Merrell Law Firm, LLC

Hoover Area General Law Blog

Robbery convictions can come with hefty prison sentences

People accused of robbery in Alabama may face serious long-term consequences if they are convicted. There are several different kinds of theft charges, and not all of them amount to robbery. In most cases, robbery is considered a violent crime as it is classified as taking another person's property through force or the threat of force. There are several different categories of robbery charges in the state, which depend on the circumstances of the incidents involved, and sentencing can vary depending on the charges.

Before sentencing in a robbery case, an accused person must be convicted of the charges by a jury or through a guilty plea. The most serious form of a robbery charge in Alabama is robbery in the first degree and usually includes allegations that a deadly weapon was used or threatened to be used in the course of the theft. Sometimes it is referred to as "armed robbery," although the presence of a deadly weapon is not required for this charge. Sentences for robbery in the first degree can range up to 20 years to life in prison.

3 things to consider when choosing a business formation

Opening a business is an exciting time for entrepreneurs. Your dream of being your own boss is finally coming true. You have spent hours creating a business plan along with your mission and company goals and you are almost ready to take the next step: making your company a legal entity with the ability to operate in Shelby County. Part of starting a company includes selecting a business structure for your business.

The type of legal entity you choose for your company can have lasting affects on how you run your business. Here are a few things to consider before you settle on a business formation.

Divorce impacts business owners in many ways

When a divorce takes place in Alabama or any other state, it could mean significant changes for an individual. For a business owner, it is important to understand how much the company is worth and how having a business could impact the final divorce settlement. Ideally, the company's value will be assessed by an independent professional appraiser. This person should have access to any documents needed to come to a fair valuation.

It is important to note that a business owner may label any income generated by the company in two different ways. First, he or she may earn a salary comparable to anyone else who fulfilled a similar role with an organization. In addition, an owner may take a 20% return on capital if the business is qualified to do so. This may reduce an owner's income and increase the value of the company.

Collecting Social Security benefits after a divorce

For many married people in Alabama, Social Security benefits are an important asset. Even when a spouse has little or no income of their own, they may still collect up to half of their significant other's benefits if they are eligible to receive payouts. But when a marriage ends, there's understandable concern about what might happen with such benefits.

If a marriage lasted for 10 years or more, a former spouse still unmarried and eligible for Social Security benefits may be able to collect on their ex's record, provided he or she is also entitled to benefits. Even if the other spouse has remarried, the former spouse may still collect up to half of their ex's full benefits. Payouts claimed before full retirement age, however, will be reduced accordingly. Also, collection when an eligible ex-spouse has not yet applied for benefits may be possible if it's been two or more years since the divorce.

How ketosis can complicate a DUI charge

If a person in Alabama is in ketosis, it could fool a Breathalyzer machine into thinking that the person is legally intoxicated. This is because acetone is created while the body is in ketosis, which may then be expelled from the body in the form of isopropyl alcohol. However, it is important to know that a breath test is not the only way that authorities determine if a person is too impaired to drive.

For instance, an officer may determine that a driver is impaired because he or she smells the odor of alcohol on a person or the person's breath. If there is other evidence that a person is likely intoxicated, it may not matter if his or her body is in ketosis. It is also worth noting that acetone alone usually won't cause a person to register a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher.

Divorce settlements and stay-at-home mothers

Alabama is not a community property state, so when couples get a divorce there, each spouse is entitled to an equitable but not necessarily equal share of marital assets. How to determine what is equitable can be difficult when one spouse was the breadwinner and the other stayed home to raise children. While it may be fairly straightforward to assess the earnings of the spouse who has worked outside the home over the years, it can be more difficult to put a value on the other spouse's contributions.

Usually, the spouse who stays home is the woman. More than one-fourth of mothers in the United States do, and one in every 10 has a master's degree or higher. Studies have looked at how this value might be assigned and how people think it should be assessed. In one study, participants read a basic scenario with a stay-at-home mother but different variations. Overall, women tended to think the mother should be awarded more in a divorce. Men tended to award the mother more when she had a higher educational attainment.

Smart home devices and domestic violence

Technological advancements have made our lives easier in many ways. Our cell phones, for instance, make calls in addition to being powerful mini computers. Smart homes also help us manage our lives in many ways, including remotely turning off that light you forgot was on before leaving home.

As smart homes have become more prevalent, so has the use of smart homes by domestic abusers to harass their victims remotely.

Lack of accuracy, privacy in facial recognition technology

The rise in the use of facial recognition technology and the lack of standards or regulation around its use means that people in Alabama and throughout the country who have been convicted of crimes could be tracked in certain public places. Even people who are merely suspected of shoplifting without being charged could be barred from stores that chose to do so. The ban could extend far beyond the initial store and could include all the stores in the network.

One of the major issues with facial recognition technology is that there is not a single standard of accuracy. Therefore, while it might be expected that law enforcement would use more accurate technology than what is in casual commercial use, this is not necessarily the case.

Refinancing or assuming a mortgage in a divorce

Divorcing spouses often wish to remain in the family home they have lived in for many years. This presents no challenges when an agreement can be reached and primary residences are owned free and clear, but matters become more complicated when a mortgage is involved. In these situations, Alabama spouses usually decide between assuming a joint mortgage and taking out a new loan. Departing spouses generally require joint mortgages to be assumed or paid off as they would otherwise remain financially responsible and could be pursued for payment if the loan fell into arrears.

People sometimes believe that assuming a mortgage is a relatively straightforward process that involves little more than making phone calls and signing a few documents, but that is usually not the case. Most lenders will demand full documentation of all income and assets, and applications may be denied when bankers are not convinced that a newly-single party has enough income to cover the monthly costs of maintaining the property.

Study finds that young people are much likelier to be arrested

Young people in Alabama and around the country have a much greater risk of being arrested than do older adults, according to a study. People who are younger than age 26 are much likelier to be arrested, and the rates of arrest for women and Caucasian people are increasing the fastest.

Researchers with the RAND Corporation conducted the study. The researchers found that people who were between the ages of 26 and 35 were 3.6 times likelier to have been arrested than people who were over the age of 66.

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