Contrary to stereotypes of hard-nosed prosecutors and stern judges, not every District Attorney or criminal court judge is out to lock up every lawbreaker for the maximum term. In every state, there are programs designed to keep offenders out of jail and to steer them away from future offenses. We’re all familiar with probation, which substitutes supervision for jail time.
In recent years, other types of alternative approaches have been implemented. We’ve documented several of them: Mental Health Courts, Drug Courts, Juvenile Diversion, Veterans Courts, Adult Diversion, Family Dependency Treatment Court, and Traffic School… Read More
Are you being threatened with domestic violence, harassed, or stalked? Do you know someone who is? Every state has some form of legal order that requires someone to stay away from you or your home, stop contacting you, and stop sending you gifts. These orders may be called Order of Protection, Protective Order, Restraining Order, No-Contact Order, or a similar name. The order is not automatic; the person seeking the order must appear before a judge and present evidence of threats or abuse. If the judge issues the order, a person who violates the order may be arrested.
The procedure … Read More
We all know that you have to show up in court if you are a party to a case being tried – i.e, if you are the defendant in a criminal case, or the plaintiff or defendant in a civil lawsuit. But if you are just a witness, do you also have to show up in court?
The answer is yes, if the judge or one of the attorneys thinks your testimony is important. The court will issue a subpoena, which is a document commanding your appearance in court to testify as a witness. In some cases, the … Read More
Problem-Solving Courts – also known as Accountability Courts – are programs developed by many court systems to impose treatment plans and other forms of rehabilitation on some criminal offenders who would otherwise face jail time and the stigma of a criminal record. They reduce the judicial system caseload and the prison population while helping offenders with drug, mental health, and similar problems. We covered Mental Health Courts in April 2008, Drug Courts in October 2008, and Veterans Courts in January 2011.
Family Dependency Treatment Courts are another type of Accountability Court, and they’re different in that their treatment plans include … Read More
With the Trayvon Martin case, including the recent second degree murder charges against George Zimmerman making national news, violent crime is at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. The Martin/Zimmerman case has raised questions about who the true victim really was. Although we may not know the answer to that question until the case has been resolved, unfortunately there are thousands of crimes committed every day, leaving victims to deal with the aftermath. Often there is so much focus on the perpetrators of crime that the victim gets somewhat left behind by court systems. However, more and more courts are … Read More
Few people have ever heard the term “conflict defender” and fewer still could guess what it means. But it can be an important term for some criminal defendants who cannot afford a lawyer.
Last month we discussed Public Defenders, who provide criminal defense services to indigent defendants. Anyone facing possible loss of liberty is entitled to a free court-appointed lawyer if he or she can’t afford to hire one. A Public Defender’s Office is often the source of the court-appointed lawyer. However, the Public Defender’s Office may not be able to take the case if it presents a conflict … Read More
All state court systems have procedures for handling wills and other estate matters, including estate administration, guardianships, conservatorships, and trusts. When someone dies with a will, the will must be proved to be valid, and the instructions in the will carried out. This process is called probate, so most courts that handle estate matters have come to be called “probate” courts.
Some court systems have separate probate courts; examples can be found in Connecticut, Georgia, and Texas. More often, a state’s main trial court will have a probate division; examples can be found in California Superior Court… Read More
Specialized courts, whether separate entities or divisions of other courts, handle specific types of cases. They are designed to dispense justice efficiently by maintaining expertise in a particular area, following a procedure tailored to their subject matter, collaborating with other government agencies, or a combination of these approaches.
Specialized courts may be set up not to simply to determine guilt and punishment, but to arrange and supervise treatment for people with mental health or substance abuse problems. Examples of these “accountability” or “collaborative” courts are Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, and Veterans Courts.
Other specialized courts may … Read More
Online payments for traffic and other minor offenses are being adopted by more and more courts and government entities. We’ve previously reviewed online payment systems for traffic citations and other court fines in general and in North Carolina, and for parking tickets.
Red light camera tickets may also be paid online in some jurisdictions. Where red light cameras are used, the evidence that a driver ran a red light is a photograph or video. No police testimony is required, so most online red light camera ticket payment systems allow the driver to view the evidence before paying the … Read More
You don’t want to miss your court date; you could lose your case or end up in jail. If you already have a case in progress, your attorney should keep you informed about upcoming important dates in your case. If you don’t have an attorney, the court clerk should tell you when you need to be in court. But what if you don’t get notified? What if you want to know when someone else’s case is scheduled for a hearing or trial? It could be a friend’s case. Or perhaps the drunk driver you’re suing hit someone else too, and … Read More