are treated equally in the eyes of the law. While the law generally frowns upon acts of violence, it does allow individuals to act in self defense or in the defense of others, as long as the circumstances meet certain standards. Self defense or the defense of others is the most commonly used defense against assault charges of many kinds.

In order to qualify as legally justifiable self-defense, an act of violence must meet a number of conditions. First, the individual who acts in self-defense must actually perceive a threat and be able to justify this perception. A person cannot generally shoot first and claim self-defense after the dust settles. Second, a person must demonstrate that he or she did not provoke the threat. Third, a person must demonstrate that there was no reasonable chance to flee the altercation.

Removal of conditional residency status after marriage

Your marriage to an American citizen likely did not go off without a hitch, but you probably expected some glitches along the way. Waiting for your visa to come through and coordinating wedding plans probably created some stressful moments, but now you are married and settled into life in the United States.

Undoubtedly, you are considering the next step in your residency. The conditions on your visa ensure the government that you acted in good faith through your marriage and did not use the immigration process for unlawful entry into the country. So, how do you remove those conditions?

Aggravated felony charges tear immigrant families apart

If your family immigrated to the United States, you likely had strong reasons for leaving your home country. Perhaps you were facing hardships, you came here to marry or join other family members in Mississippi, or you simply needed a fresh start and new chances. You certainly hoped your children would benefit from the sacrifices you made to bring them to this country.

However, if police recently arrested one of your family members, and now he or she is facing charges termed as aggravated felonies, you have every right to be concerned. Conviction for an aggravated felony can have devastating consequences for immigrants, and your loved one is at great risk of deportation.

What should I say if I'm stopped for drunk driving?

You always thought drunk driving charges happened to other people, but now you're the one sitting in your car while the blue lights flash behind you. When the officer approaches the window, he or she may ask you a number of questions. Are you sure you know how to respond?

Generally speaking, it is wise to say as little as you can. This does not mean that you should refuse to cooperate with the police, but you should understand that you do have the right to remain silent, beyond giving the officer your name. If the officer continues to ask you questions or tells you that you must answer, you can ask to speak with an attorney. While you do not have to say anything specific, you should be cooperative and remain calm. Remember, the police have stopped you ostensibly because they suspect you are committing a crime, and collecting evidence to support this is part of their job.

Mississippi does not apply marijuana decriminalization equally

Mississippi does not generally have a reputation as a politically or socially progressive state, but it is one of the states that has decriminalized carrying small amounts of marijuana. This may come as a surprise to many people who view the war on drugs as racially motivated, especially considering Mississippi's complex history of racial injustice.

Nevertheless, Mississippi is one of more than 20 states that do not require police to issue criminal charges for possessing a certain amount of marijuana. It allows police to hand out a simple fine instead.

Is it illegal to ship myself marijuana in the mail?

Several states have led the charge to legalize the recreational use of marijuana over the last several years, but that legal freedom has yet to come to Mississippi. While we do enjoy statewide decriminalization of marijuana, possessing, growing, shipping, and consuming it are still illegal.

Many residents of states -- where marijuana is not yet legal -- think that they can "game the system" by simply having someone mail them pot from a state that has already legalized the plant. Unfortunately, not only is this plan illegal, but it's illegal on a federal level. The Postal Service is a federal entity, and all crimes involving mail sent through the postal service are by definition federal crimes. Obtaining marijuana within the state and risking a fine for possession -- compared to ordering some through the mail and risking federal penalties which may include jail time -- is a much less severe offense.

Different types of driving impairment evidence

Possibly because of particularly misleading movies and television shows, many drivers inaccurately believe that the only factor that matters in a drunk driving charge is how much alcohol the officer can prove is in the accused person's blood at the time. However, this is not always the case. While blood alcohol levels are certainly a key factor, other things may contribute to a DUI charge.

An officer may use two other kinds of evidence, in addition to blood alcohol content tests, to make the case for a driver's impairment. These include field evidence and driver evidence. Field evidence pertains to testimony by the officer regarding the driver's actual driving, the way drivers conducts themselves during the stop.

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