Alimony, Support and Division of Assets Explained in Pennsylvania

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is available to a married spouse, when the couple resides in separate homes and one spouse earns more than the other spouse. There are defenses against spousal support and it is important to have an attorney assist you in your claim for or against spousal support.
Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony Pendente Lite is a type of support that is limited in nature and paid to the lesser income earning spouse by the higher income earning spouse in accordance to a statutory formula until the divorce is finalized. This support was enacted to equalize the parties incomes during the divorce proceedings and allow each spouse to afford the divorce process and expenses.

In Pennsylvania, there is not a set formula to determine post-divorce alimony. Whether or not to award post-divorce alimony payments lies within the exclusive discretion of the court. The court relies on the following 17 factors to determine whether to award post-divorce alimony.
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The 17 Factors of Alimony

The relative earnings of both spouses.

The duration of the marriage.

The ages and physical, mental and emotional states of the two spouses.

The sources of income of both spouses. This includes medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

The expected future earnings and inheritances of the two spouses.
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The degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning potential.

The degree to which a spouse will be financially affected by their position as the custodian of a minor child.
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The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.

The relative education of the parties. This also considers the amount of time it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment.

The relative assets and liabilities of the two spouses.
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The property each spouse brought to the marriage.

The degree a spouse contributed as a homemaker.
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The relative needs of the two spouses.

The marital misconduct of either of the spouses during the marriage.

The federal, state and local tax consequences of the alimony.
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Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs.

Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves through appropriate employment.

[1] Title 7, Pennsylvania Code, §6102.

Division of Assests

In Pennsylvania “marital property” means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired. However, marital property does not include:

Veterans’ benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans’ compensation.

Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.

Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

Pennsylvania states that the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired pursuant to subsection shall be measured from the date of marriage or later acquisition date to either the date of final separation or the date as close to the hearing on equitable distribution as possible, whichever date results in a lesser increase.

Legal Claims in Pennsylvania Involving Stormwater Onto Your Property

In Pennsylvania, there is a law of surface waters found in legal case law. That is, a municipality or another property owner is responsible for harm to an adjoining landowner if that first owner or municipality artificially diverts or channels surface water (including storm water) onto that adjoining property.

Even if there is not additional volume of water, if the storm water is diverted resulting in higher intensity or concentrated flow, then there is liability if damages result.

A municipality has the right to manage storm water and to protect public health and safety. However, it must balance that with the rights of adjoining landowners.

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If a storm drain system or runoff pipes are negligently constructed such that they do not adequately control the runoff, then there is liability for harm caused.

This can be found at the Pennsylvania Storm Water Management Act (32 PS Section 680.13 et seq). The Act requires that there be a plan in place to handle water runoff resulting from construction that involves drainage or alteration of storm water runoff.

If the soil disturbance from a construction project is large enough, or if the soil disturbance is close enough to a protected waterway, then a permit and/or a soil erosion control plan must be filed with the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

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So, there are two main things to be aware of that may give rise to a legal claim in Pennsylvania regarding storm water. First. if you are doing construction involving a large amount of soil disturbance or you are within proximity to a protected stream or waterway, you should determine whether you need a permit and soil erosion control plan. Second, if you are a homeowner or landowner in which you believe that storm or surface water is being diverted onto your property at a greater flow or intensity, then you may have a claim if you have resulting damages.

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In the second instance, if you believe your property is being damaged, or there is a resulting injury to a person, then you should investigate the source of the problem. If there is recent construction of culverts or some drainage system, you should check with both your local government and PA Department of Environmental Protection.
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Find out what the project was and whether there needed to be a permit and/or erosion and soil control plan. Even if a permit or plan was not required, it still may be a violation of the Storm Water Management Act or Pennsylvania case law if the diversion of the surface water was negligently constructed or otherwise artificially channels water at an increased flow or velocity onto your property.

In such legal claims, there may be legal causes of action for: negligence, trespass, nuisance, or violations of the PA Storm Water Management Act or the PA Clean Streams Law. The Clean Streams Law (35 PS Section 691.1).
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The Clean Streams Law does allow for private citizen legal claims for pollution runoff into a waterway. It more often applies to PA Department of Environmental Protection or other governmental actions against polluters.

Usually, a legal claim involving an argument that there was a negligently constructed storm water drain or system or artificially channeled water runoff, requires use of an engineer. That engineer would need to inspect and possibly do a study to compile engineering findings to support the claims.

Pennsylvania Custody Explained

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody of their children, it means they are responsible for making decisions about the important things in their lives, such as what educational instruction they receive, their religious preferences, any important medical decisions, and where they go to school. When a couple is together, they usually jointly make these decisions, but upon separation either one or both parents can continue making these decisions.

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The couples can jointly share legal custody or a parent can request sole legal custody, which would mean that parent would make all of these decisions and keep the other parent informed. The default option is usually shared legal custody.
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If parents frequently fight over decision making, one parent lives far away, or if one parent is abusive and neglectful, a court may find that is in the best interest for one parent to have sole legal custody.

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Physical Custody

When you have physical custody of their children, it refers to which parent the children are residing with on a day to day basis.
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If parents choose to share physical time of their children, they can request “joint physical custody,” which means that each parent will have equal time with the children. Joint physical custody works in situations where parents live close to one another, so the children can move back and forth between their parents house and maintain their school and recreational activities.

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If you have more than fifty percent of the physical custody time with their children, then this parent would receive primary physical custody and the other parent would receive partial physical custody. Situations where parents would choose this arrangement are where one parents lives further away. The partial custodial parent could request alternating weekend visits and a few weekday evening visit with their children.

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If one parent has the children the majority of the time and would like to maintain this type of custody, this parent may be granted sole custody of the children. This is usually granted in situations where one parent is deemed unfit due to abuse or neglect.

Child Support

When parents separate they have an obligation to provide support on behalf of their children until the children are emancipated, which is until the children graduate from high school or reach the age of 18 years old, whichever occurs at a later date.
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Pennsylvania’s support guidelines are based upon the concept that the children of separated, divorced or never-married parents should receive the same proportion of parental income that she or he would have received if the parents lived together.
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A custody lawyer will help parents file for child support on behalf of their children.

The court will determine the amount of support to be paid based upon the custody schedule. Parents must additionally continue to pay any un-reimbursed expenses in proportion to their respective salaries. An experienced custody lawyer in child support can assist you in the process.

Trouble On The Horizon – Severance Agreements And Recent Modifications To PA UC

On June 17, 2011 Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law the Legislature's latest amendments to Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law. The changes described below will take effect on January 1, 2012. Although normally designed as a cost-cutting measure with regard to the Commonwealth's budget issues, the modifications may have some unexpected consequences for attorneys and their clients when negotiating severance packages, and lawyers who practice in this area of ​​the law should expect some interesting, and probably confusing, issues to arise in the future.

Generally speaking, the Pennsylvania Legislature revised 43 PS Section 804 to require Claimants to account for severance packages when applying for Unemployment Compensation Benefits. While it does not appear that the changes to Section 804 (d) will require a potential Claimant to hold off on filing for unemployment benefits until after he has collected all of his severance payment, it does appear that they will adversely affect potential claimants' eligibility for benefits. Although the new provisions may reduce eligibility for potential claimants, it seems likely that they could dramatically increase litigation as they appear to generate more questions than issues that they will resolve. Examples of the types of issues that may arise follow.

First Example: Very often the issues surrounding an employee's Unemployment Compensation Benefits are handled within the context of a larger and more comprehensive employment matter between the employer and former employee. When the aforesaid employment matter is resolved in some way, it is not unusual for part of the settlement funds to be issued directly to the employee, with the remaining about issued directly to the employee's attorney. It is not clear from the new Unemployment Compensation law whether the funds issued directly to the employee's attorney would have been considered as part of the employee's severance.

Second Example: Sometimes an employee refuses to issue two (2) separate checks to the employee and his attorney. In this case, it is typical for the attorney to receive all of the funds, deduct any outstanding fees and costs, and issue a check for the difference to the employee. Although receiving an amount reduced by attorney fees and costs, the employer will generally issue the employee a 1099 or W-2 for the full amount. As above, it is not clear whether, in the context of Unemployment Compensation, the full amount, or the amount actually received by the employee would have been considered as part of the employee's severance.

Third Example: Sometimes an employee issues funds directly to the employee's attorney in the same amount as the retainer already paid by the employee. The employer issues the attorney a 1099 for the funds remitted. The attorney, in turn, issues the employee a refund of the retainer paid. Would this refund be considered part of an employee's severance package?

Fourth Example: Some employees' settlements with employers include both a payment to an employee as severance and a sum for what is essentially punitive damages. The payment remitted for severance results in a W-2 issued to the employee by the employer while the payment remitted for "punitive damages" results in a 1099 from the employer, and is generally not subject to the standard taxes attached to salaries. In the alternative, some employers provide a lump sum without holding any amount for taxes and issue a 1099 for the lump sum. It is unclear how the Pennsylvania Department of Labor would deal with these situations. Would it consider the entire pre-tax-withholding amount to be an offset in terms of the employee's severance package? If not, and it just considers the net amount paid, it could be to the detriment to the employee who got the lump sum as it would appear that the employee who got a pre-tax severance package got a larger amount and the Department of Labor may offset the larger amount.

As seen above, while the new additions to Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation could reduce potential claimant's eligibility for benefits, they appear to raise more questions than the issues they resolve. It will be interesting to see how the issues raised above, and others like them, are deal with by the Department of Labor and the Courts.

For the readers' convenience, the additions to Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law are as follows: 43 PS Section 804 of Pennsylvania's Unemployment Compensation Law has been modified with an amendment to subsection (4) (1) which now reads: "benefits shall be paid to each eligible employee who is unemployed with respect to such week, compensation in an amount equal to his weekly benefit rate less the total of (i) the remuneration, if any, paid or payable to him with respect to such weeks for services performed which is in excess of his partial benefit credit, and (ii) vacation pay, if any, which is in excess of his partial benefit credit, except when paid to an employee who is permanently or irrevocably separated from his employment and (iii) the amount of severance pay that is attributed to the week. "

43 PS Section 804 (d) (1.1) has been added to the law and reads: "(i) 'Severance pay' means one or more payments made by an employer to an employee on account of separation from the service of the employer, regardless of whether the employee is legally bound by contract, statute or otherwise to make such payments. The term does not include payments for pension, retirement or accrued allowances or supplementary employment benefits. (ii) The amount of severance pay attributed to subclause (iii) shall be an amount not less than zero (0) determined by subtracting forty per centum (40%) of the average annual wage as calculated under subsection (e) as of June 30 immediately preceding the calendar year in which the claimant's benefit year begins from the total amount of severance pay paid or payable to the claimant by the employer. (iii) Severance pay is attributed as follows: (A) Severance pay is attributed to the day, days, week or weeks immediately following the employee's sep . (B) The number of days or weeks to which severance pay is attributed is determined by dividing the total amount of severance pay by the regular full-time daily or weekly wage of the claimant. (C) The amount of severance pay attributed to each day or week equals the regular full-time daily or weekly wage of the claimant. (D) When the attribution of severance pay is made on the basis of the number of days, the pay shall be attributed to the customary working days in the calendar week. "

Originally published on November 18, 2011 in The Legal Intelligencer.

The Lemon Laws

Lemon cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s are everywhere. Various statistics that I have seen indicate that anywhere from 1 out of 100 to 1 out of 8 vehicles are lemons. Staggering statistics, to say the least. A Lemon, by definition, is a defective vehicle. All states have Lemon Laws that provide protection to you in the event that you have purchased a lemon. These law vary from state to state, but all have common themes.

The first common theme is the defective condition of the vehicle. In other words, something has to go wrong with your vehicle. The state Lemon Laws typically define what elements satisfy the defective condition requirement in order to be classified as a lemon. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the vehicle must exhibit a defect or non-conformity that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle. In my experience, these types of defects usually consist of defective brakes, transmissions, engines, suspensions, steering and things of that nature. Claims for electrical failures, noise and leaks usually are sufficient as well.

The next common theme among the state Lemon Laws is the obligation to attempt repairs. Each state Lemon Law sets forth that the manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle’s defective condition. In Pennsylvania, that number is three. Some other states have the repair requirements set at four or more. If the Manufacturer or its agent (the dealer) cannot repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, you have a lemon.

The third common theme amongst state Lemon Laws is the remedy that you are entitled to if you have a lemon. Most states provide that the consumer is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price OR a free replacement vehicle. Some states go even further. In Pennsylvania the remedy includes all collateral charges as well as the purchase price, including taxes, title charges, down payment, interest and more. If you choose the refund election you may end up getting every dollar back that you put into the vehicle. In addition, most states provide for the recovery of attorney fees and costs as well.

Fire Department Funding – The 4 Upcoming Critical Financial Issues That Will Rock Your World

The Fire Service will be undergoing a transformation in the next few years that will impact every single fire department in the US These issues will separate the survivors from the perished.

Issue # 1: People will be a lot more expensive.

It does not matter if you are a paid, volunteer, or combination department. The costs of having fire fighters will be increasing at an alarming rate. And it is not just payroll, it is the total expense of having people fight your fires.

The four trends for the higher costs are:

  1. Payroll. If you pay your fire fighters, the cost of paying their salary will be increasing. Add to that the cost of insurance, workman's comp, and payroll taxes, you have a explosive mixture just waiting to absorb your budget.
  2. Attraction Costs. If you do not pay your fire fighters, you will spend more money finding and appealing volunteer labor. The facts are shocking. In Pennsylvania alone, volunteer fire fighters have declined from 300,000 in the 1970's to about 75,000 today. While the population of the state has increased by almost 100,000 people. So, how do you get new volunteers? The volunteer culture has changed. The time demands of people have changed. What can you do to attract more volunteers? There seems to be no magic bullet out there but it will cost more to find a volunteer and entice them to join your department. Of course, if your fire fighter force falls below safe levels, your costs may increase because you have to hire paid fire fighters.
  3. Training. A brand new fire fighter requires much more training than ever before – just to fight fires. Add to that, specialized training such as confined space, rescue, water rescue, EMT, and other expertise that are being demanded of fire departments today and you get a large investment in your people – even if they are volunteer.
  4. Equipment. Protective gear and equipment is more safe than ever. But that safety comes with an ever increasing price tag. It seems just to provide those who serve to have the safest equipment available. But the cost will be rising to keep your people safe.

The good ol 'days of a bunch of guys leaving their jobs to fight fires for their community are long gone. And, along with those days, go the relatively cheap labor costs of having guys who faught fires out of a sense of duty, not because they needed to be enticed in some way – either by getting a paycheck or by other incentives to attract new volunteers .

The historical fire fighting labor business model is gone. No more free labor. So, savvy fire departments will begin to factor in these costs now and deal with them instead of getting slammed by the harsh new realities later on.

This issue will become more and more pressing over the next decade.

Issue # 2: Revenues will harder to come by.

At the same time that the very expensive costs of adding fire fighters will be felt, the constants of finding new sources of revenues will become more difficult. The historical sources of revenues such as fundraising or contributions are in competition with an increasingly large group of organizations also fighting for the pledges. There are a million "good" charities trying to get the attention of your donor – and they employ some sophisticated techniques to get their share of a stagnant donation pie.

Or, if you depend on government funds as your revenue source, be prepared for the upcoming budget struggles that all levels of government will face shortly. Most US Federal, state and local governments have been running deficiencies over the past few years. That means they have been borrowing money just to keep the lights on. There will be less funds in the future for grants and large discretionary purchases.

On top of that, the current economic climate will depress tax revenues for some time and there seems to be a growing sense of taxpayer rage which all combines to limit tax growth for all levels of government.

It is critical to begin planning now with a tighter future budget in mind. For the best departments, it may only mean flat revenues instead of decreases. For the majority of departments, the reality will become that they are being asked to perform with less financial resources.

Issue # 3: There will be more scrutiny over your financial records.

In the past, no one really cared to look at the financial records of volunteer departments or small districts. However, as the total amounts paid to these independent departments grow, there will be a growing call for careful examination of financial expenses and use of the funds.

If you are a not-for-profit fire department, you are required (with few exceptions) to file an IRS form 990 to report your financial activities. This form is required to maintain your tax-exempt status. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, are becoming much more strict about financial reporting and compliance as they purchase new apparatus.

Cities, Townships, and Counties are requiring independent audits of department's financial records to support the significant monies paid to departments.

There is not a 2 week period that does not go by that a fire department is not the victim of an embezzlement in the US Lack of quality financial controls are a breeding ground for potential financial crimes.

There is a brewing storm to make fire departments a lot more accountable for their funds than in the past. This will be quite a shock to most departments who have felt an independence about how they run and report about their departments. Forward thinking fire departments will begin to have quality financial information that is available for anyone to see. Anecdotally, there are a growing number of departments now posting their financial records on their web site.

So, be prepared to fully distribute your financial operations to your community.

Issue # 4: Essential costs will increase faster than inflation.

Finally, the type of costs and purchases that fire departments need will far outpace the general rate of inflation over the next few years. The specialized equipment fire departments need is highly dependent on high quality raw materials. The prices of these materials will rise very fast in the near and medium term. Further, the costs of services such as insurance, utilities, and accounting (see Issue # 3) are rising fast also.

Of course, many departments will offset these costs by delaying the purchases or shopping for inferior but cheaper services. While expected to help, the prepared department will begin to accept this promise and plan accordingly.

In summary, the upcoming years will provide a financial perfect storm for unprepared fire departments. With the squeeze of lower revenues and higher costs for manpower and everything else, departments must begin to plan today to meet these historical financial challenges or will be forced to consolidate with more efficient departments at the behest of the local Governments.

A Little Confectionery History

Old time candy, a childhood favorite memory. Taking a walk down memory lane, re-living those first bursts of Lemon Heads and licorice in the movie theaters (drive in, of course!) Where did it all come from? Many places. Here are some facts and fun on those delectable confectionery conventions that we just can not live without:

In 1847, a young English immigrant, Oliver Chase, invented the first American candy machine, a lozenge cutter. This being the pioneer movement of the NECCO family.

In 1868 Richard Cadbury introduces the first Valentine's Day box of chocolates.

In 1880s Wunderle Candy Company creates candy corn.

In 1903 Milton Hershey builds a chocolate factory and a town for his workers near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Known today as Hershey, Pennsylvania.

In 1911 Frank and Ether Mars build a candy company in Tacoma, Washington. Later it become the Mars, Inc.

In 1930 the famous Bazooka Bubble Gum, and later, in 1953 the infamous Bazooka Joe were introduced.

In 1966 The Campbell Soup Company buys the Godiva Chocolatier, Inc. of Belgium. There's nothing better than Belgium chocolates! I take that back. I have discovered that Finnish chocolates are the bomb!

In 2007 The Retro-Candy company introduces the 2 pound package of nostalgic candy. What treasures!

These are only just a few of the favorites that have gone on for decades (well, a few of them are working on centuries!)

It's such a shame that so many crafty confections have gone by the wayside. Mary Janes, Parachute Jumpers, Black Cow, to name just a few.

They say that smells bring back memories. What about tastes? Did not you fall in love to Junior Mints, pucker up to the sour taste of Sweet Tarts, and bite quickly to the center of Blo-Pops and Tootsie Pops?

A favorite memory of mine? Zots. Remember those? You put them in your mouth, NEVER suck them. These you had to bite. And WOW! The middle was full of the most sour tasting lemon you could want! It was like biting straight into a lemon! As soon as you bit into these, it would fiz. Oh man! I think the fastest I ever ran was when I introduced my dad to the wonderful world of these fizzy Zots! That's something you can only do once. Thankfully, he was a good sport, as I live on to share with you a sweet, and yes, sometimes sour, walk through our pasts.

The PennDot Drivers License Medical Recall

In Pennsylvania, when a person is examined by a doctor and diagnosed with a disorder or disability that renders that person “incompetent” to operate a motor vehicle, that doctor must notify PennDot within then (10) days of the examination. Common ailments that render a person “incompetent” to operate a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania are: seizures, poor eye sight, and drug or alcohol addiction. When PennDot receives that notice from the doctor they then send out a notice to the driver advising them that their driver’s license is being “recalled” due to their condition. In the plainest terms, they are telling you they think you are too sick or infirm to drive a car – so they are not going to let you. Now what to do?

Once a driver gets the recall notice, they have thirty (30) days to appeal PennDot’s decision. There is a problem here – the driver does not get to keep their license pending their appeal unless the driver submit, and pass, a PennDot medical examination (and who wants to do that?) or produce independent competent medical evidence, usually from a doctor of their own choosing, that can convince a judge the driver is not so much of a danger as not let let the driver keep their license until the appeal is heard. This in itself can can require some pretty fancy footwork by the lawyer that the driver has hopefully retained to keep his license. Which begs the question – “What does the lawyer do for the client in a case like this”?

Firstly, the lawyer must make sure that the client may keep his license pending his appeal as mentioned above. Next, the lawyer must keep PennDot from taking it at all. This issue very often falls into the lap of a Court of Common Pleas Judge. This is because, at some point, the driver will have a court hearing on whether this alleged medical condition actual does disqualify the client from driving safely. Here, the Pa. medical license recall attorney’s job is to: cross examine PennDot’s medical evidence AND present the client’s own evidence, from his own expert medical professional, and persuade the judge that Penndot has not carried their burden of showing that he client suffers from a medical condition that renders them “incompetent” to operate a car. If the lawyer is successful, he has earned his money and the client goes home with his drivers license. Good stuff.

A Brief History of the American Felony Murder Rule


After our American Independence a number of the new states began legislative reforms to codify the crime of murder. One of the earliest states to do so was Pennsylvania. In 1794, that state enacted a murder degree statute which divided murder into first degree capital murder and second degree murder. The Pennsylvania legislature constricted the penalty for felony murder by imposing capital punishment only for such felonies as occurred in the perpetration of arson, rape, robbery or burglary. The statute further provided that all murder in the state other than ones committed in the perpetration of one of the common law felonies specified in their degree statute was to be second degree murder.

Later the felony of kidnapping was added to the list of specified felonies for purposes of felony murder. Only first degree murder served as a basis for hanging. The Pennsylvania statute did not actually formulate a felony murder rule or define the elements of murder. Instead the statute identified participation in certain felonies as a grading element that aggravated murder liability. The statute prescribed that:

All murder, which shall be perpetrated by means of poison, or by laying in wait, or by any other kind of wilful, deliberate and premeditated killing, or which shall be committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate any arson, rape, robbery, or burglary, shall be deemed murder in the first degree; and all other kinds of murder shall be murder in the second degree.

The implication of the statute is that murder in the course of one of the enumerated felonies did not require wilful, deliberate, and premeditated killing. The language of the statute does not suggest that the mere causing of death in the course of any felony was always murder. This idea is much more in line of what Lord Hale was proposing in his writings at the end of the seventeenth century and is similar to Judge Stephen’s jury instruction in the Serne case: that it would be murder only if the felonious act was known to be dangerous to life and likely to cause death. The word “deemed” in the statute implies the notion that a judge or jury could weigh the facts of the case and decide whether the conduct of an accused warranted a charge of murder for which the accused could be hanged.

The Pennsylvania statute was enormously influential, shaping homicide reform statutes in two thirds of the then existing states during the nineteenth century. Twelve states adopted Pennsylvania’s grading scheme with little or no modification, the states which adopted the Pennsylvania statute as drafted were: Virginia in 1796, Kentucky from 1798 to 1801, Maryland in 1810, Louisiana from its admission in1812 to 1855, Tennessee in 1829, Michigan in 1838, Arkansas in 1838, New Hampshire in 1842, Connecticut in 1846, Delaware in 1852, Massachusetts in 1858, and West Virginia, entering the Union with such a statute in 1863.

Another nineteen states adopted a somewhat modified grading scheme. The States that adopted the Pennsylvania statute with a somewhat modified grading scheme were: Ohio in 1815, Maine in 1840, Alabama in 1841, Missouri in 1845, Iowa in 1851, Indiana in 1852, California in 1856, Texas in 1858, New York in 1860, Kansas (entering the Union with such a law in 1861), Oregon in 1864, Nevada (entering the Union with such a law in 1864), Nebraska in 1873, Montana (entering the Union with such a law in 1889), Washington (entering the union with such a law in 1889), Idaho (entering the Union with such a law in 1890), Wyoming (entering the Union with such a law in 1890), North Carolina in 1893, and Utah (entering the Union with such law in 1896).


The first true felony murder rule statute was passed in Illinois in 1827. The Illinois statute defined murder as unlawful killing with express malice, or acting with knowledge that the acts will or probably will result in death or great bodily harm, and felony murder. The statute added that an “involuntary killing… in the commission of an unlawful act which in its consequences, naturally tends to destroy the life of a human being, or is committed in the prosecution of a felonious intent… shall be deemed and adjudged to be murder.” Again, we see the influence of Lord Hale and not Lord Coke. Illinois’s statute is a true felony murder statute. Yet, it is not a strict liability statute in that it limits liability for an involuntary killing in the course of a felony that “tends to destroy the life of a human being.” It is not applicable to all felonies. Hale thought that it would be murder only if the felonious act was known to be dangerous to life and likely to cause death.

In 1829 a statute enacted in New Jersey included within murder killing ” in committing, or attempting to commit, sodomy, rape, arson, robbery, or burglary, or any unlawful act against the peace of this state, of which the probable consequence may be bloodshed… ” During that same year New York passed the strictest of the new felony murder rule statutes. Their statute defined murder as killing “without any design to effect death, by a person engaged in the commission of any felony.” At the end of the nineteenth century, nineteen states had adopted such differing kinds of felony murder statutes. These states were: Illinois in 1827), New Jersey in 1829, Georgia in1833, Mississippi in 1839, Alabama in 1841, Missouri in 1845, Wisconsin in 1849, California in 1850, Texas in 1857, Minnesota (entering the Union with such a law in 1858), Nevada (entering the Union with such a law in 1864), Oregon in 1864, Nebraska in 1866, though repealing the law in 1873, Florida in 1868, Colorado (entering the Union with such a law in 1876), Idaho and Montana (both entering the Union with such laws in 1889), and Utah (entering the Union with such a law in 1896).

The twentieth century began with most states having various ways for defining felony murder: predicating murder liability on implied malice, as well as a felony; predicating murder liability on dangerous felonies, sometimes called enumerated felonies, or predicating murder liability on any felony. Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century we continue to see American states defining felony murder in the same ways. The growth of felony murder in the United States had more to do with Pennsylvania’s 1794 murder grading statute than it did with Lord Coke’s notion in the seventeenth century that a death caused by an unlawful act is murder.

The felony murder rule in the United States has been more expansive than that employed in England due to the pairing of two concepts. One, the concept of felony murder itself and the ways it may be defined by statute and two, the concept of vicarious liability used to hold all co-conspirators liable for the substantive crimes committed by any one of the conspirators in the course of executing the unlawful agreement that may have led to the American felony murder rule.

Such a situation may obtain when Bonnie and Clyde decide to rob the local liquor store and they enlist Clyde’s brother Buck to drive them to the liquor store, stay outside to act as a look out and to be their getaway driver. Buck agrees. If during the robbery the store clerk reaches for his.38 revolver under the counter causing Bonnie to fire her tommy gun at him but she misses and her bullets kills an innocent patron of the store, then Bonnie, Clyde, and Buck would all be held liable for and could each be convicted of conspiracy to rob, armed robbery, and felony murder. The felony murder rule was never applied this way in England.

Marriage Separation Statistics

Unfortunately, marriage separation is inadequately researched and studied nowdays. Scientists explain it by too many complex factors, which would need to be studied in order to generate statics, such as:

– How old were the spouses?

– Was it their first marriage?

– Did the couple have children?

And the most important factor:

– Did the couple reconcile after their separation (separations), or did they divorce?

One of the very few available statistics now meetings states that about 10% of all currently married couples in the United States have separated and reconciled. However, yet another statistical data shows that about 44% of divorcing couples had separated and reconciled prior to their divorce.

There's a clear discrepancy in the above numbers. Is it 10% or 44%? After doing some research on my own, I started to lean toward the 44% mark. However, neither data provides sufficient information on whether it was a sudden marriage separation, a planned separation, or what were the reasons for the separation etc.

All maritime statistics show that both, the marriage rates and the divorce rates are dropping at a similar rate.
For example:

In 1990 there were 7.1 marriages in Pennsylvania (the lowest number by states) and 99.0 marriages in Nevada (the highest number by states), per 1,000 people.

And in 2004 there were 5.9 marriages in Pennsylvania (one of the lowest numbers by states) and 62.4 marriages in Nevada (the highest number by states), per 1,000 people.

This indicates a median drop in salaries in those two states by 27% from 1990 to 2004.

In 1990 there were 3.3 divorces in Pennsylvania (one of the lowest number by states) and 11.4 divorces in Nevada (the highest number by states), per 1,000 people.

And in 2004 there were 3.0 divorces in Pennsylvania (one of the lowest numbers by states) and 6.4 divorces in Nevada (the highest number by states), per 1,000 people.

This indicates a median drop in divorces in those two states by 27.5% from 1990 to 2004.

AP US History Outlines – The Restoration Colonies

After the end of the Cromwell era in Britain, Charles II, who was restored to the throne, cave his supporters large tracts of land in the New World. The colonies that were developed on these parcels of land are known and the Restoration Colonies, and form an important part of US history.

New York
James, the brother of Charles II, took a group of British ships and forced the Dutch out of New York. James moved cautiously, and initially created a legal code called the 'Duke's Laws' that only applied to Englishmen. New York slowly slowly and was ruled autographically. It was seriously the important commercial center that it is today.

New Jersey
The New Jersey Colony was owned by Quakers and developed to become quite successful. Generous land grants, limited freedom of religion and a representative assembly funded migration to this colony.

Pennsylvania was owned by William Penn, who advertised the advantages of moving to his colony through Europe. Pennsylvania also became an economic success and expanded quickly. Penn was quite tolerant, and his colony had relatively good relations with the nearby Indian tribes. Ironically, it was this tolerance brought people to Pennsylvania that did not care about Indian rights, creating conflicts.

The colony of Carolina (which had a constitution that was drafted by John Locke) developed two distinct population centers and eventually split in half. The two resulting colonies, North Carolina and South Carolina, had different economic bases. North Carolina generally grow tobacco for transport to Virginia and later export to Europe. South Carolina, on the other hand, great largely food crops. This food was then sold to feed the expanding slave populations in the Caribbean.

Individual Health Insurance and Discount Plans

When you can not enroll in group medical benefits plans, the next best option (and sometimes the best option, depending on coverage and cost comparisons) is to purchase individual health insurance. Pennsylvania, like many other states, is home to numerous health coverage carriers and residents' options are plentiful.

However, many people wonder how a traditional health coverage carrier and policy compares to a medical discount plan. Can you really save more money if you enroll in a discount plan instead of purchasing traditional medical coverage?

What Are Medical Discount Plans?

These discount programs are not actually health coverage plans; they're plans that allow you to get discounts on your medical costs.

Unlike individual health insurance plans, Pennsylvania discount plans for medical services do not offer actual health coverage; instead, they require you to pay a fee to belong to part of a program that can get discounts for medical (or dental or vision) services from participating providers.

While some discount plans are legit, please note that also unlike individual health insurance, Pennsylvania discount plans for medical services, just like those throughout the nation, are not always safe bets and buyers should always do extensive research before entering into one of these plans .

Can You Really Find Cheap Individual Health Policies?

Maybe, and maybe not. What's "cheap" for one person is not "cheap" for everyone, but it's definitely possible to find affordable individual health insurance. Pennsylvania is home to many insurance carriers and you increase your chances of finding a health insurance policy that's affordable for you when you compare the coverage and premiums offered by several different companies.

Can I Buy a Handgun Following a PA DUI?

If you are a gun aficionado and have been convicted of a DUI in PA, you might be asking yourself: 'Can I buy a handgun after my conviction?' It seems like a very simple question, but state and federal laws concerning DUI convictions can dramatically affect your ability to own a gun.

The right to possess a firearm is one of our oldest and most revered individual rights. In all of the United States, the Constitution provides each citizen the right to own a gun. However, in PA, a DUI might mean that guns are just not going to be in your future.

You may not know it, but a DUI conviction in Pennsylvania can have far-reaching effects on your ability to purchase or possess a firearm. Before heading out to a gun shop or outfitter, ask yourself -'Can I buy a handgun following a PA DUI? ' Take the time to learn the facts.

Under Pennsylvania law, a person who has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance on three or more separate occasions within a five-year period can not possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture a firearm in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Furthermore, federal law also prohibits individuals with certain enumerated convictions from purchasing or possessing firearms. This means that, in addition to state laws restricting the ownership of guns following a PA DUI conviction, federal laws further preclude your rights.

Some misdemeanor of the first degree offsets are considered disabling violations under federal law, meaning that a conviction will preclude an offender from possessing a gun. This can become a serious issue for someone facing their second or third conviction within ten years in Pennsylvania because a high BAC offense (or refusal case) combined with a prior DUI charge may elevate the grading of a DUI offense from an ungraded misdemeanor to a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Because of the complexities in this area of ​​the law, and the potential destructive consequences that may arise if the issue is not properly handled, it is critically important that a person accused of a PA DUI who is concerned about his or her gun rights contact a highly experienced DUI attorney to determine if their gun rights have been placed at risk by a arrest. Hiring an attorney experienced in defending charges is one of the most important first steps to take following arrest.