FAQS About Public Defenders

When you are learning about public defense, the first question you are likely to ask is, “What is a public defender?” So let’s not waste anytime answering this question, and many more frequently asked questions about public defense lawyers. A public defender is a criminal defense lawyer that works for the state and paid by the government. They provide free legal representation to defendants that are facing criminal charges that are punishable by jail time. Continue reading to read more common questions and answers just like this one!

Do Defendants Have to Pay for a Public Defender?

No, clients do not pay. However, a judge must decide that a defendant qualifies for public defense before one is appointed to them. In cases that a person is fully capable of paying for a private representation, they may be denied state assistance.

Is a Public Defender Less Qualified Than a Regular Criminal Lawyer?

No, both public defenders and private criminal attorneys are equally qualified in terms of education requirements, certifications, and licensing. The only difference is the level of skills and experience of each person.

Should I Use Public Representation or Hire My Own Lawyer?

Although public defenders are equally qualified doesn’t mean they are the most promising option for defense. Since they work for the state, their case loads are extremely rigorous and overflowing. This means they only have a limited amount of time to spend on each case. A private attorney can provide personalized representation to ensure you avoid the maximum penalties if convicted of your charges. Whether you are facing a petty charge like shoplifting, or a major charge like manslaughter, private counsel is the best choice, no matter the price. You can’t put a price on freedom, after all.

Can a Public Defense Lawyer Reject My Case?

If you are indigent and cannot pay your bills as they come due, it would be both unethical and illegal to have your case rejected since it is a violation to your Constitutional rights. Although a case can be handed over from one lawyer to another, it cannot be rejected and ultimately “skipped over” or denied. A person who is entitled to free representation will get it, no matter what.

Can I Request a New Lawyer?

If you are found to be eligible for state defense, you will be assigned a lawyer by the court. If this lawyer does not meet your expectations or recover the plea arrangement that you wanted, you do not have any options. Unless you can prove to a judge that your current lawyer is somehow violating your right to adequate representation, you cannot switch or be appointed a new one. Inadequate representation includes scenarios like missing appointments, failing to meet deadlines, forcing you to a certain plea, not informing you of case status and court dates, and ignoring critical evidence. And if you choose to appeal your conviction, you must hire private representation anyway, so asking to switch at that point wouldn’t be necessary.

Posted in Law

Hiring a Probate Lawyer Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Times are tough, and everyone understands that, that’s why you can obtain services from a Phoenix probate lawyer for no cost to you. These probate lawyers are more than willing to take your case on for virtually nothing.

Did you know that every Phoenix lawyer is required to take a certain number of cases “pro bono?” This means that they do not charge for their services. Did you also know that many of the best lawyers started out as probate lawyers in the beginning of their career?

Obtaining a probate lawyer is actually not as hard as you may think. There are a plethora of probate lawyers listed in your local newspaper or via the internet. These lawyers are hopelessly searching to find people that are in need of their services.

You must be thinking that the lawyers offering their services free of charge are “low quality” or that there is a catch to the deal. The thing is, many of these lawyers really do want to be of service. Besides, if they do your case pro bono and you recommend them to a friend, who becomes a paying client, that results in a positive outcome for the lawyer.

Phoenix probate law can easily become a very complicated, especially if your situation is already complex. For instance, say a person were to die without creating a will or leaving any kind of official instructions with an attorney. This can cause many issues when the heirs want to claim the deceased’s estate.

You can find a probate lawyer virtually anywhere around Phoenix and the west and east valleys. So whether you reside in Chandler, a Phoenix probate lawyer would be more than happy to assist you.

Probate lawyers aim to handle all probate issues directly as the deceased wished, and if there is no will to go by, they will try their hardest to make sure that the rightful heirs are given the estate they deserve.

Posted in Law

The Important Pros and Cons of Vinyl Siding

If you are on the market for new home siding, it is no surprise that you are considering vinyl. Vinyl plastic exterior has been a long-time favorite for both residential and commercial properties, and for many reasons. Although there are a few drawbacks you need to think about, this material is almost always a safe investment. Continue reading to review some of the common pros and cons of vinyl siding.

Pros

Vinyl siding is mostly admired for its extreme versatility. It comes in a wide range of colors, styles, textures, and more, which makes customizing the look of your home an easy task. Aside from versatility, vinyl is very low maintenance. Caring for it is simple, and there is very little you need to do to make it last a long time. Furthermore, installation is quick and easy, and the cost comparison to other options on the market is very low. It is one of the most affordable choices for residential siding you can buy.

  • Very durable;
  • Lasts between 30 and 40 years with good care;
  • Endless color options and schemes;
  • Very low maintenance;
  • Easy to clean and care for;
  • Insulated options increase energy efficiency;
  • Cheapest siding option on the market;

Cons

There are not many drawbacks to vinyl siding, however, there are a few attributes that are important for you to know in order to make an educated decision. For instance, it is not waterproof. Although it is water-resistant, poor installation can let water leak behind the panels and cause rot, mold, and mildew. Also, many homeowners have complained that the color option is too permanent with vinyl siding. Whatever color you choose, it will always be that color. That is because plastic exterior siding cannot be repainted like other siding materials.

Another common con to this material is the potential for the boards to warp, bend, or dent. This can happen from a string impact or extreme summer heat. Homeowners also complain that whole panels must be replaced because there is no patchwork in vinyl siding. Some additional common complaints about vinyl siding include:

  • 90% of homes have vinyl siding, so it’s not always the most unique;
  • Lawn mowers, weed trimmers, and even high winds can rip panels off;
  • Faulty installation can lead to water leaks, rot, mold, and decay;
  • It can crack in extreme cold weather, and warp in hot weather;

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Your family is at risk for carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if there are any appliances in your home that use gas, oil, coal or wood. Because carbon monoxide does not have any color, smell, or taste, it is not easy to determine when it is present. Carbon-based fuels are typically safe to use, but they become a health hazard when they do not burn properly.

When carbon monoxide is breathed into the body, it combines with the haemoglobin in the blood. Haemoglobin is the part of the red blood cells that carries oxygen to all parts of the body. When carbon monoxide is mixed with haemoglobin, the bodys cells, tissues, and organs cannot receive oxygen, and they begin to die. Over time, even small amounts of carbon monoxide in the blood over time can be fatal or cause paralysis and brain damage.

Someone with carbon monoxide poisoning may incorrectly diagnose the symptoms as being caused by another ailment. The symptoms of CO poisoning are very similar to common illnesses, such as viral infections, the flu, food poisoning, and fatigue: nausea, vomiting, headaches, tiredness, and stomach pains. Other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include problems with vision, trouble breathing, erratic behavior, and chest pains.

Many homes contain gas appliances and flues, and these can both cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Sadly, an average of twenty UK residents die from CO poisoning each year, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Improper installation of gas appliances and flues along with the lack of recommended maintenance cause the majority of residential carbon monoxide incidents. A constant supply of fresh air is essential for a home that operates carbon-based fuel appliances.

The best protection against CO poisoning is being prepared. You must be aware that wherever there is carbon-based fuel being used, the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning exists. Everyone in the home needs to know the dangers and signs of CO in the air. A properly installed carbon monoxide alarm can give you an early warning of the presence of carbon monoxide. Make sure your alarm has a British or European approval mark and complies with British Standard EN 50291. These audible alarms are especially useful if carbon monoxide begins to fill the air at night while everyone is asleep.

Insist on a CORGI-registered technician when you install a flue or gas appliance in your home. CORGI-registered installers are trained to set up your appliance or flue accordingly to safe procedures. Once your appliance or flue is installed, have it inspected once a year by a CORGI-registered professional to make sure everything is operating properly and there are no safety risks to your family from carbon monoxide. To prevent CO problems from your flue, hire a professional chimney sweep to thoroughly clean it every year.

Apartment Rentals Tips – How To Get The Best Price

Depending on where you wish to stay, apartment rentals can take up quite a bit out of your budget. You therefore need to be able to rent your apartment at the lowest possible price. The following tips will enable you to get the best possible deal on your apartment without having to compromise on the quality of the place you eventually live in:

1. Ask for a discount: This might seem to be the most obvious thing but the fact is that most people do not do it. If the landlord is particularly eager to get a renter without delay then he or she might be happy to lower the price. In any case, you do have to be willing to negotiate in order to get the best possible price on an apartment (or anything else, for that matter).

2. Ask for added value if a discount is not possible: Some landlords might be willing to absorb building maintenance costs, or at least part of them. You could also ask for free parking to be included along with the house rent.

3. Offer to conclude the deal quickly: Sellers like to see money on the table and they prefer to conclude a deal as quickly as possible instead of waiting for a better offer that might come along. Therefore, you should make your best offer, while also taking out your check book or cash.

4. Try to lock in the house for a longer period: If you really like the house and have plans to live in the particular place for a considerable period of time then you should offer to rent the house for a longer period in exchange for a lower rent. Many landlords will be willing to go for this in order to avoid the headache of looking for another tenant in the future. Needless to say, you will only have a chance of making this happen if the landlord thinks that you are a reliable person.

As you can see, there are quite a few things you could do in order to get the lowest possible rate for apartment rentals. You will be able to have the best possible standard of living as long as you can work out really good rental terms on your apartment. You do have to work hard during the process of finding a house but the results will ensure that your efforts are well spent.

The Alternative Investment Fund Regulations

What is an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF)

AIF is an Alternative Investment Fund Regulations privately pooled investment vehicle which collects funds from investors, whether Indian or foreign, for investing it in accordance with a defined investment policy for the benefit of its investors. AIF may be in the form of a trust or a company or a limited liability partnership or a body corporate.

Why AIF

AIF Regulations endeavor to extend the perimeter of regulation to unregulated funds with a view to ensuring systemic stability, increasing market efficiency, encouraging the formation of new capital and consumer protection.

Who are not covered

Currently, the AIF Regulations do not apply to mutual funds, collective investment schemes, family trusts, ESOP and other employee welfare trusts, holding companies, special purpose vehicles, funds managed by securitisation or reconstruction companies and any such pool of funds which is directly regulated by any other regulator in India.

Categories of AIFs

An AIF needs to seek registration broadly under one of the 3 categories –

Category I AIF: The following are covered under Category I

1. Funds investing in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

2. Other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable including the Venture Capital Funds

3. AIFs with positive spillover effects on the economy, for which certain incentives or concessions might be considered by SEBI or Government of India or other regulators in India

Category II AIF: The following are covered under Category II

1. AIFs for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

2. Which shall not undertake leverage other than to meet day-to-day operational requirements as permitted in these Regulations

3. Which shall include Private Equity Funds, Debt Funds, Fund of Funds and such other funds that are not classified as category I or III

Category III AIF: The following get covered under Category III

1. The AIFs including hedge funds which trade with a view to making short term returns;

2. Which employ diverse or complex trading strategies

3. Which may employ leverage including through investment in listed or unlisted derivatives

Applicability of AIF Regulations to Real Estate Funds

After knowing what an AIF is and its broad categories, we analyse whether AIF Regulations are applicable to the Real Estate Funds

Firstly AIF has to seek registration under AIF Regulations under one of the three categories stated above. Therefore if a Fund does not fall under any of the three categories stated above, then it will not seek the registration with SEBI.

If we look at the Category 1, registration is required by funds which invest in start-up or early stage ventures or social ventures or SMEs or infrastructure

If we look at the definition of infrastructure, Explanation to Regulation 2 (m) states that Infrastructure shall be as defined by the Government of India from time to time.

And in the normal parlance, the term typically refers to the technical structures that support a society, such as roads, water supply, sewers, electrical grids,

telecommunications, and so forth, and can be defined as “the physical components of interrelated systems providing commodities and services essential to enable, sustain, or enhance societal living conditions.

Therefore infrastructure does not include the real estate or construction activity since this activity deals in investing in land, developing the land by way of construction of flats, townships and other residential and commercial projects.

But if the real estate fund carries on certain projects for a social purpose like purchasing land for charity etc.; then the fund may be covered under social venture funds.

The clause further states that ‘or other sectors or areas which the government or regulators consider as socially or economically desirable and such other Alternative Investment Funds as may be specified;’

The AIF Regulations have been notified just a few days back and till date, no other AIF funds have been specified in the Category 1 by the Government. Further what the government or regulators consider as socially and economically viable is a very broad concept. However, till the Government specifically comes out with specific inclusions under Category 1; a Real Estate Fund will not be covered under Category 1 and therefore would not require Registration.

Further, the clause also states that – Alternative Investment Funds which are generally perceived to have positive spillover effects on economy and for which the Board or Government of India or other regulators in India might consider providing incentives or concessions will bee included

By adding these lines to the Category 1, SEBI has made the category 1 very vague and open to dispute and litigations since what SEBI intends with positive spillover effects on the economy is not defined or clarified. Different people or organizations may have a different opinion on this which would lead to unnecessary litigations and hardships to business owners. However, till any clarity comes on this, the business owners need to take a cautious approach to the decision of seeking Registration under AIF Regulations.

Category II AIF

Now we examine whether a Real Estate Fund falls under the Category II AIF

If we look at the funds covered by Category II above, they

1. Shall not fall in Category I and III

2. Shall not undertake leverage or borrowing other than to meet day-to- day operational requirements and as permitted by these regulations;

3. Shall be funded such as private equity funds or debt funds for which no specific incentives or concessions are given by the government or any other Regulator

For Real Estate Fund under Category I, we notice that at present it does not fall under Category I and it also does not fall under Category III since these are basically hedge funds. Further, no specific incentives or concessions are given by the Government to the Real Estate Sector. Therefore if we look at the applicability of Real Estate Fund under Category II, these funds may fall under the Category II AIFs if they do not take leverage or borrowing except for short-term requirements.

Impact of AIF on the Real Estate Funds

Under these Regulations, the minimum investment amount has to be Rs 1 crore from each investor. Therefore attracting the funds from the investors would become tough for the real estate funds, who used to raise amounts as less as INR 1 million from the investors. Now they would need to find high-value investors though this is not the only challenge that lies ahead for those raising domestic corpuses. They now also have to invest 2.5% of the corpus or Rs 5 crore, whichever is lower, to ensure that the managing company’s risk is aligned with that of the investor. Moreover, a single investment in a company or a project cannot exceed 25% of the entire corpus.

Further a Real Estate Fund registered in the form of an LLP also would be covered under the AIF Regulations. In an LLP Structure, since the investors are also partners, the risk to the rights of the investors being misused is very minimum. Therefore applying the AIF Regulations to the LLP Structure would reduce the flexibility available to such a Structure.

Conclusion

If we look at the AIF Regulations from a short term perspective, in light of the difficult fund raising environment today, the higher ticket size for investors could potentially throw up some challenges and could in a manner constrict the growth of the asset class, but clearly, in the long run, these regulations appear to have an element of maturity to play a pivotal role in the development and shaping up of the future of alternate asset class in India. It is also clear that alternative investments are more sophisticated and risky as compared to investments in equity and debt and till market matures it is advisable that only HNIs and well informed investors make an investment in this asset class and once the market matures it is made open to all. In the long run, we may see more investments in the Alternative asset class (in terms of quantum and maturity) due to the increased investor confidence in these funds.

How Digital Technologies Improve Filmmaking

Breaking into the current film industry holds a greater challenge compared to classic filmmaking. The digital era has certainly catered to the universal passion of moviemakers for making motion pictures. Today, digital technology changed the way how movies are made. Digital filmmaking opened new opportunities and possibilities to filmmakers of both small indie films and big budget blockbuster films. This also includes the same way that copyright infringement software protects these films. Therefore, if you’re a filmmaker, whatever outcome or type of film you want to accomplish, you can play around using the latest technological advances.

Digital Vs. Traditional

In general, films are extremely flammable yet they are quite expensive. Directors have to look for major studios that could invest a big amount needed to produce a movie. As for digital filmmaking, the digital motion picture cameras may be expensive, but it is a significant investment.

Digital filmmaking is a type of filmmaking where you use digital cameras or a computer to create characters, environments and other extensive features. Digital storage has reduced and simplified the costs of making movies. Compared to films, storage in digital cameras cost less, lasts longer and is safer. Over a long period of time, films degrade and will actually decompose. Improper storage and protection may destroy the print of the film which ultimately results to losing classic movies forever.

The move from celluloid to digital has opened up huge opportunities for special effects resulting to the growth of fantasy movies and science fiction. Film characters are not limited to explore only our world. Now, filmmakers have the tools to visually depict imaginary worlds with digital technology. Movies feature computer generated imagery (CGI) while some combine both CGI and live action using revolutionary new motion-capture techniques. As a result, movie creations are more out of this world than ever.

As we’ve gone digital, the public’s movie experience has become a lot different. In the past, everyone was used to watching films without color. Each motion picture was black and white. But at present, anyone can enjoy a movie in full color with surround sound. They can even have a 3D experience if they choose to. The number of options given to every movie goer is just one of the things that prove that filmmaking has really improved.

Aside from the internet, the widespread use and application of digital technologies are shaping the future of film. At present, the way movies are consumed and distributed has also changed. People can stream or download the videos, and with video-on-demand services like Netflix, everyone can watch their favorite shows and movies whenever they like. Unfortunately, some people choose to share copyrighted materials without the owners’ permission, which is illegal. When you download a movie, you are stealing from the content owner’s compensation. So, content owners and their partners use copyright infringement software to detect any digital piracy.

Posted in Law

Does Your Culture Affect Your Health?

America, often referred to as the melting pot, has many different cultures. Each state within America has different cultures. You can even drive to your neighboring city or town and find they have a slightly different culture than the people of your city or town. Actually, if you want to get technical, each household seems to have its own culture!

Each culture is defined by how the members of the culture interact with one another and the outside world; their traditions; their beliefs; what they consider socially acceptable. Some people define their culture by race, while others define their culture by region. Some people define their culture by education, while others define their culture by financial status. However a culture is defined, America has a plethora of them!

While cultures differ in many aspects, they are similar in one: they are made up of people – living, breathing, human beings – and all human beings have one thing in common, which is the ability to get sick or be injured.

It sounds so simple, but it’s so important. It doesn’t matter how much money you make; you can get sick. It doesn’t matter how many degrees you have; you can get injured.

Many people don’t purchase health insurance unless their employers offer it, and even then some people opt not to buy into their employer’s health care plan. At the same time, many Americans are either unemployed, or aren’t offered health benefits by their employers.

It doesn’t matter what color you are, where you live, how far you went in school, or how much money you have – everyone needs adequate health care. If you are one of the millions of Americans who doesn’t have a health insurance policy, you need to start searching for one now. Take advantage of your employer’s health benefits package, or, refer to your state’s insurance bureau to find health insurance companies that offer policies you can afford.

Austin Apartment Ratings

Set amidst the backdrop of hills and rivers, Austin is rich in natural beauty and history. Austin, the capital city of Texas, is a popular destination for both business and education and is an ideal place to stay. The city offers a wide range of comfortable apartments including condos, town homes, and duplexes. Austin apartments are available for both rent and sale. One of the important factors that must be considered while selecting an apartment is its rating. Most apartment ratings are based on the experience of the renters who have lived in these apartments. Austin apartment ratings also help apartment owners to improve the quality of their properties.

Apartment management is a key factor in Austin apartment ratings, and proper management will keep an apartment fully functional. Apartment management has to look into factors such as cleaning, repair, and renovation, as well as the maintenance of swimming pools, gardens, and clubs. For a comfortable stay in an apartment, proper and effective management is a must. A high management rating gives confidence to a prospective buyer.

Some of the other basic factors that are considered by tenants when determining ratings are parking space, safety, appearance, maintenance, unit condition, and noise. An apartment with good unit condition rating will have safe and habitable units, and it will also have a good appearance. As the crime rate in the city has considerably increased, the security and safety of the residents are major problems. So, it becomes the responsibility of the apartment owner to provide proper security and safety to the people residing in the apartment.

Today, one of the main issues faced by the apartment dwellers is the maintenance problem. In most of the apartments, maintenance are included in the rent; it is the duty of the apartment owner to provide appropriate maintenance to each unit. Nowadays, there are many online sites that provide information about Austin apartment ratings. However, be cautious of the sites as some sites provide incorrect ratings.