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Laws You May Not Know About

Oct 17

I have had several people request that I write about “little known laws.” Here are a few that may interest you (all references made are to the Alabama Code):

Anyone who maims or injures themselves to “excite sympathy or to obtain alms or some sort of charitable relief” is guilty of a class C felony.  §13A-14-1.

Any person who gives a minor a bowie knife shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00. §13A-11-57.

Anyone who carries a concealed slingshot shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail for six months. §13A-11-53.

A person who possesses, obtains, receives, sells, or uses a short-barreled rifle or a short-barreled shotgun is guilty of a Class C felony. §13A-11-63.

It is illegal for anyone to use pepper spray in the commission of a crime. §13A-6-27.

Anyone who knowingly profits from unlawful gambling activity as a player commits the crime of simple gambling and is guilty of a class C misdemeanor, unless he was engaged in a social game at a private place.  §13A-12-21. However, a person commits the crime of promoting gambling if he profits from unlawful gambling other than as a player and is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. §13A-12-22.

Anyone who finances, advertises, sells tickets to, operates, or purchases a ticket for a hog fight is guilty of illegal hog fighting, which is a class A misdemeanor upon conviction for a first offense and a class C felony for a second offense. §13A-12-6.

Anyone who displays in public any bumper sticker, sign or writing which depicts obscene language descriptive of sexual or excretory activities is guilty of a class C misdemeanor. §13A-12-131

Anyone who promotes, engages in, or is employed at a bear wrestling match is guilty of unlawful bear exploitation, a class B felony. §13A-12-5.

According to §13A-12-1, these acts are prohibited on Sunday: charity work, shooting, hunting, card playing, racing, and compelling a child to perform any labor except customary domestic duties. Anyone violating this law shall be fined not less than $10.00 nor more than $100.00, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labor for the county, for up to three months.

And finally, §13A-14-3 makes it unlawful for any person to promote, advertise or conduct any type of marathon dance contest continuing or intended to continue for a period of more than eight consecutive hours. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not less than 30 days nor more than 90 days and/or by a fine of not less than $50.00 nor more than $500.00. My friend Kevin Turner was really upset about this one.

This column is intended for general information purposes only. It is not intended, nor should it be construed as personal legal advice. The answers to most legal problems rely on the specific facts of your situation; therefore, it is very important that you personally see a lawyer when these situations arise.


Abbreviations for Criminal Charges

Oct 17

A few months ago, Sheriff Jeff Shaver and the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department created an extremely useful website where you can find out information regarding the Sheriff’s department. The website is located at One of the most frequently viewed areas of the website by far is the daily arrest records. The arrest records section of the website is so popular that you can, like me, get the arrest report emailed to you each morning.  I am discovering, however, that most people do not know what the abbreviations are for many of the charges found on the arrest report. Below is an explanation of some of the more common abbreviations and what they mean

“NWNI” – Negotiating a Worthless Negotiable Instrument. This charge is more commonly known as writing a bad check. NWNI is a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone convicted on NWNI can also expect to pay court costs, the face amount of the bad check, collection costs, and possibly a fine as determined by the judge.

“UPODP” – Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Drug paraphernalia is defined as any equipment, products, and materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in growing, producing, storing, or using illegal drugs. Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor.

“UPOM” – Unlawful Possession of Marijuana. There are two varieties. 2nd degree UPOM is a Class A misdemeanor and is usually charged for first time offenders with smaller amounts of marijuana. 1st degree UPOM is a Class C felony and is charged for repeat offenders, or for those with larger amounts of marijuana.

“UPOCS” – Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance. This includes meth, cocaine, crack, etc. UPOCS is a Class C felony.

“UDOCS” – Unlawful Distribution of a Controlled Substance. This crime involves selling, distributing, and/or transferring a controlled substance. UDOCS is a Class B felony.

“FTP” – Failure to Pay. This means that someone who has previously convicted of a crime has failed to pay their fines, court costs, and/or restitution as ordered by the Court. The court issues a warrant for the individual and they are brought before the judge to explain their non-payment.

“FTA” – Failure to Appear. A criminal defendant has failed to appear at his hearing and the judge has issued a warrant for his arrest so that he may be brought before the court. When you see an FTA and FTP on the arrest report, the underlying charge usually follows. For example, an FTA on a UPOM means that a defendant has failed to appear on a Possession of Marijuana Charge.

“Violation of Release Order” – This means that a criminal defendant who is on bond, or has been released from custody under certain conditions, has failed to meet one or more of the conditions given to him at his release. The judge issues a warrant for this person and he is brought before the court to explain his actions.

Craigslist Scammers

Aug 17

Craigslist Scammers

Craigslist has been around for a while, and many people I know use this service to buy and sell items. Unfortunately, (like in most aspects of our lives now) thieves and scammers are always out there trying to take advantage of good people. I have recently had some one call and ask me about a transaction over Craig’s list that was found out to be a scam. Below is a list of popular Craig’s list scams that everyone needs to look out for and be aware of.

Someone claims Craigslist will guarantee a transaction, certify a buyer/seller, OR will handle or provide protection for a payment. These claims are fraudulent, as Craigslist does not have any role in any transaction. The scammer will often send an official looking (but fake) email that appears to come from Craigslist offering a guarantee, certifying a seller, or offering to handle payments.

A distant person offers a genuine-looking (but fake) cashier’s check. You receive an email offering to buy your item, sight unseen. The scammer offers a cashier’s check for your sale item as a deposit. The value of cashier’s check, however, far exceeds your item. The scammer offers to “trust” you, and asks you to wire him back the balance via money transfer service. Banks will often unknowingly cash fake certified checks and then hold you responsible when the check finally fails to clear. You are now legally responsible for paying the bank the value of the bad certified check.

Someone requests wire service payment via Western Union or MoneyGram. Scam “bait” items include apartments, laptops, TVs, cell phones, tickets, and other high value items. These scams often claim that an MTCN or confirmation code is needed before he can withdraw your money. This is false, however, and once you’ve wired money, it is gone. Common countries currently include: Nigeria, Romania, United Kingdom, Ukraine, Spain, Italy, Netherlands—but could be anywhere.

A distant person offers to send you a money order and then have you wire money back to them. Much like the scam where a trusting buyer gives you a certified check for your item then requests the balance be wired to him, this is always a scam. The cashier’s check is fake and once the bank discovers this, you will have to pay them the money back.

A distant seller suggests use of an online escrow service. Most online escrow sites are fraudulent and operated by scammers. It is a good idea to stay away from this sort of transaction altogether.

A distant seller asks for a partial payment upfront, after which he will ship goods. The seller will tell you he says he trusts you with the partial payment and may even say that he has already shipped the goods.

There are a lot of scams out there in today’s marketplace, so always be careful when dealing with someone over the phone or the internet. Just remember that the old saying “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” is usually right — otherwise, it wouldn’t be an old saying.

The “One Person, One Vote” Debate

Jan 27

It seems that the closer we get to an election (especially a presidential election), the more people begin arguing about the mechanics of vote-casting. True to form, as we approach 2016, the debates and court cases are in full swing. Many times, these arguments are just political banter and not given much real consideration. One particular case before the United States Supreme Court, however, may have a serious impact on voting.

Recently, the Supreme Court seemed ready to order a significant shift in how voting election districts are mapped throughout the country. On November 8, 2015, the Court heard arguments that could result in a ruling which requires all 50 states to change the way they draw election districts for members of the House of Representatives, state legislatures, city councils and other local bodies. This decision would have a great impact on many elections.

From the United State’s creation, our founding fathers based our government on the “one person, one vote” principle. In other words, in order to form a government of the people, and to insure that everyone was represented in government, each citizen should have a vote, and that vote should count equally with all the other votes. Because of our vast population, however, most elections are decided by each individual vote, but by a collective of votes in “election districts.” The inevitable problem is that throughout American history corrupt lawmakers have tried to manipulate these election districts in a way beneficial to themselves or their political party.

Literally from day one, election district manipulation has resulted in heated debates and scores of lawsuits. In early American history, the major goal was to prevent election districts from being drawn by land area, which would result in rural districts with less population always being dominated by urban districts with greater population. Later, especially after the civil war, election districts were constantly manipulated and drawn by racial lines. Many Supreme Court decisions have been cast and many laws have been created over the years to combat this problem.

At issue before the court now is the basic question of who gets counted when election districts are drawn: Is it all people, including children, prisoners and immigrants who are not eligible to vote? Or is it only adult citizens who are eligible voters?

The Plaintiffs, two Texas Republicans who live in rural districts, say they are denied the “equal protection of the laws” because the state’s election districts undercount the votes of U.S. citizens and overcount those who live in districts with large numbers of immigrants. For example, of two Texas state Senate districts, both with 800,000 residents, one had about 574,000 citizens who are eligible to vote and the other had only 372,000 people who are eligible to vote. Although these two districts have equal numbers of people they definitely do not have an equal numbers of voters. The Plaintiffs argue that the court should clarify its “one person, one vote” rule and tell states they should give “equal weight to equal numbers of voters.”

If the US Supreme Court agrees with the Plaintiffs, election districts across the nation will be recalculated and redrawn. Because many of the immigrant districts are traditionally democratic, republicans are expecting an advantage in future elections if election districts are reorganized.

Teens and Texting While Driving

Nov 10

Sometimes an Alabama family law firm is contacted to provide legal representation when a teen driver has been involved in a vehicle accident because they were texting while driving. This is a known danger, not just to the teen driver, but also to others on the road that could be injured by that teen’s distracted driving. An Alabama criminal lawyer may become part of the case if someone is injured or killed due to negligent driving or illegal driving.

A 2009 study reported by shows that texting by teens while driving is more of a distraction than fiddling with their MP3 music or talking on a cell phone. All are distractions, but this study showed that when teens were texting during the testing, they drove erratically and even ran over virtual people. They made mistakes by driving too slowly or weaving outside the simulated lanes. Texting is even worse than talking on a cell phone; it requires looking down at the keypad and away from the road ahead.

Participants in this study were screened to exclude teens with ADHD, substance abuse problems or a history of unsafe driving. All teens had been driving for at least six months. There was no difference between city or rural driving while texting; distracted driving by teens in urban driving had the worst results. This study showed a definite correlation between use of the fingers for texting and dangerous driving. The article also quoted a study by the American Automobile Association that states a 50 percent increase in car accident risk for people who text message while driving.

Your teen driver needs to know that texting while driving creates a very dangerous situation. It will make them far more likely to become involved in a tragic accident because their attention is taken away from watching the road and driving carefully. If your teen has been in an accident due to texting, as driver or as a passenger, you need to contact an Alabama family law firm with experience handling teen driving while texting cases for best results. You can obtain a free initial consultation with no obligation by calling our offices today.

Don’t Let Your Child Be Stuck With a Criminal Record

Oct 27

Don’t let your child be stuck with a criminal record, fight the charges to keep their criminal record clean. Some parents try to teach their child a lesson if they get in trouble without realizes the far-reaching consequences of a criminal conviction. It is not a good idea to try to teach your child a lesson when they are in trouble. You should be there for your child and help them through this issue with the justice system.

The first thing you should do is to find an Alabama family law attorney to help assist with your child’s case. There is no way you should let your child go without representation when a conviction could have far reaching consequences. The consequences of a criminal charge can be very serious. With certain convictions, there is a chance that certain things could be withheld such as federal financial aid.

Any child can make a mistake in situations that occur during youth. Whether your child is caught knocking down mailboxes or whether your child accused of a serious crime. Make sure to contact a lawyer with the knowledge and experience to provide your child with the representation they need in efforts to prevent a conviction in the case.

If there is a conviction in the case, make sure to contact an attorney who can assist in getting a charge removed from your child’s record. It is important to contact an Alabama criminal lawyer to represent their interests. If the charge is removed, it will mitigate the possible damages that could occur if those charges were to remain on their record.

Anyone can make a mistake, but everyone deserves a second chance. The only way to protect your child’s record is to assist them with their defense and make sure an attorney with knowledge and experience handles their defense. Contact an Alabama criminal lawyer to help you get the best outcome for your child.

Make Sure Your Divorce Goes Smoothly

Oct 20

A divorce can be very traumatic on many levels. In order to minimize the stress and make sure your divorce goes smoothly, it’s important to keep a few elements in mind. You want to make sure that you: copy all your important documents; get everything in writing; and keep a diary.

Copy All Your Important Documents
If you are even thinking about a divorce, you want to make a copy of every conceivable important document in your house. From birth certificates to marriage licenses to bills to bills of sale on cars, you want to make sure that you gain all the evidence you can to show who had what in whose name at what time.

Get Everything in Writing
You are constructing a case against another person. Therefore, any statements about how you agree upon certain elements of the divorce should be put down in writing so that they would stand up in a court of law if they were to be requested. For example, stating that your spouse said you could have the house might have been said–but oral agreements are difficult to prove in court. So, get agreements and other statements in writing. That way you will come out on top.

Keep a Diary
In order to ensure you have a smooth divorce, you have to show yourself to be a reliable person to the judge. If your spouse is a spendthrift who put you into financial ruin, put it down in your diary. If your spouse was abusive towards you or any dependents at any time, write it down. Diaries can be utilized as evidence in court, and have been in certain cases. Written evidence from your personal life could make or break your case in divorce court.

The big takeaway from this entire piece is, documentation is key. What matters is what you can prove in court. When building a case, you need to copy important documentation, get things in writing, and keep a diary. Consult an Alabama family law expert if applicable.

10 Ways To Choose A Great Lawyer

Oct 08

If you need help finding top-notch legal representation in Alabama, there are many tried and true ways to find one. Utilizing the ten reference points below will help you to find a great Alabama criminal lawyer or Alabama family law attorney.

1. Consult with acquaintances and ask whether they can recommend a lawyer. In doing so, however, you should avoid revealing any confidential information. Later, once you have retained a lawyer, your discussions with that lawyer are confidential and protected by the attorney client privilege.

2. Check with the Alabama Bar Association for referrals to lawyers who handle your type of case.

3. You can research online to find the qualifications of many lawyers. You should never retain a lawyer, however, before meeting the individual in person.

4. Once you have met a potential lawyer, ask yourself if this someone who you feel that you can work with successfully? You should only retain a lawyer with whom you are comfortable talking and discussing the facts of your case.

5. You should always discuss fee arrangements with your attorney. A good attorney will be happy to discuss compensation and expenses with you.

6. Choosing a great lawyer will typically mean finding someone with experience in your type of case. Ask your potential lawyer about the number of cases he has handled similar to yours.

7. You should also ask whether your lawyer has experience in the court where your case is likely to be filed. For example, some lawyers practice more in federal court than in state court. Is your attorney experienced in the venue in which your case will be prosecuted or filed?

8. Has your lawyer published or spoken to professional organizations on relevant topics? If so, read these materials to learn more about your lawyer’s expertise.

9. Where is your lawyer located? Finding a great local Alabama lawyer will be to your advantage.

10. Ask whether your lawyer handles both trials and appeals. Does he take cases to trial frequently?

Follow these guidelines, and you will find a great Alabama criminal lawyer or Alabama family law attorney.

Shane Givens Is Your Guy

Sep 28

If you are looking for an excellent Alabama criminal lawyer as well as one highly knowledgeable of Alabama family law in Centre, Alabama, you need not look any further than the very capable J. Shane Givens and his law firm. This law firm in Centre, Alabama specializes in providing its clients with the best legal advice and protection in the area. You can trust the staff, and you know that J. Shane Givens will take the time to listen to your issues and offer a solution that will not drain your wallet. If you need legal advice, you can be sure this local firm will keep your best interest a priority.

An attorney has no better calling card than his reputation with the community and the people he serves. J. Shane Givens is known for his prompt responses to his clients. You do not have to remain in a state of confusion and fear because you know he understands the turmoil that can result from having doubts surrounding legal issues. He also is dedicated to providing his services in a cost-effective manner. You no longer have to worry about the financial ramifications of seeking the advice of an attorney with J. Shane Givens.

When it comes to the law, J. Shane Givens is also one of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the area. Mr. Givens was trained at one of the largest law firms in Birmingham, Alabama, and he learned from that experience what it takes to make the process run smoothly for his clients. He understands that using technology allows him to steadily assess his client’s ever changing legal situation, and while monitoring these changes, he can provide solutions to his client while avoiding expensive litigation. J. Shane Givens will utilize all these techniques to help you with issues such as divorce, custody, adoption, palimony, and artificial conception. He also is highly skilled at providing help for people facing criminal charges.

Whether you need an expert in Alabama family law or an Alabama criminal lawyer, call J. Shane Givens, and set up a consultation today!

Life is Unpredictable

Sep 25

Life is unpredictable, and some of the best of us can find ourselves in the midst of a very bad situation. If you are charged with a crime, you will need an excellent attorney to provide a strong defense for you. In every society, there has to be punishment for certain behavior that is harmful to citizens and the entire society. Behavior that fits in these categories is labeled a crime; the perpetrator or person convicted of the crime can face imprisonment and/or fines.

Every state has laws and regulations specific to that state, so it is important to find an Alabama criminal lawyer that is experienced in Alabama criminal law.
When you hire a lawyer, you should be confident in their ability to protect your legal rights. Fortunately, our justice system provides every citizen with rights, and a person is presumed innocent until found guilty. If you don’t have an attorney who knows the law, you can quickly find yourself in prison. It is your right to have an Alabama criminal lawyer that will provide an aggressive defense.

Although some of us will have to fight criminal charges, the majority of people will have a family issue that will require legal action. Family law is filled with emotion, and family law cases are highly time-sensitive. Consequently, if you live in the state of Alabama, you will need an Alabama family law professional that is experienced with family legal issues. Family court handles these legal matters. Divorce, child custody, adoption, child support, and visitation are all family law matters that need an Alabama family law specialist to provide you with the best legal protection possible.

Too many people are denied their legal rights because they did not have competent representation. This will significantly change your life; you can’t afford to let criminal charges or family law issues hang in the balance. These issues will not go away, and you must give yourself a fighting chance. An experienced Alabama attorney can protect your rights and fight for you.