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Clarksville Legal Blog

Allegations of violent activity should receive defense support

Anyone who has ever watched a crime drama on television is generally aware of how the criminal justice system works. A person may be arrested if they are found to be associated with an alleged crime and then a prosecutor is required to build a case supported by evidence to prove that they committed the alleged illegal act. If they are found guilty, that person may wind up facing a very serious penalty.

However, Tennessee residents may also be aware of the fact that the criminal justice system is not perfect and that often mistakes are made during the collection of evidence, the assessment of suspects and the application of criminal charges. Men and women may be wrongly pulled into the system by virtue of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and may face serious consequences for alleged crimes that they did not commit.

What is a repayment plan under Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Making the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy can weigh on a Tennessee resident, but once they have committed themselves to pursuing the process to manage their debts their decision-making is not over. An individual who wishes to seek bankruptcy protections must still choose which form of individual bankruptcy will provide them with the best options for moving forward.

If the individual elects to pursue Chapter 13 bankruptcy, they will be required to create a repayment plan. The repayment plan is the central component of a debtor's efforts to attain discharge in this form of bankruptcy.

4 tips for divorcing in your 20s

Marrying your sweetheart when you are young is one of the most exciting experiences. There is nothing better than young love. Unfortunately, not every fairytale lasts forever. You may find your marriage falling apart when you are still in your twenties. 

How do you manage such heartbreak? Here is some advice for surviving a divorce in your twenties. 

Domestic violence allegations come from different relationships

Prior posts on this Tennessee legal blog have discussed the importance of zealously defending yourself against domestic violence claims. A charge of domestic violence can disrupt a person's family life and force them into a difficult world of criminal allegations and hardship. While many people think that domestic violence matters only arise between individuals in romantic relationships, in Tennessee many different alleged domestic violence victims can make claims against their alleged aggressors.

A person may be accused of domestic violence by their spouse or romantic partner. That can be a person who they are currently dating and even individuals who they are no longer involved with can allege domestic violence against them. Former spouses can also claim domestic violence after their marriages have ended.

What is first degree murder?

Variations in the law exist across different jurisdictions and it is therefore important that Tennessee residents seek state-specific guidance on the criminal matters that affect their lives. This post will address how Tennessee defines first degree murder and it is important that readers remember this definition may be different in different states. Consultation with a local criminal defense attorney can help a person facing violent crime charges to get the best help possible.

There are two types of murder that may be considered first degree murder. The first is felony murder, or a murder that occurs during the commission of an alleged felony. If a person is killed during an alleged assault or other felony offense, the offender may face first degree murder charges in Tennessee.

Different ways that a plea deal may be negotiated

When a Tennessee resident is charged with a crime they may be asked to enter a plea regarding the charges. For example, they may plead not guilty and claim that they are innocent of the charges. They may also plead guilty and accept what is said about their conduct as true. They may also attempt to negotiate a better position for themselves in exchange for entering a plea that the prosecutor accepts as sufficient.

This is known as a "plea negotiation" or coming to a plea deal. A person and their attorney may work with prosecutors to lessen the severity of the charged crimes or possible punishments in exchange for the individual pleading guilty on the modified claims.

How can a person tackle unmanageable credit card debt?

It may have started innocently enough -- a few purchases are made using a credit card and the balance is paid off every month. However, what happens when financial disaster strikes? Perhaps you become seriously ill and find yourself having to use a credit card to pay the thousands of dollars you owe in medical bills. Or, perhaps you are laid off, and find that you must rely on your credit card to pay for the basic necessities of life, like groceries or the electric bill. Soon, the credit card balance becomes unmanageable, and you find that you are unable to pay even the minimum monthly balance. As this shows, even the most hard-working individuals in Tennessee can find themselves in a world of trouble when it comes to credit card debt.

However, there are strategies that people who are facing unmanageable credit card debt can use to address the situation and pay back what is owed. For example, people can use the "snowball" method to pay back debt. This involves paying the smallest debts back first and then moving on to the next largest debt until all debts are cleared. Having some money from each paycheck automatically transferred to a savings account that is used to pay back credit card debt may be another option. A balance transfer to a card with a 0 percent interest rate may also help.

Those facing domestic violence charges may need legal help

Sometimes, a person misunderstands what another person does or says. Usually all it takes to resolve the situation is for the people involved to simply have a conversation about the issue, so that they are both on the same page. However, some misunderstandings, unfortunately, can become highly emotional, with one or both parties becoming especially angry. In these cases, a person may get the police involved. They may allege they were physically harmed by the other party, resulting in an arrest. Being accused of domestic assault in Tennessee can impact a person's life for many years to come.

If a person is convicted of domestic assault, that person will be penalized in the same fashion as other assault crimes, with one exception. If a person commits domestic assault, that person will have violated the federal Lautenberg Amendment. By doing so, that person will have permanently lost the ability to possess a gun. There may also be other penalties as well.

Changes could be coming to student loans and bankruptcy

The student loan debt crisis is having a major effect on college graduates in Tennessee and throughout the nation. Young adults took out tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans to finance their college education. However, due to a downturn in the economy and stagnant wages, they were unable to find jobs post-graduation that allowed them to pay back their student loans. This, in turn, led many individuals to default on their student loan payments, leading to demanding phone calls from collection agencies threatening to take legal action if the debts are not paid. When a person's finances spiral out-of-control, they may want to file for bankruptcy so that they can have a fresh financial start. Unfortunately, traditionally student loans were ineligible for discharge through bankruptcy. However, the Department of Education may soon change that.

Currently, the only way to have student loan debt discharged through bankruptcy is for the debtor to prove that paying back the loans would place an "undue hardship" on the filer. However, the U.S. Department of Education never gave a specific definition of what an undue hardship was, and neither had case law. Courts turn to the "Brunner Test," in which debtors must show that if they must pay back their student loans over the course of their repayment period, they would be unable to sustain a basic standard of living. They also must show that they have taken steps to try to pay back their federal student loans.

How does the new tax law affect spousal support?

If you are a divorced Tennessee resident who pays or receives spousal support, a/k/a alimony, you may have heard rumors that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that Congress passed late last year and President Trump signed into law on Dec. 22, 2017, changes how those payments are treated with respect to federal income taxes. These rumors are true. While the new law does not affect the income tax returns you are in the process of preparing to file on or before April 15, 2018, everything could change for you next year.

The new law eliminates the so-called alimony deduction for those paying spousal support to their ex-spouse. It also eliminates the requirement that spousal support recipients must claim their payments as income. However, the new law does not apply to all such payors and payees.

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
412 Franklin Street
Clarksville, TN 37040

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