Florida Admiralty (Maritime) Law
Admiralty law regulates economic transactions and property disputes involving marine trade, sailors, navigation, or land-based activity that is maritime in nature. Admiralty Law is not, however, synonymous with the Law of the Sea, which is in the realm of international public law and deals with rights to navigation, minerals, or coastal waters jurisdiction. Learn more at: The Maritime Law Association of the United States
Florida Bankruptcy Law
U.S. Bankruptcy law applies to the insolvency problems of individuals as well as organizations. This type of law issues directly from the Constitution and is in the domain of Federal law, though State laws have an important effect on bankruptcy procedure. Legal practitioners in this field are experts in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, which is a subset of the United States Code. Learn more at: National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
Florida Business (Corporate) Law
Corporate law involves the formation, dissolution, and all other legal aspects of the administration of corporations. Typical duties of corporate lawyers include mergers, acquisitions, internal reorganization, or disputes between corporations and individuals concerning liability, patents, and compliance with state and federal law, as well as international accords. A legal professional whose sole client is a corporation is generally known as in-house counsel. Learn more at: Association of Corporate Counsel
Florida Civil Rights Law
Civil rights law aims to balance competing interests between institutions of government on the one hand and individuals or groups of individuals on the other. Lawyers in such practice may work on cases involving discrimination and unfair practices that infringe on rights and liberties such as expression, employment, housing, education, or other entitlements. Learn more at: Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association
Florida Criminal Law
Criminal law focuses on behaviors that are sanctioned under criminal code and defined as illegal. Prosecutors and District Attorneys sanction illegal behavior, while criminal defense lawyers represent clients accused of criminal activity. Both prosecution and defense professionals deal with issues of individual liberty, basic rights, and responsibilities. In some Common Law countries other than the U.S., and in most Civil Law countries, the roles of a prosecutor (or procurator) and defense lawyer (or advocate) are separated more clearly into different professional specialties. Learn more at: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Florida Entertainment Law
Entertainment law predominantly relates to Intellectual Property Law, but is more specifically centered on rights and royalties issues to media in the arts, music, television, cinema, or athletics. Sports lawyers ensure compliance with regulations for professional or amateur athletics and may represent an athlete for a contractual transaction. With the rapid development of information technology and social media, entertainment lawyers operate in an environment of constant change. Learn more at: International Association of Entertainment Lawyers
Florida Environmental Law
Environmental law concerns a multitude of statutes, treaties, regulations, and conventions based in state, federal, or transnational law. Legal professionals practicing in this field may represent government agencies, advocacy organizations, or individuals. Environmental lawyers often focus on cases involving natural resource management, the curbing of pollution, or disputes about land and littoral use. Public health components are increasingly common in the practice of environmental law. Learn more at: National Association of Environmantal Law Societies (website in transition)
Florida Family Law
Family law focuses on legal relations between individuals in the context of the family. Lawyers in this field typically work in smaller firms and specialize in a variety of areas ranging from child welfare, through adoption, to divorce. Child abuse, legitimacy, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and marriages are among the main aspects of family lawyers’ practice. Learn more at: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
Florida Health Law
Health law is an evolving field that focuses on legislation related to health care. Health law attorneys may represent patients, clinics, insurance companies, or individual health practitioners. The federal government employs attorneys in this field to oversee the crafting, implementation, and enforcement of policies. Health law specialists also work at academic institutions and biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Learn more at: American Health Lawyers Association
Florida Immigration Law
Immigration lawyers work with individual clients at all stages of the naturalization process. Other aspects of the profession relate to refugee and asylum seekers, as well as to individuals in the country without legal permission. This field of law varies significantly from country to country. Much of its practice depends on international treaties, bilateral accords, and political conjecture. Learn more at: American Immigration Lawyers Association
Florida Intellectual Property Law
Intellectual Property law focuses on protecting the rights of inventors, authors, and businesses to their tangible and intangible creations, inventions and symbols. Legal professionals in this field are often experts in a particular domain, such as science, the arts, or an industry. For example, trademark or copyright attorneys manage the legal aspects of contracts, visual identity, brand names, or slogans. Technological advances, notably in digital reproduction and transmission, make this a dynamic field of law. Learn more at: American Intellectual Property Law Association
Florida International Law
International law is broad in its conception and can be broken down into private and public sectors. In the private sector, specialists in international law may work in finance and trade divisions of multinational corporations. Familiarity with business essentials, as well as corporate law or intellectual property law would be helpful in this field. In the public international law, practitioners would work on cases that involve dealings between sovereign nations. Familiarity with comparative law or public international law would be most helpful for effective practice in this field. Both private and public international law are interdisciplinary in nature and would involve an understanding of the differences between common law and civil law systems across borders. Learn more at: International Law Association and American Society of International Law
Florida Labor (Employment) Law
Labor law is concerned with the relations between workers and their employers on matters ranging from wages and compensation, through harassment, to discrimination based on gender, disability, or age. Labor law often involves collective bargaining and unions. Attorneys in this field may represent individual clients, a union, a government regulatory agency, or an employer. Learn more at: National Employment Lawyers Association
Florida Military Law
Military law involves codes and procedures that govern legal matters in the armed forces. Since 1951, military law has been based on the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Legal experts in this field are typically members of the armed forces serving in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Learn more at: Judge Advocates Association
Florida Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law deals with intentional or unintentional wrongdoing that affects individuals physically or psychologically. Experts in the field are well-versed in torts law and may work on cases involving medical malpractice, accidental collisions, product liability, wrongful death, or workplace injury. Many cases are settled out of court in this field of legal practice. Learn more at: National Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
Florida Real Estate Law
Real Estate law involves land or construction ownership, development, litigation, tenant rights, or landlord disputes. Attorneys in this field may work on residential or commercial transactions, review contracts, or work in planning and other government offices. Learn more at: Association of Real Estate Licence Law Officials
Florida Tax Law
Tax law is a dynamic field that deals with domestic and international transactions. Because of the frequent modifications to local, state, and federal codes and the complexity of fiscal policy that guides these changes, experts in tax law engage in continuous education at greater rates than in many other fields of law. Apart from ensuring the legality of the levies on economic transactions, tax lawyers help clients reduce fiscal liabilities.
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If your legal problem is complex or involves lots of money, you might not want to attempt to handle the entire matter without a lawyer. After all, lawyers do more than dispense legal information. They offer strategic advice and apply sophisticated technical skills to legal problems. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a lawyer who’s willing to serve as your legal “coach” to help you educate yourself to the maximum extent possible and to take over as your formal legal counsel only if necessary.
Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court
Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court
Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California
Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California
Represent Yourself in Court
Represent Yourself in Court
How to Find the Right Lawyer
Locating a good lawyer who can efficiently help with your particular problem may not be easy. Don’t expect to locate a good lawyer by simply looking in the phone book or reading an advertisement. There’s not enough information in these sources to help you make a valid judgment.
A better approach is to talk to people in your community who have experienced the same problem you face — for example, if you have a claim of sexual harassment, talk to a women’s group. Ask them who their lawyers were and what they think of them. If you talk to half a dozen people who have had a similar legal problem, chances are you’ll come away with several good leads.
But don’t make a decision about a lawyer solely on the basis of someone else’s recommendation. Different people will have different responses to a lawyer’s style and personality; don’t make up your mind about hiring a lawyer until you’ve met the lawyer, discussed your case, and decided that you feel comfortable working with him or her.
Also, it may be hard to find lawyer through a personal referral with the expertise you need (for instance, if your friend had a great divorce lawyer, but you need incorporation advice, the referral may not do you much good).
Many sites, including Nolo.com, offer a way to connect with local lawyers based on your location and the type of legal case you have. You answer a few questions about your case and your contact information, then the right type of lawyers contact you directly. Talk to a local lawyer.
Nolo’s Lawyer Directory
Nolo offers a unique lawyer directory that provides a comprehensive profile for each attorney with information that will help you select the right attorney. The profiles tell you about the lawyer’s experience, education, and fees, and perhaps most importantly, the lawyer’s general philosophy of practicing law. Nolo has confirmed that every listed attorney has a valid license and is in good standing with their bar association.
Businesses who provide services to key players in the legal area you are interested in may also be able to help you identify lawyers you should consider. For example, if you are interested in small business law, speak to your banker, accountant, insurance agent, and real estate broker. These people come into frequent contact with lawyers who represent business clients and are in a position to make informed judgments.
Lawyer Referral Services
Lawyer referral services are another source of information. There is a wide variation in the quality of lawyer referral services, however, even though they are required to be approved by the state bar association. Some lawyer referral services carefully screen attorneys and list only those attorneys with particular qualifications and a certain amount of past experience, while other services will list any attorney in good standing with the state bar who maintains liability insurance. Before you choose a lawyer referral service, ask what its qualifications are for including an attorney and how carefully lawyers are screened.
Here are a few other sources you can turn to for possible candidates in your search for a lawyer:
The director of your state or local chamber of commerce may be a good source of business lawyers.
The director of a nonprofit group interested in the subject matter that underlies your lawsuit is sure to know lawyers who work in that area. For example, if your dispute involves trying to stop a major new subdivision, it would make sense to consult an environmental group committed to fighting urban sprawl.
A law librarian can help identify authors in your state who have written books or articles on a particular subject — for example, construction law.
A women’s or men’s support group will probably have a list of well-regarded family and divorce lawyers.
Consider a Specialist
Most lawyers specialize in certain areas, and even a so-called “general practitioner” may not know that much about the particular area of your concern. For example, of the almost one million lawyers in America today, probably fewer than 50,000 possess sufficient training and experience in small business law to be of real help to an aspiring entrepreneur.
It can pay to work with a lawyer who already knows the field, such as employment discrimination, zoning laws, software design issues, or restaurant licensing. That way you can take advantage of the fact that the lawyer is already far up the learning curve. Sometimes specialists charge a little more, but if their specialized information is truly valuable, it can be money well spent.
Interview the Prospective Lawyers
When you get the names of several good prospects, the next step is to talk to each personally. If you outline your needs in advance, many lawyers will be willing to meet to you for a half-hour or so at no charge so that you can size them up and make an informed decision.
Pay particular attention to the personal chemistry between you and your lawyer. No matter how experienced and well-recommended a lawyer is, if you feel uncomfortable with that person during your first meeting or two, you may never achieve an ideal lawyer-client relationship. Trust your instincts and seek a lawyer whose personality is compatible with your own. Look also for experience, personal rapport, and accessibility.
Communication and Promptness
Ask all prospective lawyers how you will be able to contact them and how long it will take them to return your communications. And don’t assume that because the lawyer seems friendly and easy to talk to that it’s okay to overlook this step.
Unfortunately, the complaint logs of all lawyer regulatory groups indicate that many lawyers are terrible communicators. If every time you have a problem there’s a delay of several days before you can talk to your lawyer on the phone or get an appointment, you’ll lose precious time, not to mention sleep.
Almost nothing is more aggravating to a client than to leave a legal project in a lawyer’s hands and then have weeks or even months go by without anything happening. You want a lawyer who will work hard on your behalf and follow through promptly on all assignments.
Willingness to Work With You
When you have a legal problem, you need legal information. Lawyers, of course, are prime sources of this information, but if you bought all the needed information at their rates — $150 to $450 an hour — you’d quickly empty your bank account. Fortunately, many lawyers will work with you to help you acquire a good working knowledge of the legal principles and procedures you need to deal with your problem at least partly on your own.
If you are hoping to represent yourself and use a lawyer only for advice, make sure the lawyer is open to that type of set-up. Likewise, if you’re going into business and will draft your own bylaws or business agreements, ask the lawyer if she’s open to reviewing your drafts and making comments.
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Types of Criminal Offenses
Although there are many different kinds of crimes, criminal acts can generally be divided into four primary categories: personal crimes, property crimes, inchoate crimes, statutory crimes, and financial crimes.
Personal crimes are those that result in physical or mental harm to another person. They can be divided into two main categories, forms of homicide and other violent crimes. Where the physical harm to another individual is so severe that it causes death, a defendant may be charged with any one of several types of homicide, including, for example, first-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, or vehicular homicide. Conversely violent crimes, which are also very severe, include:
assault and battery
rape and statutory rape
Property crimes typically involve interference with the property of another. Although they may involve physical or mental harm to another, they primarily result in the deprivation of the use or enjoyment of property. Many property crimes are theft crimes, including burglary, larceny, robbery, auto theft, and shoplifting.
Inchoate crimes refer to those crimes that were initiated but not completed, and acts that assist in the commission of another crime. Inchoate crimes require more than a person simply intending or hoping to commit a crime. Rather, the individual must take a “substantial step” towards the completion of the crime in order to be found guilty. Inchoate crimes include aiding and abetting, attempt, and conspiracy. In some cases, inchoate crimes can be punished to the same degree that the underlying crime would be punished, while in other cases, the punishment might be less severe.
Statutory crimes include those crimes, in addition to the crimes discussed above, which are proscribed by statute. Three significant types of statutory crimes are alcohol related crimes, drug crimes, traffic offenses, and financial/white collar crimes. These crimes are specifically prohibited by statute because society hopes to deter individuals from engaging in them. Alcohol-related crimes include a variety of offenses regarding how and where alcohol can be consumed, such as:
Driving Under the Influence (DUI/OWI/DWI)
Open Container Violations
Minor in Possession of Alcohol
Selling and Supplying Alcohol to Minors
Refusing to Perform a Field Sobriety Test
Refusing to Perform a Breathalyzer or Provide a Blood Sample
Drug crimes concern any involvement in the creation or distribution of drugs, including drug possession, drug manufacturing, and drug trafficking. One area of criminal law that is currently receiving a great deal of attention is the regulation and prosecution of drug crimes related to medical marijuana. Due to state trends toward the legalization of medical marijuana, this is an area of criminal law that is in flux.
Traffic offenses include crimes that may arise while an individual is driving a vehicle on public roadways. Because a DUI/OWI/DWI involves both alcohol and the use of a vehicle, it is considered both an alcohol related crime and a traffic offense. Additional traffic offenses include driving on a suspended or revoked license, driving without a license, hit-and-run accidents, reckless driving, and vehicular assault. Where a traffic offense results in death, it can be charged as a far more serious crime, such as a form of homicide.
Financial and Other Crimes
Finally, financial crimes often involve deception or fraud for financial gain. Although white-collar crimes derive their name from the corporate officers who historically perpetrated them, anyone in any industry can commit a white-collar crime. These crimes include many types of fraud and blackmail, embezzlement and money laundering, tax evasion, and cybercrime.