Category Archives: General

Defining Immigration Law

Immigration law is defined as a law that refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.

Immigration law is also defined, regarding foreign citizens, to be related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship. Federal immigration law determines whether a person is an alien, the rights, duties, and obligations associated with being an alien in the United States, and how aliens gain residence or citizenship within the United States. It also provides the means by which certain aliens can become legally naturalized citizens with full rights of citizenship. Immigration law serves as a gatekeeper for the nation’s border, determining who may enter, how long they may stay, and when they must leave.

Immigration laws vary from country to country and they vary according to the political climate. Within the United States, Congress has complete authority over immigration. States by themselves typically have limited legislative authority when it comes to immigration. This means the federal government must create the policies and enforce them.

Federal government controls immigration through their visa policies. There are two types of visas: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas. The government will primarily issue nonimmigrant visas to people who are just touring the United States or here visiting for temporary business. Nonimmigrant visas themselves are divided into eighteen different types. There are only a few nonimmigrant visas available that allow the holder to work in the United States.

Immigrant visas are different in that they do permit their holders to stay in the United States permanently and work toward applying for citizenship. Aliens with immigrant visas can also work in the United States. Congress will limit the quantity of immigrant visas and they typically have a cap.

The issue of illegal immigration came more to the forefront of Congress in 1986 when they enacted the Immigration Reform and Control Act. This law toughened criminal sanctions for employers who hired illegal aliens, denied illegal aliens federally funded welfare benefits, and legitimized some aliens through an amnesty program.

Following, in 1990 came the Immigration Act which instituted the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Starting in 1991, every year the Attorney General, decided from information gathered over a five year period the regions or country that were considered High Admission or Low Admission States. A High Admission region or country was one that has had 50,000 immigrants or more acquiring a permanent residency visa. The High Admission regions were not given visas under this act in order to promote diversity. There were 6 different regions: Africa; Asia; Europe; North America; Oceania; South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Visas were given to countries in these regions that did not meet the quota. To qualify for this visa the immigrants had to have a high school diploma or its equivalent. They also had to have at least 2 years of work experience along with 2 years of training at that job. The Secretary of State  kept track of the immigrants’ age, occupation, education, and what they considered important characteristics or information. The Secretary of State issued visas to the immigrants who met all these qualifications using random selection. The children and the spouses of the immigrants that were approved were also granted visas to obtain permanent residency.

This was followed in 1996 with The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).  The IIRIRA eliminated the term “entry,” replacing it with “admission.”  An application for admission occurs whenever an alien arrives in the U.S. regardless of whether the arrival occurs at a designated port-of-entry. Applicants at either designated ports or otherwise must submit to an inspection by U.S. customs, even if the applicant possesses an immigrant visa.

On March 1, 2003, the Department of Homeland Security opened, replacing the INS.  Within the Department, three different agencies – U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement (CBE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – now handle the duties formerly held by the INS.

Immigration law is constantly being challenged and changes as needs and times change.

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

What is a Cybercrime?

Cybercrime or computer crime is defined as any crime that involves a computer and a network where the computers may or may not have played an instrumental part in the commission of a crime. Netcrime differs in that it refers more precisely to criminal exploitation of the Internet. Such crimes include: hacking, copyright infringement, child pornography and child grooming.

Cybercrime encompasses a broad range of activities. These activities are typically divided into two categories: 1) crimes that target computer networks or devices directly 2)crimes facilitated by computer networks or devices, the primary target of which is independent of the computer network or device. Crimes that target computer networks include computer viruses, denial-of-service attacks and malware.

Computer Viruses – A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and then infect a computer. The term virus and malware are often confused in these instances.  A true virus can spread from one computer to another in some form of executable code, when its host is taken to the target computer. Viruses can increase their chances of spreading to other computers by infecting files on a network file system or a file system that is accessed by another computer.

Malware – Malware or malicious code includes computer viruses such as computer worms, Trojan horses, rootkits, spyware and dishonest adware. Computer worms can exploit security vulnerabilities that spread to other computers through networks. Worms and Trojan horses, like viruses, may harm a computer system’s data or performance. Others do nothing to call attention to themselves. Software is considered to be malware based on the perceived intent of the creator rather than any particular features. The prevalence of malware as a vehicle for organized Internet crime, along with the general inability of traditional anti-malware protection platforms (products) to protect against the continuous stream of unique and newly produced malware, has seen the adoption of a new mindset for businesses operating on the Internet: the acknowledgment that some sizable percentage of Internet customers will always be infected for some reason or another, and that they need to continue doing business with infected customers. The result is a greater emphasis on back-office systems designed to spot fraudulent activities associated with advanced malware operating on customers’ computers.

Denial of Service Attacks – These attacks are an attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. Although the means to carry out, motives for, and targets of a DoS attack may vary, it generally consists of the concerted efforts of a person or people to prevent an Internet site or service from functioning efficiently. Perpetrators of DoS attacks typically target sites or services hosted on high-profile web services such as banks, credit card payment gateways, and even root nameservers. The term is generally used with regards to computer networks , but is not limited to this field.

With computer crimes, the computer can be a source of evidence. If the computer was not directly used for criminal purposes, it can be an excellent device for record keeping, particularly given the power to encrypt the data. If this evidence can be obtained and decrypted, it can be of great value to criminal investigators.

Other types of cybercrime range from small crimes such as spam, to larger crimes such as cyberterroism. How are such crimes defined?
Spam – The unsolicited sending of bulk email for commercial purposes, is unlawful to varying degrees . As applied to email, specific anti-spam laws are relatively new, however limits on unsolicited electronic communications have existed in some forms for some time.
Fraud – Computer fraud is any dishonest misrepresentation of fact intended to let another to do or refrain from doing something which causes loss. In this context, the fraud will result in obtaining a benefit by altering computer input, destroying or suppressing output, altering or deleting stored data and altering or misusing existing system tools for fraudulent purposes.
Obscene or offensive content -The content of websites and other electronic communications may be distasteful, obscene or offensive for a variety of reasons. In some instances these communications may be illegal.
Many jurisdictions place limits on certain speech and can ban racist, blasphemous, politically subversive, libelous or slanderous, seditious or or inflammatory material that tends to incite hate crimes.
Harassment – Obscenities and derogatory comments at specific individuals focusing for example on gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation.

Crimes are committed each day, with respects to the cyber world. Each crime is defined at different levels, although each is punishable in a court of law.

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

Hospital and Medical Malpractice

Hospital malpractice is defined as “Any physical injury to a patient, negligence or malpractice that takes place in a hospital. Hospital malpractice can be the result of the negligence of any physician, pharmacists, hospital staff member, nurses, and hospital technicians.” Medical malpractice is as a similar term, in that it is defined as “Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care professional.” One takes place in a hospital, and the other is based on the negligence itself.

Accusations of malpractice have been controversial and a growing issue since the 1970s. Physicians feel there are too many malpractice suits being litigated, and in that, have urged legal reforms to curb large damage awards. Tort attorneys have argued that negligence suits are an effective way of compensating victims of negligence, as well as policing the medical profession.

How does one prove they have been a victim of medical malpractice? To have a case, one must prove four elements: (1) a duty of care was owed by the physician; (2) the physician violated the applicable standard of care; (3) the person suffered a compensable injury; and (4) the injury was caused, or proximately caused, by the substandard conduct. The burden of proving these elements is on the plaintiff in a malpractice lawsuit.

The same elements are applied for hospital malpractice. One has to prove that the hospital staff engaged in incorrect or negligent treatment which in turn caused suffering or emotional, physical or financial harm as a result. For this specific type of malpractice to occur, the care provided by a hospital staff member has to be proven that it was not within the reasonable standards of other professionals practicing in the same manner.

Hospital malpractice generally  includes these elements:

Mistaken Diagnosis:  When a diagnosis is wrongfully determined it may prolong the time to necessary treatment for the correct diagnosis. Additional physical harm may also occur because of faulty recommendations for an incorrect diagnosis. This could create more pain, suffering, or emotional distress.

Failure to Treat a Patient:  All patients must be treated in a timely and a professionally correct manner upon entering a physician or hospital environment if a hospital fails to treat a patient, they could be held liable in the court of law.

Improper Use of Medical Equipment:  If medical equipment is used incorrectly by any staff or personnel employed within a hospital, this could be cause of hospital malpractice.  If the improper use further injures a patient, or does not correct the problem as per the staff’s belief, additional medical injury could occur as a result.

Over ninety thousand patients die each year due to medical error and/or hospital malpractice.  In 2001, The Bureau of Justice Statistics published a  report that cited 1,156 medical malpractice suits were litigated in the 75 most populous counties. Nine out of ten of the cases involved a patient who was permanently disabled or had died as a result of negligent medical care. And yet, the win rate in medical malpractice cases was 27%, significantly lower than the 52% average in tort cases. However, the median damage award of $425,000 was much higher than the average tort award of $27,000. It is important to note that these are only the cases that went to trial, and does not include cases settled out of court.

Not every failure of treatment or of a procedure is malpractice. Often doctors and hospital staff can prove that they did everything they could for a patient and that the patient still suffered pain or died.

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

Age Discrimination

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act or ADEA, is defined a that which prohibits any employer from refusing to hire, discharge or otherwise discriminate against any individual because of age. Within the act specifically prohibits age-based discrimination against employees who are at least 40 years of age and covers compensation, terms, conditions and other privileges of employment including health care benefits.

The ADEA law started in 1964 along side the Civil Rights Act. This law prohibited those who were discriminating in employment based on color, sex, national origin or religion. The statute helped women and minorities begin to gather some footing in the job industry. The original act omitted Title VII which focused on age discrimination. After three more years, the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives passed the act focusing on age.

The ADEA ruling applies to employers with 20 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as to the federal government. ADEA protections include:

Apprenticeship Programs – It is generally unlawful for apprenticeship programs, including joint labor-management apprenticeship programs, to discriminate on the basis of an individual’s age. Age limitations in apprenticeship programs are valid only if they fall within certain specific exceptions under the ADEA or if the EEOC grants a specific exemption.

Job Notices and Advertisements – The ADEA generally makes it unlawful to include age preferences, limitations, or specifications in job notices or advertisements. A job notice or advertisement may specify an age limit only in the rare circumstances where age is shown to be a “bona fide occupational qualification” (BFOQ) reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the business.

Pre-Employment Inquiries -The ADEA does not specifically prohibit an employer from asking an applicant’s age or date of birth. However, because such inquiries may deter older workers from applying for employment or may otherwise indicate possible intent to discriminate based on age, requests for age information will be closely scrutinized to make sure that the inquiry was made for a lawful purpose, rather than for a purpose prohibited by the ADEA.

Benefits – The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to specifically prohibit employers from denying benefits to older employees. Congress recognized that the cost of providing certain benefits to older workers is greater than the cost of providing those same benefits to younger workers, and that those greater costs would create a disincentive to hire older workers. Therefore, in limited circumstances, an employer may be permitted to reduce benefits based on age, as long as the cost of providing the reduced benefits to older workers is the same as the cost of providing benefits to younger workers.

Employers are permitted to coordinate retiree health benefit plans with eligibility for Medicare or a comparable state-sponsored health benefit.

Waivers of ADEA Rights – An employer may ask an employee to waive his/her rights or claims under the ADEA either in the settlement of an ADEA administrative or court claim or in connection with an exit incentive program or other employment termination program. However, the ADEA, as amended by OWBPA, sets out specific minimum standards that must be met in order for a waiver to be considered knowing and voluntary and, therefore, valid. Among other requirements, a valid ADEA waiver must:: be in writing and be understandable; specifically refer to ADEA rights or claims, not waive rights or claims that may arise in the future; be in exchange for valuable consideration; advise the individual in writing to consult an attorney before signing the waiver; and provide the individual at least 21 days to consider the agreement and at least seven days to revoke the agreement after signing it

Some positions certainly have requirements that one of a certain age could not meet, for this reason, the ADEA does allow employers to provide for a bona fide occupational qualification defense. An employer seeking to use this defense must show that its age classification is reasonably necessary to the safe and proper performance of the job in question. The employer must also show either:1) that it is reasonable to believe that all or most employees of a certain age cannot perform the job safely, or 2) that it is impossible or highly impractical to test employees’ abilities to handle all tasks associated with the job on an individualized basis.

ADEA also allows employers to discharge or otherwise discipline an employee for good cause, and to use reasonable factors other than age in their employment decisions.

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

The Value of A Contract

A contract by definition is an agreement between two or more parties, which if it contains the elements of a valid legal agreement, is enforceable by law or a binding arbitration. A contract is also an exchange of promises with specific legal remedies for breach. A breach of contract can include compensatory remedy if one of the parties within the contract defaults.

An oral agreement between two parties can constitute a legal binding contract as much as a written. The limitation is that with a written agreement, parties have material evidence to prove the terms.

Contract law is classified as a general law of obligations. The contract defines the obligations between two or more parties.

The eight key requirements for the creation of a contract are:

* Agreement (Offer and Acceptance)
* Capacity to contract
* Consideration
* Legal purpose
* Legality of form
* Intention to create legal relations
* Consent to contract
* Vitiating factors: Mistates, undue influence, misrepresentation, duress

A contract is also an offer and acceptance. One party makes an offer and the other accepts. This is also called a concurrence of wills or ad idem. There are also unilateral contracts whereupon obligations are imposed upon one party upon acceptance by performance of a condition.  With this type of contract, offer and acceptance, it does not always need to be expressed orally or in writing. It can also be considered an implied contract. An implied contract can take two forms. The first, a contract which is implied in fact. This means, the circumstances imply that parties have reached an agreement even thought they have not done so expressly. An example would be if a person goes to a doctor for a checkup and agrees to pay a fair price for the service. If that person refuses to pay, he or she has breached a contract implied in fact. If one refuses to pay after being examined, they have breached a contract implied in fact.
A contract that is implied in law is also called a quasi-contract due to it not truly being a contract but rather a means for the courts to remedy situations in which one party would be unjustly enriched we he or she not required to compensate the other.

Other contracts that are not written include verbal exchanges, which again can be either implied in fact or implied in law and are legally binding. Some jurisdictions have rules or statues that may render valid oral contracts unenforceable. This is typically the case in oral contracts involving large amounts of money or real estate. Such oral contracts violate the common law statue of frauds which state statues require certain contracts to be in writing. For example, if a person agrees to buy a car for $9,000 in a jurisdiction which requires a contract for the sale of goods over US $500 to be in writing to be enforceable.

Contracts that do not meet the requirements of common law or statutory Statutes of frauds are unenforceable but are not necessarily thereby void.

Getting a contract in writing, even though it may qualify as a verbal agreement, can reinforce both parties stance and help them stay out of courts in cases of disagreements. Most contracts should cover a few key points that include: if a contract for the purchase or sale of goods, terms involved such as time and place of delivery, time and method of payment, product description and unit price. Contracts should also outline clearly who is doing what and when, what parties are not going to do, how much is being charged and when payment is due.

You may also detail what the parties will do should something unexpected occur. For example, under what circumstances may a party cancel the contract? Who bears the risk of damage or loss during shipping? How will disputes be resolved?

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

Understanding Identity Theft

Identity theft, by definition, is a type of fraud wherein an individual assumes another individual’s identity.  This is often the case when an individual is interested in obtaining another’s credit or finances, including all other benefits that may come with these interests.

Between 2008 and 2009 over eleven million American’s lives were affected by identity theft.  If this trend remains, one in every twenty Americans will be affected by identity theft by the end of 2010.  Generally, statistics have proven that young adults and seniors are most at risk for identity theft, as of the end of 2009.

Legally, there are several types of identity theft that exist:

Criminal Identity Theft:  Criminal identity theft is when an individual wants to use another person’s identity to perform a crime or to conduct any sort of criminal activity.  Crimes may include stealing a credit card, stealing bank account information or a phone number/bill or permanent address.  These stolen items, including forms of identification and credit are often used to make large purchases, to travel or obtain personal loans.

Medical Identity Theft:  When a person is looking to receive medical attention or obtain prescriptions of any sort, medical identity theft can occur.  Using counterfeit checks for payment, as well as payment with an ATM/check card often occurs with medical identity theft.

Commercial Identity Theft:  In this instance, an individual or business will use another business’s name, credit, address, reputation, etc., for credit purposes or to obtain new business.  For the business whose identity has been stolen, even if momentarily, a loss of credit, reputation and finances can be extorted from that business.

Identity Cloning:  An individual who commits identity cloning will assume another person’s identity in their daily life to find a job, steal benefits or to obtain a passport.  Sometimes an individual will even change their physical appearance to match that of the identity they are stealing.

There are several ways in which an individual or entity can steal an identity.  There are many records that exist within online and public systems.  Phone and bank records can be stolen via the mail system, and some go so far as to break into a home to take personal information.

If your identity is stolen, what should you do?  Initially one should consider filing a police report and notifying their creditors of the stolen information.  Bank cards, credit cards and other forms of identification can be monitored, if asked.

The Federal Trade Commission is now tracking losses that occur due to identity theft.  Due to the high numbers of incidents, identity fraud insurance is now available through most insurance companies.  Although this may not protect you, your finances or information completely, it is a proactive measure that is often low in annual cost.

Identity theft occurs around the globe, every day.  It is important to fully understand proactive measure to take, but also, procedures to take if identity theft occurs.  If identity theft is not caught within a timely manner, the amount of debt that may occur could be substantial.

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

Adoption Law

Adoption is defined as the legal process by which a person becomes a lawful member of a family different from their birth family. An order of adoption is ruled by the court, granting adoptive parents the same rights and responsibilities as parents whose children are born to them. The adopted child therefore receives the rights to inheritance, child support, having their name legally changed and an issuance of an amended birth certificate.

There are different types of adoption. They are classified as independent, agency, stepparent, relative placement and adult adoption. An independent adoption occurs when adoptive families and birth parents find each other on their own or through the assistance of an adoption intermediary. Agency adoptions are different in that they are handled through a child placement agency that is licensed by the State Department of Social Services. Stepparent adoptions are defined when a family adopting is a birth parent with a new spouse and if the other parent has relinquished rights. Adult adoption is the process whereupon a person eighteen years or older is legally adopted by one or more persons eighteen years or older. Last, relative placement adoption is when the birth parent(s) is still a minor, has died or is disabled, or the child has been removed due to abuse or neglect, and another relative assumes physical custody and responsibility for a child.

In the United States, two-thirds of all adoptions are agency adoptions.

Who may adopt? The U.S. Constitution does not outline fundamentally the right to adopt. Requirements for adoption are based on individual state law. Most states have modeled their adoption statues upon the Uniform Adoption Act. This act provides that any individual may adopt another individual in an effort to create the legal relationship of child and parent, subject to the adopting individual having reached adulthood. In regards to factors that may disqualify one who can adopt, differs by states. The Uniform Adoption Act does not prohibit the unmarried from adopting but some states do. Other states disqualify those suffering from physical or mental disabilities from adoption and/or have ‘reputability requirements’.

With reputability requirements, an individual cannot petition for adoption unless the court makes an official finding that the individual is acceptable as an adoptive parent. This requires that an investigatory report be submitted by a state agency qualifying the individual. Details such as the potential adoptive parent’s religion, social history, financial status, moral fitness, mental and physical fitness and criminal background are weighed.

In many states, gays and lesbians are restricted from adopting. Some jurisdictions consider sexual orientation as one factor when considering if a parent fits the acceptability requirement. Yet, out-of-state adoptions must be recognized per Adar v Smith. In the U.S. there are 270,000 children living with same-sex couples, one quarter of these or 65,000 have been adopted.

Before adoption can occur, the birth mother and birth father, (if he has properly established paternity) hold the primary right of consent to adoption of their child. Either one or both parents could have their rights terminated for reasons that include abandonment, failure to support the child, mental incompetence, or parental unfitness due to abuse or neglect. When neither parent is able to give consent, legal entities are given this responsibility. These entities include agencies that have custody of the child such as a person who has been given custody, a guardian, a court having jurisdiction over the child, a close relative of the child or a ‘next friend’ of the child who is a responsible adult appointed by the court.

Older children must give consent to their adoption. Most states age of consent is at 14. Each state’s law specifies when consent can be executed. Most states specify that a birth parent may execute consent to adoption any time after the birth of the child. Other states require a waiting period. The shortest waiting periods are 12 and 24 hours – the longest are 10 and 15 days. The right of a parent to revoke their consent is strictly limited and some states it is irrevocable.

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

Franchise Law

Understanding franchise law starts with the understanding of the term franchise within the realm of business. Franchise business is defined, as a method a company uses to distribute its products or services through retail outlets owned by independent, third party operators. The independent operator does business using the marketing methods, trademarked goods and services and the goodwill and name recognition developed by the company.

For all of this, the independent operator does pay an initial fee and royalties to the owner of the franchise.

Franchise law was primarily established in 1979. The FTC Franchise Rule requires that covered franchisors supply a full disclosure of the information a prospective franchisee needs in order to make a rational decision about whether or not to invest. This disclosure must take place at the first personal contact where the subject of buying a franchise is discussed and at least 10 days prior to signing any contract with the franchisee or accepting any money.

In regards to state laws, the FTC doesn’t require franchisor or business opportunity sellers to register with it or any other government agency. However, many states do have registration rules requiring franchise sellers and registration. Some state laws are more stringent than others and most have adopted the FDD guidelines for their disclosure requirements.

In receiving your disclosure statement from the franchiser, you will obtain 1) a written disclosure statement or offering circular that sets forth certain information about the business to be franchised, and 2) proposed franchise agreement or contract.

A third attachment, the ‘earnings-claim’ statement may or may not be furnished by the franchiser. All documentation, including the earnings-claim statement is contained in a single form that is referred to as the “Uniform Franchise Offering Circular” (UFOC).

By law, this disclosure has to be written clearly and concisely and in narrative form. You should not need an attorney to interpret it.

Despite these requirements, this does not mean the offering has the approval or recommendation of the government or that the information is complete or accurate. The government does not weigh the risk factors of a franchise. It is on the shoulders of the buyer to confirm and verify the contents of the information.

Once a decision is made to purchase rights to a franchise, a franchise agreement is signed. This agreement legally binds both parties to the obligations and rights laid out in it. One should have an attorney review the agreement before signing as most agreements are one-sided and favor the franchiser. The agreement will outline provisions in great detail such as the obligations of the franchiser and franchisee, training and operational support, territory and exclusivity, renewal rights, investment cost, selling or transferring of the franchise, advertising policies, franchisee termination issues, settlements of disputes, operating practices and attorney fees.

Each agreement will be unique to each franchise and could depend on the type of business, which is involved.

Consulting an attorney is most advisable before purchasing a franchise as the laws can change. Recently, in 2007, under a Federal Trade Commission rule, all franchisors in the U.S. are now required to make disclosures to prospective franchisees using the FTC’s Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) format. This rule replaced the FTC’s 1979 trade regulation rule on franchising.

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

The Right To Privacy

“Privacy” comes from the Latin term privates, which means, separated from the rest or deprived of something.  People, cultures, and nations vary in their expectations regarding how much privacy a person is entitled to or what constitutes an invasion of privacy.

Privacy rights in the United States began with British common law, which at the time protected only the physical interference of life and property. Over time, these rights expanded to ‘recognition of man’s spiritual nature and his feelings and intellect.” Later, there was the ‘right to be let alone’ and the definition of property would comprise ‘every form of possession, intangible as well as tangible.’

A greater interest in privacy grew from the growth of print media, especially newspapers. Newspaper journalism in the mid to late 1800s became extremely sensationalistic. In addition, with the discovery of the portable camera, came more candid snapshots of people in public places. Such invasions of privacy spurred the Warren and Brandeis article “The Right to Privacy”. In it, they explained “Political, social and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, needs to grow to meet the demands of society.”

Warren and Brandeis add, “the press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency.  Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery.”

Within the Warren and Brandeis article it was also written that privacy laws should protect both businesses and private individuals.

From this, privacy laws were created. Today, privacy laws are classified into General and Specific. General privacy laws have an overall bearing on the personal information of individuals and affects the policies that govern many different areas of information. Specific privacy laws are broke down into specific categories that include: physical, informational, organizational, and spiritual/intellectual.

1. Physical – Physical privacy prevents intrusions into one’s physical space or solitude. This would include: preventing intimate acts or one’s body from being seen by others, preventing unwelcome searching of one’s personal possessions, preventing unauthorized access to one’s home or vehicle, medical privacy and the right to make medical decisions without governmental coercion.

2. Informational – Data privacy, referring to the evolving relationship between technology and the legal right to, or public expectation of privacy in the collection and sharing of data about one’s self.  Informational asks how data relating to a person or persons is collected and stored. Informational privacy also covers financial privacy, information about a person’s financial transactions or their purchase history. Internet privacy controls what information is revealed to another over the Internet, who can access this and control it. Medical privacy allows ones medical records from being revealed to another.

3. Organization – The keeping of activities and secrets from being revealed to other organizations and individuals between government agencies, corporations or other organizations. For governments, they may be able to invoke ‘executive privilege’ to maintain classified information.

4. Spiritual and Intellectual – The freedom to practice religion and have ones own preference to spiritual choices.

Privacy laws are ever evolving due to technological advances and necessity. People, cultures, and nations also change their expectations regarding how much privacy a person is entitled to and what constitutes an invasion of privacy.

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

Claiming Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that occurs when an individual or business cannot repay debts, and there is not another option to satisfy the collection effort.  Although this process may devastate an individual or business’s credit for several years, it will lessen the immediate embarrassments and stresses of bill collection and unpaid debts.

Bankruptcy may become a process that is tedious and difficult to overcome.  There are numerous state regulations, exemptions and forms that must be completed to fulfill a lawful statement of bankruptcy.  A lawyer can not only assist in completing the necessary paperwork, but can also help choose which Chapter of bankruptcy best fits your financial situation.

There are four types of bankruptcy under law:

Chapter 7 – This type is referred to as ‘liquidation’ or ‘straight’ bankruptcy.  In Chapter 7, the individual in debt is to liquidate all properties that exceed exemption limits, to pay off collecting creditors.  With straight bankruptcy, a petition to the court is filed to eliminate all debts, in exchange for your property.  Chapter 7 can only be filed six years after the date of the previous filing.

Chapter 11 – This type of bankruptcy is mainly used by businesses.  Very few individuals file Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Although, if a debtor has an extremely large amount of debt, a lawyer may refer this option.

Chapter 12 – This chapter of bankruptcy is reserved only for family farmers.

Chapter 13 – Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a debtor to create a payment plan for which to repay collectors of unpaid debts.  With this, collectors will receive their payments from substantial withdraws from a current income.  This chapter will allow an individual to keep property such as a house or vehicle, which may be lost in other bankruptcy filings.  The court system must accept your payment plan, for the filing to take place.  Chapter 13 bankruptcies can be filed at any time, without a waiting period between filings.

Any of these filings can take between seven to ten years to clear from your credit record.  It is important to attempt to rebuild your credit score, while these claimant years take place.  Beware of fraudulent advertisements for an easy rebuild of credit.  There is not a simple fix to starting a fresh credit report, although with time, your credit may be stronger than it was initially.

There are several financial problems that bankruptcy cannot cure.  To name a few:  child support, alimony, criminal fines, some taxes and variant student loans.  Debts that also occur after bankruptcy has been filed will not be cleared after the filing has been submitted.  Also, if anyone has co-signed on an individual’s loans or unpaid debts, the co-signer may have to repay the debt completely.

There is much information to gather before and after filing for bankruptcy.  Although bankruptcy may assist with the financial problems of the moment, there is much that makes up a lawful bankruptcy filing.  As always, it is in your favor to understand the law and its requirements.

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