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By Dutko Law 01 Dec, 2017

Here at Dutko Law, we offer criminal attorney services in Kutztown and the surrounding areas. Our country has a long and proud history of upholding the rights of the innocent, and we try to do our part as well as criminal defense attorneys. Dealing with a criminal charge can be one of the scariest and serious experiences of your life. Your very freedoms our country values above all else are at stake, as well as your reputation and future financial prospects. However, our justice system is designed to give the innocent a voice. Here are some tips for making dealing with a criminal charge less stressful, as well as ensuring you get the best legal representation possible.

Understand the consequences of conviction

Defendants in this country are dealing with a largely unknown problem as it relates to the veracity of our justice system; about 90-95 percent  of all criminal cases result in a plea deal. Why is this a problem? Our courts function on an adversarial justice system. Such a system does not rely on inherent feelings or authority of who is right to determine justice, but rather the arguments made by each party (which is why a qualified lawyer is so important). By leveraging fear of a wrongful conviction, prosecutors are able to get defendants to waive their right to trial the vast majority of the time.

Unfortunately, for you as a defendant, this means that there could likely be a very serious choice for you to make. If you are offered a plea deal, but decide to fight for your innocence, a guilty conviction will most likely result in the most serious punishment possible. In contrast, if you are offered a plea deal, and decide to take it, you will be considered guilty for the crimes you admit to, and will serve out the sentence regardless of innocence.

Your attorney is important

Many people wonder why they can’t just get a public defender for their criminal charge. This can be a bad idea for a few reasons. First, a public defender is much more likely to advise you to take a plea deal. They typically have extremely high case loads, and very little time to work on a case. So even if they do work with you to prove your innocence, they will have less time and resources to put forth at your disposal.

When searching for an attorney, you want someone who is qualified to represent your case, has the time and resources to bare to ensure it gets their full attention, and who you trust to fight for your innocence. If you don’t already have a trusted, professional attorney on hand, this will likely take a bit of time and research. When making your decision, don’t forget to calculate cost into your decision, as attorney fees should be a serious consideration as well.

Write down your experience

Consistency is a major aspect of whether a testimony will be believed. In stressful situations, our brains have a bad habit of forgetting important information, or warping it over time into a pseudo memory. To avoid mistakes in remembering important information, make a point to write down anything pertinent to your case as soon as you get the opportunity to do so.

As you are writing down all this information, it is a good time to take stock of any potential witnesses or evidence that you could bring to bear in your trial. For most criminal cases, actual definitive physical evidence is lacking, so prosecutors rely heavily on witnesses and circumstantial evidence for most convictions. Anything that can elucidate your position for the jury will likely weaken the prosecutions case, if not exonerate you.

 

There is no getting around the fact that a criminal charge is one of the most stressful situations a person can go through. Luckily, if you keep calm and think through your situation, you can maximize your chances of proving your innocence. If you are looking for a Kutztown criminal attorney, reach out to Dutko Law today. For more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call. One of our representatives will be happy to answer any questions you have.

By Dutko Law 30 Nov, 2017

Here at Dutko Law, we help people who need Family Attorney services in Kutztown and the surrounding areas. One of the services we offer in this capacity is that of a divorce lawyer. Divorce is a troubling time for everyone involved. When you hire us, we are committed to helping you through the process as easily as possible and ensuring you get a fair deal. But even with a great lawyer at your side, the ordeal can be stressful. Here are some tips for handling a divorce dispute that will hopefully make it a little easier.

For the Case

Once you have hired a qualified family attorney to settle your divorce dispute, you are already on the right track to fair representation. But there are still things to keep in mind to ensure your success.

  • Understand that divorce is a long, sometimes messy process. Everybody wants to think that their divorce will end quickly and smoothly, but the reality is that this is not the case most of the time. Take the process step by step as it comes, without overly worrying about it from day to day.
  • Do not get antagonistic. Ideally, the best way to end a divorce is as amicably as possible. Even when there are legitimate disputes, make sure to keep a level head, as the more stubbornly people fight, the longer, harder, and more drawn out the divorce process will be.
  • Being a spouse may end, but being a parent does not. Don’t let the heated emotions of the moment during divorce proceedings cause lasting harm to your family later on. Focusing on the kids that you love can be a good way to ensure everyone is treated fairly in the end.

For Yourself

You have more to think about than just your court case, no matter how important its decision. Remember that and make a point to preserve your own well being.

  • Do not make hasty financial decisions. During times of stress, people are much more vulnerable to “feel good” purchases. However, divorce is a time of financial insecurity, when lofty spending should be, temporarily at least, put on hold.
  • Don’t forget fun. Despite what your boss may tell you, we are on this planet to enjoy ourselves. Just because you are going through a stressful time now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to enjoy yourself. Even if it is just for a moment relatively, make sure you are consistently and actively performing activities that you know you enjoy.
  • Find an outlet to vent. Human beings are social, and when it comes to stress, most of us deal with is socially. Make sure it is an appropriate person that you are venting to, but don’t keep your emotions bottled up.

We hope these tips make things easier. For those of you who need a Kutztown Divorce Lawyer, Dutko Law can help. For more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today.

By Dutko Law 25 Oct, 2017

America is one of the greatest legal systems in the world. But it is by no means perfect. One area where this is glaringly obvious is with public defenders, who are unfortunately under-equipped  systemically (not professionally) to defend the excessive amount of clients they are assigned. When you need a criminal defense lawyer, if you are financially able, it is always preferable to hire a private attorney over a public defender to ensure you get the best representation possible. Most people charged with serious crimes are indigent, and don’t have the money for an attorney. Shockingly, according to one of the largest studies  of its kind, death sentences that made it to the appeal process ended up being overturned two out of three times. That is about a 66 percent failure rate of our justice system from that sample. So what is it that makes it so hard for public defenders to represent their charges?

Huge Caseload

Whereas a private attorney will almost assuredly ensure there is plenty of time to work a case when they take one on, public defenders are overworked at a level that, according to Laurence A. Benner of the American Bar Association , “offices have attorney caseloads that exceed nationally recognized maximum caseload standards.”, and state level organizations have fared no better. This means that while our Sixth Amendment states “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”, it does not guarantee equal representation. How could it, when indigent defendants are represented by lawyers that may have 20 to 30 cases in a day, while private attorneys may only have to focus on one, two, or maybe three?

Accountability

Every lawyer must maintain standards set by the American Bar Association, but there is a different incentive for public vs. private defenders. A public defender is funded by the state, and receives no disincentive for not “giving their all” in a case. In contrast, a private defender must constantly justify their practice to their clients. And when they do well, they tend to get more clients. This creates a bigger incentive for better representation.

Incentive

It is an unfortunate fact in our country that prosecutors work closely with police and forensic teams in our legal system. This creates a “team spirit” that motivates people to “catch the bad guy” at all costs (this is not their job, they are only supposed to scientifically verify) even going so far as to use debunked science like bite mark testimony to get convictions (there are many people currently serving sentences based on this debunked science). Add to that the fact that as many as 90 percent  of all criminal cases in the US end in a plea bargain, and you can see how an overworked attorney could advise their client to take a plea bargain, rather than risk a conviction even if they are innocent.

 

Hiring a private over public attorney can greatly increase your chances of exoneration. Don’t put your freedom in jeopardy; if you need a criminal defense lawyer in Kutztown or the surrounding areas, hire a private attorney from Dutko Law. Feel free to give us a call if you need any more information about our practice our services.

By Dutko Law 17 Oct, 2017

Stare Decises, Amicus Curae, what, are lawyers speaking another language? Yes, actually, Latin is very prevalent in law just like it is in scientific nomenclature. But even people fluent in Latin (a dead language) have a hard time understanding lawyers a lot of the time. That’s because law could be compared to a language that focuses on rigid rules, concrete and relatable definitions, and established protocol meant to help judges and jurors find the truth. Unfortunately, it is too convoluted for the average layman to understand without a large amount of studying. Luckily, everyone is afforded the right to an attorney for fair representation in America. If you are interested in learning a little bit about American legal terms, we have defined some here.

Acquittal

When a jury’s verdict is that the defendant is not guilty, or a judge deems evidence in a case insufficient, it is called an acquittal.

Administrative Office of the United States (AO)

This is a federal agency that is responsible for collecting and disseminating court statistics, overseeing the federal courts’ budget, as well as performing other related administrative functions. The agency is under the leadership of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR)

This is a method of settling a legal dispute outside of the confines of a courtroom. Usually, it involves an arbitrator or mediator, or the majority of ADRs are not binding agreements.

Appeal

After a trial, a party can appeal their conviction by raising legal issues with the case that a higher court will review and approve or deny. The person who submits an appeal is called an “appelant”, and the other party in the case is called the “appellee”.

Appellate Court

An appellate court is the type of higher court mentioned previously, and has the power to pass judgement on the decisions of lower courts. They decide whether the appeal is valid, and granted so that the defendant can have another trial, or invalid, in which case the conviction stands.

Article III Judge

An Article III Judge is a federal judge who is appointed for life by the president and congress, using Article III of the constitution. The process goes like this; judges are rewarded for “good behavior” by getting a nomination under Article III by the president, which is then confirmed or denied by the Senate.

Common Law

Common law started in England, and is a large aspect of the United States legal system. It is simply the constant re-articulation of legal principles based on previous legal decisions. Any new legislation by the Federal government takes precedence over common law.

Complaint

A complaint is a written statement that starts the proceedings for a civil lawsuit. In it, the plaintiff makes claims about the defendant, which will be the beginning basis for their case.

Concurrent Sentence

When a person is charged and convicted for multiple crimes, they can serve their sentences in one of two ways. One of them is with a concurrent sentence, where jail or prison time for each charge will be served concurrently (at the same time). This means that a conviction of one charge with a five year sentence and another charge with a ten year sentence would result in a ten year sentence when served concurrently.

Consecutive Sentence

The other type of sentence a person can serve after being convicted on multiple charges is a consecutive sentence. With this type of sentence, each conviction’s prison time would be served one after the other. In our previous example with one five year sentence and one ten year sentence, the defendant would serve a total of fifteen years.

De Novo

A Latin word meaning “anew”, when a trial is de novo it means that it is a completely new trial where previous rulings on the case by a trial judge cannot be taken into account.

Deposition

A deposition is an oral statement that is said before an officer of the law who is authorized to administer court oaths. These statements can be taken for a variety of reasons: examining potential witnesses, obtaining discovery, or just to be used at a later point in the trial.

Discovery

Discovery refers to all of the procedures lawyers use to acquire evidence they are entitled to before a trial starts.

Docket

A docket is a court log that contains the complete history of every case in the form of brief summaries and overviews.

 

That is a lot of information to digest! It is always beneficial to educate on how our legal system works, but if you ever find yourself in court, it is important to get professional representation for a fair trial. If you need a labor law or criminal law lawyer in Kutztown or the surrounding areas, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We bring our considerable legal expertise to bear in defense of every client we represent.

By Dutko Law 02 Oct, 2017

There is no skirting around it, America’s legal terms a excessively complicated and convoluted. This may seem like it may hinder justice in an adversarial justice system, and surely without the right to professional legal representation it would, but in fact it sets a uniform, equally accessible, rubric for understanding the law. As ridiculous as at least some laws seem to everyone, most laws went through stringent consideration before passing, or were improved on from past laws. You can imagine how, over time, these accruing laws and legal terms became more and more convoluted. If you need a criminal justice attorney in Kutztown, give Dutko Law a call. In the mean time, here are some common legal terms defined.

Jurisprudence

We will start with the most basic and all encompassing legal term: jurisprudence, which simply refers to the study or theory of law. Jurisprudence can be broken up into broader schools of thought:

  • Natural Law — Natural law is the idea that all legislative power is derived from objective power than can be rationally defined. In other words, the basis of law is found in reason, from which the laws humans create stem.
  • Legal Positivism— Legal positivists hold that rather than law being based on some form of natural law or morality, there is actually no connection between law and morality. Rather, law comes from social differences in legal positivism, although practitioners differ on what those social differences are, and what effects on law they have.
  • Legal Realism— Legal realism argues that what determines law is its practice. Therefore, judges, lawyers, and legislators create the force of law when they define and use it.
  • Critical Legal Studies— The final, and youngest, theory of jurisprudence, critical legal studies indicate that law is mostly contradictory, and that legality is really more of an expression of dominant social groups, rather than an objective morality or objectively defined social role.

Stare Decises

Stare decises is a common legal term that means “to stand by things decided”. If you have ever heard of the concept of legal precedent, stare decises is what gives it meaning. It is brought up a similar ruling has already been issued for a similar case. According to the Supreme Court of the United State, it “promotes the evenhanded, predictable, and consistent development of legal principles, fosters reliance on judicial decisions, and contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process.” Proponents of stare decises argue that it helps the general public better understand and predict the interpretations and enforcement of the law. Detractors state that erroneous legal decisions are much harder to purge from the law due to the practice.

Binding vs. Persuasive Authority

When referring to precedent in a legal argument, that precedent can be a binding or persuasive authority. Obviously, a binding authority sets a precedent that must be followed. However, a persuasive authority may be completely disregarded. Whether or not a precedent is considered binding or persuasive is dependent on how stare decises principles are applied.

Case Law

Related to the previous two entries, case law is the set of previous rulings by judges and tribunals that meet their jurisdictions formalities to be used a precedent. Case law contrasts with statutes and codes, which are laws put in place by the legislative branch, and regulatory law, which is a regulation enacted by the executive branch based on a current statute.

Amicus Curiae

This Latin phrase, which translates literally to “friend of the court”, essentially means just that. It refers to someone who is not a part of a case, or even solicited by members of a case, but who offers impartial and objective information to the court that could have bearing on the case. However, whether or not the information that they present is taken into consideration is up to the discretion of the court in question.

 

Hopefully you feel a little more comfortable with legal terms now. Stay tuned for our second legal term overview entry. If you need a criminal justice attorney in Kutztown, don’t hesitate to give the professionals at Dutko Law a call. We are also practiced in family and labor law. One of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be happy to provide any answers that you may need.

By Dutko Law 29 Sep, 2017

Criminal law and family law are two extremely different fields, requiring drastically different approaches. If you are looking for a family law attorney in Kutztown, the professionals at Dutko Law can help. If you are hiring a family lawyer, chances are that things are already probably getting pretty hectic in your life. Whether you are talking about divorce, custody, or other family matters, familial legal disputes tend to get tensions running high. If you are looking at hiring a family law attorney, make sure to include these questions in your vetting.

Experience

While getting a law degree and passing the bar is no small feat, you still want a legal representative in your corner with experience. There are just some things that have to be learned on the job, not in a classroom. Here are some questions that can help you root out an experienced lawyer.

  • “Do you specialize in family law?” — As we mentioned, family and criminal law are two completely separate fields. There isn’t as much overlap as you might think, so make sure that your lawyer specialized specifically in family law.
  • “How long have you been practicing law?”— Straight to the point, there is no substitute for experience. Get a bead on your lawyers by asking them flat out how long they have been practicing law. You’re not necessarily just going for the oldest practicing lawyer, but you don’t want somebody green out the gate either.
  • “How can you help my case uniquely?”— This is a fishing question. Obviously, if you knew the right answer you probably wouldn’t need a lawyer. However, your attorneys answer may give you a clue as to their aptitude, as well as to their strategy for approaching your case.

Logistics

Technically, lawyers are still running a business. It is a different kind of business, but like all businesses, it can’t stretch its resources too thin. Make sure your lawyer has all the resources necessary to tackle your case with the following questions:

  • “Are you personally going to be handling my case?”— Right off the bat, you want to know if the person you are talking to is even going to be the one handling your case. If not, ask to speak with the person who will.
  • “Do you have the time and resources to fully devote yourself to my case?”— By asking this upfront, you will set an expectation regarding the level of service you expect. If you are not fully convinced by your lawyer’s answer, it may be a good idea to start the search again.

Communication

An open communication line is an absolute necessity if your lawyer is going to effectively represent you. That means a two way line should effectively always be open.

  • “How often will you report on the progress of my case?”— On top of keeping you updated on your case, regular progress reports help you and your lawyer identify problem areas in your representation.
  • “How will we get in touch?”— Make sure to get a couple avenues of contact. Email and phone number are a good way to ensure you can reach your attorney in the case of time sensitive information.

Hopefully these tips will help you in your decision you hire an attorney. If you are looking for a family law attorney in Kutztown or the surrounding areas, trust the reputable professionals here at Dutko Law. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions about our credentials, family law, criminal law, or business law services. One of our friendly and knowledgeable representatives will be happy to provide any answers that you may need.

By Dutko Law 20 Sep, 2017

Are you aware that both violent and property crime has been steadily declining for decades? It may not seem like it, at least if you watch the news, but it has never been safer to live in America. Part of that is due to our legal system, an adversarial system that makes sure everybody has an avenue to at least make their case in front of a jury of peers. It’s also in part due to our penal system, which though it has a very long way to go, has started to treat prisoners as people, rather than chattel. But that wasn’t always the case; throughout history there used to be serious, often violent punishments for even minor infractions. Luckily, nowadays these aren’t things criminals need fear. If you need legal help in Kutztown, call Charles Attorney for representation. In the mean time, here are some of the punishments for crimes throughout history.

Bastinado

Bastinado originated in Asia, where it was used as punishment for minor to moderate infractions. The practice involved beating a person with a stick hard on the soles of their feet. While that may not sound as vicious as some of the practices on this list, you have to remember that this is before people had access to decent shoes, and there was no such thing as time off for injuries. A victim of this punishment would feel a resurgence of pain with every step they took.

Beheading

Everyone has heard of the guillotine, but beheading was a common punishment long before its invention. Reaching its height in England and France, beheading was generally only reserved as punishment for those of noble birth. In England, it was commonly carried out with a sword or axe, and in France with the guillotine. This practice of punishment was common all the way up to the 18th century, with Simon (The Fox, of Outlander  and historical fame) Fraser being the last man to be beheaded in Scotland.

Banishment

This is probably the oldest form of punishment, and was very important for structuring society. Essentially, it was a slow death sentence, as ancient nomadic tribes depended on their group to survive. As with the modern death sentence, the justification for banishment was more to keep the rest of the tribe in line than necessarily any kind of practical way to make the group safer.

Boiling

Another English punishment, and one that is probably much more painful than the previous entries, was to boil people alive in retribution for assassination attempts using poison. This was a common practice in the 1500s. Two notable historical cooks who received this punishment were Richard Roose in 1532 and Margaret Davy in 1542. The law allowing boiling alive as punishment for poisoning was repealed back in 1547.

Birching

A punishment for minor infractions, birching actually still exists in many places today.It is the practice of beating a person on their hind end with a birch stick (nowadays, any type of stick). Luckily, Britain, where this practice was most popular, abolished birching in 1948.

Branding

Branding was a form of punishment used to mark a criminal for their actions. Many cultures have made use of this practice over history. On top of outing a person’s criminal status for the rest of their life, branding was of course extremely painful.

 

Hopefully these entries proved interesting. Stay tuned for our next installment of Punishments for Crimes Throughout History. If you are looking for legal help from a professional law firm in Kutztown, give Charles Attorney a call. We can put an experienced criminal lawyer in your corner, ensuring that you get the best representation possible. Give us a call for more information, we will be happy to provide any answers we can.

By Dutko Law 19 Sep, 2017

America’s legal system is a shining beacon of justice in the modern era. This is largely due to its adversarial nature, wherein everybody is guaranteed to have their voice heard and represented fairly. If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Kutztown, give Dutko Law a call for legal representation. Luckily, punishments for crimes today are a lot more reasonable than they used to be. If you are interested, here are some common punishments for crimes throughout history.

Keelhauling

You might have heard this term in pirate or naval movies before. The practice’s first use was recorded in the 1500s, where Dutch navy ships would throw a man out to sea tied to a rope, and latch him to the keel of the ship for a long period of time. The victim would have two things to worry about: first, there was the real risk of drowning while being submerged under water, and second, the barnacles attached to the ship would cause severe lacerations and bleeding.

Exile to America

Well, this entry doesn’t seem like it should make the list. America may be a bastion of civilization now, but for a long time it was where England sent its criminals as a form of punishment. It offered people facing capital punishment a chance at survival, even if the death risk of making the voyage was high. However, as we know, many convicted criminals would go on to make a good life for themselves in the new world. After the American Revolution, England began sending its criminals to Australia instead, until the practice was ended in 1868.

Oubliette

A feature in French dungeons, the oubliette was essentially just a hole secluded somewhere in a pitch black cell. A common practice was to lower prisoners into an oubliette, and then to forget about them. A modern day equivalent would be the isolation unit, although prisoners aren’t allowed to starve to death. The word “oubliette” comes from the French word “oublier”, meaning “to forget”.

Pressing

A common practice in England prior to the 18th century, pressing was a form of punishment used on the accused to refused to make a plea. The practice involved placing a wooden board on a person, then putting heavier and heavier rocks on the board to cause extreme pain. The process continued until either a plea was entered, or the person was crushed beneath the rocks.

Sweat Boxes

A popular practice in the slave holding South, as well as other tropical, warm areas, sweat boxes were a form of punishment meant to inflict extreme discomfort on the victim. Claustrophobia, combined with extreme discomfort from heat and dehydration, would cause the victim to enter a state of panic until they were retrieved from the sweat box.

Picket

Also known as a piquet, the picket was a military punishment popular around the 1600s. The practice involved stringing up a soldier or prisoner by one hand, the rope tied firmly around their wrist. At the same time, one foot would be tied to a relatively sharp stake. The soldier could either hold their weight on the stake, or by their wrist. At first, it is easier to hold up by the wrist, as the pointed stake caused pain. Eventually, the wrist gets fatigued, and the victim is forced to rely on their foot.

Mutilation

Most ancient cultures throughout history practiced a form of mutilation as a form of punishment for crime. It was common for a tongue, ear, nose, finger, or even limb to be removed as a mark of criminality, as well as punishment. In Assyria, ears, nose, and lips were commonly removed. In Saxon England, it was usually reserved for crimes like poaching and theft.

Grampussing

A common practice for sailors, grampussing was the act of being made to put ones hands above their head while water was poured down their sleeves. It was generally reserved as a punishment for minor offenses. The salt water would eventually becomes extremely uncomfortable, especially after exposure to the elements. The name comes from the sound sailors would make as sea water was poured on them, which resembled the sea mammal grampus.

Gas Chamber

We all remember gas chambers from the dark blight on Germany’s history, but many people don’t know that the practice of execution using a gas chamber originated in America in 1924. This was with the execution of a prisoner at the time named Gee Jon. The practice most commonly uses a mixture of both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, called hydrogen cyanide, in an air tight chamber to ensure inhalation.

 

Hopefully these outdated punishments proved interesting. It’s not something you’ll ever have to experience in our country, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have professional legal representation if you are facing a charge. If you are looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Kutztown or the surrounding areas, please do not hesitate to give us a call today.

By Dutko Law 18 Sep, 2017

Few things in life are as tough as divorce. When you plan to spend the rest of your life with someone, it hurts to break that life apart. There are likely fights, money issues, property issues, and much more going on at any given moment, and that is not even considering how it affects the kids. As a Reading, PA family law attorney, we have helped many people through the process of divorce and custody arrangements. It is often very stressful for both children and their parents adjusting to shared custody. To make things easier, we thought we would list some tips for preparing your kids for shared custody.

Put Them First

This probably sounds like frustrating advice to parents who are constantly doing just that. But even though you are dealing with stress, your child does not understand it. That is why it is so important to keep feelings of hurt and anger out of their purview. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t talk to them calmly about what is hurting you or making you angry, just that it shouldn’t come out as a reaction. Of course, this is parenting we are talking about, so reigning in emotions is never going to be 100 percent possible. Mistakes will happen, tempers will rise, etc. Perhaps one of the best ways to keep emotions in check is to have someone you trust who you can vent to (that isn’t your child), whether that be a doctor, a friend, or family member. The key is to never use the kids as messengers, have them present for altercations, or have to listen to a tirade regarding a loved one.

Improve Communication

Divorce isn’t exactly the most civil of proceedings, and it can often be an antagonistic affair. Often, neither party wants anything to do with each other. When there are kids in the picture, however, those lines of communication must be maintained and built up. Here are some tips for keeping communication strong and civil.

  • Keep Things Professional— Now that you are no longer intimate with your ex, it will help if you keep the tone of your conversations business like. By treating them with the same respect you would show a work colleague and keeping to the topic at hand, you can minimize any chance altercations arising.
  • Make Requests, Not Commands— When speaking to the child’s other parent, be careful about the language you use. It is extremely easy to mistake a statement for a demand, especially when tensions are high. A little careful wording can keep a misunderstood statement from turning into a full blown fight.
  • Communicate Often — Children learn by seeing, and there is nobody they emulate more than their parents. By keeping lines of communication open often, you convey the impression that you are parenting on a united front. On top of that, it teaches them how to appropriately deal with hard social situations without resorting to insults, fighting, or other undesirable behaviors.
  • Establish Consistent Rules— Childhood is an important age for teaching discipline. Having two households with inconsistent rules can stunt this learning. While obviously no two households will have exactly the same rules, it is important to agree on the big ones: off limit activities, curfews, homework deadlines, etc.

Make Transitions Easy

The actual transition from one parent’s home to another can be very hard on children. Every reunion is also a separation, every hello a goodbye. Because of this, this is one of the most important times to provide a positive environment.

  • Double Up— To make packing easier and provide a sense of permanence to your child, consider creating a “basics” kit that they can keep at both houses. For small children, make sure that any important stuffed animals or toys are also present at both houses.
  • Drop Off, Don’t Pick Up — The dynamics of a family after divorce are different than when they’re together. You don’t want to interrupt any special moments between your child and their parent, or vice versa. The easiest way to avoid this is to drop off your kids to the others’ residence, rather than pick them up from there. This also streamlines the process, and keeps your time just between you and your child.

Hopefully these tips help if you are having trouble transitioning with your kids after a divorce. If you ever require a family law attorney in Reading, PA, Dutko Law is available to help. Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.


By Dutko Law 16 Sep, 2017

Drunk driving is dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs. That is why we have DUI penalties, to protect those on the road. Unfortunately, those penalties aren’t always right or fair. If you are fighting a DUI charge, hire a DUI attorney from Dutko Law. We will fight to protect your freedom in court. In the meantime, here is a quick historical overview of how the DUI came to be in the United States.

The First DUI Law

The first law against drunk driving was a state law in New York. It was passed in 1910, and simply made driving while intoxicated against the law. It did not, however, set a limit as to what qualified as “intoxicated”. After New York instituted this law, several other states, most notably California, followed suit.

After Prohibition

From 1920 to 1933 alcohol was illegal regardless of whether you were driving intoxicated or not. It is no wonder that issues of driving while intoxicated came to the forefront during this time. In 1936, a Doctor Harger, professor of toxicology and biochemistry at Indiana University, patented what he dubbed the “Drunkometer”. It was the first sobriety checker. Essentially, it was just a balloon like device which filled when people breathed into it. A chemical solution in the air would mix with the alcohol in a person’s breath, turning the balloon into a different color. However, this just showed if the person had had a drink, and not how intoxicated that person was with any reliable accuracy.

The Legal Limit

By 1938, the first commonly used legal limit for blood alcohol content began to see use. It was set at 0.15 percent, and was based on research by the American Medical Association as well as the National Safety Council. As is usually the case, once there is a mutually respected cited authority making a claim, that claim tends to catch on.

The Birth of the Breathalyzer

The breathalyzer wasn’t invented until 1953. It was made by one Robert Borkenstein, who was both a former police captain as well as a university professor. It used the principles of chemical oxidation and photometry to determine a relatively exact blood alcohol concentration. Because police could now tell blood alcohol level with accuracy, unlike with the drunkometer, the legal limits that had been set became much more enforceable.

The Birth of MADD

We all know the acronym for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. But did you know that it was founded in 1980 by one Candy Lightner. This happened after a tragic incident where her 13 year old daughter was killed by a drunk driver with three previous DUIs. Since then, the group has been integral to increasing sentences for drunk and drugged drivers, increasing the legal drinking age, and increasing awareness about drunk driving.

21 and Over

Thanks in large part due to the efforts of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed. In this act, states were required to individually pass legislation that would raise the legal drinking age from 18 (or whatever it was previously) to 21. For the first time in American history, a man could be sent to war, but not legally have a drink.

A New Limit

In 1998, a federal incentive grant called TEA-21 encouraged states to change their legal alcohol limit down to 0.08 blood alcohol concentration. In the next two years, the initiative made a lot of headway, even garnering national attention. In 2000, Congress passed a law making the national alcohol limit 0.08 BAC when driving.

Ignition Interlock Systems

In the current millennium, Alabama has become the last state in the country to mandate an ignition interlock system law for people who have previously been convicted or arrested of drunk or drugged driving. These devices disable a car from starting unless the driver passes a blood alcohol test, preventing drunk drivers from getting out on the road.

 

That is a lot of history for one little article. It took centuries before society decided to crack down on drunk driving, and we are still making changes all the time. If you are fighting a DUI charge, it is important that you have a professional DUI lawyer to represent you. Our Reading criminal defense lawyers will fight for your freedom in court. Give us a call if you have any questions about our law firm. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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By Dutko Law 01 Dec, 2017

Here at Dutko Law, we offer criminal attorney services in Kutztown and the surrounding areas. Our country has a long and proud history of upholding the rights of the innocent, and we try to do our part as well as criminal defense attorneys. Dealing with a criminal charge can be one of the scariest and serious experiences of your life. Your very freedoms our country values above all else are at stake, as well as your reputation and future financial prospects. However, our justice system is designed to give the innocent a voice. Here are some tips for making dealing with a criminal charge less stressful, as well as ensuring you get the best legal representation possible.

Understand the consequences of conviction

Defendants in this country are dealing with a largely unknown problem as it relates to the veracity of our justice system; about 90-95 percent  of all criminal cases result in a plea deal. Why is this a problem? Our courts function on an adversarial justice system. Such a system does not rely on inherent feelings or authority of who is right to determine justice, but rather the arguments made by each party (which is why a qualified lawyer is so important). By leveraging fear of a wrongful conviction, prosecutors are able to get defendants to waive their right to trial the vast majority of the time.

Unfortunately, for you as a defendant, this means that there could likely be a very serious choice for you to make. If you are offered a plea deal, but decide to fight for your innocence, a guilty conviction will most likely result in the most serious punishment possible. In contrast, if you are offered a plea deal, and decide to take it, you will be considered guilty for the crimes you admit to, and will serve out the sentence regardless of innocence.

Your attorney is important

Many people wonder why they can’t just get a public defender for their criminal charge. This can be a bad idea for a few reasons. First, a public defender is much more likely to advise you to take a plea deal. They typically have extremely high case loads, and very little time to work on a case. So even if they do work with you to prove your innocence, they will have less time and resources to put forth at your disposal.

When searching for an attorney, you want someone who is qualified to represent your case, has the time and resources to bare to ensure it gets their full attention, and who you trust to fight for your innocence. If you don’t already have a trusted, professional attorney on hand, this will likely take a bit of time and research. When making your decision, don’t forget to calculate cost into your decision, as attorney fees should be a serious consideration as well.

Write down your experience

Consistency is a major aspect of whether a testimony will be believed. In stressful situations, our brains have a bad habit of forgetting important information, or warping it over time into a pseudo memory. To avoid mistakes in remembering important information, make a point to write down anything pertinent to your case as soon as you get the opportunity to do so.

As you are writing down all this information, it is a good time to take stock of any potential witnesses or evidence that you could bring to bear in your trial. For most criminal cases, actual definitive physical evidence is lacking, so prosecutors rely heavily on witnesses and circumstantial evidence for most convictions. Anything that can elucidate your position for the jury will likely weaken the prosecutions case, if not exonerate you.

 

There is no getting around the fact that a criminal charge is one of the most stressful situations a person can go through. Luckily, if you keep calm and think through your situation, you can maximize your chances of proving your innocence. If you are looking for a Kutztown criminal attorney, reach out to Dutko Law today. For more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call. One of our representatives will be happy to answer any questions you have.

By Dutko Law 30 Nov, 2017

Here at Dutko Law, we help people who need Family Attorney services in Kutztown and the surrounding areas. One of the services we offer in this capacity is that of a divorce lawyer. Divorce is a troubling time for everyone involved. When you hire us, we are committed to helping you through the process as easily as possible and ensuring you get a fair deal. But even with a great lawyer at your side, the ordeal can be stressful. Here are some tips for handling a divorce dispute that will hopefully make it a little easier.

For the Case

Once you have hired a qualified family attorney to settle your divorce dispute, you are already on the right track to fair representation. But there are still things to keep in mind to ensure your success.

  • Understand that divorce is a long, sometimes messy process. Everybody wants to think that their divorce will end quickly and smoothly, but the reality is that this is not the case most of the time. Take the process step by step as it comes, without overly worrying about it from day to day.
  • Do not get antagonistic. Ideally, the best way to end a divorce is as amicably as possible. Even when there are legitimate disputes, make sure to keep a level head, as the more stubbornly people fight, the longer, harder, and more drawn out the divorce process will be.
  • Being a spouse may end, but being a parent does not. Don’t let the heated emotions of the moment during divorce proceedings cause lasting harm to your family later on. Focusing on the kids that you love can be a good way to ensure everyone is treated fairly in the end.

For Yourself

You have more to think about than just your court case, no matter how important its decision. Remember that and make a point to preserve your own well being.

  • Do not make hasty financial decisions. During times of stress, people are much more vulnerable to “feel good” purchases. However, divorce is a time of financial insecurity, when lofty spending should be, temporarily at least, put on hold.
  • Don’t forget fun. Despite what your boss may tell you, we are on this planet to enjoy ourselves. Just because you are going through a stressful time now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take time to enjoy yourself. Even if it is just for a moment relatively, make sure you are consistently and actively performing activities that you know you enjoy.
  • Find an outlet to vent. Human beings are social, and when it comes to stress, most of us deal with is socially. Make sure it is an appropriate person that you are venting to, but don’t keep your emotions bottled up.

We hope these tips make things easier. For those of you who need a Kutztown Divorce Lawyer, Dutko Law can help. For more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today.

By Dutko Law 25 Oct, 2017

America is one of the greatest legal systems in the world. But it is by no means perfect. One area where this is glaringly obvious is with public defenders, who are unfortunately under-equipped  systemically (not professionally) to defend the excessive amount of clients they are assigned. When you need a criminal defense lawyer, if you are financially able, it is always preferable to hire a private attorney over a public defender to ensure you get the best representation possible. Most people charged with serious crimes are indigent, and don’t have the money for an attorney. Shockingly, according to one of the largest studies  of its kind, death sentences that made it to the appeal process ended up being overturned two out of three times. That is about a 66 percent failure rate of our justice system from that sample. So what is it that makes it so hard for public defenders to represent their charges?

Huge Caseload

Whereas a private attorney will almost assuredly ensure there is plenty of time to work a case when they take one on, public defenders are overworked at a level that, according to Laurence A. Benner of the American Bar Association , “offices have attorney caseloads that exceed nationally recognized maximum caseload standards.”, and state level organizations have fared no better. This means that while our Sixth Amendment states “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”, it does not guarantee equal representation. How could it, when indigent defendants are represented by lawyers that may have 20 to 30 cases in a day, while private attorneys may only have to focus on one, two, or maybe three?

Accountability

Every lawyer must maintain standards set by the American Bar Association, but there is a different incentive for public vs. private defenders. A public defender is funded by the state, and receives no disincentive for not “giving their all” in a case. In contrast, a private defender must constantly justify their practice to their clients. And when they do well, they tend to get more clients. This creates a bigger incentive for better representation.

Incentive

It is an unfortunate fact in our country that prosecutors work closely with police and forensic teams in our legal system. This creates a “team spirit” that motivates people to “catch the bad guy” at all costs (this is not their job, they are only supposed to scientifically verify) even going so far as to use debunked science like bite mark testimony to get convictions (there are many people currently serving sentences based on this debunked science). Add to that the fact that as many as 90 percent  of all criminal cases in the US end in a plea bargain, and you can see how an overworked attorney could advise their client to take a plea bargain, rather than risk a conviction even if they are innocent.

 

Hiring a private over public attorney can greatly increase your chances of exoneration. Don’t put your freedom in jeopardy; if you need a criminal defense lawyer in Kutztown or the surrounding areas, hire a private attorney from Dutko Law. Feel free to give us a call if you need any more information about our practice our services.

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