Sentencing of First-Degree Murder

Criminal Defense Lawyer

Although the sentencing and punishment varies from state to state, first-degree murder usually draws the most severe sentencing. For example, in Florida, if you are convicted of first-degree murder, you will receive either life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Across the coast in California, though, the laws are not as strict. California offers what is called a “two tired sentencing structure”. The first tier is a range of years you will serve in prison, with the highest being life in prison. The second tier is life in prison without parole or the death penalty. When the case is being tried, the prosecutor might try to prove certain aggravating factors, as outlined below.

The factors below are used to determine exactly how severe of a sentence one might get for first-degree murder. These factors will include elements relating to the defendant, the victim(s), or the crime itself, which will cement the evidence for life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Aggravating Factors

  • The victim was a member of law enforcement on duty
  • The victim was a member of the court of law, such as a judge, a prosecutor, a juror, or a witness who was murdered to stop them from performing their duties
  • The victim was poisoned
  • The defendant has other murder convictions
  • The murder involved torture or was particularly gruesome
  • The defendant waited to ambush the victim
  • The defendant was a part of a gang in the murder happened as a result of a gang-related activity
  • There were bombs or other explosive materials used in the murder

Unfortunately, the above list of aggravating factors is not fully comprehensive, but they do outline several items that a jury might look for when determining the sentencing of first-degree murder.

Because there are so many factors that go into a murder case, there are different possibilities in terms of sentencing. No one murder case is exactly like another, which is why a jury must take extreme care to look over all the facts and evidence provided. So, what are the potential sentences for first-degree murder?

  • Prison Sentence. If the defendant is convicted without any aggravating factors (like the ones outlined above), they can receive a range of different prison sentences, including life in prison and a host of any numbers of years to life (California, for example, has 25 years to life as an option). The exact sentencing will depend on which state you live in.
  • Life without possibility of parole. Some states do not enforce the death penalty, and if you are charged with first-degree murder along with aggravating factors, you will typically get life in prison without parole.
  • The death penalty. Many states still uphold the death penalty as a punishment for those who have been convicted of the highest level of first-degree murder. For example, in Texas, if you are convicted of capital murder, they will always charge the death penalty.

As seen above, there are many possibilities that can result from a first-degree murder charge, and while they vary from state to state, any charge you receive will be severe and life-changing. If you have any questions regarding first-degree murder, or if you have been charged with first-degree murder, you will need a criminal defense attorney San Francisco, CA trusts who can answer your questions and present a strong case on your behalf.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at The Morales Law Firm, P.C. for their insight into criminal defense and murder.

Different Ways Divorce Can Impact Children

Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is tough on everyone involved, including the children. In fact, a divorce can affect kids even more because they are too young to handle everything that goes into it. If you are currently going through a divorce, it is important to keep an extra watchful eye on your children and cater to their needs. Here are some of the various ways divorce can impact children:

Strained Relationships With Parents

When two parents are going through a divorce, the children will typically be sent to live with one parent and then have visitation with the other parent. Kids who are used to seeing both parents every day may struggle to adjust with this living arrangement. They will likely see one parent much less frequently than usual and may not have as close of a relationship with that parent as a result.


Children whose parents are divorcing may go through bouts of depression. They are sad that their parents are not together anymore and may blame themselves for what happened. All of this emotional distress they feel may cause them to isolate themselves from their friends and stay in their room most of the time.

Lower Academic Performance

Because children are going through such an emotional time with their parents’ divorce, they may struggle with their studies. They may have trouble concentrating in class and not understand what their teacher is saying to them. These children may not do their homework and do poorly on their tests, resulting in low grades.

Financial Issues

When parents switch from having two combined incomes to two homes with separate incomes, there may be some financial instability at least in the beginning. With parents on tighter budgets, children might not enjoy some of the luxuries they are used to. For example, they might not get the clothes or toys as frequently or be able to go out to dinner or the movies as often.

Substance Abuse

Teenagers whose parents are getting divorced may experience such emotional distress that they turn to drugs or alcohol. Drinking or doing drugs may help numb out their emotions and help them feel better for the time being. However, extended drug or alcohol use can negatively impact their lives and make the entire situation even worse.

The idea of your children going through any of this can be scary as a parent to think about. That is why you should always be there for them and assure them that they can talk to you about anything. If you suspect your children are going through any emotional distress from the difference, you should not hesitate to take them to see a therapist.

If you  have any questions regarding to child custody and divorce, schedule a consultation with an experienced family attorney Collin County, TX relies on. He or she will take the time to address all of your questions and concerns and advise you the best way to proceed.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Scroggins Law Group for their knowledge about divorce and the impact it can have on children.

Attorney for All Ridesharing Collisions

Car Accident Lawyer

Technology advances has made a lot fo the things we do very easy. Ridesharing is perhaps an innovative tool that is one of the most popular and innovative ideas in app technology. The paps are user friendly, it makes getting to places easier and the payment method is reliable. As companies like Uber and Lyft grow the laws and regulations become muddy and in a very gray area. When it comes to collisions with an uber driver a lot of insurance companies aren’t providing the right compensations.  Victims of a collision should seek the help of an experience Uber accident attorney to ensure you are receiving what you deserve. Attorneys understand the maze of rules that involve collisions of this type. They can help to provide experienced counsel to meet your needs.

What you need to know

Ridesharing companies make a lot of money. Uber and Lyft are worth billions of dollars and this means that they have a lot more capital to buy liability. Uber drivers are usually covered by $1 million insurance coverage. If you compare that to a ordinary car who usually has around $15,000 in liability, it’s a big difference. This means that if you get in an accident with a ridesharing company, you could potentially obtain a complete and bigger compensation that fully cover all the costs of your accident. This is why it is important that you get the right representations, so you can get the full extent of all your compensation. An attorney can help you with several kinds of accidents, including the following:

  • A collision that resulted in a n injury where the ridesharing driver was at fault.
  • A collision that resulted in an injury where another driver was at fault.
  • A collision that resulted in an injury happened while you were in a ridesharing car.  

Specializing in Uber Accidents

Dealing with Uber or ridesharing accidents is as new as its technology. It calls for a special kind of skill and legal experience like a rideshare lawyer has. They have dealt with significant amount of cases involving all types of collision involving ridesharing cars. They want this to be a smooth process and focus on getting your life on track after your accident. They possess the resources and the experts to help guide you and get the best compensation.

An Uber accident attorney DC relies on has experience dealing with all types of cases. They understand the difficulty it is to deal with these cases and want to help. Start by scheduling a free consultation.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into Uber or Lyft accident claims.

I was hit by a car as a pedestrian, but I was not using a crosswalk, can I file a personal injury claim?

Pedestrian Accident Lawyer

Whenever a  motorist is driving on public roads, he or she owes a duty to other motorists to exercise caution and care. Failure to do so, is called a breach. If an injury occurred at the time of the breach, they could be liable. This type of duty is also owed to pedestrians, who are more likely to sustain serious injuries if they are to be hit by a moving vehicle.

I was hit by a car as a pedestrian, but I was not using a crosswalk, can I file a personal injury claim?

When a pedestrian has been hit by a car, one of the first questions that may arise is whether or not they were using the crosswalk when struck. If not, this could affect the pedestrian’s right to recover compensation.

Crossing on a Crosswalk

If the pedestrian was crossing the street, using a crosswalk, and was struck by a vehicle, the driver of that car will almost certainly be liable. This is because, in nearly all states, the driver must slow down, stop, or yield to a pedestrian on a crosswalk. This is regardless of whether or not there are traffic control boxes.

When the crosswalk is at an intersection, and the traffic light is controlling the road, a car must still stop for pedestrians, even if the light is green or yellow.

That being said, many states have rules explicitly stating that a pedestrian should not suddenly or abruptly leave the curb and walk or run into the path of a moving vehicle that would, in no way, be able to yield or stop (even if there is a crosswalk).

In general, the conduct of the pedestrian will be considered in pedestrian accident cases. If a defense lawyer can show that the pedestrian was also acting recklessly, they could negate the liability of the driver.

If you were injured as a pedestrian on a crosswalk, you should ensure that your legal rights are protected by having a pedestrian accident lawyer on your side.

When a Pedestrian was NOT Using a Crosswalk

If a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle while they were crossing the road, and they were not on the crosswalk, liability issues may arise depending on the state. In general, when a pedestrian crosses the road anywhere outside of the crosswalk, they are required to yield the right of way to the vehicles.

In this case, the law reverses and protects the driver of the car. Therefore, when a pedestrian was struck and injured by a car outside of a crosswalk, the driver may not be liable.

That being said, it is possible for a pedestrian accident lawyer to investigate whether or not the driver of the car exercised caution to avoid striking the pedestrian. For example, did the driver sound the horn or flash their lights? Even if the pedestrian wasn’t using a crosswalk, it is possible for the driver to be found partially, or completely, at fault depending on what they were doing prior to the accident.

Legal Representation is Crucial

When it comes to pedestrian accidents and crosswalks, or lack of, there are many considerations and factors. Thus, having legal representation is very important.

If you were injured as a pedestrian, regardless of whether or not you were using a crosswalk, a pedestrian accident lawyer Salt Lake City, UT trusts can listen to what you have to say and let you know what legal options you have.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into pedestrian accidents and claims.

Help with Your SSDI Denial

Identity Theft Lawyer

If you have recently received a denial for your Social Security Disability Benefits claim, you may have concern over the long appeals process. The reality is, that a denial isn’t all that uncommon. The slightest mistake can cause the Social Security Administration to deny someone’s request for SSDI. Unfortunately, when SSA denies a request, the process for approval can be prolonged.

A lawyer may be able to help you obtain the outcome you are looking for. In fact, the probability of a successful outcome during the appeals process may be much improved with an attorney’s representation.

Common Denial Reasons

There are a number of reasons to be denied SSDI. A lawyer can review the reasons for the denial and determine the best way to pursue your case. Unfortunately for many, the road to obtaining SSDI benefits can be a long and arduous one. Common reasons SSDI may be denied include:

  • Your claim form was either filled out incorrectly or was incomplete
  • Not enough medical documentation or evidence outlining your disability and how it has impacted your ability to work.
  • Previous denials don’t always bode well when attempting to obtain SSDI. Some believe that by filing a new claim altogether instead of enduring the appeals process with their original one is more effective. This is far from the truth. With a prior denial on your record, SSA will most likely deny your new claim.
  • If you have a problem with substance abuse that is making your disability worse, the SSA will most likely deny your claim.
  • Not following treatment recommendations for your care.

SSDI benefits can help alleviate some of the financial hardship faced by claimants. If you have received a denial, speaking with an attorney may be the best way of obtaining the outcome you are looking for.

Finding the Right Attorney

Many claimants may be reluctant to hire an attorney because of the cost associated with their services. Although an attorney’s services come at a price, for SSDI cases, many work on a contingency basis. As a result, attorneys are careful in choosing their cases. Correctly managing your SSDI claim first begins with choosing the right attorney for you:

  1. Choose an attorney who has experience representing SSDI cases.
  2. Take the time to properly research attorneys in your area.
  3. Review attorney websites and ask prospective attorneys for referrals.
  4. Ask people you know
  5. Take the time to interview prospective attorneys.

Be prepared for your consultation with an attorney by bringing as much documentation as possible. An attorney may review your case and help determine if you should pursue the appeals process.

If your social security disability request has been denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA), it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road. Chances are, you are feeling scared and overwhelmed with the road ahead. It can be nerve wracking to receive a denial letter from the SSA. An experienced disability lawyer Memphis, TN trusts may be able to help you.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Darrell Castle and Associates, PLLC for their insight into social security benefits.

When Grieving Family Members Seek Justice for a Wrongful Death


Those who are in agony over the sudden and wrongful loss of their loved one, can rely on an experienced wrongful death lawyer Bangor, ME for legal assistance. We can empathize with just how much emotional turmoil you may be going through. Depending on who may have influenced your loved one’s death, you may be up against an individual or large corporation. Both parties can be immensely difficult to handle if you go about the process alone.


We understand that due to the profound grief, you may have very little energy to devote to a legal proceeding. But we can also imagine just how badly you want justice to be sought for your loved one’s life being taken too soon. We can help.


Here in the article below, we have provided information about the elements of wrongful death cases, how these incidents even happen, and why taking legal action with urgency can be so important to your case.


The Four Elements of Wrongful Death Cases

The surviving family of the deceased loved one may decide to file a lawsuit against the offender for their part in the death happening. There are four elements of wrongful death cases. With the assistance of an attorney, these elements must be proven through evidence by the surviving family, in order to have a chance at receiving restitution for the death. The four elements are listed as follows:


  1. The offender’s thoughtless or negligent behavior had resulted in the loved one’s passing
  2. The offender had a responsibility to the loved one, but had breached his or her duty in fulfilling this obligation
  3. The breach in duty led to the death of the loved one
  4. As a result of the loved one’s death, the surviving family members have suffered quantifiable losses


How Wrongful Death Happens

Wrongful death can arise in a variety of scenarios. The most common situations in which these awful incidents can occur are in the workplace, due to medical malpractice and vehicle accidents. A situation in which a doctor, employer or driver whose actions were a factor in another person’s death, may be grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Other ways that wrongful death may occur is through product defects, construction site accidents, vehicle mechanical failures, and more.


The Importance of Prompt Legal Action

The longer you take to seek legal action against the party who influenced your loved one’s death, the more time they may have to destroy evidence. For example, if your loved one passed away due to a doctor’s misdiagnosis, the hospital may attempt to hide or erase documents that could be used as proof against the doctor within a wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can meet with you as soon as you are ready to seek justice. Please do not hesitate to call us, as your first consultation is completely free.

Thank you to our friends and contributors at David Bate Law for their knowledge about wrongful death cases.

Tips for Testifying at Your Divorce Trial

Divorce Lawyer

The majority of divorce cases are settled out of court. However, there’s still a chance your case may have to go to trial. The idea of testifying in court may seem scary at first, but it isn’t so bad if you’re properly prepared. The divorce lawyers at [law firm name] provide some tips for testifying at your divorce trial:

Listen to the Question Carefully

It is important to listen carefully to every questions you’re asked during trial. Make sure you understand the meaning of the question before you give your answer. If you don’t understand the question, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

Don’t Volunteer Information

When you are being asked questions at the trial, you should keep your answers as short as possible. If you ramble on and on, you may end up saying something that could hurt your case. For example, if you are asked if you’ve ever had an affair during your marriage and you have, it’s only necessary to say “yes.” If you tell the court how long the affair lasted or why you were unfaithful, it could do more harm than good.

Be Truthful

Even if it’s embarrassing or may hurt your case, you should always be truthful when answering questions at your divorce trial. If you get caught lying, it could damage you case even more.

Remain Calm

No matter what sorts of questions you are asked at your divorce trial, it is important to stay calm. If you raise your voice or show any hostility, the judge may frown on that. If your spouse’s lawyer asks an inappropriate or irrelevant question, allow your lawyer to object. If you answer with sarcastic remarks, it could end up hurting you in the end.

Don’t Make Up Answers

During your divorce trial, you may be asked questions that you do not remember the answers to. Don’t attempt to make up answers. Just tell the court that you simply don’t remember.

If you follow these tips, you can get through your divorce trial a lot smoother. Your divorce lawyer may likely help you prepare for the trial by asking you the same questions you will be asked on the stand. He or she may coach you on what to say and what to avoid saying. The more you prepare for your trial, the better off you will be.

We know how intimidating it can be to testify during a divorce trial. You have all these people watching you and are afraid of saying the wrong things. That’s how a divorce lawyer Austin, TX trusts can help to make the process as smooth as possible for you. They may take the time to properly prepare you for the trial and answer all of your questions. If you are getting divorced from your spouse, we encourage you to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at the Law Offices of Ryan S. Dougay for their insight into family law and divorce.

What to Know About Child Custody During Divorce

Going through the process of divorce while fighting for custody of your child, can be difficult for the majority of parents to bear. When parents split up, discussions about their children’s care is often an emotional topic. It is estimated that about 20 million children in the United States live a single parent home. Child custody includes where the children shall live post divorce, and who has the legal right to make important decisions regarding upbringing.

There are many levels to child custody, that we have gone into further detail about in the article to follow.

Physical Custody

A parent with physical custody has the right to live with their children after divorce. However, it is an option for each parent to share this right through joint physical custody. It is also possible that only one parent is awarded this right, which is referred to as sole physical custody. The benefits to shared physical custody are that each parent can be an essential part of their children’s life. Common questions parents ask themselves about joint physical custody include:

  • What days or weeks will be spent with each parent?
  • How far apart will each parent live from the other?
  • Do either of us plan on moving farther away in the next few years?
  • Can each of us handle being in regular contact with the other?

Legal Custody

A parent with legal custody has the right to make choices regarding their child’s education, medical care, religion and overall upbringing. Just as with physical custody, legal custody can be shared jointly or awarded solely to one parent. It is more common for both parents to receive joint legal custody post divorce. However, there are some circumstances where sole legal custody is awarded. A judge may assign sole legal custody to one parent if any of the following occurred during the marriage:

  • Abuse
  • Neglect
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Incarceration
  • Relocation

Third-Party Custody

There are rare situations in which a non-parent may attempt to obtain custody of the children. This scenario can be referred to as non-parental custody, guardianship, or third party custody. Someone who wishes to seek custody can start by filing a petition to the court, paying any fees, and perhaps even submitting a letter from the parents consenting to this decision. The court may then respond by doing a background check, interviewing, performing home inspections, and then reaching an ultimate verdict.  

When Family Court is Needed

If the parents going through divorce are not able to settle disputes on their own or through mediation, the final decision may then be made by the family court system. At this point you may need to find top family law lawyer Plano offers. Factors that may be taken into consideration when making decisions about child custody include:

  • Best interest of the child
  • Each parent’s living situation
  • Each parent’s willingness to be cooperative with the other
  • The ability of each parent to provide for children after divorce
  • Children’s preferences
  • If there were cases of neglect or abuse during marriage
  • Financial stability of each parent



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Scroggins Law Group for their knowledge about child custody and divorce.

5 Things To Know When Pursuing a Domestic Violence Civil Suit

Although domestic violence cases vary from person to person, there are some common things to keep in mind while pursuing such a case. Here are five points to guide you in the process.

  1. Consult your lawyer before moving forward

A domestic violence experience can be harrowing and the first thing you should do is get to safety immediately. When someone is threatening you with acts of violence, leaving the premises is your first concern.

If you are considering filing a suit but are not certain if you are ready to do so, consulting a lawyer can help you think clearly and decide what you want to do in the meantime. A lawyer can also help you decide if you want to file civil charges, criminal charges, or both and can clear up what rights you have as a victim of domestic violence.

  1. You may be able to file criminal charges

If you have experienced severe abuse like injuries from physical altercations or sexual assault, you may be entitled to file for criminal charges. A lawyer can help you determine if your situation is applicable and they can help you organize the details necessary for a criminal case.

  1. Include all the details

Sometimes the individual filing a case for domestic abuse reports only the results of the violence and not information about prior conditions or experiences. That may not be enough to provide a substantial case. Your report should include all the facts from the beginning to the end relevant to the case in order to ensure it is handled properly.

Any interactions you have with your spouse should be included as well to give the court a clear picture of any behavioral issues or other factors. Even if it isn’t an indication of the physical side of the abuse, it is important for the court to have a full idea of the interactions leading up to the physical manifestation.

  1. Domestic Violence Act includes feelings of imminent violence

The Domestic Violence Act has been amended several times since its first incarnation, and it now defines domestic violence as including physical strikes as well as the threats that force a person into a state where they are constantly fearful of physical violence. Be sure to include moments like this in your reports in order to fully cover your experience.

  1. You can personalize the solution

Each case is different and will not always be resolved in the same way. By hiring an attorney to discuss your case and specific need, you are preparing to take on a major case as well as prepared to seek the appropriate damages. If you have any concerns or are ready to begin the process for justice, contact a family lawyer Frisco, Texas trusts today.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Scroggins Law Group for their insight into domestic violence and family law.

4 Common Mistakes When Making a Car Accident Claim

The hours and even minutes following a car accident can be not only discombobulating, they can be downright overwhelming. Chances are the possibility that you will have a car accident claim, is not likely to be at the forefront of your mind. It’s not uncommon for people facing a crisis situation to take steps that could be harmful to their claim. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can prevent complications from arising later on. If you have been injured in a car accident and believe you are entitled to damages, take advantage of the free consultation offered by many car accident attorneys.

  1. Call the police to the scene of the accident. This is a vital next step for a number of reasons. For starters, you will want to make sure that their is a record of the accident that outlines the event. The officer will likely talk to witnesses, assess the damage, and speak with each driver. Based on the information that is gathered, they are likely to determine who was at fault for the accident. The police report can make for a valuable piece of evidence when pursuing a claim with the insurance company.
  2. Not getting the other driver’s insurance information. This step can seem cumbersome, especially in minor accidents where you are just wanting to get on with your day. In some situations, people even decline to exchange information because they do not believe that the accident resulted in any damage. In the moments following an accident, your adrenaline will be pumping and stress levels are sure to be at an all time high. You never know if you will discover damage to your vehicle or delayed onset of pain from an injury you didn’t know you had.
  3. Failing to seek medical attention. This is perhaps one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Some people may believe that their pain will eventually go away or not present itself until later down the road. The longer you take to seek medical attention, the harder your case may be to prove. By being assessed by a doctor, you can prove that you were harmed from the accident. You will be able to obtain medical records that outline your injuries, diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Not contacting an attorney sooner. The earlier you consult with an attorney, the better chance you give yourself to start out on the right foot. They can review your case and help ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to build a strong case. They can play a key role in negotiating with the insurance company surrounding your claim. This is vital, because insurance companies will attempt to assign some fault to you if they are able. You may not be fully prepared when speaking with them for the fact that they may attempt to try to get you to incriminate yourself for the accident.

When missteps are taken following a car accident, it could have an impact on the outcome of your case. The last thing you want to experience are complications due to problems in your case that you perpetuated. The earlier you consult with an experienced car accident lawyer Las Vegas, NV residents trust, the clearer and more simplified the process can be.



Thank you to our friends and contributors at Nadia Von Magdenko & Associates for their insight into car accidents claims.