If you’ve watched more than a handful of crime dramas on TV, you’re familiar with the Miranda warning given when someone is arrested. The exact words may vary a little from state to state, but it’s usually very close to this:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in court. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees (among other things) that no person may be compelled … 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
The fine and court costs for a traffic offense are not the only expenses. Most drivers are aware that a traffic ticket can affect auto insurance rates. More tickets can mean even higher rates, and too many tickets can even lead to cancellation of a policy. Depending on where the ticket was issued, it might be possible to keep it off your record by attending traffic school. You’ll still have to pay the fine and court costs, plus the additional costs of the school, but you may still come out ahead in the long run if your insurance rates stay … Read More
Most citizens’ encounters with the legal system take place at the local level, often as a result of a traffic ticket. If you don’t live in the area and don’t know where to find the courthouse or court clerk’s office, how do you find it? What if the information was on that traffic ticket that you misplaced?
CourtReference can help. We provide contact information for all levels of trial courts, from the county’s highest trial court that hears capital murder and complex commercial cases to the village municipal court that hears speeding and town ordinance violations.
Some states include municipal … Read More
A diversion can mean entertainment or amusement for many people. To others it can mean a change of course. In the criminal justice system, diversion can mean a change of course out of the system. Diversion means a defendant agrees to a course of conduct for a specific period of time, pays some fees and court costs, and avoids a trial and a possible criminal or traffic record.
Diversion does not mean that shoplifters and drunk drivers all over the country are going unpunished and having their records wiped clean. Diversion is not available everywhere, and it’s not easy to … Read More
Here at CourtReference, we are always on the look-out for new resources to help our users search for court records. These days, many courts provide online access to a whole range of records, from criminal cases to probate estates to divorce proceedings. What about records that are sealed from public view, though? Searching for information about sealed records can be endlessly frustrating unless you know where to look. Recently, we came across a link in Wisconsin regarding adoption record searches that we hope will prove useful to you.
The first thing to know about searching for adoption records is … Read More
Courts designed to help non-violent offenders who have substance abuse or mental health problems have been around for several years. See our blog posts about Mental Illness Case Information from April 2008 and Drug Courts from October 2008. The idea behind these courts is that incarceration is not likely to fix substance abuse or mental illness, but that people with these problems can be successfully treated and kept out of the criminal justice system. Treatment is significantly cheaper than incarceration and has a better chance of reducing recidivism.
Aside from their special focus, these courts don’t use the same adversarial … Read More
Since most people go through most of their lives without interacting with the court system, it can be confusing when one is suddenly forced to interact with that system. Imagine that tomorrow you discover you have a legal problem. “Do I need a lawyer?” may well be your first reaction. The easy answer for any legal problem is yes, you should talk to a lawyer, even if the lawyer then says you don’t really need a lawyer. But you don’t know any lawyers – this being your first encounter with a legal problem – and lawyers cost money. Maybe you … Read More
Need to do some legal research? Look up a case, a statute, books on a particular legal topic, or a specific legal document? Try the law library; it’s easier than you think. There is at least one law library in your state that is open to the public; in some states, there is one in every county. And like public libraries, law libraries are putting their catalogs and other resources online.
Check your state’s CourtReference guide’s Self Help and Legal Research resource category and look for the word “library” on the page. You’ll find the closest law library and links … Read More
Recently, I returned to my car after running an errand and discovered one of those dreaded parking ticket envelopes under my windshield wiper. Yes, the meter had expired, but when I opened the envelope, it was empty. Elation mixed with confusion – had I received a parking ticket or not? Was the empty envelope some sort of parking ticket “warning?” Unsure of whether and how to submit payment without a citation number, I forgot about the incident, and two weeks later a Second Notice of Parking Ticket came in the mail with a $25.00 late charge on top of the … Read More