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Accused of theft? Here is what the means for you

If authorities accuse you of theft, it is in your interests to know as much as possible about what you are up against. A criminal conviction can have a significant impact long-term, and it's prudent not to underestimate the potential effects this can have on your life. You want to do everything possible to protect your rights as well as shield your future interests.

In addition to keeping you out of jail, a strong defense strategy can help you preserve your reputation and avoid other potential consequences that may come with a conviction. Theft charges can be either misdemeanor or felony charges, and it encompasses a range of offenses, including taking physical property, taking a person's identity or taking money. Understanding the case against you will help you develop a strong defense strategy that makes sense for your situation. 

What type of disability benefits are right for you?

The inability to work due to a physical or mental condition can lead to financial difficulties. If you are earning a paycheck, how can you pay for your daily needs or make sure you get all of the medical help you require? It can be a discouraging position to find yourself in, but there could be disability benefits available to you from the Social Security Administration. 

There are two types of disability benefits, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. Knowing the difference between these two options is important as you prepare your claim and take the appropriate steps necessary to secure the benefits you need. The difference between these two programs is significant, as they help two distinct groups of people who are unable to work because of a disability.

How possession becomes a felony?

Federal and Virginia authorities take drug crimes seriously. The focus seems even more intense lately because of the rising problem with overdoses and deaths related to opioid use. Police and drug enforcement agents work diligently to seek out and bring down individuals and organizations that put these drugs on the street, and that means those convicted of distributing drugs can expect to face harsh penalties.

If you have recently been arrested for drug crimes, you may wonder how a possession charge can become possession with intent to distribute. This additional element of the crime has serious ramifications and potentially life-changing consequences. It is important that you understand what you are facing and the options available for building your defense strategy.

What happens when an SSDI claim is not successful?

If you are unable to work due to a physical injury, mental issue or medical condition, you understand the extent to which this can impact your finances. When you cannot support yourself because of factors beyond your control, it can be frustrating and overwhelming. As a disabled individual, you could be eligible for financial benefits through the Social Security Administration. 

Once you complete the paperwork and submit it, you may feel hopeful that you could get financial relief in the near future. After all, you have a legitimate disabling condition, and you did everything required of you to apply. Unfortunately, many initial claims are not successful. This could be devastating, but this is not the end of the road for you.

Tailgating can be fun, but alcohol may put you at risk

As a football fan, you likely have many weekends this time of year planned in advance. Whether you are traveling to see an away game or staying local in Virginia, you know when you will be getting ready to cheer on your favorite team. In fact, you and a few friends may have standing plans to tailgate whenever you head to a game.

Tailgating is a pregame activity enjoyed by fans of numerous sports. You may consider football season your time to shine, and you do your part to participate in the tailgating experience. Of course, if your participation includes consuming alcohol, you may want to remember that irresponsible drinking and other actions could have negative consequences.

Understanding Virginia's drug treatment courts

Driving while empaired prevents drivers from being fully alert, and puts themselves and others in danger. Though this is not usually the intent, such behavior does warrant serious penalties under the law.

However, there are options available, such as drug treatment courts, that certain drivers may be able to take advantage of. There are a few key things to understand about this court option.

Should you take a breath test at a DUI stop?

With the holidays coming up, more police officers are likely to be out at night looking for drunk drivers or setting up DUI checkpoints throughout Virginia. You may find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to pull over and speak to an officer on suspicions of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If the police have reason to believe you are intoxicated, they may request that you take a breath or blood test. What should you do? Is it better to take it or refuse?

A DUI conviction may ruin your college plans

In Virginia, DUI penalties increase depending on your blood alcohol content when officers stop your vehicle. For drivers under 21, though, the Old Dominion has a zero-tolerance policy. That is, if you are a minor and have a BAC above 0.02%, you are likely to face severe penalties for drinking and driving. 

If you are a young adult, you may look forward to leaving home and attending a college or university. Doing so is an effective way to land your dream job. Even better, college can be a tremendous amount of fun. While there is nothing wrong with letting loose, you should know how a DUI conviction may interfere with your college plans. 

6 tips for financial survival while awaiting SSDI approval

Let us say you submitted your claim for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Now you must wait to find out if the Social Security Administration approves your claim.

The wait can be up to a year and a half; meanwhile, you cannot work. How will you survive financially? Here are six suggestions to help you stay afloat during the SSDI approval process.

Self-defense as a legal defense

In cases where assault, battery or homicide occurred, self-defense is a common strategy to implement in court. A U.S. Park Police officer recently claimed he acted in self-defense in 2017 when he fatally shot a motorist, even though said motorist did not have a weapon on his person. 

While acting in self-defense is a common strategy to use in court, it does not always work. There have to be certain factors present for the defense to be successful. Anyone currently planning on going to court on assault and battery charges may want to use self-defense as a retort, but that individual and his or her legal team will need to look at the definition of self-defense to ensure it fits. 

Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

criminal defense & Social security disability law

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