Articles

Preparing for Divorce

Divorce (also called dissolution of marriage under Missouri law) is a difficult experience for anyone who has to go through it whether you are a man or a woman and whether or not you have children. It is important to prepare for divorce, as much as possible, before visiting with your attorney.

It is absolutely essential to learn everything that you can about various assets or items of property which you and your spouse acquired together during the marriage, so that when the dreaded "D" word is first discussed, you won't be in the dark on the asset issue. You should obtain the present value of all big ticket assets or items of marital property such as real estate, bank accounts, including checking and savings, retirement plans, mutual funds investments, stock investments and the like, 401K plans, IRAs and so on. Furthermore, you should know the whereabouts of all documents which might show the present value and number of shares of the asset if applicable.

I have done many divorces where one spouse (usually the woman) comes into my office and I talk to her about the property that her and her husband own together and her embarrassed response is typically: "I don't have any idea what assets we own, where they are located, or the value of the assets. My husband didn't or wouldn't let me know about any of that information." This scenario makes handling a divorce extremely more difficult. I encourage you to be proactive and do as much personal investigation as you can to find out about the existence and values of marital properties before you see your attorney for the first time. If your attorney does not know about the existence of assets, they can't be divided by the Court because the Court can only divide marital property which the Court knows about or which is in existence.

Likewise, it is also important to learn as much as you can about the debts that have been incurred during your marriage and whether the debts are secured, unsecured, on a credit card, on a line of credit or the like. Again, this is important because, as with marital property, the Court cannot divide the marital debt if the Court does not know of the existence of the debt. If credit cards have been a problem in your marriage, it might be wise to close down the effected credit card account(s) so that it or they can no longer be used to incur more debt.

It is also important in preparing for divorce to decide, if there are children, where you and the children are going to reside pending the divorce. The pros and cons of staying in the residence or moving out of the residence are matters that should be discussed in great detail with your attorney. It is important to hire an attorney as early in the divorce process as you possibly can. I stand ready to help you at any time and would love the opportunity to represent you in the event that the need arises. You can reach me at (816) 759-8928. Call anytime for an appointment.

DWI/DUI

Things you should know immediately upon your arrest

In Missouri, DWI or DUI are basically synonymous terms. Regardless of whether you have been arrested and charged with DWI or DUI, the upshot is the same. If you are arrested for DWI, you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated because the arresting officer believed that you were driving your vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, the arresting officer believed that you were driving your vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In either event, you must understand that, upon your arrest for DUI or DWI, you have two problems which will be facing you. They are as follows:

1. The traffic ticket or tickets that you have received as the result of the DWI or DUI arrest; and

2. The possible suspension or revocation of your Missouri Driver's license and/or Missouri driving privilege either because you allegedly tested in excess of .08% on the breath test machine or because you allegedly refused to take the breath test.

Many people who come to see me have gotten themselves into greater trouble because they only paid attention to the Court date that was listed on their ticket or tickets. The Court date on the ticket or tickets will only tell you the date that you have to appear in Court for the first time on the ticket or tickets you have received. However, the possible administrative suspension or revocation of your Missouri driver's license and/or your Missouri driving privilege for allegedly testing in excess of .08% on the breath test or for allegedly refusing the breath test needs much more immediate attention. Whether you allegedly tested too high on the breath test or whether you allegedly refused to submit to the breath test, the time clock begins to run from the date of your arrest for purposes of your ability to be able to lawfully drive your vehicle. In both instances, you will receive a 15 day driving permit which will run out after the passage of fifteen days from your arrest date unless appropriate steps are taken to extend the driving permit. If you allegedly test too high on the breath test (in other words, if you test more than .08 %) you must file a request for a hearing to have this aspect of your case reviewed within 15 days of the date of your arrest. If you allegedly refuse to take the breath test, you have 30 days from the date of your arrest to file a petition for a hearing to review your alleged refusal to take the breath test.

As you can see, in either the case of a breath test refusal or an excessive breath test, you can't just wait until your court date comes as shown on your ticket. If you do, you will lose certain rights to challenge the applicable aspect of your case, be it an alleged chemical refusal or an alleged breath test which exceeds .08%. It is important for you to understand that it is possible to be successful in these aspects of your DWI or DUI case. If you have any questions, or you would like to discuss a problem such as this with me, please feel free to contact me at (816) 759-8928 to make an appointment.

Silence is Golden

The right to remain silent is a right that is guaranteed all persons under the Missouri and the United States Constitutions. Put another way, every citizen has the right to remain free from incriminating his or herself at any time when he or she believes that criminal trouble looms on the horizon.

The general human tendency or nature is to talk "when we are nervous." We find it easier to talk, even if we really don't know what we are saying, when we have the nervous stomach because, for some reason, it makes us feel better than just sitting quietly with our mouths shut. In many instances, this can be the wrong thing to do. When the police call you down to talk about a case, they want to make it seem like it is an innocent matter. You, as a free person and not believing that you have anything to hide, decide to go down and talk with the police. Before you know it, the police are interrogating you, treating you like you are a criminal and accusing you of robbing a bank, assaulting a person or committing some other crime which you swear you didn't have any involvement in. By the end of the meeting with the police, you have made a statement confessing to the crime and then your troubles really begin.

I am not trying to paint a picture of doom and gloom here. However, you must be aware of the fact that police receive many hours of training on how to break down people that they believe are involved in or have committed crimes. They are trained in the mental aspects of this mental game of breaking down possible perpetrators and getting them to confess. It is not uncommon for a police officer, during an interrogation, to call you a liar and to tell you just how bad things are going to be if you "don't come clean."

Deciding to go to talk to the police without the benefit of a lawyer is a decision that should not be made lightly. My personal belief is that you should not speak to a police officer for any reason at a police station without first consulting with an attorney and then deciding if you should have representation for that meeting. If you would like to have such a discussion with me or if I can be of any criminal assistance to you in the criminal arena, please feel free to contact me at (816) 759-8928 to make an appointment.