Social Media & the Law

 

Fun tid-bits blogging about Criminal law  (or any other areas of law that could use this as evidence, such as Family law, Personal Injury, etc.)

  • Courts are increasingly using social media postings as evidence in court. At the very least, the Office of the Butler County Prosecutor has begun using such internet postings against defendants. An increasing number of counties and courts have adopted this trend, and will likely continue to do so. Some things to consider to make sure you preserve your innocence in relation to a crime you did not do and did not take a part in:
    • Be careful what you associate yourself with if you do not want it to be affiliated with you and how you present yourself to others.
    • It is sometimes hard thinking about future events and predicting its impact, but the time to be discreet and selective in the social media area is all the time – make a practice to always use a conscious filter of whatever it is you look to support, whatever you might feel like rambling about while in the moment, or the types of hobbies you display.
    • The law evolves and we have to keep up with what’s happening. With the rise of “fake” Facebook pages, sometimes the case arises where you never actually affiliated with a post that has your name attached to it.

 

Divorce

  • A divorce is rarely an easy decision to make and never is the process easy on those involved.
    • However, the process might be a bit easier once Ohio Governor Kasich signs the Collaborative Family Law Act into practice. This would mandate a “streamlined” structure of voluntary divorce settlement conferences, attended by the respective family’s “professional divorce team” – lawyers, accountants, mental health professionals and anyone else. This way, a lot of cases will be finished before the need for a trial.
    • We at Matthew N. Miller, LLC are skilled negotiators who strive to save a great deal of time, stress, and money, so that the goals of fairness and justice are obtained without dragging out the process any longer than is necessary. As painful as the process of divorce could be, we strive to make it as painless as possible for you, so that you can move past this stage of your life. Often times, the situation should not be about “winning”, since the marital resolution “pie” can be expanded to meet the needs of the situation, while saving time and money.

Bankruptcy

  • You may qualify for legal action under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy code if your “current monthly income” is equal to or less than the state median (which for Ohio it is $41,946 for a single earner, $52,139 for a two (2) person family, $59,724 for a three (3) person family, and $72,764 for a four (4) or more person family).
  • If your income is above the Ohio income median, you may still be eligible if after the application of a “means test” you can show special circumstances that justifies your additional expenses or adjustments of current monthly income.
  • If you are eligible, we at the Law Offices of Matthew N. Miller are here to take care of the details and guide you through this situation in your life. We work with the trustee, the Bankruptcy Court, and other parties involved.  Ultimately, a discharge releases you from personal liability for most debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any collection actions against you.
  • You should be aware that there are several alternatives to Chapter 7 relief. If you are an individual with regular income, you may seek an adjustment of debts under Chapter 13 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Any individual, even if self-employed or operating an unincorporated business, is eligible for chapter 13 relief as long as the individual’s unsecured debts are less than $360,475 and secured debts are less than $1,081,400. A particular advantage of this is that it provides you with an opportunity to save your home from potential foreclosure by allowing you to modify payments and “catch up” past due payments through a payment plan.  Another advantage is that it allows individuals to reschedule secured debts (other than a mortgage for their primary residence) and extend them over the life of the chapter 13 plan. Doing this may lower your payments. Your successful completion of the payment plan discharges your debts.
  • A corporation or partnership may not be a chapter 13 debtor. If you are engaged in a business, legal action under Chapter 11 could adjust your debts and/or reorganize your business’s finances if you are eligible.

 

4/4/13

Unconstitutional speed ticket traps

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman ruled recently in March 2013 that hidden traffic cameras that capture speeding vehicles violate motorists’ constitutional rights to due process. Often times, the camera-based tickets did not provide an option for an opportunity to be heard in court.

In particular, the Judge referenced a little village that had made more than $1 million from is citizens, solely from these tickets. Many times, a motorist would have been caught several times by the cameras before they ever received notice of their first ticket. The tickets themselves would offer a plea bargain to not put any points on the motorist’s license if they agreed to waive a court hearing and pay a fine of around $95-105.

The tickets are priced low enough that hiring an attorney to fight it would always cost more. So, with the deal of having no points put on their license offered, the only thing left to do is pay, or force the city, or the village, to collect unpaid default judgments.

On the flip side of the coin, Village Police Chief William Peskin said Elmwood Place will appeal the ruling. “It’s unfortunate that the judge doesn’t see it as a safety issue,” Peskin said.

But in the meantime, it is halting use of the cameras.

“We will shut ‘em off,” he said. “It’s a minor setback. We will be back in appeals court.” Peskin opined.

Police say up to 18,000 vehicles a day drive through the village, which links some big employers with Interstate 75. Peskin said there were four cameras total, although only two were in use at a time. One was at village limits where speed drops from 35 mph to 25 mph; another was in a school zone. He said speeding had dropped “drastically” in the village with the cameras.

The village argued that that camera enforcement by other municipalities has been upheld in other state courts, including in Ohio’s Supreme Court. This is the first time that a judge has said ‘Enough is enough,’” attorney Mike Allen said. “I think this nationally is a turning point.”

Overall then, there hasn’t been an official Supreme Court ruling against these traffic cameras, but for the time being, maybe a substantial just cause has been initiated against them.

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