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Can Urine Testing Determine Blood Alcohol Levels?

Urine testing is one of the three standard methods for checking whether a person is intoxicated when pulled over for suspected driving under the influence (DUI). The other two tests are breath tests and blood tests. Urine tests are most commonly used after a person has been detained due to a possible DUI since there is no field test available. Urine testing can show some information about blood alcohol levels. It is not very accurate, however. You should know a few things about urine testing for blood alcohol content.

How Urine Testing Works

One popular form of urine testing uses a machine to look for traces of a substance called ethyl glucuronide, or EtG. This substance is created as the body starts to break down and digest alcohol. The test measures how much EtG is in the urine. This level is then correlated to a blood alcohol level. The problem is that EtG can appear in urine for a number of reasons. It can appear because of certain foods, cosmetics or even working around industrial chemicals. Additionally, it can stay in the urine for a long time. This means that EtG testing is not really a reliable way to determine whether a person is currently intoxicated.

Inaccurate Numbers

The main problem with using urine testing to measure blood alcohol levels is that the numbers are frequently inaccurate. One issue is that the readings from a urine test need to be modified by a set factor in order to reach an equivalent blood alcohol level. This factor is known to be different depending on the individual. It can sometimes create readings that are too low or that are too high. Determining blood alcohol through urine testing is commonly accepted as being unreliable even by law enforcement officers.

Time Discrepancies

One of the largest problems with urine testing to determine blood alcohol levels is that there could be serious time discrepancies because of basic biology. A urine test cannot tell whether a person is currently intoxicated. It cannot even provide any information about when a person was last drinking. All it can show is that there are certain compounds in the urine that are related to alcohol. These compounds could have been formed 24 hours before the test. The substance EtG can stay in the body for over three days. Additionally, it can take a few hours after drinking for any alcohol to reach the urine.

Tests Can Be Ruled Inadmissible In Courts

The reality is that urine testing for blood alcohol content can be ruled inadmissible by different courts. This is why it benefits drivers to choose a urine test over other methods if there is an option available. This lack of reliability has caused many people in law enforcement to stop administering urine tests when a DUI is suspected. This is especially true considering that the urine test is prone to the same types of lab errors, contamination and other problems that can affect blood tests. If you have been given a urine test, then there is a good chance that a DUI lawyer will be able to question the results in court.

Here’s a cool infographic from CloudChasers.com, which discusses the impact of marijuana usage on DUI, and the state laws in each state.

About the author

This informative criminal defense blog post was written by Todd Spodek, the founder of The Spodek Law Group, a premier NYC criminal defense law firm. You can visit his website at http://www.criminallawyernyc.com

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Startups – Choosing Between LLC or S-Corp

choosing between llc or s corp for startups

Figuring out whether to select an LLC or an S-Corp is one of the most daunting tasks for a startup, especially if you’re considering venture capital!  For startups, a traditional C corporation is not only overkill, it’s stupid(depending on how soon you’re going to be getting venture capital afterall!). With a C-corp, you’re going to result in higher overall tax payments due to something known as double taxation.

LLC’s and S-Corporations are great alternatives for small businesses, and in particular – startups, since you can avoid the double taxation that happens through C-corps. With LLC’s and S-Corps, the company is taxed as a sole proprietor/partnership would — meaning the company doesn’t file it’s own taxes. All of the company profits are passed through and reported on the personal income tax return of the owners/shareholders/members.

The biggest reason a startup should consider incorporating, regardless of whether it’s an LLC or a C-Corp, or S-Corp, is due to the veil it puts between shareholders/members, legally speaking. Having this incorporation let’s you separate your legal assets from any liabilities that company may have, whether it be an unhappy customer, potential legal action due to copyright infringement, etc, or patent infringement.

One of the biggest reasons we see a startup get sued is due to patent/copyright/trademark infringement! Especially when it comes to tech-startups that create a new piece of technology.  While an S-Corp or LLC may look similar, it’s actually quite different in striking ways that make a meaningful impact on how you’ll be doing business. For a startup, choosing between the two can be a crazy ride – but one that this article might help make clearer.

1. Business Structure and Formalities

S Corporations are inherently based on the structure of a C-Corp. That means due to the corporate structure, there are formalities, compliance obligations, which can be a burden for a sole owner/entrepreneur. If you’re filing for an S-Corp, as a startup, then you need to have board of director meetings, you have to file annual reports + other business filings have to be done. In addition, your startup has to have shareholder meetings, and keep records of these meetings. There’s a lot of red tape, and regulatory compliance when it comes to how your business has to operate. In contrast, LLC’s don’t have this red-tape and compliance. LLC’s run on an informal operating basis.

Summary: Want less red tape? Less formalities? Less stuff that takes away from you innovating? — DO AN LLC

2. Potential shareholders and limitations

An S-Corp has a lot more restrictions when it comes to shareholders. When you’re a startup, you should anticipate having a large number of shareholders. With an S-Corp, you can only have 100 shareholders – which is a huge issue. ALSO, all of the shareholders of an S-Corp have to US Citizens or permanent residents of the United States. If you’re courting foreign investment, this too can be a huge problem as a result. No foreign owners can be owners.

Summary: If you’re planning on having foreign shareholders, form an LLC instead of an S-Corp.

3. Income

In an LLC, income and loss can be disproportionally allocated amongst the owners. In an S-Corp, the income and the losses are assigned to each shareholder based on their percent of ownerships. This is a huge difference, and can have a significant impact on a startup wondering whether to choose an S-Corp or an LLC.

For example.

If Max and Alex own a company – 50/50, in an S-Corp, both owners taxed according to their % ownership. That means both are responsible for 50% of the taxes. Now, say Max and Alex agree that Alex should take 75% of the profits, and Max should take 25% – that’s fine, in the context of taxes – in an LLC. Simply put, they would be taxed based on their relative profits. In an S-Corp, this wouldn’t be the case. Even if Alex took 75% of the profits, Max would be liable for the full 50% per his ownership stake.

Summary: If you need flexibility when it comes to dividing up profits, an LLC is much more preferable.

4. Passing Through Losses

LLCs and S-Corps let members/shareholders pass company losses when filing their personal income taxes. When it comes to real-estate, LLC’s let you pass more losses than an S-Corp.

Summary: If you’re setting up a business for real estate investments, then an LLC is better since it lets you write off more losses for your personal taxes.

5. Stock Classes

In an S Corp, all shareholders belong to the same class of stock. In addition, an S-Corp can have voting, and non-voting shares. But, there are no distinctions between common + preferred stock. In an LLC, however, there are different stock membership classes + priorities + preferences.

Summary: You can’t offer both common and preferred stock classes in an S-Corp structure. For startups interested in getting venture capital in the near future, it might be better to shift to an LLC or a C-Corp.

6. Reinvesting Your Profits

How your startup incorporates itself will have an impact on how your profits are handled and taxed. S-Corps and LLC’s are pass-through entities, which means that owners are responsible for any taxes that are owed on profits. This means that the profits are taxed, regardless of whether money is kept in the company, or put in the wallets of the shareholders.

Summary: If your goal is to keep money in the company, instead of having your individual shareholders getting taxed — then you should consider a C-Corp for your startup. An S-Corp and/or LLC will ALWAYS pass on tax liability to the owners of the company.

7. Venture Capital Funding

This is the biggest issue, and what most startups are thinking about in the back of their head when thinking about incorporating. Almost every startups goal is to get venture capital. If your company is looking for venture capital – being an LLC or S-Corp isn’t a bad thing (converting to a C-Corp is very easy) — but a venture capital firm will prefer your startup is setup as a C-Corp. If you’re considering venture capital, sooner or later you will HAVE to convert to a C-Corp. The conversion will definitely require additional filing + fees. (Converting a C-Corp to an S-Corp is simple, and can be done in a day with a tax form).

Bottom line – for a startup choosing between an S-Corp vs. C-Corp vs. LLC – is extremely complex, and making the decision is a multi-faceted conversation. One of the most important things to consider when making your decision is considering what the future holds for you. What is your goal? When will you be reaching it? Obviously – you should consult with an accountant, but before you do…ask yourself, ask your partners, and ask any invested party.

What DO YOU WANT. 

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Family Sponsored Visas

Each year, the US Government grants hundreds of thousands of family sponsored visas. This process isn’t easy though – and needless to say, you may run into problems – which require the help of an immigration attorney. Below, we’re going to be discussing some of the reasons behind why families have trouble understanding the immigration process surrounding family sponsored visas.

When it comes to family sponsorship of relatives abroad, the US sponsor has to file an immigration visa petition. This petition has to be approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services department. This department will look to see if the sponsor has enough resources in order to support the applicant. They will require the sponsor to file an Affidavit of Support.

Affidavits of Support are one of the main reasons why family sponsored visas are often denied. If the US government is not confident that the foreign relatives will not be a burden on their government –then they will not approve the application.

The income requirements alone can be daunting – and are one of the biggest reasons why applications for family sponsored visas often get denied. In addition to having the necessary income, you need to make sure that paperwork is filed accurately. If you’re purposefully lying/misleading, or if that is the “appearance,” that is represented due to how you filled out the forms, your application can be permanently denied!

Who You’re Sponsoring Matters

The relationship between an immigrant and the sponsor is classified by categories – and then is given preferential treatment. This category is determined by the type of relationship. It’s extremely important that you be able to prove the relationship is real, and not a lie.

When a sponsor is trying to sponsor non-core family members, this can be a red flag, and a reason for denial of visa applications. In general, it’s recommended that a sponsor file an application for spouses, children, or parents (core family members). While there aren’t any restrictions on the “overall number,” of people who are eligible for becoming permanent residents — generally speaking, those who are core family members are given more priority.

Other relatives, such as your siblings — fall into the government’s preference categories. The number of VISAS given to the preferential category is capped. This means that only a limited number of VISAS will be granted to family members that fall into one of these categories. The stronger your family relationship is – the less time the family member has to wait for a VISA.

Being a Citizen Isn’t Necessary To File For Family Sponsorship VISAs

While it’s helpful if the person sponsoring is a citizen – it’s not necessary. If you’re a Green Card holder, it’s possible for visas to be granted to your immediate family members. If you’re a Green Card holder, you can’t sponsor your sibling for a Green Card.

Delays Happen Depending On Your Scenario

Even if you file your application correctly, eligible sponsors can often run into delays if their category, or country of origin, has a cap on the maximum number of visas.

  • Married children of citizens fall into a category that is capped
  • The US government has placed a limit on immigrants from countries like China, and Mexico. As a result, there’s a limit on the number of VISAS that can be issued to applicants from these countries. Even if you file your VISA application, there may be a delay in when your family members get their visa issued through no fault of your own!

If your family members are coming from a country with low immigration rates – this can be a great benefit.

Same Sex Marriage Immigration

Recently the Defense of Marriage Act was defeated. This means that same-sex marriage individuals have the same right to apply for a VISA as any hetero-sexual married couple.

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The Best States To Incorporate Your Business

When an entrepreneur starts their business, their first office is normally their home – regardless of where they are located. But, before you decide to open up shop – you should consider where you incorporate your business. WHERE it’s incorporated can be extremely important. Each states differs, in terms of incentives and penalties, when it comes to doing business. Some states provide more tax breaks, while other charge more heavily. Some states are more advantageous, simply because of the cheaper cost of living – which makes your dollar go farther.

The purpose of this article is to help entrepreneurs understand which states are desirable for the purposes of incorporating. By the end of this article you should be able to answer the questions

  • What’s the best state to form a corporation
  • What’s the cheapest state where you can incorporate

When presenting to you the states we’ve highlighted, we’ll be analyzing them based on the following factors:

  • Tax Filing Fees (Nevada has VERY low fees)
  • Business friend laws (Delaware is famous for this)
  • Income tax (States who have no, or low, income tax fall into this category)
  • Sales tax (States with low or no sales tax are considered)
  • Franchise taxes and regulations
  • Whether you will live and work there, or not

Incorporating in a state vs. the physical location of your business

States like Delaware or Nevada are very tempting to incorporate in, even if you have no plans to setup an office there. However, if you do so – and your business is located somewhere else – then you have to file as “Out of State.” If you do this, then you will incur higher fees and have more filing to do.

Generally speaking, if the physical location of your business is different than where you’ve incorporated, then you’ll still have to pay for things like annual reports, filing fees, and more importantly having a registered agent in the state.

Word of caution: Just because you incorporate your business in Nevada doesn’t mean that those are the only state law taxes which are applicable to your business. The state where you’re business is physically located will come after you, sooner or later. In addition, the tax liability of the state you operate in may even increase – because the state will view you as a foreign entity doing business in their state.

Generally speaking, it’s better to incorporate in the state where you live + work. If the tax benefits are significant enough, then you should consider moving your business to the location you want to incorporate in.

Best States For Incorporating Your Business

Here is a list of states without income tax.

South Dakota

South Dakota is a great state for incorporating your business due to the lack of income tax. Some authorities claim that this state is the top state for incorporating your business in the entire country. There is very little filing burdens, and for those firms still shaping their business – this can be a great benefit. Having to deal with frequent filings can be detrimental to startups who are time and cash strapped.

Wyoming

Similar to North Dakota, the state has no corporate or personal income tax of any kind. The only tax you have to worry about is the federal income tax. In addition, the state offers tax exemptions for things like gasoline + groceries. Needless to say, this is more in terms of savings. In addition, Wyoming doesn’t enforce capital gains taxes. Entrepreneurs who invest in real estate don’t need to worry about deals that are performed in-state.

Nevada

Nevada is a great state, and one that’s always talked about. This state enforces no corporate or individual state tax. In addition, it doesn’t charge tax on any corporate shares.

Florida

Florida is also a great state, due to the fact it lacks state income tax. In addition, Florida exempts “S” corporations from state taxation. Florida is one of the few states in the country that provides exemption from taxes for business to business software sales. Depending on the type of business you’re in – creating a corporation in Florida can be a huge tax benefit.

Definitive List of States Without Sales Tax

Alaska, New Hamshire, Montana, Delaware

When You Know It’s Time

Incorporating isn’t a quick decision. The best state is one that aligns your short term and long term goals, and also the state that complements your business. If you’re looking for services and advice regarding incorporating, we encourage you to hire a lawyer on Zogby.com

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When To Protect Your Brand Assets

If you’re wondering WHEN to protect your brands assets — it’s a pretty simple answer: NOW. Regardless of what your brand assets are, it’s important to have the proper protection in place. Intellectual property is divided up into three main categories: patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

If you’re unsure about what your brand assets fall into (in terms of category), then you’ll need an IP lawyer to help you.

If you’ve created a physical product, or object, that’s never existed in that exact iteration — then you need to apply for a patent.

Patent: This is a form of brand asset protection that forces you to give public disclosure of your invention. You’ll need to give detailed explanations, data, and drawings. You are required to publish these details. Even if you’re not ready to go live – in order to get this form of protection you’ll need to go to public. Having said that, by publishing and getting ths protection – your rights are protected.

Trademarks: These are given for things like slogans and product names. If you feel you’ve come up with a catchy name for a company, then you need to file for a trademark as soon as possible. This is typically done through the USPTO.

Before you decide to file for a trademark, you need to search the USPTO database for “confusingly similar,” trademarks. It’s important that there not exist other trademarks, for products/concepts – that are similar to yours. In certain scenarios, we’ve seen instances where a trademark and patent is already taken by a company with a trademark/product that is similar. When this happens, a long, and complicated process can ensue. The brand who had the trademark/patent first, can object to your filing and this can cause a long delay when it comes to protecting your brand assets.

Some examples of brand assets which qualify for copyright protection are: books, articles, movies, and even photographs!

Copyright protection is something that is based on date of production. As soon as you create a work, it’s copyrighted. Having said that, when you formally go through the USPTO and copyright your product, it establishes a track record of when it was filed which is undeniable. When it’s not copyrighted, it can be difficult to enforce/prove who had produced the content first. For example, someone else can claim they published the photograph before you. Unless you have proof (for example you published it in a journal which is verifiable, or you published it on Facebook, which has a timestamp) — it will be next to impossible to protect your content.

If there’s one thing this article has impressed on you – I hope it’s the fact that you, as a creator, understand the importance of Trademarking, Copyrights, and Patenting AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

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Should I sign a release?

This is a really difficult question to answer. Generally speaking, there’s two general answers that can be given, and it all just depends on your circumstances!

If you’re working with a lawyer

If you’re currently working with a personal injury lawyer, and your lawyer gives you a release – then it’s probably due to the fact your lawyer reached a settlement, or was able to attain a verdict, on your behalf. In order to get the payment from the opposing party, he/she needs you to sign the release. Obviously, you should speak to your lawyer before signing the release, and making sure it’s been discussed. But, assuming it has-  you should sign it.

If you’re not working with a lawyer

It’s no surprise that insurance companies have a vested interest in paying you the least amount of money possible. Their goal is to offer you the lowest possible settlement. If you’re not working with a lawyer, they will send you a release document in order to make you settle as soon as possible. Signing a release statement in this situation can be a terrible idea, because the insurance company is preying on your ignorance of the law.

To summarize it: never sign a release statement without discussing it with a lawyer first. It can mean the difference between a small, insignificant settlement, and ten’s of thousands of dollars.

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Starting Up for Startups – Business Plans

The first priority of any entrepreneur when starting a new business is creating a business plan. Many business owners focus on “process” – rather than the goals of the process, when first starting up. What I mean by that is that many entrepreneurs will start worrying about things like getting a trademark, or a copyright, instead of actually knowing what they’re going to do with it, once their product/service is ready to be introduced into the market.

When I was starting out, a mentor once asked me two simple questions, for which I had no answers. I had a great vision in my head, but when I was asked these two questions (when asking his help) – I had no specific-real answer:

  • Why are you here?
  • What do you want

What do you want is more than just – I want to make money. If you’re good and successful at what you do, money is inevitable. What you want is a question that is far deeper.

As a new business owner, what you need to focus on first is a business plan – in order to assess the financial viability of the business and it’s model. “Modeling,” is far more important in a business – than the idea behind the business. Developing a business plan forces you to think through your businesses ideas, and understand the tangible goals and the people you’ll need to accomplish them. No startup should start without a clear cut business plan that ALL partners agree on.

Once the business plan is in place, you should then think about other things, such as the ownership structure, insurance, office space, etc.

Startups Often Mess Up Their Business Plan

If you’re a startup, your business plan is the essence of what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it – and why you should be doing it. You need to know exactly what product or service you’re going to offer – and why. You have to be specific. For example, if you’re opening up a “bath and body” online store, that let’s people order via their phone….not only do you have to specific what products you’ll carry – but you’ll need to explain the operating costs, and the profits. More important than the profits, is the fact you’ll have to explain WHAT is the demand and WHY is there.

Most investors will not care about the fact your model is profitable. What they’ll care about is the verification of the demand, and why it’s there — and most importantly how you’re going to satisfy it.

-Most business plans for startups, fail to answer the two sentences I just wrote above.

Most startup business plans focus on the intricacies of their business model, instead of addressing why their model will actually work. You need to explain what type of marketing you’ll need – why that marketing will work, and how you have an edge on satisfying the NEED of the market.

After you cover this section of the business plan, the next section to discuss is financial projections. You should think about how much you’ll need to spend on your business, and compare that to how much your business will bring in. Always put realistic projections in place.

Incorporate Your Startup With a Lawyer

After you’ve figured out what your business will do, how it’ll operate, etc, it’s time to incorporate and create your venture. The legal structure you choose for your startup is extremely important. There are a number of legal structures available for your startup, such as a sole proprietorship, a partnership, llc, or a corporation.

After determining the legal structure of your new startup, it’s time to file the necessary paperwork. Examples may include:

  • Federal + state employer identification numbers
  • Seller permits (where applicable)
  • Zoning licenses, etc, depending on the type of business you’re doing

Purchase Insurance. Depending on the type of exposure and liabilities you have, it may be important to purchase insurance.

Get a Book Keeper In Place. Having a reliable and easy to use system for book keeping is invaluable. Not only is it helpful for keeping track of revenue – it’s important when it’s time to file taxes.

As a startup, the legal system is the most important – yet least desirable thing to think about. This is one of the reasons we made Zogby – which is a platform that connects users with VETTED – and carefully selected, lawyers who can help you with your legal concerns.

Business lawyers we’ve selected have been vetted as experts in their field. If you’re in need of assistance, we encourage you to contact a lawyer on Zogby today!

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The Many Different Types Of Lawyers

If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, or hiring a lawyer – this is an article that’s good for you. Contrary to popular belief, there’s many different types of lawyers – and each lawyer generally only handles his/her specialization. Many people assume a lawyer is a lawyer and can handle everything. That’s not the case! Just like physicians specialize in certain parts of the human body, lawyers too specialize in certain aspects of the law. While a lawyer will topically be familiar with a section of the law they do not specifically handle – they will never be ale to help you with the speed and efficiency someone who handles it would. With few exceptions, a lawyer can help you with virtually any form of law – even if he doesn’t specialize in it. Unfortunately, the law is so vast and all-encompassing that it’s impossible for a single attorney to be able to effectively help you with all forms of the law and it’s applications.

Below is a list of the most common types of lawyers, and a brief description of their practice – and frankly, WHAT THEY DO!

Business / Corporate Lawyers

Business law is one of the most broad components of the law. Business lawyers often find themselves dealing with several different areas of the law, including: employment law, labor law, intellectual property, contracts, mergers, sales, and more. Due to the wide array of services business law entails – it’s not uncommon for lawyers to sub-specialize and focus on one, or a few, business legal tasks. For example, there are lawyers that specifically focus on specific business tasks such as forming your company, or focusing on mergers and acquisitions only. Depending on the size of the law firm, business lawyers will cover the entire spectrum of business services. In addition to this, many law firms choose to focus on only small businesses and startups, while others prefer working with large corporations and enterprises.

Business lawyers further sub-specialize based on two categories: transactional lawyers and litigation lawyers. The major difference between these two lawyers is how they help a business. Transactional lawyers are a type of lawyer that get involved when handling transactions, such as negotiating deals, or drafting documents. Business litigation lawyers get involved when another party is suing your company, or when you’re suing another company.

Employment + Labor Lawyers

Employment and labor lawyers handle issues relating to labor. When you run a business with employees – there are numerous regulations in place protecting the rights of those employees. Employment and Labor lawyers help businesses comply with government labor laws. Like corporate lawyers, employment and labor lawyers can be further subdivided into litigation and transactional lawyers. Employment litigators go to court when accusations are made that the employer violated his/her contract with the employee. Transactional employment lawyers typically handle things like drafting employment documentations, or other documentation involved with the hiring and firing an employee.

Securities Lawyers

Finance and Securities lawyers are a niche within the legal industry. These types of lawyers specifically handle issues pertaining to banks and individuals involved in the issuing and exchange of money — and/or companies selling stock. In addition, this type of lawyer is involved when it comes to defending a person/company from the SEC(Securities Exchange Commission)

Mergers & Acquisitions Lawyers

M&A lawyers handle the buying and selling of companies/corporations. This is a process which is generally long, and exhausting. Typically, the buying/selling of companies involves teams of lawyers – who have to audit each and every fragment of the deal. Typically, this type of lawyer will be extremely well versed in numerous aspects of the law, including finance – and securities, in addition to tax, and labor laws – in order to ensure that deals are structured properly, and that all the assets of the company are locked down in order to make sure the deal/acquisition of the company happens successfully. If you’re going to be acquiring another company, you’ll need a M&A lawyer.

Intellectual Property Lawyers

IP lawyers deal with anything that is perceived as intellectual property. IP is something that is intangible, such as a trademark, copyrights, or patents. Some IP lawyers may focus on just one of the three forms of IP. Patent law is an area of law that requires further study and licensing. In addition, having a technical background is suggested depending on the type of patents you’ll be handling (chemistry, software, technology, etc). Like other areas of law, there are normal IP lawyers and IP litigation lawyers. Normal IP lawyers are involved in the filing process of patents. Litigators are involved when the question of IP violation comes into play. When IP is being infringed upon by a competitor, that’s when IP litigation lawyers come into play.

Family/Matrimony Lawyers

Family lawyers handle anything dealing with family issues. This can be estate planning, but typically means divorce and custody battles, prenuptial agreements, and other issues that surround marriage and children. Some family lawyers focus only on divorce – but most cover the entire spectrum. Zogby Legal works with many family attorneys, in cities like Los Angeles, and NYC. If you’re in NYC – speak to one of our NYC divorce attorneys today.

Estate Planning Lawyers

Estate planning lawyers help you put your affairs in order if/when you die. Estate planning lawyers do a wide array of tasks, including things like creating trusts on behalf of a parent for his/her children. Estate planning lawyers can help create a will, and help you manage your assets. When you don’t have a will, your assets have to go through Probate court (which is the court that decides what happens to your assets after your death, if you don’t have a will).

Tax Lawyers

Tax lawyers are responsible for helping businesses when it comes to complying with government laws regarding filing tax returns. Many of these lawyers end up going to court in order to defend you in the event of an IRS audit.

Criminal Defense Lawyers

Criminal lawyers defend people accused of committing a crime. This type of lawyers protects you from prosecution by the government. Their goal is to help reduce the severity of your punishment and help you stay out of jail. Criminal defense lawyers can help with all types of crimes, like DUI, assault, murder, and more. Many lawyers who practice criminal defense have experience working at their local Office of the District Attorney – and are former Assistant District Attorneys.

Traffic Lawyers

Traffic lawyers are high volume lawyers – the service many clients. These lawyers go to court on your behalf and will fight traffic citations, or give you advice on how to get out of a red light camera/speeding ticket. In many instances, traffic lawyers are also criminal defense lawyers. It can depend on how much the lawyer wishes to specialize.

Personal Injury Lawyer

PI lawyers are involved with helping victims of accidents and injuries get the compensation they deserve. Personal injury lawyers are a type of lawyer that get involved when things like medical malpractice, or a car accident, happen. This is the most common type of lawyer you’ll see. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, meaning they only take a fee if they are able to help you win your case. On average, most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee ranging from 30-40%. Because they are taking all the risk, they also take a large portion of the final verdict/settlement. One of the benefits of this arrangement is the fact that if you lose your case – you don’t owe the lawyer a penny. Zogby Legal works with personal injury lawyers in many top cities, such as Chicago, Denver, NYC, Los Angeles, and many other top cities.

Bankruptcy Lawyers

Bankruptcy lawyers help you file for bankruptcy and get out of debt. There are a large array of types of bankruptcy lawyers. For example, there are lawyers who represent debtors, and there are ones that even represent creditors. There are many types of bankruptcy, such as Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is when an individual/company wants to liquidate their assets in order to help completely eliminate all of their debts. It’s a form of protection that gives a business/individual room protection to safely do this process of liquidation. Chapter 11 is when a company/individual wants to restructure their debt in order to reorganize themselves financially. Chapter 13 is a form of protection where you can restructure your debts and get on an affordable payment plan – while keeping most of your assets. Many bankruptcy lawyers will either specialize in one, or all, of these different forms of bankruptcy protection.

 

Civil Litigation Lawyers

Civil litigation is a very generic term. It encompasses many areas of the law, including real estate, employment law, and even business law — and more. Civil litigation lawyers handle almost every form of litigation, including lawsuits between businesses, or even consumers suing businesses. There’s very little a civil litigation lawyer doesn’t do when it comes to types of cases litigating in court. Very often, a civil litigation lawyer will also handle personal injury claims as well.

Internet Lawyer / Media Lawyer

This type of lawyer is a relatively new branch. Law written in the 20th century never anticipated the launch of the internet, and how it would change how laws can be interpreted. This new branch of law, internet law, is practiced by internet lawyers. Internet lawyers focus on legal issues that come about due to the use of technology + the internet. Things like terms and conditions that govern the usage of a website – are examples of types of things an internet lawyer might handle. Other examples include online piracy, etc. This is one of the frontiers of the legal system, and continues to evolve each year, due to new trends!

Entertainment Lawyers

Entertainment lawyers are a type of business lawyers, but specifically handle entertainment issues. Examples of what they do include licensing agreement, celebrity management contracts, or contracts/agreements dealing with royalties. Cities like NYC, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles(hollywood) – are very popular due to the immense amount of celebrities and businesses that engage in content licensing deals. Unfortunately, due to the limited number of celebrities and companies, this is a very competitive field of law. Every celebrity has their very own entertainment lawyer who advises them on prospective deals + licensing agreements + solicitations.

Immigration Lawyer

Immigration lawyers specialize in helping individuals bring their family members or employees in the USA from other countries. Many businesses rely heavily on the services of an immigration lawyer, due to the fact they often file employment visas for employees overseas. This is a very complex form of law, due to the number of forms and regulations.

Legal Malpractice

Legal malpractice is a very niche subset of the legal industry. Not many lawyers focus on this area of law. Professional responsibility lawyers are a type of lawyers that sue/defend lawyers who are accused of acting in a way that violates their professional responsibilities as lawyers(malpractice). Lawyers have a very strict code of conduct, and have to abide by it when practicing the law. When a lawyer is accused of a crime, a legal malpractice law firm will be needed in order to protect the lawyer.

Real Estate Attorneys

Real estate lawyers typically handle issues that arise out of real estate + property transactions. Real estate lawyers typically focus on the buying, and selling, of commercial or residential properties. Most real estate transactional lawyers will focus on the negotiation + paperwork, involved with real estate transactions. In rare circumstances, a real estate litigator will be involved – in the event an agreement was violated.

Hopefully by now you’ve learned a lot about the various types of lawyers! If you’re looking to hire a lawyer, it’s important to know the exact type of lawyer you’ll need. While there are many areas of law that overlap, you’ll want to make sure you hire a lawyer who specializes in the area of law you need. In addition to saving you a lot of money – it could be the difference between winning or losing a case.

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how to open a medical marijuana dispensary

States like Colorado, Washington, and California, have recently legalized marijuana to varying extents. With this legalization, many entrepreneurs are now entertaining the idea of entering the marijuana industry. The easiest way to get into this business is by opening a marijuana dispensary, or coop. Unfortunately, the laws pertaining to opening a marijuana dispensary in California are extremely complex! Remember – even though it’s legal under California state law – it’s illegal under Federal Law – STILL.

Opening a medical marijuana dispensary is inherently risky, and is going to be regulated soon. This means your investment is always going to be at risk. When opening a dispensary, it’s highly recommended that you consult a lawyer who can help you. Not only do you have to comply with state law, you’ll also have to comply with local laws in order to make sure your dispensary doesn’t get fined or shut down.

It’s important that prospective marijuana entrepreneurs remember that any possession, cultivation, or transportation, of marijuana is illegal under the US Controlled Substances Act – even if it’s in compliance with state law. The DEA is a federal agency, and tightly monitors and regulates marijuana.  Recently California passed legislation regarding medical marijuana, but recreational use is illegal.

In 1996, Proposition 215 – The Compassionate Use Act – exempted certain patients and their caregivers from any criminal liability associated with growing, or possessing, marijuana as long as its done with approved medical recommendations. In California, patients with diseases such as cancer, anorexia, AIDS, or chronic pain, and other conditions, qualify under this law.

In 2004, California passed the Medical Marijuana Program Act, which further pushed the envelope. This bill established a statewide system of identification cards that gave holders the right to cultivate, possess, and transport, up to eight ounces of processed marijuana. In addition, it give the right to do the same, for 6 mature marijuana plants or 12 immature plants. This law set a state-wide minimum in every locality, but made it possible for local laws to authorize higher amounts. In addition, it made it possible for severely ill patients to be exempt from the limits if they have a physician’s statement authorizing the fact they needed more.

What makes this California law more interesting, is that it recognized a right to “collective and cooperative” cultivation of medical marijuana.

How to open a medical marijuana dispensary in California

Senate Bill 420 allows for medical marijuana patients and primary caregivers to collectively, or cooperatively, cultivate marijuana for medical purposes within California. These organizations, however, must follow strict guidelines. They have to comply with state and local ordinances. In order to start this process, the following must be done.

1. File Articles of Corporation – California law allows for the cultivation / distribution of marijuana, as long as it’s not being done for profit.

2. Obtain Permits – This next step involves getting a California Seller’s permit from the state. This is due to the fact medical marijuana is subject to sales tax. On a local level, many cities and counties require you to get additional permits, such as a business license + zoning permit. This is done on a local level.

3. Create an Application Process – In order to ensure that new patients and primary caregivers are legitimate – a complete and rigorous application must be created. This needs to include information like a physician’s name, their contact information, in addition to other personal identifying information. You need to keep copies of the application paperwork, ID cards, and other physician referral information. After getting the application materials, it’s important you verify the information which was provided by contacting the physician who issued the recommendation. If the patient has a California medical marijuana ID card – then you need to verify the validity of this ID card. During the signup process, make sure you require members to sign an agreement confirming they will not distribute or use marijuana for anything besides medical purposes.

4. Reasonable Fees – California law requires that medical marijuana be sold on a non-profit basis. As a result of this, medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives are limited in the amount they can charge for the medical marijuana. The marijuana can be given for free, or distributed in exchange for services provided to collective or it’s members. Any reasonable charged fees must be done in accordance with what’s necessary to cover overheard and operating expenses.

4. Amount of Marijuana – You are not allowed to grow, or possess, more than 99 plants. Always be aware of this limit when doing business.

Why Medical Marijuana Dispensary’s Often Fail

Dispensary’s often see a large amount of foot traffic. This results in significant neighborhood complaints, which causes police raids and harassment from local officials. As a result, it’s important that your facility is professional, friendly, and maintains order. You should consider hiring security guards in order to maintain order.

  • It’s good not to advertise flamboyantly the nature of your business. Don’t put up excessive signs/symbols, which attract the attention of law enforcement.
  • Keep a clean facility, and hire security in order to discourage unwanted individuals.
  • Create a positive relationship with local law enforcement individuals. Show them you are interested in observing rules and regulations, and are not trying to subvert their authority.

Be Aware of Local Rules

Local rules can add additional red-tape, potentially, for those operating medical marijuana collectives/cooperatives. California law sets minimum requirements, but allows for local governments to add additional restrictions. Certain counties, such as Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County, have put a hold on issuing new licenses to medical marijuana dispensaries.

Non-Compliance is a Big Problem

If you run a facility not in accordance with state and local regulations, you may be exposing yourself and your employees to criminal accusations. If you don’t run your dispensary properly, you could be accused of possession of marijuana, selling it, intent to distribute, or even cultivating it. These are big charges, which can lead to big jail time. Due to the potential risks, it makes no sense to act in a way that is against the law. As a result, it’s important you speak to a lawyer who can help you setup a medical marijuana dispensary.

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What Happens During DUI Probation

If you are convicted of DUI – there can be negative consequences on your life for many, many, years. Probation is a very common penalty faced by those convicted of driving under the influence. The reason courts give probation after a DUI is to prevent the likelihood of repeat DUIs in the future. Almost every state in the USA enforces some form of probation period after you’re convicted of a DUI. The exact conditions can vary, state to state. This blog post is designed to help you understand what will happen during a dui probation.

What Happens During DUI Probation

If you find yourself dealing with a DUI probation, you should be prepared for the following:

  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Device which monitors your overall alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol abuse classes
  • Drug testing – at random
  • Fines
  • Higher Insurance Rates
  • Criminal Record

Suspension of Your Driver’s License 

Most likely, your driver’s license will probably suspended. Some states go as far as revoking it permanently. Other states may simply put restrictions on your driving privileges for a period of time. For example, you may only be allowed to drive certain hours of the day, or you may only be allowed to drive to + from work and home. It can vary.

If you have a commercial driver’s license – that too may get revoked for several years, after getting a DUI. This could result in your termination from your job (since you can no longer drive!). If you find yourself in this situation, it’s highly recommended that you consult a lawyer. In situation of extreme hardship (sole bread winner of the family, etc), it may be possible to negotiate a reinstatement of your license.

Device To Monitor Your Drinking

If you’re on probation for a DUI – some states will mandate that you wear a device which monitors how much you drink. For those who are accused of repeat DUI offenses – this is mandatory. There are typically two types of monitoring devices that are required during DUI probation .

1. Bracelet worn around ankle – This bracelet will check your blood alcohol content based on perspiration from your skin. Its something that’s common for repeat DUI offender.

2. Car device – this is a device that will attach to the dashboard of your car, and requires you to take a breathlyzer test before turning on the car. This is referred to as an Ignition interlock device. It is a safeguard to prevent you from driving if you’ve been drinking.

Both devices report to your probation officer. If you drink excessively while on probation, it’s likely your officer will find out. Penalties for getting caught can be quite extreme and excessive due to the fact they want to send a clear signal your behavior is unacceptable.

Alcohol Abuse Classes

Typically, the courts will demand you take alcohol abuse classes while on DUI probation. These classes will normally focus on alcohol, drug use, and DUI prevention. The length of your attendance can vary, from a few months, up to a year or more. It all depends on the courts.

Random Drug Testing

You will often be randomly drug tested, while you’re on probation. Even though you’re already on a device – you will be subjected to random tests for other substances, like marijuana, etc. The court system does this in order to make sure you’re not tricking the monitoring device. It’s the job of your probation officer to make sure you’re complying with the terms of your probation sentence – and that means their job depends on it! It’s important that you remember you can get convicted of a DUI again – if you take drugs, or abuse prescription drugs.

Keep a Clean Slate

Depending on the state you live in – you will be required to keep a clean criminal record while serving probation. You cannot slip up, at all, or you’ll face huge repercussions. Probation is a phase where you earn the right to get back towards living your life without any punishment. You have to earn it, each day, by “being good.” For example, if you even commit a traffic violation – this could be a violation of your probation agreement. If you commit another crime, not only will you be prosecuted for this new charge, you’ll also be charged for violating your probation as well. As a result, it’s extremely important to keep your criminal record clean.

Car Insurance Goes Up

If you’re on probation for a DUI – and are allowed to drive, it will undoubtedly come attached with higher car insurance rates. Your car insurance company will definitely be aware of your DUI charges – and will increase your insurance premium. Being convicted of DUI makes it so you are a higher risk from an insurance and liability standpoint. Your insurance rates could be higher for up to 5 years!