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July 2010 Archives

Slow Economic Recovery & Unemployment

According to a recent article, the economic recovery lost momentum in the spring and growth slowed to a 2.4% pace.  That rate is not fast enough to drive down unemployment.  The unemployment rate in our country is nearly a mind boggling 10%.  That makes it very difficult for anyone to find a job.  Over-qualified employees are not able to find work because the employer knows that he/she can get the position filled at a lower rate.

Under-qualified workers cannot find work because there is simply none available.  Those with a nominal amount of experience and education are able to find work but are being paid lower rates than they previously would have encountered.

The result:  An extremely scary look at the potential disappearance of the middle class in our country, something that 3rd world countries look at every day.

Another ramification is that people are having to explore their options to survive financially.  Those who have lost a job are typically no longer able to pay their unsecured debts and keep a roof over their family's head.  If they lose their job and have debt, then it is often advisable to explore their options under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Rising bankruptcy filings

The number of bankruptcy filings continues to rise.  The surge is primarily because of job losses, and the fact that people are flat out not able to keep up with their mortgage payments.

The primary purpose of the amendments to the bankruptcy code back in 2005 was to try to push people into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy rather than a Chapter 7 bankruptcy by virtue of the Means Test.  Once we fell into the "Great Recession," the Means Test no longer stood in the way of most debtors because many households experienced a reduction in income, or one spouse lost their job.

Many are anticipating that the number of bankruptcies filed will continue to rise in 2011 and 2012 due to the terrible state of the economy. 

Financial Protection for your Family

Many people wonder how much money they should have set aside in case of an emergency.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure that you have 3 to 6 months worth of your salary set aside.  That way, if an emergency occurs you will be prepared.

The scary part is, if you have credit card debt then the interest they are charging you is probably preventing you from having adequate savings.  If you are able to discharge that debt (and the interest) through a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, then you would be in a better position financially to save for an emergency.

Once you file the bankruptcy, you would  need to get come credit counseling in order to rehabilitate your credit score.  Most people are able to re-establish their credit scores much more quickly than they previously believed.

Young People Cannot Get a Job in this Recession

There is a terribly sad phenomenon occurring in todays 20-30 somethings.  It seems that they are the most educated demographic in U.S. history.  They also cannot find a job.  According to a recent article on msnbc.com, many of them are facing staggering student loans and have moved back in with their parents.  Unfortunately, student loans are not dischargeable like credit card debt.

That means that their careers are having a very difficult time getting off of the ground, and consequently many will have to work longer in order to be able to retire.  The msnbc.com article noted that while the overall unemployment rate was 9.5 percent in June, it was 15.3 percent for those aged 20-24, compared with 7.8 percent for ages 35-45, 7.5 percent for ages 45-54, and 6.9 percent for those ages 55 and older.

This recession is hurting both the under and overqualified job candidate.


Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle

This offense  is a state jail felony.  It occurs whenever a person intentionally or knowingly operates another's boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner.

In layman's terms, going for a "joy-ride" can result in someone being indicted for a felony offense.  The Austin Appellate Court has held that Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle (UUMV) can be a continuing offense.  A defendant may commit unauthorized use in the county where the vehicle is originally reported stolen as well as in any other county where the defendant uses the car.  That means that any of those counties has jurisdiction over the case.

The word "automobile" is a generic term that includes pickup trucks.

Bankruptcy can save your house from foreclosure

CNNMoney.com produced an article explaining about how bankruptcy can help individuals save their homes from foreclosure through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  The article commented that bankruptcy can bring foreclosure proceedings to a halt, end harassment from debt collectors, and give borrowers time to make up missed payments and reorganize their finances.  In some cases, bankruptcy can also help mortgage borrowers save their homes permanently, the article noted.

The article quoted a N.Y. attorney as saying, "It's the best tool there is for people behind in payments but who have ongoing income...those who had been making payments and who could be making payments again."

The article noted that the first thing a bankruptcy filing accomplishes is to stop the foreclosure process.  Lenders can't foreclose or even try to collect debt until permitted to do so by the court.

Hidden Fees

A recent article by CCNMoney.com listed a number of hated hidden fees.  One of the fees that were mentioned were fees associated with using your Frequent Flier Miles.  The article went on to question whether it could really be called "reward travel" if you have to pay for the reward.  To redeem your miles for any flight on US Airways, you must pay a $25 to $50 fee. American, Continental, and United usually make you pay $50 to $500 one way to use miles for upgrades.

Recession and Bankruptcy

A recent article was written listing statistics about the recession and bankruptcy filings.  It seems that  the outsourcing of many U.S. middle class jobs has led to an uncomfortable separation between the socio-economic classes in our country.

83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.  61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck.  That is up from 49% in 2008 and 43% in 2007.  A staggering 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.  24% of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.

Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32% increase over 2008.  A big reason for that was the staggering unemployment rate.  The article noted that the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks. 

Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act

The primary enforcement tool used by the Consumer Protection and Public Health Division of OAG is the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices - Consumer Protection Act, which declares that "False, misleading or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful."

The DTPA "shall be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, which are to protect consumers against false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty and to provide efficient and economical procedures to secure such protection."

Section 17.46(b) lists 27 acts or practices, known as the "laundry list" of per se violations.  Only private actions alleging "false, misleading, and deceptive practices" are limited to the laundry list.  State action is not limited to the laundry list, but can proceed under Section 17.46(a) alone.

In addition to injunctive relief and restitution, "the trier of fact may award, a civil penalty to be paid to the state in an amount of: (1) not more than $20,000 per violation; and (2) if the act or practice that is the subject of the proceeding was calculated to acquire or deprive money or other property from a consumer who was 65 years of age or older when the act or practice occurred, and additional amount of not more than $250,000.

Am I eligible to file bankruptcy?

Yes.  The question is which chapter is right for your particular circumstances.  Typically, Chapter 7 is the chapter we recommend if you are eligible.  It is the quickest, the easiest, and in most circumstances, it does the most for you.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is appropriate whenever you have overwhelming IRS debt, are facing foreclosure or repossession, or if you simply make too much money to file a Chapter 7.

There are limits on who can file a Chapter 13, however.  If you have more than a million dollars in secured debt or more than $300,000 in unsecured debt then you are not eligible for a Chapter 13.  You would then need to consider a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Even if someone makes a high salary, Chapter 13 can help them.  For instance, if a family makes $200,000 a year and they are unable to pass the Means Test, then subject to the debt limitations above they will still benefit greatly if they have a large amount of unsecured debt and they file a Chapter 13 100% Plan.

In such a Plan, they would have the benefit of paying their unsecured creditors back at 0% interest.  If they owed $100,000 of unsecured debt and they were being charged 25% interest, then the Chapter 13 100% Plan would save them roughly $25,000 per year.

Nevertheless, most of our Chapter 13 clients pay almost nothing to the unsecured creditors.

Child Support Modification

It is possible to file a Motion to Modify in the original divorce court which has continuing exclusive jurisdiction in any SAPCR (Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship) when situations change.   The modification can be either to increase or decrease the amount that the paying parent is sending each month.

A good example is if a father was once making $150,000 a year and then lost his job due to the recession and was only able to find work at a $60,000 job, then he needs a domestic relations attorney to file a Motion to Modify his child support.  Child support modifications such as this only make sense.  If he was originally ordered to pay more than $2,000 a month when he had the higher salary, then without the modification he would still be ordered to pay that amount which would mean he would be paying more than half of his take home (net) pay.

However, it is important to realize that unless and until the modification is granted by the judge, he will still be legally required to pay the original amount.  Failure to do so could result in evasive legal action being taken against him and he could actually find himself incarcerated.

On the other hand, if he was unemployed when the divorce was granted, and then two years later he landed a $100,000 a year job then the ex-wife could file a Motion to Modify Child Support to increase his monthly payments. 

Stop Lawsuits

Many people seek protection under the bankruptcy code because they have been sued.  If you default on a credit card debt or unsecured line of credit then the creditor can sue you.  Also, you can be sued on the deficiency of a repossessed or foreclosed secured loan.  If you fail to timely respond then the creditor can take a default judgment against you.  Or, if the creditor proves to the judge that it is more likely than not that you owe the money, then a judgment will be taken against you.

The creditor can record the judgment and either file a lien against your property or get a writ of sequestration and take money out of your accounts.

When you file a bankruptcy, the automatic stay provision in the bankruptcy code will cease all such activity.  The bankruptcy almost always stops the litigation and discharges the debt.

341 Hearing

The 341 Hearing is named the First Meeting of Creditors.  However, that name is a bit of a misnomer for 2 reasons.  One, it implies there will be a second meeting.  There is rarely a second meeting, especially during a Chapter 7 case.  Two, it implies that the creditors will show up to the meeting.  That is also rarely the case.

In the typical 341 hearing, the only parties that attend are the trustee, the attorney, and the debtor.  The trustee and the lawyer ask a number of questions that are relevant to the debtor's assets, liabilities and income.

In a Chapter 7 case, the typical hearing is about 5 minutes long.  The Chapter 13 hearing usually take about 15 minutes.

The hearings are usually held about 45 days after the date that the petition is filed.

Robbery

Someone commits robbery in Texas when they take or try to take something and either cause or threaten to cause the person bodily injury to someone.  It is typically indicted as a 2nd degree felony and usually has a range of punishment of 2-20 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.  The citizen accused of robbery does not actually have to acquire property to commit the offense of robbery.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has held, "[T]he gravamen of robbery is the assaultive conduct, not the theft."  This can also occur in the debt collection arena.  It is not permissible to collect a debt using force according to the Texarkana Court of Appeals. 

This offense is enhanced to a 1st degree felony (5-99 years confinement) if the victim is 65 years of age or older, or disabled.

There are numerous defenses to Robbery, so just because someone is accused of the offense does not mean that they are going to be convicted.

Medical Bills

Many bankruptcies are closely tied to medical complications.  When you get critically ill, there really is not a decision to make.  You don't consider the ramifications that the medical bills are going to have on your financial future, because sometimes if you don't immediately get the medical help you need there won't be a financial future.

Medical bills and legal bills can be discharged in a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Many times when a debtor has mounting medical bills, he or she also has quite a bit of credit card debt as well. 

Most of the time, all of the unsecured debt can be discharged in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Many times, there is also secured debt that can be discharged if the collateral is no longer affordable for the debtor.

Theft

Theft is a dangerous allegation.  It is considered a "crime of moral turpitude."  It is very easy to be charged with a theft allegation and it is a technical area of criminal law.  There is a difference in threshold amounts for a Class B misdemeanor: $20 is the threshold amount for theft by check, but $50 is the relevant amount for theft using something other than a check for payment.

Further, the face amount written on checks and signed by the drawer is prima facie evidence of the value of the checks.

These cases are defendable.  It has long been the law that an indictment for theft must allege a culpable mental state.  It must be shown that the defendant had the "intent to deprive the owner of property."  Also, a theft indictment must allege the value of the stolen property, where value is necessary to determine punishment.

If there is a prior history of theft, then the current offense may be enhanced.  Prior convictions that do not consist of the same elements as theft--for instance, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and robbery--can be used to enhance the punishment range for third-offender theft from a state jail felony to a 2nd degree felony under Penal Code 12.42(a)

Credit Scores and Bankruptcy

A credit scoring system is one that numerically weighs some or all of the factors considered in the underwriting process.  Factors are developed based on data about past borrowers from their files at consumer reporting agencies and sometimes from other sources.  Examples of factors used in a credit scoring system include payment history of past obligations, amounts owed, length of credit history, and types of credit already held.  The number of points received often determines whether the consumer is offered credit, how much credit is granted, and at what interest rate.

Credit scores are used in the industry to predict the probability that consumers with a certain score will engage in a particular behavior. The leading creator of credit scoring models is Fair Isaac & Co., also known as the FICO score.

Even though FICO develops other types of credit scores, a credit risk score is sometimes referred to as a "FICO score."  The FICO scores are derived by a generalized weighing of the following factors.

1.  Payment History (35%)
2. Amounts Owed (30%)
3.  Length of Credit History (15%)
4. New Credit (10%)
5.  Types of Credit in Use (10%).

Often times, filing a bankruptcy is the first step towards the rehabilitation of your credit score.

Small Business Debtor Cases

The purpose of the creation of the small business case was to reduce delay and cost in uncomplicated business reorganization cases according to a case out of Colorado back in 1995.  Whether the purpose of the small business amendments has been met has been much debated, and generally because the election for a small business case was rare.

Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Class

President Bush signed the BAPCPA legislation changing the law 6 months before it went into effect on October 17, 2005.  As part of that new bankruptcy law, debtors are now required to take a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class and obtain a certificate that proves they completed the course.  However, it is not like a class you took in high school and it does not take a semester to complete.  

Most clients report that the class takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours.  It is just another small hoop you must jump through and $50 tax you must pay in order to file a bankruptcy.  Typically, if you fill out our Debtors Forms prior to taking the class it is easier to navigate through the class. 

Fortunately, the class can be taken 24 hours a day, and seven days a week with most of the qualified providers.

Who should I pay first?

Typically yourself, unless you have credit card debt.  Although the answer to that question might be different for one family than it is another, and it is certainly a case-by-case basis type question.

It is often wise to contribute to an IRS qualified retirement plan first.  Even though we are obviously in a bad recession, traditionally a 401k or similar plan has shown to grow steadily over time.  If your employer will match a certain percentage of your salary, its typically a good idea to contribute at least that amount.  Plus, if you are sued later or have to file a bankruptcy, that money is exempt under the Bankruptcy Code and Texas Property Code.

But before you start making a decision on who you should pay first, you should certainly consult with an accountant, financial planner, financial lawyer or bankruptcy lawyer.   To determine which one of those you should see first, go buy at $3.00 calculator.

Add up your credit card debt.  Multiply the amount of the debt by your average interest rate (i.e. $20,000 with a 15% interest rate on average just multiply 20,000 by .15).  Then divide that number by 12 for the number of months.  That is the amount you are being charged in interest each month.  If that monthly number is more than $250 a month, then you need to see a bankruptcy lawyer first.

Texas Rangers in Bankruptcy

On May 24, 2010, the Texas Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Currently, the team owes approximately $525 million to creditors. Team president Nolan Ryan, who also played 5 of his twenty seven major league seasons with the team, has assembled a group willing to pay over $500 million for the franchise. A July 16th auction date has tentatively been set for the sale of team. There are several other groups interested in the buying the team and Major League Baseball's approval is required to complete the sale.

Foreclosure Rates Dropping, but for How Long?

As the world's 11th largest economy, Texas was not immune from the recent recession and its effects on the housing market. As more homeowners lost their jobs or became overwhelmed with debt, they lost their ability to stay current on mortgage payments and other bills. The end result was an unprecedented number of homes lost to foreclosure. In May of this year, 1 in every 862 mortgages in Texas went into foreclosure.

Child Custody

The law in Texas is primarily focused on what is in the best interest of the child in Child Custody  disputes.  The legislative intent in the Family Code is to provide a safe environment in which the child can be raised, to maintain healthy contact with both parents so that they both can play an active role in the child's upbringing, and to make sure that the contact with the child is not contingent only upon the payment of child support.

If an agreement can be arrived at between the parents that is fair and equitable, then that is the preference of the courts.  However, if the parents battle then it will be up to the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child in a child custody dispute.

Stop Telephone Calls

It is amazing how relentlessly some creditors and debt collection agencies can be, and how little they care about your particular situation when they are trying to collect a debt.  It doesn't matter if you have lost a job, lost a loved one, had medical problems or any other life crisis...the telephone calls do not seem to stop.

When you file a bankruptcy, an automatic stay is placed in effect to protect you.  That means that there is a federal law in place at that point that will stop the telephone calls.  If a creditor continues to contact you after the bankruptcy is filed, then you can ask the court to strongly sanction that creditor.

You do not have to put up with bullies.

Bankruptcy Trustee

A bankruptcy trustee in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is appointed by the U.S. Trustees Office.  One of the chief jobs that a bankruptcy trustee has under either chapter is to look and see if the debtor who filed bankruptcy has any non-exempt asset that can be sold to fully or partially satisfy the claims of the creditors who would otherwise be discharged.

Another job that the trustee who is appointed has is to make inquiry as to whether or not there have been any fraudulent transfers to the detriment of the creditors.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee also has the duty to review the proposed Plan that the debtor files, and make a recommendation as to whether or not the Plan is feasible for the debtor to make.

Exemptions

As a debtor filing for bankruptcy in Texas, you have an advantage.  The advantage is that you have an election to make as to whether you want to take the Texas list of exemptions or the list of exempt property under the Federal Bankruptcy Code.

Exempt property is property you get to keep if you file a bankruptcy.

Under the Texas property code, no cash or stocks (that are not under a retirement umbrella) are exempt.  However, if you have less than $20,000 per spouse of equity in your homestead then you will have a wildcard exemption under the federal list to claim otherwise non-exempt property as exempt.

Is the Loan Modification Program Working?

As far as I can see it has been a disaster.  Over the past year and a half I have visited with someone new almost daily who was led to believe that they were eligible, only to find out later that they "just didn't qualify."

The typical story that I have heard involves someone contacting or being contacted by their mortgage company with the hope to reduce their monthly payment on their house.  Almost without exception they were told that they needed to be a few months behind on their house in order to qualify.  Four or five months go by, the mortgage company tells them every 6 weeks or so that they need a little more documentation, and then after 6 months they learn that they don't qualify and their house is up for a foreclosure sale.

In my opinion, the home loan modification program is an atrocity.  However, if you find yourself in this scenario you can still save your home through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Child Support Arrears

Falling behind on your child support payments is a dangerous predicament to be in.  The Attorney General can file a quasi-criminal lawsuit against you and you can spend time in jail.  Typically, you can resolve your situation through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

You can typically relieve your budget by discharging unsecured debts and free up some money to pay back the child support arrears through a 60 month (5 year) Plan.

Filing bankruptcy typically enables clients to streamline their expenditures and get them back on the track to financial recovery.

Cram Down on your Vehicle

In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, if a vehicle was last financed over 2.5 years prior to the petition then the debtor can pay the value of the vehicle rather than the amount owed.  The amount owed over what the car is worth should be discharged.

That is a tremendous advantage in most cases.  That is especially true if the debtor has "rolled negative equity" from a previous car into the note on the current vehicle.

Even if the vehicle was financed within the last 2.5 years, typically a debtor filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can substantially reduce their monthly payments on their vehicle by paying it through the Chapter 13 Plan.

Mobile homes are considered vehicles most of the time.  Mobile homes and motor homes depreciate very rapidly.  

Possession of Marijuana

If someone is caught with less than 2 ounces of marijuana, then it is typically filed as a Class B misdemeanor.  Class B misdemeanors have a range of punishment up to 180 days in county jail, and up to a $2,000 fine.

If someone is in possession of more than 2 but less than 4 ounces, or if they are caught with less than 2 ounces in a drug free school zone then it will be filed as a Class A misdemeanor.  That carries a range of punishment of up to a year in county jail, and the fine doubles.

If it is alleged that someone is in possession of marijuana greater than 4 ounces, or if it is alleged that someone was committing the offense of Delivery of Marijuana of any size, then it likely will go to the Grand Jury for indictment as a felony offense.

Texas Divorce & Child Support

The divorce rate is very high in Texas compared to the rest of the nation.  According to a recent study, there were more people in Texas that have been married 3 times than any where else in the union.  

Many divorces involve children.  Of course, conservatorship and child custody plays a huge role in divorce court.  However, that is not the only issue.  Child support is a major part of most domestic relations cases.

The Child Support Guidelines are spelled out in the Family Code.  They typically govern how much money is to be sent to the payee (person with custody) by the payor (parent sending the  money).   For example, if there is only one child, then the Family Code says that 20% of the payor's net income is to be sent to the person with custody.  But, if the payor has other children from another relationship then the payment to the payee is reduced proportionately.

In addition to child support and potential spousal maintenance, there are also issues about medical insurance for the child.

DWI Probation

If you are convicted at trial, or if you reach a plea bargain agreement with the State of Texas for community supervision (probation) in a DWI case, then prepare for quite a bit of additional expense in the upcoming future.

Standard provisions of DWI probation are:  DWI Education Course, Victims Impact Panel Class, Substance Abuse Evaluation (and any conditions that are determined necessary), many hours of community service, no alcohol consumed during the period of probation, and several other conditions under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over a .15, then the court will require you to have a deep lung device installed on any vehicle you operate for at least 1/2 of the period of probation.

In short, you do not want to be convicted.

DWI Blood Draw

Fourth of July weekend has been dubbed a "no-refusal" weekend.  That means that if you are pulled over, a judge is likely to be in a mobile vehicle and may sign a warrant stating that a needle can be jammed into your elbow to draw your blood for an alcohol analysis.

The Bill of Rights guarantees that you have a right to privacy.  The 4th amendment protects you against warrantless searches and seizures.  Normally, unless you consent to the blood draw or breath test, the police do not take a specimen.  However, if a judge signs a blood warrant, the fourth amendment typically doesn't come into play as long as the judge had cause to sign the warrant.

However, just because you give a blood draw does not mean you will be convicted.  The timing of the blood draw is critical.  Just because your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit an hour or two after the time you were driving does not mean your BAC was over a .08 when you were driving.  

Your blood absorbs and eliminates alcohol at a strange pace.  While you continue to absorb alcohol up to 1.5 hours at a rapid pace, you eliminate alcohol very slowly.  

Get Bonded Out of Jail

Although certainly not an occurrence in every case, sometimes bond is set at an amount that is not feasible for a citizen accused of a crime.  One of the things that can be done if bond is set by a judge or magistrate and it is so high that a citizen cannot post it to get out of jail is to hire an attorney to file a Motion to Reduce Bond.

There is no guaranty that it will work, or that a judge will grant the Motion, but sometimes it is prudent to file this Motion to Reduce Bond.

Also, if you are on probation and a Motion to Revoke or Motion to Adjudicate is filed by the state, you can hire an attorney who can file a Motion to Set Bond, or in the Alternative Set the Matter for a Hearing on the Motion Within 20 Days.

That way a citizen accused does not sit in jail for an unfair amount of time before he/she sees the judge.


Car Repossession

If your car is about to be repossessed, or if you fall 2 payments behind on your auto then it is past time to consider filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Not only will the Chapter 13 save your car from repossession, it probably will lower the monthly payments on the car.

When the Chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, the Automatic Stay provision of the Bankruptcy Code will prevent the creditor from repossessing the vehicle.  

Although most people think that they only can discharge their unsecured debt through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the overwhelming majority of our clients also discharge their credit card debt through a Chapter 13 as well.

By discharging your credit card debt and medical bills, and probably reducing your monthly payment on your vehicle, you will greatly relieve yourself financially by filing a Chapter 13. 

Affordable Bankruptcy Lawyer

Some clients are unsure of how they can afford to file a bankruptcy.  Ironically, paying for the bankruptcy is the easiest part in most cases.  Often times, once our clients quit paying the creditors they are going to discharge, the attorney and filing fees are very easy to pay.

Congress has assessed an additional cost in the form of a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class for all bankruptcies filed after October 17, 2005.  However, the pre-bankruptcy class is only $50 (there is also a class after you file that costs the same).

Although that $50 is annoying, it is a small bump in the road to discharge a large amount of debt.

Parole Eligibility

If there is an affirmative finding that a deadly weapon was used during the offense, then that can affect the accused's parole eligibility date if he/she is sent to prison.  If there is a deadly weapon finding, then the accused must serve a minimum of one half (1/2) of his/her prison sentence.  The legislature thought that a person who uses a weapon to commit a crime should be punished more harshly than a person who did not use a weapon to achieve their goal.  
 
Over the years, the deadly weapon statute has been continuously expanded to engulf virtually any felony offense, included non-intentional offenses like DWI manslaughter and possession cases.

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