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Talking About Your Case On Social Media

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If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Please believe me when I tell you this… posting on social media will harm your case!  If you are arrested and waiting trial, stop posting on all social media sites.  Never, never, never post anything about your case; I recommend you stop posting all together.

Even if you think you are saying something completely irrelevant, the prosecuting attorneys are watching your sites closely to find anything they can use against you; a picture of you with a drink, a picture of you with a friend, a comment on someone else’s photo… they will find it all.

If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Don’t kid yourself into thinking that only your friends will see these posts, nothing is private on social media; the entire reason for social media is to share information.  Several courts have ruled that even though the privacy settings are on, social media postings are not private.  Facebook and Twitter even warn users of this in their privacy policies.

Let’s say you are fighting a DUI case, and on your Facebook page there was a picture, taken years ago, of you holding a drink… maybe it’s a good picture and you decide to change it to your profile picture.  The attorney for the other side may see you holding the drink and now he will ask the judge for full access to all you social media accounts.

“A survey of over 1,200 police agencies around the country showed that a whopping 80 percent of officials said they’ve used social media to collect evidence in criminal cases––the majority of which indicating that the information they find there helps them solve crimes faster than they would otherwise.”[1]

Some information that can be obtained from social media is:

  • Background information, witnesses and suspects
  • What the suspect was doing in the weeks, days, or hours before the incident
  • A possible location of a suspect
  • Incriminating photos
  • Information that may support the argument that your actions were planned or thought about prior to the incident
  • Posts or pictures that may incriminate you in a more serious crime or illegal activity

Something so little can have huge ramifications on your case.

If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

Some real-world universal laws also hold true in social media.  If you post something that may be damaging to your case and then delete it, you can be charged with destruction of evidence, this is a serious charge.

In the case Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., it was argued that Lester and his attorney had removed evidence from Facebook that showed his prior use of anti-depressants and his medical history.  The court granted a warrant for Facebook to release all information, and a complete search was done of Lester’s Facebook account.  A 32-page report was written and presented to the courts.  Imagine a detailed account of everything you have ever put on social media.

So I say to you one last time… If you have an open case, stop posting to social media.

If you need a Florida attorney, call us at The Law Office of Travis Koon.  We deal with criminal defense cases all throughout Florida with offices in Lake City, Gainesville and Miami, and may be able to help you with yours.

[1] http://stangllaw.com/facebook-posts-can-hurt-criminal-case-wisconsin/

Self Defense

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense | No Comments

It seems to be a universally accepted fact that a person has the right to defend themselves against the perceived threat of bodily harm or death, even when the force used in defense would normally considered to be crime to do so.

Many laws vary from state to state, this article is giving a general overview, and an attorney should always be consulted in any legal issue.

Findlaw defines the argument of self-defense as:  “The right to prevent suffering force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence”.  [1]

This may seem like a straight-forward means of defense, but it rarely is.  There are many questions that surround this definition and need to be answered in each case.  What is considered a sufficient level of force?  At what point has the perceived victim gone beyond that point?  Could and/or should the person first attempted to retreat?  What if the victim provoked the attack?  What if the threat wasn’t really there?  This defense is more complicated that it seems on the surface.

The use of self-defense must be similar to the level of threat in question.  In other words, a person can only use as much force as needed to stop or remove the threat.  A victim cannot kill a person for slapping them across the face.

Self-defense justifies the use of force when it is used in response to an immediate threat, but one must stop using force once the threat has ended.  Any use of force by the victim after this point is considered to be retaliation and not self-defense.

Some states say the victim should first make an attempt to avoid the violence before using forces, but many have removed this clause and the “stand your ground” defense can be used.

The state of Florida condones the stand your ground defense and can be found in statute 776.012, which states:

…a person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have the duty to retreat before using or threating to use such force.

A person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm…[2]

As stated earlier, the laws have many interpretations to each person and each situation, and an attorney should always be consulted when a person is being charged with a crime.  The Law Offices of Travis Koon are Florida attorneys that understand the ins and outs of Florida law, with offices located in Lake City, Miami, and Gainesville.  Call us today if you need legal consultation or have questions regarding your case.

[1] http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-law-basics/self-defense-overview.html

[2] http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0776/0776.html

Miranda Rights

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Seizure | No Comments
DUI

Miranda Rights

If you ever watched a movie or TV show that showed an arrest, you have heard the Miranda Rights being read.  We all know the basics of it, but let’s look at this warning a little more, and dispel some of the misconceptions.

 

The Miranda Warning is simply and explanation of the person’s rights that are given before any interrogation can begin.

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

 

If a person does not understand these rights, then it is best to speak up and say so, have it explained.  But once it is understood, my best advice is to politely stop talking.  Do not explain anything or make any remarks that may be used against you.  Stop talking and call an attorney.

 

In 1963 Ernesto Miranda was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and rape of a woman, he had a prior record as being a peeping tom.  He confessed to the crime but soon recanted saying he was forced and coerced into confessing.  He was found guilty, but the ACLU picked up his case and appealed it.  In Miranda v. Arizona (1966) the Supreme Court found that his Fifth Amendment rights had been violated.  The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution covers several issues, which include the right to due process, double jeopardy, but significant to this case because it protects the individuals from self-incrimination.  Miranda was re-tried and once again found guilty – but the Miranda Rights were born.

 

An arrest can occur without the suspect being Mirandized, if the police later decide to question the suspect, the rights will be read at that time.  A person may still be asked common information such as name and age, and can be searched, for the safety of the officer. 

 

It is a myth that if a person is not read their rights that they will not be found guilty of any charges.  It only means that the self-incrementing confession may not be used against them; it has nothing to do with protecting them against the punishment as a whole.

 

If you are arrested and read these rights, please take the advice and do not say anymore.  Call us immediately at The Law Offices of Travis Koon.  We are criminal defense attorneys in Florida and can speak with you about your case.  We are located throughout Florida with offices in Miami, Lake City, and Gainesville.  Before you tell your side of the story, always call and attorney and tell it to us first.  We are here to help you through this trying time.

New Florida Laws for 2015

Posted by | Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes | No Comments

New Florida Laws for 2015

It’s the start of a new year; the time when we make new (or the same) resolutions, and feel that it is the time to get a new and fresh start, a time to try again.  According to law makers, it is also a time to let us all know about the new laws that are being added to the books.

Unfortunately, not knowing about the new laws will not always get you a pardon from the ticket or arrest.  The powers that be feel that we are responsible to pay attention to the news and know that laws that we must abide by.  In a way I agree with this, but at The Law Office of Travis Koon, we know that there are just some laws that our client’s don’t always know exist.  So we want to let you know about some changes that are happening.

Florida Minimum Wage.  Florida businesses and workers should have seen a change that took affect the start of the New Year; the state’s minimum wage increased from $7.93 to $8.05 per hour.  To help off-set this increase, employers should see a 5.2% decrease in workers compensation increase.

Booster Seats.  In the past, children ages 3 and under are required to be in a car seat, while kids 4 and 5 years old could use seat belts… but that has changed.  Now children through ages 5 must be in booster or car seats.  AAA Auto club recommends kids should remain in booster seats until they reach 4 feet 9 inches.  People violating this law may be fined $60 and have 3 points added to their driver’s license.

There were not many laws changed the beginning of this year, but are you aware of the laws that passed last year?  Here are a couple laws that we, The Law Office of Travis Koon, want to make sure you are aware of.

Pain Killers. Increase the amount of being in possession, sale, or manufacture of hydrocodone that is needed to receive the mandatory prison sentence.

Increase Sentences.   The minimum mandatory sentence was increased for dangerous sexual offenders against children to 50 years.

Drivers Leaving the Scene of an Accident.   If a person is involved in accident that results in an injury (a second degree felony) and leaves the scene of the accident, their driver’s license will be revoked for a minimum of 3 years.

These are just a couple of the laws that were passed in 2014.  While you may not be aware of all the new laws, we are.  The Law Office of Travis Koon is aware of the changes to laws and how they can affect you.  We are Florida attorneys with offices in Gainesville, Lake City, and Miami.  Call us immediately if you have had a run-in with the law and need a top notch criminal defense attorney.

Double Jeopardy

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The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from state and federal governments in several ways: from prosecuting for the same crime on more than one occasion, it protects individuals from imposing more than one punishment for a single offense, and sets precedence that a person shall not be a witness against themselves… commonly known as Double Jeopardy.

The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution states:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.

This Amendment was put into place to protect the people from government, prosecutors, and judges charging indiscriminately. It is here to:
• Prevent the government from using its powers to wear down and wrongly convict an innocent person.
• Protect an individual from the emotional, financial, and social consequences of successive prosecutions.
• Preserve the integrity and finality of criminal proceedings. These may be compromised if the states were allowed to arbitrarily ignore unsatisfactory outcomes.
• Restrict the prosecutions discretion over the charging process
• Eliminate judicial discretion to impose cumulative punishments that the government has not authorized

As with any law or Amendment, it can and has been interpreted in many ways – it is rarely cut and dry. There are four central questions that must be answered in order to determine if double jeopardy has occurred:
• In what type of legal proceedings does double jeopardy protection apply?
• When does it begin?
• When does it end?
• What constitutes as successive prosecutions or punishment for the same offense?

When double jeopardy begins and ends has been defined and is fairly clear (therefore the courts don’t argue over this). But determining the type of legal proceedings and what constitutes as successive punishments has been a struggle for the courts.

When Double Jeopardy Begins and Ends
During a jury trial, double jeopardy begins when the jury is being selected. If it is a trial to be heard in front of a judge, double jeopardy beings when the first witness is sworn in.
Determining when double jeopardy ends is a little more complicated. There are four times that it can end: after an acquittal, after a dismissal, after a mistrial, and on an appeal after a conviction.

In What Type of Legal Proceeding Does Double Jeopardy Protection Apply?
Double Jeopardy extends to all felonies, misdemeanors and juvenile delinquency cases that go to court. But this applies only in subsequent criminal proceeding, not in ordinary civil or administrative proceeding

Therefore, it is acceptable to have a criminal trial and be found not guilty, but still have several civil suits against an individual and be punished for those.

What Constitutes as Successive Prosecutions or Punishment for the Same Offense?
The main question to be decided upon is are successive prosecution or punishments geared toward the same offense.

Let’s give an example. Say an individual steals a car to rob a store and hits a pedestrian along the way. Can they face individual charges of grand theft auto, burglary and a hit and run (assuming the person lived), or since it all happened in once instance, is it double jeopardy to face successive charges?

In the 1932 case of Blockburger v. United States the courts found that the government may prosecute for more than one offense stemming from a single course of conduct only when each offense has at least one mutually exclusive element. Meaning, it can stand alone on its own.

When to Call an Attorney
Immediately. If you have been charged with a single crime, or multiple crimes, you need a good criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are being upheld. Many instances can affect the outcome of the charges… you should never try to fight these alone.

At The Law Offices of Travis Koon, we are here to protect you. We have offices throughout Florida and will stand by you in the criminal defense proceedings. Whether you have been arrested in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Lake City, or Miami – call us today!

Breathalyzer

DUI? Field Sobriety Exercises? Attorney Travis Koon

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DO YOU HAVE TO PERFORM FIELD SOBRIETY EXERCISE?  HAVE YOU BEEN ARRESTED FOR DUI AND NEED TO SPEAK TO A CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY? 

DUI-Don’t Walk, Talk or Audition for Your Freedom

Lake City, Miami, and Gainesville, Florida Attorney

The charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is usually a misdemeanor, but depending on circumstances may be charged as a felony.  To be considered a DUI, the driver needs to be found with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher and be in control of a vehicle.  But other than that, each state differs in their charges and laws.

 

A DUI may be a felony charge if bodily harm is inflicted onto another person, having a child in the vehicle, having prior DUI convictions, or if driving on a restricted, suspended, or revoked license… again, these laws differ from state to state.  There are too many unknowns for a person to try to fight a DUI conviction alone, please don’t attempt to defend yourself.  If a person cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint one for you.

 

Because of the differences from state to state and that the ramifications of a DUI charge are severe, it is extremely important to hire a good criminal defense attorney in the state of the offense.  Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Florida and Georgia Bar.  We encourage each individual to hire an attorney experienced with the laws in the State the person is accused of committing the crime.

ATTORNEY TRAVIS KOON-DUI & CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Home

Florida law states that if a person is driving a vehicle, they have given consent to submit to a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol content, this is known as implied consent; but the driver does have the right to refuse the test.  If the driver refuses the test, the driver could loose his license up to one year.  On the other hand, if the driver does refuse to submit to the breath, blood or urine test, Attorney Travis Koon can assist the individual and help the person obtain a business purpose license in specific circumstances.  Just because a person fails to blow, provide a blood and/or urine sample does not mean the person is automatically going to jail and/or will not be able to drive forever.  Contacting a criminal defense attorney to advise you of your rights is recommended because the process is difficult to understand, the procedure is complicated and being properly advised as to how to fight your case are important.

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There are consequences when refusing a breathalyzer test, the following are a possibility:

1st offense of refusal = driver’s license suspended for 1 year (you can obtain a business purpose permit to driver to and from work, to and from school and to and from church but you must follow a very strict procedure to do so in Florida)

2nd offense of refusal = driver’s license suspended for 18 months and minimum 10 days jail time (no hardship allowed in Florida.)

3rd offense of refusal = driver’s license suspended for 18 months and minimum 30 days jail time (no hardship.)

 

An arraignment is when the defendant appears before a judge to be formally charged with a crime and have the court appoint an attorney if the person cannot afford one on their own.  It is at this time the defendant, or their attorney, can enter a plea of either guilty, ask for a trial by judge, ask for a trial by jury, or try to plea bargain down the charges.

 

In some circumstances, a DUI can be pleaded down to a “wet reckless” charge.  This is considered a reckless driving involving alcohol charge and has less severe penalties than a DUI conviction.

 

On the flip side, if you are pulled over and the officer has the suspicion of DUI, but you know you have not been drinking alcohol, it is well within your right to ask for a breathalyzer test to assert your innocence.

 

A DUI conviction can have harsh and long lasting repercussions; it is in your best interest to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney.  The Law Offices of Travis Koon are highly qualified Florida attorneys that have the knowledge and experience you need.    We have attorneys in Miami, attorneys in Gainesville, and attorneys in Lake City – giving people several location options.  Being charged with a DUI is an intimidating situation to be in, let us help guide you through this trying time.

 

EXPERIENCED GAINESVILLE AND LAKE CITY, FLORIDA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

 

At www.koonlegal.com and Attorney Travis Koon, we know that if found guilty, some of these charges can change your life completely.

 

At www.koonlegal.com , Criminal Defense Attorney Travis Koon, is a trained and skilled attorney that will assess your situation and argue the best defense for your case. Attorney Travis Koon has represented people charged with crimes his entire career. Criminal Defense Attorney Travis Koon has helped over 1,500 clients avoid jail time and the loss of their freedom. Attorney Travis Koon has conducted over 40 criminal trials and many of those trials were in the immediately area surrounding Live Oak, Florida, Lake City, Florida and Gainesville, Florida. Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Florida Bar and Georgia Bar. In addition, Attorney Travis Koon is a member of the Federal Middle District and Northern District. Attorney Travis Koon is experienced in criminal cases in State and Federal Court.

 

Koonlegal

Travis Koon, Attorney

Criminal Attorney

Live Oak, Lake City & Gainesville, Florida

Live Oak and Lake City-386-597-0000

Gainesville-352-729-1211

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

www.koonlegal.com

Police Stop

What does Innocent Until Proven Guilty Mean in Florida?

Posted by | Assault, Attorney, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Seizure, Stop & Frisk, Uncategorized | No Comments

Innocent Until Proven Guilty.

The justice system was built upon the theory that all people are innocent until proven guilty.   In order to convict a person the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.  This is all good and well, unless a person is found guilty when they are truly innocent.

 

It is scary to think that this happens at all, much less more than we like to think.  Some feel that knowing about all the wrongful convictions can undermine the public’s confidence in the judicial system.    In 1996, C. Ronald Huff, Arye Rattner, and Edward Sagarin wrote a book that estimated about 10,000 people were in jail for crimes they didn’t commit[1].

 

Take William Jackson for example; a Columbus, OH man who was found guilty of raping several women in the 1980’s.  After serving 5 years, it was found that a physician was responsible for the crimes.  The physician was similar in appearance and had the same last name.[2]

 

So how does this happen?  How are this many innocent people found guilty?  Huff’s research found that many of the convictions were based on eye witness’s wrong identification, followed by perjury and the public pressure to solve cases can result in overzealous police officers.

 

In an instance such as this, it is more important to have an attorney on your team.  The attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon understand that it is possible for a person to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.  We fight for our clients start to finish, our goal is leave no rock unturned and to provide our clients with the best defense under the law.

 

Anytime you are being charged with a crime, you need an attorney by your side.  Don’t try to navigate the court system alone, let those who have studied and understand all aspects of the law fight for you.  Our attorneys at The Law Office of Travis Koon have the experience in the courtroom and the negotiation table that you deserve.  Visit one of our locations at either Lake City, Gainesville, or Miami.  We are here to fight on your side.

 

Travis Koon

Attorney

386-597-0000

352-729-1211

www.koonlegal.com

 

Why Hire a Small Boutique Law Firm in Lake City & Gainesville, Florida?

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5 Benefits of Hiring a Small Law Firm

 

If you find yourself in the sticky situation of needing a criminal defense attorney, so many things are happening at once; you family is in an uproar and you’re worried about what is going to happen.  Probably the most important decision you will make is hiring the right attorney.

 

You may see commercials for large law firms with a name that sounds something like John, Jacob, Jingleheimer, Schmidt, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

It may sound impressive to have so many attorneys working under one roof, but that doesn’t mean they will all be working on your case like a niche law firm.

 

At The Law Office of Travis Koon, we are a small law firm with several locations to best assist you.   We have offices in Lake City, Florida, Gainesville, Florida and Miami, Florida.   Our attorney’s focus on their respective area of law, stay well informed of the case law and new statutes that are released.  We feel that there are several advantages to choosing a more personal size law firm.

 

The Client is Important

When working with a small law firm, the clients don’t get lost in the crowd.  Our attorneys will give you and your case the individualized attention you need and deserve.  While our attorneys may not be able to speak with you each time you call, we will return your call and we pride ourselves on building a business relationship with you.

 

Efficiency

Large law firms have a tendency to shuffle your paperwork back and forth, from one person to the next… all the while billing you for this shuffle time.  But at a small firm such as ours, we don’t waste your time or money moving papers around to several different interns; we focus on your case to have it resolved as quickly as possible.

 

Small but Tough

Your case is very important and maybe even life-altering to you; but in a large firm, your case might be too small to bother with.  We don’t feel that way.  We understand how important each case is, and treat each one accordingly.  At the same time, we can also focus our attention on the tough cases that may need more research and fact finding than a straight forward case… we love those too.  Our clients in Lake City, Florida deserve a one on one and face to face interaction with each case.

 

Our Attorneys Work Together

Large law firms teach their attorneys to be cut-throat and ruthless; while that may sometimes be OK in the court room, it also means that they usually don’t pool their knowledge and help each other when handling your case.  At The Law Office of Travis Koon, our lawyers work together to find and fight for the best solution for your case.  Our firm is almost completely wireless and paperless.   Our attorney’s work via a secured cloud server which enables an attorney in Miami to create a document, an attorney in Gainesville to review the document and an attorney in Lake City, Florida file the document.  This simple process is done daily to enhance our clients work product and it enables our attorneys to constant work together seamlessly.

 

Passion

Most people go into law for the core reason of passion.  Working in a small firm allows the attorney to see the difference they can make in a person’s life; keeping that passion alive.  When you have a passionate attorney (such as those at our offices) working on your case you can be assured they will dig deeper and fight for you.

 

Hiring the right attorney just may change the outcome of your situation; make sure you hire the one that is best for you.  The Law Office of Travis Koon is a small firm that is here to guide you through this uncertain time.  We may be small, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to fight, just the opposite in fact.

 

Travis Koon

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

386-597-0000

352-729-1211

 

What can happen if you are Arrested for a Misdemeanor?

Posted by | Assault, Battery, Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, DUI, Petit Theft | No Comments

There Can Still Be Big Consequences for Misdemeanor Charges
Being charged with a misdemeanor is definitely not as dire as being charged with a felony, but it can adversely affect your life and follow you for years to come. For this reason, it is extremely important to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney when charged with a misdemeanor.
Just a few examples of misdemeanors are:
• Speeding,
• Trespassing,
• Vandalism,
• Public intoxication,
• Harassment,
• Theft under a certain monetary amount,
• Loitering,
• Possession of a small amount of an illegal drug,
• Driving While License Suspended,
• DUI,
• Petit Theft,
• Battery,
• Domestic Battery,
• Assault,
• Minor in Possession of Alcohol,
• Reckless Driving.
Of course, this is not an all-encompassing list, but you get the idea of what is considered a misdemeanor.
In order of severity, the least to worst charge is generally as follows: infraction, misdemeanor, and then felony; there may be levels of severity within each. A misdemeanor conviction can cause the same legal ramifications as felonies, but unfortunately, there are fewer ways to expunging them from your criminal record. Some of the consequences of being found guilty of a misdemeanor can be fines, required classes, community service, or even jail time. These are just the immediate consequences, but the life-long hindrances are usually much worse. You cannot have this arrest expunged if you are adjudicated guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony offense.
According to Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, “The single most dangerous thing people think is that if they get a conviction and don’t go to jail they won’t face issues… Misdemeanor convictions can have serious impacts.”
Imagine being in jail for a month or two while you await trial for being charged with a small offense because you couldn’t afford to pay the bail money.
Those found guilty of misdemeanor charges often feel they constantly have to prove that they are not the bad guy their record insinuates. You can temporarily lose your driver’s license, be turned down for jobs, lose your professional license, be refused housing… in general some basic abilities to provide for yourself or your family may be lost.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, it is vitally important to call a top rated criminal defense attorney such as those at The Law Offices of Travis Koon. The best result that one can hope for is being found not guilty of a crime, and that is not likely to happen without a professional fighter in your corner. Let the lawyers at The Law Offices of Travis Koon fight for you. We are criminal defense attorneys in Florida, know the laws, and can help you maneuver the legal minefield known as the court system.

When is the time right to file for Bankruptcy?

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Is it Time to File for Bankruptcy?

 Sitting down with the checkbook and a stack of bills each month can be a daunting experience.  When the money going out of the bank account is more than the money coming in – it’s time to look for a way out of debt.

What is Bankruptcy?

Federal laws have been established to help individuals and companies find relief from debts and to be able to make a fresh start.  These laws were created to help honest but unfortunate debtors that have fallen into financial hardships with little to no reprieve.

There are 2 different types of bankruptcy that can be filed, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates all non-exempt assets to pay off the creditors.  This is preferred if a debtor has little income and large unsecured debts such as medical bills and credit cards.  Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes debt and uses a payment plan to pay down the creditors.  This is preferred if a debtor has income but wants to avoid foreclosure or needs time to catch up on all financial obligations.

You need to understand that bankruptcy may not clear you of all financial responsibilities.  You may be required to pay secured loans such as the mortgage, student loans, alimony, and child support.

When to File

There are times we would all like to walk away and start new; it is time to seriously consider bankruptcy when:

  • You have been out of work for an extended period of time with little to no unemployment or other income.
  • You are very delinquent on taxes.
  • You are near foreclosure.
  • Your wages are being garnished to pay creditors.
  • There are pending law suits to pay creditors.

Advantages and Disadvantages

As with any decision, it is best to weigh the pros and cons against each other with filing bankruptcy.

 

Bankruptcy Attorney

Some advantages to filing for bankruptcy are:

  • Automatic Stay – creditors must stop calling and trying to collect on debts owed once an Automatic Stay is filed.
  • Some properties may be exempt from being sold – depending on the properties owned and how the debt is laid out, you may be able to keep ownership of some properties.
  • Begin to fix credit score – bankruptcy adversely affects your credit score, but it is probably already low due to being behind on payments.  You will be able to move ahead and start rebuilding your credit again.
  • Mental relief – The knowledge that you are able to stop the harassing calls and ready to move forward in life will allow you to sleep again at night.

Some disadvantages to filing bankruptcy are:

  • Negatively affects your credit score – albeit your score may already be affected, but this will remain on record for a number of years.  Chapter 7 remains on your credit history for 10 years and Chapter 13 for 7 years.
  • Other affects of credit score – Many employers and housing agencies check your credit score, and bankruptcy may negatively affect your chance at housing or employment.
  • Not all property is exempt and may need to be sold to fulfill some of the financial obligations.
  • Mental impact – although you may relieved to be out from underneath the mountain of debt, some people have trouble accepting the fact that they had to file for bankruptcy, and don’t like knowing that this is now public record for anyone to see.
  • Higher interest rates – if you are granted loans or lines of credit, your interest may be higher due to this past history.

The Next Step

Once you have checked all your options, understand the advantages and disadvantages, and have decided that filing for bankruptcy is in your best interest, the next step is to file.  You can either file for bankruptcy yourself, or hire a skilled bankruptcy attorney to ensure all creditors are notified and handled properly.

The Law Offices of Travis Koon have handled many bankruptcy claims and does so with the knowledge and sensitivity that you deserve.   When filing for bankruptcy in Florida, you deserve an attorney that  understands bankruptcy and will help you through this difficult time.  We represent individuals in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, and Lake City; call us today to start down the road to recovery.

Travis Koon, Esquire

Eduardo Fons, Esquire

The Law Office of Travis Koon, PLLC

291 NW Main Blvd

Lake City, Florida 32055

traviskoon@koonlegal.com

Phone: 352-729-1211

Phone: 386-597-0000

Fax: 866-497-1103