Search and Seizure

Search and seizure is a legal procedure used mainly in common and civil laws. It is formally defined as the procedure used by the authorities (mainly police officers) and/or their agents, to search a person and/or his/her property. This takes place if suspicion of, or if an actual crime has been committed. The findings of the search are then seized, and used in the court of law as evidence for or against the crime committed.

There are certain rights and regulations that must be obeyed and followed with respects to these procedures, as per laws in order. The fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States, explains, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures…”. This basically states that every citizen of the United States has a personal right to privacy of their own person and their owned belongings.

Some of the search and seizure regulations with respects to laws and court procedures are as follows:

The Search Must be Valid: To perform a valid search, with respects to the court of law, there are several musts that should occur. One or more of these actions can result in a valid search, validated by the regulated court system.

Voluntary Consent by the Person or Owner of Searchable Properties: The owner of the property, or the individual them self must consent to being searched. If this is witnessed by two or more officials or authorities, the search can be me made. In cases wherein this may occur, these officials are not required to inform the possible suspect that they can refuse this search (requesting a search warrant). It is always in an individual’s best interest to understand these rights.

A Search Warrant Must be Obtained: The authorities looking to search a person or property, must obtain a valid search warrant from the court system. This search warrant must be presented to the owner of such properties, as information that the search is lawfully acceptable.

With respects to automobiles, the pre-search requirement expectations tend to be lowered. With reasonable suspicion the authorities and/or their agents are able to search a vehicle if they suspect crime or criminal activity is in effect. This method of search is allowable due to ‘exigent circumstances’. With this method, the authorities are under the belief that evidence may be destroyed if not found quickly, or that the suspicious property may immediately be of harm to citizens.

If the search is not valid in a case regarding either a person, property or automobile, the information gathered cannot be used against the suspect in a court of law. This makes authorities act extremely carefully in collecting the necessary data to complete a search.

As always, it is of best interest of any suspected individual to speak with an attorney regarding their legal rights, with respects to search and seizure. Defense in a court of law, can be a financial catastrophe, often requiring lawsuit funding. Being prepared and informed is often of great assistance.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com

White-Collar Crime

White-collar crime is defined as a crime committed by a person of respectability and high social status in the course of his occupation. This term was coined in 1939. Today, there are many complicated crimes that are often labeled white-collar – such crimes include fraud, bribery, insider trading, embezzlement, computer crime, copyright infringement, money laundering, identity theft and forgery.

The concept of a white-collar crime was first used by Professor Edwin Hardin Sutherland who differentiated crimes committed by those who worked in the business world as to those who committed street crimes. He presented his theory to the American Sociological Society as a study. The study would take into account crime and high society – something that had not been looked at in and of itself. In his presentation, he defined the crime by someone’s social status. His aim was to prove that white-collar crime and criminals were less likely to be put in jail compared to those of more visible and typical crimes.

Sutherland took the concept further and broke down crimes into two categories with crimes such as arson, burglary, theft, assault, rape and vandalism listed under blue-collar crimes which were further explained or blamed on psychological, associational and structural factors. With this, white-collar crimes were committed by criminals who were opportunists, people who learned they could take advantage of their position in life and their circumstances to accumulate financial gain. Such people were often educated, intelligent, and had affluence. These people were also smart enough to con their victims.

Today, crime is classified by the type of crime and the topic. One such type would be property crime, economic crime or corporate crime. Many crimes can only be committed due to the identity of the offender. Because of the trust given to certain individuals with particular positions or titles, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has defined white-collar crime to “illegal acts characterized by deceit, concealment or violation of trust and which are not dependent upon the application or threat of physical force or violence.”

Motives for white-collar crime have been defined as due to greed, fear of loss of face. Studies by Applebaum and Chambliss (1997, 117) state that those who commit crimes within their occupation due so to promote their own personal interests. This is done through altering records, overcharging or cheating clients. They state further that organizational or corporate crimes occur when corporate executives commit criminal acts to benefit their company by overcharging or price fixing, false advertising, etc.

Those who commit blue-collar crimes tend to be penalized more often due to the fact that the crime is more visible to police, while white-collar crimes are less obvious and sometimes more difficult to prove. Blue-collar crime often uses more physical force whereas with white-collar crimes the victim is less obvious and reporting can be complicated due to confidentiality issues. There is also the issue of how society sees the crime. Many may believe a crime committed with force or violence should be more punishable than a financial crime – yet when one looks at the effect on the victim, it is possible that white-collar crimes are more devastating as they can rob people of their entire life savings, something that cannot be recovered as opposed to the effects of being mugged.

Those who commit white-collar crimes serve less time or are not penalized due to the fact that they can often afford a better. Last, if a white-collar criminal is put in prison, it is usually in a minimum-security prison, a place that offers greater freedom and a safer environment than that of maximum-security prisons.

White-collar crime has possibly always been prevalent, but today, the details of its effects have become more widely understood and known making it more and more difficult for such criminals to escape punishment.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com

Foreclosure and Law

A foreclosure can formally be defined as the act of a lien holder, bank or other such entity terminating the ability for a mortgagor to redeem their property or equity within. This process is usually due to default, and forces the sale of property; often by auction. The proceeds of such sale are used to fulfill the debts owed in the case of default, as well as additional costs due to the lien holder.

In an economy that is being financially tossed upside down, foreclosures are unfortunately becoming more of a regularity in today’s world. This court-ordered event can take place for many reasons. The most common reasons for foreclosure are: overdue taxes, unpaid contractor bills, unpaid or late homeowners association dues or other collective debts.

There are several types of foreclosures. The two types most widely used, are:

Foreclosure by Power of Sale: This ‘power of sale’ clause if often written right into the mortgage or deed of a home. It is also known as non-judicial foreclosure. The lender files a lawsuit against the borrower post-default. This process then includes the sale of a property by the mortgage holder. It is a much quicker and cheaper option than most, but may still require a great deal of paperwork and hassle for the borrower.

Foreclosure by Judicial Sale: This type of foreclosure is available in all states, although requirements may vary from state to state. The sale of the property is monitored by a court, with the proceeds of the sale going to fulfill the debt on the mortgage. The remainder of the proceeds go to debts owed to the lender. These hearings will often occur in state or local courts. Vary rarely, such a case will take place within a federal court.

There are several other types of foreclosures, although, they are rarely used due to their limited availability. The length of time for a foreclosure to take place can vary from state to state. Terms of short sale, special arrangements with the lender or refinancing can assist homeowners in avoiding foreclosures temporarily. Some homeowners may even claim bankruptcy to attempt to avoid the foreclosure of a home indefinitely.

A foreclosure can also be contested, if the debtor believes the debts are not valid. The bank or lien holder may be sued, in this instance, to stop the foreclosure from progressing. The bank or lien holder can also be sued to collect additional damages due by the borrower. As foreclosures can remain on an individual’s credit report for up to seven years, it is always worth asking a professional for assistance or opinion.

On the flip side of a foreclosure occurring for a homeowner, an individual or family who may not have been able to afford a home initially, may find foreclosure homes to be more affordable. Although the strict loan applications via banks will remain, other lenders are often negotiating loans for ‘as is’ foreclosures each day. Consulting a professional regarding the loss or gain of a foreclosure home is recommended. As it may be a lengthy process from any angle, seeking the correct assistance is always in your favor.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com

Defining Workplace Harassment

Workplace harassment is defined as any type of unwelcome action toward an employee that leads to difficulty in performing assigned tasks or that causes the employee to feel he or she is working in a hostile environment. The term is further defined by the fact that the harassment may be based on such factors as race, gender, culture, age, sexual orientation, or religious preference.

Factors that must occur for workplace harassment to be recognized as illegal include: conduct that is unwelcome and offensive to the employee, the employee must voice his or her objection to the behavior allowing the offending person to correct their behavior, and the conduct must be of a nature that makes an impact on the employee’s ability to carry out his or her duties in an efficient and responsible manner.

Harassment in the workplace can take form in many ways. The most commonly noted are prejudiced remarks, tasteless jokes regarding one’s individual beliefs, age or sexual orientation, slurs, name-calling and irresponsible remarks made to intimidate regarding one’s age, religion or orientation.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination state discrimination occurs when it involves:

* Unfair treatment because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

* Harassment by managers, co-workers, or others in your workplace, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.

* Denial of a reasonable workplace accommodation that you need because of your religious beliefs or disability.
* Retaliation because you complained about job discrimination, or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The EEOC also states that if you believe that you have been discriminated against at work, you can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” All of the laws enforced by EEOC, except for the Equal Pay Act, require you to file a Charge of Discrimination with their department before you can file a job discrimination lawsuit against your employer. In addition, an individual, organization, or agency may file a charge on behalf of another person in order to protect the aggrieved person’s identity.

Whether you are covered under EEOC laws may depend upon who your employer is. Laws vary according to the type of employer, the number of employees it has, and the type of discrimination alleged. The number of employees an employer must have will depend on the type of employer, whether they are a private company, a state or local government agency, a federal agency, an employment agency or a labor union. Coverage will also be dependent upon the type of discrimination alleged. For example, under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, discrimination is prohibited based on national origin by smaller employers with 4 to 14 employees as well as larger organizations.

Who isn’t covered? People who are working as independent contractors, meaning they are not employed by the employer.

There are strict time limits in filing with the EEOC as well. In harassment cases, you must file your charge within 180 or 300 days of the last incident of harassment. You can look at the EEOC website for more information regarding rules, regulations and filing harassment charges.

Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com