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The Steps of the Criminal Justice Process

Posted by on Jan 21, 2020 in Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Despite the impact that criminal justice can have on our lives, very few people are familiar with the process. Everyone is familiar with the process of getting arrested, but very few people know what happens after that.

Noticing this, I decided to make a quick, easy-to-read blog post detailing the steps of the criminal justice system. To be clear, this post does not serve as legal advice, but rather as a guide that should give you an idea of what to expect. It could come in handy if you or a loved one enters the criminal justice system.

The Process

Most people enter the criminal justice system by being arrested or detained by the police. In most jurisdictions, an officer is able to arrest someone if he or she believes there is probable cause that you have committed either a felony or a misdemeanor crime. Or there may be a warrant out for your arrest. 

During your arrest, the police must inform you of your constitutional rights, such as the right to an attorney or the right to remain silent. Following your arrest, there is a certain amount of time in which you must either be charged with a crime or released. If you haven’t been charged with a crime during this time period, your lawyer can get you released by talking to the judge.

After you are arrested and charged with a crime, you will be booked. Depending on the crime, you could be released or remain in police custody until your hearing in court. At that hearing, you will be asked whether or not you wish to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” If you choose to plead “not guilty,” the judge may decide whether or not you will be released before your trial or to stay in custody until that date. 

If you choose to plead “guilty,” there is no trial. Depending on the court, you may be sentenced at the time of your plea negotiation or sentenced at a later date. The judge may decide to release you before your sentencing if it is done at a later date.

If you do choose to plead “not guilty” and go through the trial, a variety of things could happen. You could be found guilty and sentenced or you could be found not guilty, and would then be free to exit the criminal justice system. 

What to Do

If you have been arrested, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As tempting as it may seem, do not attempt to represent yourself. Your life and freedom are on the line, so the best thing you should do is leave your representation up to experts. 

If you aren’t able to hire an attorney for yourself, you will have a public defender appointed to you. Remember, you have a right to an attorney, so if you are not given one, that is a denial of your constitutional rights.

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Representing Yourself in Court

Posted by on Aug 14, 2019 in Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Not everyone has unlimited money to dish out toward excellent legal defense when they get into run-ins with the law. Hopefully, this is not an issue that a person finds themselves confronting often — if so, stop committing crimes!

However, if you find yourself facing a fine or imprisonment because of a mistake, you might be tempted to represent yourself in a court of law. This temptation can kind of make sense — nobody knows the situation as well as yourself, the person who did or did not commit the transgression!

In this article, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages that can be garnered from representing yourself in court without the help of an expert legal professional. And finally, I will give you my advice regarding whether to hire legal counsel. But first:


One of the problems with litigation is the amount of paperwork required in interactions with lawyers. Legal types love to document as much as possible, so it makes sense why someone in the field would want to make sure the payments are documented, requests are put to paper, and every single fact about a case is recorded.

But one advantage of representing yourself in court, especially for smaller cases such as traffic violations, for example, is that you will not have to deal with so much of the paperwork or documentation that is necessary when dealing with a lawyer for even the smaller cases!

Another instance of having something to gain from representing yourself in court is not having to pay for a lawyer. However, legal representation is almost always worth it, as I will point out later. But I suppose that this could be considered a very basic advantage.


Simply put, your chance of going to jail or receiving harsh punishments for a simple crime is astronomically higher if you represent yourself in court. There are decorum, customs, rules, processes, and concepts that you or I do not even know about because we lack a legal education.

No amount of penny-pinching is worth offending a judge or jury on accident, fumbling your words, being unaware of a legal requirement, or doing something out of custom with the law. The stakes are so high — even in “smaller cases” such as traffic violations, if you make a big enough of a misstep the judge could throw the book at you and require onerous fines — this is rare for experienced lawyers like those at Horst Law but almost a given if you try to be your own lawyer.


Being an attorney is not a game of dress-up or cosplay! While finding a lawyer can be a task and nobody wants to put on any additional costs (such as legal fees), your life or financial security could be at risk if you forgo tradition and try to defend yourself.

By weighing the advantages and disadvantages of self-representation, I hope it is clear that you need to hire an experienced and professional legal counsel for any case, big or small.

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Why Do I Need Lawn Aeration?

Posted by on May 28, 2019 in Lawn Care | 0 comments

It is likely that you do not know the meaning of “thatch” or “lawn aeration.” Do not worry, we are not making up a new or alien language, we are simply speaking the language of professional lawn care services that are dedicated to taking care of your yard.

In this post, I will explain some of the words that are thrown around by lawn care professionals. With some explanation, you can truly understand the need for lawn experts and their expertise on issues too advanced for the average home-owner.

What is thatch?

These guys use “thatch” to refer to the layer in a lawn that is comprised of dead clippings, rotting leaves, and debris. Thatch is in between the live, green grass and the deeper soil, full of nutrients for plants and vegetation.

Important to your understanding of these concepts is the fact that, usually, a deeper layer of thatch is worse for your lawn than a thinner layer. The detriment of thatch is primarily derived from the nature of thatch to act as a thorny obstacle. Thick thatch stands in the way of water reaching plant roots.

Insecticides or pesticides can also be prevented from soaking into the roots of plants and vegetation, getting caught up and remaining in the thatch layer. Fertilization efforts increase thatch because many fertilization products encourage root development — sometimes manifesting as thatch. These reasons and more are why companies like Midwest Lawn discuss options to take care of thatch or at least reduce its thickness.

What can be done about thatch?

Luckily, not all thatch is bad. A thin layer of thatch can be beneficial to temperature regulation on lawns (preventing freezing or desiccation and evaporation of nutrient-filled water). Moderating thatch thickness can also help with regular weeds removal. And for playing outside on your lawn, a small amount of thatch can be beneficial as a nice cushion — preventing hard blows to the knees or other extremities.

However, thatch does not often maintain itself naturally as a thin, beneficial layer. More often, thatch develops as an unruly part of a lawn that must be handled by lawn care experts through a process called lawn aeration.

Lawn aeration takes multiple forms, including simple aeration in which small holes are pushed through the top, superficial layers of grass. Supposedly, this helps “air out” the thatch layer and prevents water retention and other thatching issues. But experts doubt the utility of such a superficial operaion, and instead point to core aeration as a better solution to thatching problems.

In the process of core aeration, small holes are drilled into the thatch layer and “cores” of the layer are pulled out. Small squares, a few inches deep, of the soil are literally taken out of the lawn. By this, the thatch layer is decreased and the lawn is able to actually air out.

The issues with thatching are clear: reduced vegetation growth, pesticide retention, and an overall less healthy lawn. Cut to the chase and talk with a professional today about your lawn’s dethatching or lawn aeration options!

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We Don’t Put Enough Focus on Our Teeth at an Early Age

Posted by on Sep 15, 2018 in Dentistry | 0 comments

Americans love to smile. It’s one of our defining characteristics. We’re famous for it around the world. And yet, we don’t do nearly enough for our teeth. Many people neglect even the very basic two brushes a day regiment recommended by dentists. Far more people don’t floss or make it to that regular dentist visit every six months.

This is true despite the growing medical consensus that oral health very much translates to overall health. If you don’t take care of your teeth and gums, you’re far more likely to end up with serious medical problems.

Most of us know this. Even if we don’t, we know that ignoring our teeth long-term is sure to lead to pain and expense. Instead of spending five minutes a day brushing our teeth, we resign ourselves to cavities, fillings, pulled teeth, and worse. We throw away our money, our health, and our comfort. Why?

The answer, according to Babylon Dental Care, is because we just aren’t brought up right. In one of their recent postings, Babylon Dental pointed out that the best time to get into good dental hygiene habits are when we’re children. For far too many of us, this was not made a priority by our parents. That means we never got into the habit of brushing in the morning and the evening. We didn’t get used to pulling out the floss and cleaning between our teeth. We didn’t get used to scheduling regular dental appointments. We just didn’t get used to thinking about our teeth at all. Smile all we might, we never thought about protecting that smile long-term because we weren’t taught to at the time we were most receptive to learn.

Habits are hard to break. That’s true for good and bad habits. That’s why we really must put more effort into teaching our children better dental health habits than we ourselves were raised with. I know it can be hard to convince a kid to spend that full two minutes brushing away, but once they learn to do it, they’ll do it for life.

Perhaps the best way to teach them, beyond standing over them and forcing them to do it every day and night, is to model good behavior. That means, we need to put more effort into breaking our own bad habits and building better ones for our children to see.

This is not an idle point. As I said above, good dental health can mean a healthier life altogether. Isn’t that what we want for our children? Isn’t that what we want for ourselves?

To start getting into the right kind of habits, take a moment today (not tomorrow, not next week, do it now) and set up dental appointments for your whole family. Talk to your dentist about the best way to change your dental habits. Get tips. And then, start implementing them.

Once you get those habits in place, you’ll really have something to smile about.

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Birth defects vs. birth injuries

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Personal Injury | 0 comments

As I’m preparing to greet our new little bundle of joy (six weeks off, if he’s on time), I’ve been researching like mad about everything we need, and also everything that could go wrong. On the wrong side, it’s hard to read all of that, but I feel I owe it to myself and to Mark (that’s the little one) as well.

And, I’ve discovered something that I think I ought to share since while it’s awful, it’s also something that people need to be aware of so they can make the best choices for their families going forward.

So, what I’ve discovered is this: there’s a difference between birth defects and birth injuries.

On the one hand, things like Downs Syndrome and heart murmurs are birth defects. Those are things the baby would have been born with no matter what. They’re genetic issues, and nothing could have prevented them, unfortunately. In this case, there’s unfortunately little that can be done beyond caring for the child as best you can.

Not all defects, it’s worth pointing out, are absolutely awful. There are cleft palates, which are fixed easily enough with a small surgery. A club foot is also fixable. But, the main point is they are as inevitable as the birth itself once that baby is conceived. It’s in the DNA.

Birth injuries are another story. Those are due to mistakes made by doctors, nurses, or other professionals helping you in the birthing process. And this, to me, is particularly tragic because the problems were not inevitable, someone made a mistake for them to happen.

They can be no less awful for the family as well. Birth injuries include cerebral palsy, cephalohematoma (a dangerous condition where blood collects in the newborn’s head), and shaken baby syndrome.

I know all those possibilities are horrible to contemplate, but I want to point them out now, here, for other expectant parents, so that you can be aware that if such a tragedy occurs, you have a right to demand compensation for all the financial burden you’ll incur from taking care of that child from day one through the rest of your or his/her life.

A longer list of potential birth injuries can be found on this lawyer’s page, which by the way, you should have in the back of your mind. Not that lawyer, per se, but a lawyer, should any issues spring up involving your child.

As new parents, we are obligated to be prepared for everything. This is the worst side of that responsibility, but it’s a responsibility none the less. I don’t mean for you to be watching for a chance to sue your doctor or accuse him or her of malpractice. Giving birth should be a time of joy and as little stress and worry as possible (although I bet it’s still a lot…). Still, we have to watch out and be aware.

I owe that to Mark, and you owe that to your own little one, whoever he or she may be.

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How to Sleep Better at Night

Posted by on Jun 13, 2017 in Health | 0 comments

Contrary to popular belief, sleeping is not a waste of time. It helps the mind and body recover from the stress it has sustained from everyday life. Without adequate sleep, a person may experience negative effects on both the mind and body. He or she may have mental difficulties, such as in the aspects of alertness, concentration, memorization, and reaction time. He or she may have physical difficulties, such as fatigue and excessive sleepiness during the day.

There are also sleeping disorders out there that can result into worse medical problems. For example, according to the website of Silent Night Therapy, untreated sleep apnea may lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and even stroke.

This puts into perspective how important sleep is for the body and mind. So, maybe you can let go of your mobile phone or computer one hour earlier to get that sleep your body and mind need. Here are some tips on how to get better sleep at night.

Sleep at the same time everyday

Your body clock can be trained. You can train it in a way that you can fall asleep and wake up in a specific time. This way, you will find it easier to fall asleep once you hit the bed and potentially have more sleep compared to those who don’t have a sleeping and waking schedule and struggle to fall asleep.

Have a sleeping ritual

Before you sleep, do the same thing, so you can train your body to know that doing that thing means that it is bedtime. It helps when the thing you choose to do is relaxing, such as taking a warm shower or reading a book. As much as possible, avoid involving computers and mobile devices in this ritual.

Get comfortable

Of course, it is much easier to fall asleep when you feel comfortable. This means that the conditions around you are peaceful enough to trigger drowsiness and sleep. This may depend on your preferences, but typically, a comfortable sleeping place involve proper temperature, lack of lights and sounds, and clean sheets.

Avoid food and drinks

Eating and drinking is a form of disturbance in the sleeping area, because of how they can put you out of bed. You may need to go to the toilet because of excessive eating or drinking, or you may need to throw that junk food package in the trash – either of which puts you out of sleeping time status and potentially put your drowsiness away.

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How Drunk Driving Can Cause Accidents

Posted by on Mar 10, 2017 in Car Crashes, Intoxicated Drivers | 0 comments

Driving while intoxicated is one of the most dangerous behaviors you can do in the road. Alcohol can affect your bodily functions, limiting your driving skills and putting you and the others around you at risk of traffic accidents.

Feelings of Drowsiness
Alcohol can give you intense feelings of relaxation, making you more prone to being drowsy and falling asleep while on the wheel. There are limitless reasons why that is dangerous. Being drowsy can limit your comprehension of traffic signs and judgment skills on the road. Falling asleep can make you turn the wheel in an unexpected direction. Turn left and you can collide with oncoming vehicles. Turn right and you can crash on guardrails, trees, and other obstructions on the side of the road.

Limits in Mental Functions
Limited comprehension is not just the effect of being drowsy, as it can also be the effect of the alcohol itself. When you have limited comprehension, you may not be able to understand traffic lights, road signs, vehicle signals, and judge the distance of other vehicles properly. Aside from that, alcohol can also affect your reaction time, so you may fail in reacting timely and appropriately to stimulus, such as turns and passing pedestrians.

Limits in Physical Functions
Driving requires a significant level of body coordination, particularly with the eyes, hands, and feet. Alcohol can compromise this coordination. Your eyes may get blurry, and your hands and feet may not be effectively controlled while under the influence of alcohol.

Reckless Tendencies
Those who are under the influence of alcohol are also more likely to do reckless behaviors, such as speeding, street racing, tailgating, and weaving. They may also drive with distractions such as mobile phones, food, talkative passengers, and worse, products that may cause further impairment like alcohol and drugs. The dangers of reckless behaviors are amplified because of the physical and mental limitations of the drunk driver.

Drunk Driving as an Offense
The law is very aware of the dangers of drunk driving, so it has become illegal almost anywhere. The offense may result into fines, license suspensions, and even jail times.

But it is important to say that the law is not biased. According to the website of the Amerio Law Firm, DUI cases can be defended. This just proves that, even though drunk driving is dangerous, the law will not blindly penalize everybody. But to be safe, it is better to not even try driving while under the influence of alcohol, to avoid the hassles of legalities.

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Medical Malpractice: Misdiagnosis

Posted by on Dec 29, 2016 in Medical Malpractice | 0 comments

One of the most common forms of medical malpractice is misdiagnosis. This refers to a diagnosis error that can result into delayed treatment, incorrect treatment, or no treatment. This can worsen the patient’s condition, and in the worst cases, the patient even dies.

Not because there is a misdiagnosis there is already a medical malpractice case. The medical world is very complex, and even professionals make errors. They key to a medical malpractice case is the incompetence and negligence of the medical professional and how this has resulted into bodily harm.

According to an informative article from the website of Clawson & Staubes, LLC: Injury Group, medical malpractice claimants must present the following:

  • Real relationship between the medical professional and patient
  • Duty of care
  • A violation in the duty of care, like incompetence and negligence
  • Injury as a result of the violation

Incompetence and Negligence

In order to determine whether the medical professional has been competent or not, it is important to look at his work process. Look at what he has done and what he has not done to arrive at a misdiagnosis.

In trying to identify the patient’s problem, the medical professional creates a differential diagnosis list, containing possible problems. The entries of this list are crossed out after several tests and observations prove that they are not the problem. New entries can also make the list, depending on tests, observations, and opinions of other medical professionals.

A medical professional may be seen as incompetent when he does not even have the correct diagnosis in his list, and if another reasonable medical professional would have if put in the same situation. Another sign of incompetence is if he does have the correct diagnosis in his list, but he fails to perform the necessary tests and observations to rule out the other entries of the list and identify the correct diagnosis.

Even if the accused is a competent medical professional, he may still be subject to a medical malpractice because of negligence, like the improper use of diagnostic equipment, improper diagnostic procedure, and misreading lab results.

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Purpose of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Posted by on Jul 15, 2016 in Wrongful Death | 0 comments

Millions of accidents occur due to a person’s own carelessness; however, records show that so many more accidents happen due to the negligent act of someone else.

Acting or behaving in ways that will not endanger another person is a fundamental responsibility to every person. Thus, those who choose to act without regard for the safety of others, causing them harm as a result, can very well expect to be recipients of a civil lawsuit, wherein innocent victims (or victims’ families) would have the right to seek and receive compensation from them.

An injury, which is a result of negligence, is called personal injury; it may be physical, emotional or mental. Personal injuries can happen through many different ways, including, but not limited to: car accidents; motorcycle accidents; truck accidents; construction accidents; medical malpractice; defective products; slip and fall accidents; and, nursing home abuse or negligence. While many accidents result to severe (personal) injuries, there are cases wherein their effect is much more damaging, leading to a victim’s wrongful or untimely death

In the case of wrongful death, the family or dependents of the deceased can file a lawsuit against the liable person or company for the purpose of seeking justice. This legal action or lawsuit is called a wrongful death claim. It is filed for the benefit of the “real parties in interest” or the surviving family members and the decedent’s other dependents. A wrongful death claim is actually a special kind of personal injury lawsuit that is filed for the purpose of seeking compensation for whatever pecuniary or financial damages the dependents may suffer, like loss of the decedent’s financial support, services and companionship, lost prospect of inheritance, and medical and funeral expenses.

According to The Benton Law Firm, it may just be the duty of dependents or family members to bring the the person responsible for the wrongful death of their family member to justice; to hold him or her accountable for whatever wrong he or she has done. Seeking the help of a seasoned wrongful death lawyer for this purpose can be advantageous for the family of the deceased.

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Dangers of truck accidents caused by intoxicated drivers

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in Intoxicated Drivers | 0 comments

Even though there are lots of campaigns were already made, intoxicated driving is still a big problem in the U.S. and it is still one of the major causes of many fatal road accidents. Intoxicated driving basically means that a driver operating a vehicle is either under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both.

Truck drivers or any drivers with commercial driver’s license (CDL) in most states are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to have a blood alcohol limit (BAC) of 0.04 percent. Such BAC percentage is lower by half compared to private vehicle drivers because large vehicles like commercial trucks are more dangerous when involved in intoxicated driving accidents. Drivers may not be allowed to operate a truck for four hours after consuming alcohol. The FMCSA may require truck drivers to regularly submit blood alcohol testing after being caught of intoxicated driving. At all times truck drivers should be alert and responsive while behind the wheels, however, if they are under the influence of alcohol, fatal accidents may occur. A driver who consumed substantial amount of alcohol may not immediately react to critical road conditions as their central nervous system is slowed down.

People on the road are also at high risk of sustaining fatal injuries in accidents if truck drivers are under the influence of drugs. Aside from illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and even over-the-counter drugs can cause intoxication mostly if it is taken in great amounts. Driving a commercial truck while under the influence of drugs is unacceptable. The driver’s critical thinking and alertness is impaired when intoxicated by drugs. As truck accidents caused by intoxicated drivers are often serious, people who have been victims of such catastrophes may consider filing damage claims against negligent parties.

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