The Act of Violation of Probation and its Overlooked Consequences

The concept of probation was introduced on humanitarian basis, in order to reduce the severity of punishments that are handed to people with misdemeanor. According to a probationary order, a person is supposed to ‘abstain’ or ‘refrain’ from a particular action. Some common probation orders include:

  • Remain employed
  • Refrain from borrowing credit
  • Abide by the curfew
  • Refrain form leaving the jurisdiction
  • Refrain from possessing firearms
  • Refrain from consuming alcohol

The terms and conditions of probation depend on the nature of the offense. For example, if a person is caught driving at a speed higher than the permissible limits, he might be put on a probation and barred from driving for a stipulated time. However, if a person is caught driving at a high speed under the influence of alcohol, he might not only be barred from driving for a stipulated time, but also from consuming or possessing alcohol for a stipulated time.

Law takes its own course if an offender fails to maintain the obligation of following the conditions of probation. There are strict rules in place to deal with probation violation. The consequences of violating a probation can range from a fine to serving time in jail, and depend on the discretion of the probation officer and the nature of the violation. In case of a violation, the probation officer might want the offender to appear in court. Depending on the evidence, the nature of the violation, past record, among other considerations, the judge penalizes the offender. The penalties can include:

A Fine

In cases where violation is not very serious, the person is let off with a small penalty. The person is usually fined in cases where curfew is violated or where the offender leaves the said jurisdiction without taking permission from his probation officer.

Rehabilitation

There are scenarios in which the judge may order the concerned person to be sent to a rehabilitation program or community service. These penalties are usually levied on offenders who have violated the probation by consuming or possessing drugs/alcohol. In such cases, the offender needs to complete these programs as a requirement of probation.

Probation extension

Violating a probation can lead to an extension of probation period. Probation usually lasts for three to five years, and violating it can mean that the offender extends the period by another couple of years.

Increased supervision

Offenders are supervised on the basis of the nature of the crime they have committed. Petty cases involve informal supervision or unsupervised probation, and the offender either meets the probation officer once or not at all. There is no intrusion of privacy in such supervision. However, in case of a violation, the judge can consider raising the level of supervision to either standard or even to a stricter, intrusive probation, where the movements of the offender are monitored closely.

Imprisonment

In cases where the original crime has been rather serious and the violation of probation has also been serious, the court may award an imprisonment as a penalty to the person. At times, it so happens that prisoners are released before their term is done, but are kept on some specific probation. In such a situation, if the person violates the probation, he may be again sent back to prison.

Suing for Slander Tips

In democracy, every individual has the freedom of expression as his fundamental right. That, however, should not be interpreted as the right to malign the reputation of other people by spreading false information about them. Regardless of whether it is done deliberately or it happens by mistake, defamation can never be justified.

Basically, there are two forms of defamation – slander, which deals with verbal defamation, and libel, which is more often associated with published information. Considering that the two concepts are a lot similar, it can get confusing at times, and basic knowledge about them can be of some help.

What is Slander?

A form of defamation, slander is basically the act of spreading false information about an individual or entity, which results in damage to the reputation of the said individual or entity, and may result in financial loss at times. Though slander is more often associated with verbal accusations, sometimes body gestures or spread of information on the Internet also amounts to the same.

How Does it Differ from Libel?

Slander is a lot different from the other form of defamation, libel, wherein the false information about a particular individual or entity is published – and not spread by word of mouth. While libel can be proved easily in the court of law, it requires some efforts on the behalf of the complainant to prove slander. This, in turn, makes the process of suing a bit tedious, and that is exactly why people prefer to opt for out of court settlement in such cases.

On What Grounds Can a Person be Sued for Slander?

The moment you realize that some slanderous information about you, is being circulated, your first reaction is to try to stop it. But that is not as easy as it seems. At times, the only option you are left with is to sue the individual for defamation. An individual can be sued for slander even when the false accusations started by him are being spread by other people. In all likelihood, you are likely to have a tough time dealing with the legalities of the matter, and a wise thing to do would be to hire an attorney to carry out the legal proceedings on your behalf.

In case of libel, evidence exists in form of published work, which makes it relatively easy to prove that defamation occurred. That, however, is not the case with slander, as the accusations are verbal, and proving that the accused said them is difficult owing to the lack of evidence. The testimony of an eyewitness (like a colleague or friend who overheard the conversation) does play a crucial role in determining whether slander occurred, but such cases are very rare.

You as the complainant also have to prove that the slander damaged your reputation to a significant extent. If financial aspect is involved, proving it in court becomes relatively easy. Let’s say you are in talks with the head of a particular firm (Mr. Z) for a business deal. At the very last moment, some individual (Mr. X) spreads some negative remarks about you, and Mr. Z promptly decides to call off the talks; as a result of which you end up losing the contract. In such circumstances, you can sue Mr. X for slander, provided you can prove that you lost the contract because of him.

A defamation lawsuit can be filed against the person who has made slanderous statements, even if his act didn’t result in any financial loss for you. In order to prove that the slanderous statements caused a significant damage to your image, you also need to prove that the statements made by the accused were false. If an individual, for instance, alleges that you are suffering from a particular ailment, you can provide medical records that refute his allegation.

If the slanderous statements were made online, screenshots of the webpage containing the ‘said’ posts or comments act as evidence in course of legal proceedings. The number of comments following the slanderous statements may also act as further evidence. Even if the posts were deleted before you could take the screenshots, you can contact the administrator for the particular website, and make a formal request to furnish you with the records.

Once you file a lawsuit against the accused, he will have to file an answer for the same. The accused may either deny coming up with any false accusation or accept the charges, but argue that he shouldn’t me made to pay for any damages. In the first case, you will have to use the evidence you collected, in form eyewitness testimony or hard copy of records, to prove that the statements made by the accused caused harm to your reputation. In the second case, you will have to provide a detailed record of the financial loss you suffered as a result of the damage caused to your reputation. Based on this evidence, the judge will give the ruling, and direct the accused to pay for the damage/s.

The biggest hindrance in this process is to prove that the accused said something which led to defamation, and that makes many people opt for an out of court settlement – instead of going ahead with defamation lawsuit for the same.

Power of Attorney Template

A power of attorney (POA) is a written document intended to legally enable a person to represent somebody else in financial, medical/health-care, or other related matters. Usually, a POA is made when it is anticipated that a person would not be physically present to attend to his/her own matters, or in the event that he/she gets incapacitated, and so is unable to act in said matters.

A person who wishes to grant such an authority to another is called the principal, and the person to whom it is granted is called the attorney-in-fact (or agent). The laws regarding what should be included in a power of attorney are not uniform across all states. Some states require that the document be signed by one or two witnesses, notarized, and filed in the local probate court. Some require either only witnesses or only notarization. In some states, only a written document is sufficient to grant a power of attorney. There are a few states where the laws are very elaborate, and a lot more goes into getting a power of attorney granted than in most states.

If a person, due to some reason, loses the ability to handle his/her own affairs, then the family of such an individual would need to get a court-appointed guardian to manage them. To avoid this situation, it is advisable to get a ‘durable’ POA prepared. A durable POA remains effective even after a person has lost the ability to act, for all practical purposes, independently and rationally. A general POA, on the other hand, loses its effectiveness with the loss of the principal’s abilities.

General Power of Attorney

I, (complete name), resident of (complete address), hereby authorize (name of agent), resident of (complete address), as my Attorney-in-fact.

I hereby state that my Attorney-in-fact shall have the complete authority to make such decisions listed below, on my behalf.

(Over here, list the powers that you wish your attorney-in-fact should have, and the assets for which he/she might be required to make decisions, and the scope of such decisions. State clearly the circumstances in which these powers would be limiting, and the circumstances in which they would not.)

I further wish to state that I may revoke this power of attorney at any time I may choose to, with a prior written notice to my Attorney-in-fact.

Date:Signature:
Place: Name:
Witnesses (Optional)

1. (complete name) (signature)

2. (complete name) (signature)

(County)

(State)

Notarization (Optional)

On the (day) day of (month) in (year), a Notary Public known to me appeared in person and proceeded with the execution of this document, and after being sworn, acknowledged the execution of this document for the purposes mentioned therein as carried out of his/her own volition.

(NOTARY PUBLIC)

My Commission Expires

(SEAL)

Durable Power of Attorney

I, (complete name), resident of (complete address), hereby authorize (name of agent), resident of (complete address), as my Attorney-in-fact.

In the absence of the said Attorney-in-fact, I authorize (complete name of alternate attorney-in-fact), resident of (complete address), as my alternate Attorney-in-fact.

This document shall take immediate effect and shall remain effective in the event of my loss of physical or mental capacity. This document is a Durable Power of Attorney.

I hereby state that my Attorney-in-fact shall have the complete authority to make such decisions listed below, on my behalf.

(Over here, list the powers that you wish your attorney-in-fact should have, and the assets for which he/she might be required to make decisions, and the scope of such decisions. State clearly the circumstances in which these powers would be limiting, and the circumstances in which they would not.)

I further wish to state that I may revoke this power of attorney at any time I may choose to, with a prior written notice to my Attorney-in-fact.

Date:Signature:
Place: Name:
Witnesses (Optional)

1. (complete name) (signature)

2. (complete name) (signature)

(County)

(State)

Notarization (Optional)

On the (day) day of (month) in (year), a Notary Public known to me appeared in person and proceeded with the execution of this document, and after being sworn, acknowledged the execution of this document for the purposes mentioned therein as carried out of his/her own volition.

(NOTARY PUBLIC)

My Commission Expires

(SEAL)

These are the basic forms for a general power of attorney and a durable power of attorney. They are not intended for one particular state, and are for the purpose of reference only. Some states have downloadable forms prepared in accordance with their particular statutes. For residents of other states, standardized forms prepared by law firms or other organizations are available. You can get a power of attorney made for any purpose in consultation with your lawyer.

It has to be kept in mind that only a person whom you trust completely should be invested with such authority as is granted by a document of the nature of a power of attorney. It also has to be carefully worded so as not to be ambiguous in any way. Remember that you can revoke the power of attorney as and when you wish.

Tips to Represent Yourself in a Small Claims Court

Under most state rules in the United States, lawyers are not allowed in a small claims court. However, if you are suing or are being sued by an attorney, then you could request to be represented by a lawyer as well. Nevertheless, in most cases, a small claims settlement is done directly in front of a magistrate without lawyers present. This is not such a big deal and you can make the most of self-representation by being prepared and honestly putting forth your own case.

What is a Small Claims Court

The “Small Claims Court” is a part of a state’s court system that typically hears civil cases between private litigants, where the claimant tries to resolve a monetary dispute where the amount of money does not exceed $5000 (this limit may slightly vary from state to state). The aim of such a court is to provide an inexpensive and quick platform to resolve small claims without the litigants having to go through any complex legal procedures and without engaging the services of lawyers.

General List of Claims Filed in a Small Claims Court

Given below is a list of typical claims filed in a small claims court. Remember that the money limit condition remains the sole criteria for a claim (and counterclaim as well) to qualify for settlement in a small claims court. The nature of the complaint or its urgency do not matter!

  • Claim to refund of money made as down payment, back rent or security deposit
  • Claim on dud checks
  • Claim for payment of wages, contract dispute for labor
  • Claim on damages or refund on faulty workmanship or defective merchandise
  • Claim on damages to property due to an accident

You cannot file a complaint with a small claims court for claims arising from alimony support, professional malpractice, domestic or marital disputes, libel or slander, damage to your reputation (defamation charges) or claims valued above the money limit of a small claims section.

An important thing to remember is that if you are suing in a small claims court to save time, but are actually entitled to damages exceeding the money limit of the court, you’re effectively forfeiting your claim on the remaining amount. In case you decide to go ahead with a small claims settlement on the partial amount, you cannot claim the remaining money in a separate lawsuit!

Representing Yourself in a Small Claims Court

Preparing to File a Complaint

  • The complainant must be 18 years of age or older. If not, the parent or guardian may file the actual complaint.
  • Be aware of the statute of limitation that defines how long you have to start a case (depends on the type of case).
  • The Office of the Special Civil Part of the county where the case is filed must be the residence or office/business location of at least one of the defendants.
  • You may even file the case for claims online (available in most states). This is usually possible for a fixed amount of money. The defendant receives the printed court order on the same day of filing! Check if this works for your case.
  • For an in-court settlement, if you’re the plaintiff, ensure to fill the complaint form properly.
  • Fill in your own address, the defendant’s address, telephone numbers, claim amount and all the other details correctly so as to ensure proper service of your complaint.
  • Sign the form and pay the correct fees for filing. The clerk/staff of the Special Civil Part can be consulted for these procedures.
  • The cost of filing a complaint may differ from state to state. If you cannot afford the cost, you may apply to the court to grant you a waiver by qualifying you as an indigent.
  • Trace out all the records that would support your claim or counterclaim such as canceled checks, bills, contracts, photographs, etc. If you need the support of witnesses, ensure they are ready and available to testify. Be ready with all the paperwork and evidence.
  • If you need legal advice or knowledge about state statutes, ensure to consult an attorney at the earliest about arguments that could prove your claim.

If you’re jittery about court procedures and nervous about standing before a magistrate, ensure that you follow the above tips in preparation for court. Doing your homework thoroughly will do wonders to your confidence levels whether you’re suing or being sued.

Small Claims Court Proceedings

You will be notified (through a notice of allocation) about the time and place of the hearing. In fact, you might be asked to deal with the claim without a hearing. A lack of reply will be treated as the need for a preliminary hearing where the magistrate might explain or give personal directions to the concerned parties. Subsequently, a final hearing may take place. The following information will be useful for you to represent yourself in a small claims court.

  • Dress appropriately, in a professional manner and follow basic courtroom etiquette. Arrive on time.
  • The staff at the Office of the Special Civil Part will be more than ready to answer any questions that you may have before the hearing. However, that does not substitute legal advice; take them as recommendations or suggestions only.
  • You may even find an information booklet when you go to pick up your claim form.
  • If you’re the defendant and fail to show up, the default ruling may be against you and you may be directed by the court to settle the claim to the plaintiff.
  • When providing a list of documents to support your case, present it neatly, in a chronological order.
  • Don’t worry, you don’t have to sound or act like a lawyer. You will find the proceedings in a small claims court rather informal and not as strict regarding rules of evidence. Mostly, just follow the directions of the magistrate and you should be fine.
  • If you’re not comfortable speaking English, you can have your interpreter speak on your behalf (notify the magistrate in advance) but the court does not usually provide an interpreter.
  • You will most likely be assigned a time limit in which the hearing needs to be completed, so ensure that you’re making the most of the time allotted.
  • The magistrate may appoint a mediator to help settle your case.
  • If you win the case, the Judgment Collection Brochure will have information about how to collect your judgment (including court costs). However, the court does not force the defendant to settle the claim immediately! If the claim is not settled voluntarily according to the judgment, you will have to take additional steps to recover the claim. Consult the clerk of court for the exact procedure for judgment debtor exam, garnishment of wages, etc.
  • If the final ruling is not in your favor, as the plaintiff or defendant you may appeal against the ruling; you will not get back the court fees. The procedure varies from state to state.
  • Appeals are generally accepted only if there have been serious irregularities in the proceedings.

Self-representation in a small claims court is not a big deal from the legal proceedings perspective. As a claimant, you might find it to be a quick and hassle-free process if the defendant is willing to co-operate on some level (such as agreeing to mediation or final judgment, etc.). For small claims, it does not make sense for a claimant or defendants to appoint a lawyer and start a full-fledged legal proceeding. However, a small claims suit should not be the first resort. Ensure that as a claimant you have asked for the claim out of court. If you’re the defendant, and if you feel the claimant has every right to the claimed amount, it is best to avoid a hearing and pay up. It is best to resolve disputes without litigating. In case you do choose the small claims court as your next step, the above tips will hopefully help you win your claim.