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Criminal Defense Philadelphia: Questions to Ask Your Lawyer About Civil Rights and How They Apply to Your Case

Posted on: June 30th, 2020 by dintinolaw

criminal defense Philadelphia

If you are charged with a crime and feel your civil rights have been infringed upon in any way by the government or any organization, you might need a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to represent you.

It is essential that no matter the circumstance your rights to be treated fairly and justly, and innocent until proven guilty are at the forefront of your case. Knowing all of the options available to you in terms of liberty, equal protection, and the rule of law are key to proper defense.

If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia, it can be confusing not knowing pertinent questions to ask your lawyer about your civil rights and key factors in your case.

The legal system can be confusing and overwhelming, so you must be prepared. Read on to find out precisely the right questions to ask your lawyer.

What is the Definition of Civil Rights?

Our civil rights are an expansive set of rules and laws that protect individuals from experiencing unfair treatment or discrimination from an institution or governmental facet in the United States (and, in a more limited capacity, abroad).

Civil rights have been legislated for decades to ensure equality and fairness for all citizens. But just because they’ve been around for a long time doesn’t mean they are perfect. Even though legislation and laws have been around for years and years in one form or another, civil rights are still infringed upon to this day.

The reality of civil rights is that they continue to expand as with other aspects of the law. For instance, your civil rights as a BAME citizen or an LGBTQ+ citizen are much stronger today than in the past. But many would argue these rights still need updating and improving for the fairness of all American citizens.

Issues such as employment, housing, public accommodations, and education are associated with examples of unjust treatment and a denial of fundamental civil rights.

Is There a Difference Between Civil Rights and Civil Liberties?

Yes. Generally speaking, civil rights speak to the fundamental basic human rights that a person should have.

People should be free from discrimination of any kind, regardless of their gender, race, and disability. These traits are known as protected. They must not be taken into consideration or against a person negatively to allow unequal treatment.

Civil liberties are the freedoms guaranteed to citizens on a federal level by the Constitution. For example, the right to vote, the right to privacy, or the right to free speech.

What Are Some Typical Examples of Civil Right Violations?

There are many kinds of civil rights violations in America that need to be addressed and held accountable.

Some common ones include police brutality, unlawful searches, and housing discrimination, being fired, or overlooked for promotion due to gender discrimination and cruel and unusual punishment.

If you feel that the violation of your civil rights falls under these categories or any others that you aren’t sure about, then you must consult with a lawyer or criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

What is the Current Legislation in Philadelphia on Civil Rights?

States can also pass specific laws concerning civil rights that are often more protective than some federal ones. Speak with your lawyer about the current legislation in your area as it may differ from different cities and countries.

Your lawyer will be knowledgeable and up to date with the latest laws and legislation to help support and add to the strength of your case. They can advise you on all the options available and which best route to go down.

Have You Dealt With a Case Like Mine Before?

This is an important question to ask your lawyer when thinking about representation and the strength of your defense.

An experienced lawyer will have dealt with plenty of cases like yours in their time practicing law. They will be able to use that experience to navigate the court case in the most favorable option for you and your case.

What is Your Success Rate with Civil Rights Cases?

This is also a very important question. Just because a lawyer has practiced cases like these multiple times doesn’t mean that the outcome has been successful.

Asking your lawyer their success rate will certainly give you an indication of what your case might result in.

A lawyer with a fantastic track record isn’t a guarantee. But it will give you confidence that you are in safe hands and that they are knowledgeable and successful in the overall process.

Are There Other Options Than Going to Trial?

Trials can be exhausting and a draining process for all the parties concerned. This is especially prominent in the case of civil rights violations. You might not want to be anywhere near the people who have violated your rights.

In a courtroom setting that could take weeks or even months, this might be too emotionally detrimental to yourself and your recovery.

This is why it is worth asking your lawyer if there are any other options available to save the expense and time of going through the courts.

Perhaps mediation or a settlement might be the best option for everyone involved in the case. Not all civil rights cases need to result in a trial, explore the possibilities and outcomes with your lawyer, and work out the best route for you.

How is it Best For Us to Communicate?

In civil rights cases, you may need to gather evidence such as witness statements, medical documents, and expert witnesses. This will all need to be looked over and talked through with your criminal defense lawyer.

Work out how best it is for you both to communicate, whether it is over the phone, email, or in person. This way, everyone is on the same page and has the same expectations from the get-go.

Criminal Defense in Philadelphia: Where Can I Find Out More?

We hope you have found this article on civil rights and criminal defense in Philadelphia helpful and informative.

It is important to know your rights where possible and in certain situations, but this is a complex thing to manage. You should try to understand the key rights that relate to you and safeguard them wherever possible.

It is unbelievable that these incidents continue to happen. We know many people have trouble understanding their rights and we are here to help you with getting the best representation and support you need.

If you have any further questions or feel like you might be in need of legal representation, why not contact our office directly to get the ball rolling?

CARES Act: What Real Estate Legal Proceedings Are Stopped During This Time (And Which Ones Are Not Covered?)

Posted on: May 28th, 2020 by dintinolaw

Real Estate Law Philadelphia

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone hard. It has caused businesses to lose, workers to get laid off, and the entire United States economy to come to a halt.

Many families have lost their livelihoods due to government restrictions, loss of customers, or even their own illnesses or death.

Yet bills continue to roll in. As people worry about how to feed their kids, they also are faced with looming rent or mortgage payments. How can you keep a roof over your head in these perilous times?

The government has taken some measures to protect people from losing their homes. How can people go to work when they are told they cannot leave the house? State and federal laws have implemented some protections.

Also, many proceedings have been halted due to social distancing requirements.

Here is what you need to know if you are concerned about legal proceedings affecting your housing situation in the wake of this crisis.

Current Eviction Moratorium

Once the gravity of COVID-19 became apparent, state and federal governments put a pause on legal proceedings which could oust families from their homes.

The federal government passed The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) to ease financial pressures.

It placed a 120-day moratorium on evictions on properties covered by government programs or backed by federal funding.

However, it is unclear what will happen once that moratorium is up.

HUD or public assistance housing has special protections. Foreclosure and eviction proceedings in respect of HUD housing were temporarily suspended.

State Law Protections

In Pennsylvania, both owners and renters were protected from eviction or foreclosure immediately after the pandemic hit. The state Supreme Court passed an order protecting people and extended it when conditions continued. Police and landlords were prohibited from carrying out any eviction orders.

Thus, if you were behind on payments prior to the pandemic, your proceedings were temporarily suspended.

However, now there may be an avalanche of evictions notices and foreclosures in places like Philadelphia. People who were in arrears prior to COVID will now face proceedings. Newly unemployed people may now also be at risk.

The courts will be inundated with legal proceedings forcing people from their homes because of their inability to pay.

Landlord-Tenant Court

Although certain laws may expire, it is still unclear how certain legal proceedings will go forward.

The landlord-tenant court, like many other judicial forums, is closed due to fear of infection. Some proceedings are being held virtually. However, this may pose issues for people without internet access and other barriers.

The large number of cases will also surely cause massive backlog and delays.

What Are Your Options if You Can’t Pay the Rent?

If you run a commercial business and you cannot pay the rent, you have different challenges than a homeowner. Residential tenants usually get more protection under the law.

If you are a small, women- or minority-owned business or a nonprofit, you may be eligible for government relief. The Small Business Association has a loan program for which you may apply. You may even get money which you do not have to pay back.

Even if you are behind on rent, you have rights. For example, it is a crime for your landlord to lock you out. If your landlord locks you out, call the local police right away.

If you fall behind on your rent payments, you can try speaking with your landlord. You may be able to work out a payment plan to avoid getting evicted.

You can also ask your landlord to apply your security deposit to the rent.

Under the CARES Act, if the landlord has a federally backed mortgage, the landlord may not file an eviction action against you for nonpayment of rent until July 25, 2020. The landlord must give you 30 days’ notice before he files an eviction action.

You always have a right to safe and decent housing. If you are late with the rent, your landlord may not withhold services or fail to fix problems like inadequate heat, exposure to lead, infestations, leaks, crumbling walls and ceilings, or other hazardous conditions.

It is always best to work with a real estate lawyer when you are negotiating with your landlord. He or she will be able to protect your rights and possibly negotiate a way for you to get back on your feet without getting kicked out of your home.

What if You Cannot Pay Your Mortgage?

You cannot be removed from your house if you miss one mortgage payment. Foreclosure actually takes a while.

You will not be forced out until a judgment of foreclosure is entered and a sheriff’s sale of your property has taken place.

If you have a federally backed mortgage, you have the right to ask your mortgage servicer for forbearance to relieve financial hardship arising from the pandemic. The CARES Act requires servicers of federally backed mortgages to give struggling borrowers a 180-day grace period on payments.

A real estate lawyer should also speak on your behalf to a bank which holds your mortgage. He or she may be an effective negotiator to help you get some concessions in order to avoid foreclosure.

Eviction or Foreclosure Legal Proceedings: It Is Not Business as Usual

Even in the best of times, it is very stressful to be unable to pay your rent or mortgage. At least you may have an understanding of the legal proceedings.

Now we are in what is being called “the new normal,” but there is little “normal” about it! Laws are changing rapidly. Courts are closed or functioning at limited capacity.

Whether you are familiar with financial trouble, or all of this is new for you, you need assistance in negotiating this new world.

If you are worried about losing your home, talk to a lawyer who understands real estate law Philadelphia and proceedings like evictions and foreclosures. They will be able to explain to you your options. They can tell you what the government is offering in terms of protection in these uncertain times.

With so much in flux, you need someone you can trust.

For more information on the changing real estate environment and the latest status of legal proceedings affecting you, check out our blog.

Supreme Court Halts Evictions and Foreclosures for Two Weeks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on: April 21st, 2020 by dintinolaw

evictions Real estate law Philadelphia

Statistics show that around 16 million Americans have now lost their jobs due to the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Naturally, this economic reality will lead to many people being unable to pay their rent or mortgage.

If you live in Philadelphia and find yourself in this position, you will be glad to learn that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that no foreclosure or eviction will be enforced in the state before the end of April.

Read on as we look at the effects that this pandemic will have on evictions and foreclosures going forward.

Are You Safe from Eviction or Foreclosure?

Until April 30, owners and renters should be safe from eviction or foreclosure.

However, for those that have lost jobs or are operating with limited income, difficulties in keeping up with rental or mortgage payments may persist for a long time after that.

It is not yet clear if the Pennsylvanian courts or legislative bodies will impose further restrictions on evictions or foreclosures. If they do not, there will likely be many instances of both in May and June.

Federal Provisions

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act was put in place by the federal government.

The Act sets out a number of measures, which aims to ease pressures on those affected by the lockdown.

Firstly, it sets aside a total of $2 trillion for various economic aid projects.

One of its main aims is to provide a steady flow of liquidity to businesses and individuals so that they can support themselves and continue to contribute to the circular flow of the economy.

The CARES Act also put a 120-day moratorium on evictions on properties that are involved in government programs or are backed by federal funding. A moratorium is a temporary delay, suspension, or prohibition of a given action.

What Is the Current Situation in Pennsylvania?

As mentioned, the Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania has ruled that no eviction will be enforced before April 30.

This ruling means that courts will not process eviction orders until then, and police will not act on existing orders. Landlords have also been ordered to close existing proceedings.

This order is an extension of a previous order, which ran until April 3.

Statistics show that around 10% of Pennsylvanians are now signed up for some form of income assistance. This increase suggests that these restrictions on evictions and foreclosures are indeed badly needed.

Provisions in the Other States

The protections offered by state governments concerning evictions and foreclosures vary considerably from state to state.

Some states have put a moratorium in place in relation to evictions and foreclosures. Others have not put a formal moratorium in place but have issued declarations or statements of intent that have the effect of safeguarding tenants from eviction.

In Alaska, for example, no formal moratorium has been put in place. However, Governor Mike Dunleavy did release a plan, which provides that no Alaskan receiving rental assistance will face eviction.

A focus on those receiving rental assistance is common to many states. There is less direct protection afforded to those who are not in this situation.

The Rules for HUD Housing

The Department for Housing and Urban Development’s housing program is the public housing system in place in the United States.

The program was established to provide housing for low-income families. As these families will be most at risk during the pandemic, there has been a particular concern as to what will happen with HUD housing.

Fortunately, tenants and homeowners under the HUD scheme have been afforded special protections.

President Trump has announced that all foreclosure and eviction proceedings in respect of HUD housing will be suspended until at least May 1.

2016 statistics show us that around 6.7 million people live in HUD housing nationwide. Many thousands of these are in Pennsylvania.

Will Further Measures in Relation to Evictions & Foreclosures Be Necessary?

There have already been many appeals made to federal and state bodies to provide comprehensive protection to home occupiers for the coming months.

Unfortunately, whether or not this will come about is unclear. A big part of the problem here is the uncertainty about the virus itself.

So far, China is the only country to record a positive recovery from the pandemic. Until other countries (particularly those in Europe) start to note improvements, it will be very difficult to forecast a likely end date to movement restrictions and consequent economic difficulties.

Is There a Difference Between Residential & Commercial Property?

When it comes to evictions and foreclosures, there are indeed several important differences between commercial and residential property.

These center around the stricter approach adopted by courts concerning commercial tenants. As business owners, commercial tenants are presumed to have a certain amount of knowledge and expertise when it comes to contracts, leases, and other such arrangements.

The difference in the approach of the courts also stems from the fact that residential properties are often family homes. If courts were to take a strict line with residential property, many families would be made homeless.

This reality means that commercial tenants are more likely to be evicted than residential ones, all other factors being equal. If you own or rent a commercial property, you should be especially careful at this time.

Getting the Protection You Need

Evictions and foreclosures should not be a cause for concern for Philadelphia citizens for the next few weeks. However, over the following months, it is difficult to say whether adequate protection for tenants will remain in place.

If you fear that you may be evicted from your property, it is a good idea to get a lawyer on your side. If you want to inquire about our services, contact us today.

How Commercial Property Law Is Different Than Residential Property Law

Posted on: March 24th, 2020 by dintinolaw

Philadelphia property law
The rate of homeownership in Philadelphia has been steadily decreasing in recent years. However, property law is relevant for more than just buying a home.

Whether you are looking for a penthouse apartment or a new business office, you are going to need the help of a good property law practitioner. However, not all property lawyers are the same. Different lawyers specialize in different kinds of transactions.

Read on as we explore the differences between commercial property law and residential property law.

Commercial & Residential Property Law: The Basic Differences

The primary difference between residential and commercial property is that the former is for living in, while the latter is for doing business.

However, it is not quite as straightforward as that. Many differences are caused by this in terms of the legal requirements of transactions.

Costs

Naturally, one of the foremost considerations in terms of any transaction is its financial implications.

Generally speaking, costs will be lower for residential property transactions than for commercial ones. This fact tends to be true whether you are renting or buying.

Mortgage applications for business properties will present far greater costs than those for residential properties. This fact is especially true if your building will have owner-occupier status, i.e. if you can prove you will be living there yourself.

Your lawyer will be able to walk you through the best cost-reduction approaches in respect of every type of property transaction.

Legal Protection

There are significant differences in the law’s treatment of commercial and residential tenants.

Generally speaking, the law offers far greater protection to residential tenants than commercial ones. This protection is because where the basis for a lease relates to business, the courts presume that both parties to it have entered into it intending to make a profit and that the tenant is therefore reasonably competent.

Courts also appreciate that residential tenants may be families. This fact means that the repercussions of a failure in a lease can be far more difficult, especially where younger children are affected.

For commercial properties, there are fewer restrictions on rent increases and maximum lease terms. There are also usually stricter rules on security deposit repayments for commercial leases.

Foreclosure

If you fall behind on mortgage repayments on a property you have purchased, the lending bank may be entitled to foreclose on the property.

This option means that they will claim the property and use it to regain the money they are owed on it. This process may be done by a simple sale, or by other means.

For business property, courts will often appoint a figure known as a receiver. This receiver is someone who will take over the running of your business for a time to secure as much repayment as possible for the lending bank.

Receivership is only possible in respect of commercial properties.

Families facing financial difficulty may experience emotional trauma with it as well. It is important to remember that anything you share with your lawyer is held in the strictest confidence and that they will be able to offer support and guidance, as well as practical tips, to help you through the challenges you face.

Property Requirements

There are different requirements in terms of the contents and facilities a property must-have, depending on whether it is a commercial or residential building.

Generally, these are more demanding when dealing with residential property. It is required that all residential properties have a kitchen and at least one bathroom, for instance.

There are fewer requirements in terms of what a commercial property must contain. However, these rules have gotten somewhat stricter in more recent times.

Many commercial leases will contain provisions forbidding tenants to live in the property. Similarly, many residential leases do not allow for the carrying on of business in the property.

Disclosure Requirements

Because of the assumptions made about the competence of parties to a commercial arrangement, disclosure requirements are less severe in commercial property law.

Generally, those buying or leasing residential property have the right to be informed of defects in the property.

Those acquiring commercial property are not so well protected. A greater duty falls on them to assess any shortcomings in the property. However, buyers and renters should always have the opportunity to thoroughly inspect the property.

The Differences Between Mortgages & Leases

Whether you are dealing with residential or commercial property, you will need to know about the features of mortgages and leases.

A mortgage is the loan instrument given to someone by a bank to be used for the purchase of a property. A lease is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant when the property is to be rented rather than purchased outright.

As noted above, mortgages carry the possibility of foreclosure. In the case of commercial mortgages, this process may also imply receivership.

As leases do not involve debts, their termination is more straightforward. A landlord can just end the renting relationship and re-purpose the property if he or she chooses.

However, there are legal rules against terminating a tenancy arrangement unfairly or without good reason. Again, the standards here are higher in respect of residential tenancies.

Finding the Philadelphia Property Lawyer that Best Suits Your Needs

By now, you should have an appreciation of the factors to consider when hiring a Philadelphia property law professional.

The differences in practice between residential property law and commercial property law can be significant. Not only that, but there can be variations within each type, depending on the nature of the transaction you’re entering.

Therefore, it is important to have the right lawyer alongside you every step of the way. If you are ready to take the first steps towards owning the new property of your dreams, contact us today to arrange a free consultation.

Criminal Law in Philadelphia: Are There Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege?

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by dintinolaw

criminal law in Philadelphia

We have all heard of attorney-client privilege, but we may not know precisely what the limits of that privilege are. If you are conversing with an attorney, you want to make sure that what you are saying will be kept confidential, so it is essential that you know what circumstances you can and cannot be completely candid.

What exactly is attorney-client privilege, and how does work when it comes to criminal law in Philadelphia? Continue reading, and we will walk you through everything you need to know.

What Is An Attorney-Client Privilege?

Attorney-client privilege is a rule that is meant to maintain the confidentiality of communication between an individual and their attorney. A client needs to make sure that he can trust his lawyer, and he should feel encouraged to share information openly. An attorney is going to have a difficult time giving their client the best possible representation if the client is worried about incriminating themselves.

The Client’s Privilege
So what exactly is the client’s privilege? Generally, this rule can be applied in three scenarios. A person receives this privilege when they go to a lawyer for advice and are either an actual or potential client.

It can also apply when the lawyer is acting in a professional capacity (as opposed to a casual friend). It also applies if the client intends for the communication to be private and confidential.

When this privilege is in force, a lawyer cannot reveal written or oral communications with other people when the client’s expectation is privacy. The client must first consent before their lawyer can share any private information with other parties.

In this situation, it is the client who is privileged. They get to decide what is and is not shared with others; the lawyer cannot decide this.

Generally, without the client’s permission, the lawyer can never share their private communications. Even if that person stops being a client or they are deceased.

Criminal Law in Philadelphia: The Other Way Around

So now we understand what client to attorney communication privilege is. But what about the other way around? What about the attorney to client communications?

Is a client supposed to keep private what their attorney shares with them? In Philadelphia and the rest of Pennsylvania, the answer is actually yes.

There was confusion over this for decades in the state. In 2011, with the case of Gillard v. AIG Insurance Company, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that attorneys are also privileged to confidentiality. The reason for this was to encourage more open communication between clients and their attorneys.

Exceptions to Attorney-Client Privilege

Now, before you start giving confidential information to the next attorney you come across, you must understand the limitations to this essential privilege.

There are two primary situations where the exception applies. First, if the client intends to commit, or they are currently committing a crime or fraud, then the privilege does not stand.

Also, if the client tells their attorney that they are trying to cover up a crime or intending to further their offense, the privilege will not apply.

This privilege does not just apply to criminal law, but also with civil tort. For example, a person who goes to an attorney seeking advice on how to commit unlawful activity does not get the attorney-client privilege.

Past, Present, and Future

Timeline is critical when talking to an attorney. When you communicate with your lawyer about a past crime, you are pretty much always privileged. However, communicating about a current or future crime is generally not protected.

This situation does not mean the privilege is void if you are discussing hypothetical’s or the potential consequences of a possible action in the future. Generally, your intent to commit a crime needs to be current in order for your privilege to be inapplicable. Unfortunately, determining the present purpose and possible intent in the future is not entirely clear.

It may be up to the court if the client was intending to commit a crime or was inquiring about consequences if they should happen to take a specific action.

Mandatory Disclosure

It is worth noting that attorneys can be forced to divulge communications if the prosecution subpoenas them. This action applies to the crime-fraud exception. Lawyers can also be ethically required to disclose in certain situations or risk criminal charges themselves.

Let’s look at several situations below:

If the client threatens to harm another person, such as a judge, attorney, or witness, then an attorney might be responsible for reporting under mandated reporting laws.

If a lawyer knows that a witness has given or is about to give a perjured testimony, the lawyer must inform the court. It is worth noting that this rule may not apply if that perjuring witness is a client of the attorney.

If the client gives their attorney a crucial piece of evidence, then the attorney may be ethically required to turn it over to the court.

Also, if the client tells their lawyer about the location of a person who is in imminent danger or missing, the attorney may be required to disclose that information.

The Importance of Knowing About Attorney-Client Exceptions

Attorney-client privilege is one of the crowning achievements of the American justice system. But it is not without its exceptions. Even when it comes to criminal law in Philadelphia.

By knowing when the privilege does and does not apply, you can better protect your rights and make sure that you do not incriminate yourself.

Are you looking for a criminal defense lawyer who is going to fight to protect your rights? Contact us today to learn more!