2 Missouri DWI Blog | St. Louis Criminal Defense Blog | St. Louis Criminal Defense Lawyer | Missouri Federal Criminal Defense Attorney - Part 5

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Man facing drug charges after routine traffic stop

An Iowa man is facing several drug charges after a routine traffic stop in Eddyville, Iowa on November 25th. The 36 year old man was stopped at an intersection and arrested on charges of Operation without Registration, Improper use of Registration and two counts of Driving while Suspended.

The man was also charged with Possession with intent to Deliver 5 grams or more of Methamphetamine, Possession with intent to deliver less than 50k of Marijuana and three counts of Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs.

Drug cases are complex and many police officers make mistakes in their procedures during traffic stops and investigations. An experienced Saint Louis attorney may be able to help someone in these circumstances. The attorney can investigate the arrest and possibly have charges dropped or reduced if they can find that law enforcement made mistakes during the arrest and investigation. Sometimes even evidence can be challenged because of the way it was obtained. These are some ways a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help someone avoid a criminal record and other punishments they might face.

Source: ABC 3 KTVO, “Routine traffic stop leads to drug arrest”, KTVO Newsdesk, November 26, 2013

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Can Bankruptcy Help Me Avoid Foreclosure?

Many good people facing a home foreclosure wonder if they will ever be able to purchase a home again, or if they will be able to find a place to rent after foreclosure. The good news is that foreclosures do not carry the stigma they once did. You can get a loan again. Most everyone knows a friend or family member who has been affected by the housing crisis. If you are facing foreclosure, the sooner you accept and confront the problem the better of you will be.

You may be able to avoid foreclosure through a loan modification or a short sale. In a loan modification, the bank modifies the terms of your loan to make the payments more affordable. In the case of a short sale, the bank agrees to sell the house for less than what you owe. In some cases, the bank agrees to forgive the difference or the loss. In other cases, the bank files a lawsuit to collect the difference and seeks a “deficiency judgment”. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can allow you to catch up a past due mortgage even when the bank refuses to work with you.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy often follows a foreclosure. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to discharge the debt obligation to the bank and move on with your life. Typically, if you manage your credit well you can become eligible for a home loan two years after a bankruptcy or three years after a foreclosure.

Most people can find a place to rent following a foreclosure without too much difficulty. If a potential lawsuit from your bank is still looming, landlords may treat you with caution. Both lenders and landlords dislike uncertainty. The certainty that comes from knowing your debts were discharged in bankruptcy is often better in the eyes of a lender than old unpaid debts and obligations.

Learn more about buying a home after foreclosure here: http://homeguides.sfgate.com/mortgage-after-bankruptcy-foreclosure-2516.html

Bankruptcy & the Bible

Did you know that our bankruptcy laws in the United States are based in part on biblical law? Chapter 7 bankruptcy laws were established under the influence of biblical law.  Under the law of Moses, as set forth in the book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 15:1-2), there was a forgiveness of debt every seven years. Still, many conscientious people of faith worry that filing bankruptcy may be seen as a sin before God. They rightfully want to be honest in their dealings with others.

The biblical law requiring the forgiveness of debts was certainly designed to help the poor, but in my opinion, it was also designed to help the rich maintain their spiritual well-being. The law reinforced the understanding that all earthly goods really belong to God and that we are just stewards of those goods.

The Bible is replete with parables concerning the forgiveness of debts as well as sins. The Lord’s prayer states “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”.  The parable of the unforgiving servant teaches a similar message (Matthew 18:23-32). Exodus 22:25 forbids charging interest to the poor. The consistent teaching of both the Old and New Testaments is that compassion, mercy and justice are to override purely economic concerns.

Under normal circumstances, we are under a moral duty to pay our debts and obligations. There are also circumstances where debts become so overwhelming that the debtor requires relief through the gift of mercy. In our day, this act of God’s mercy is accomplished through the bankruptcy laws of our land. Illness, injury, misfortune, and poor decisions can all contribute to financial crisis.

Bankruptcy allows for a fresh start free of the burdens of the past. It is an extension on God’s mercy. Bankruptcy allows the debtor to break the chains of financial bondage which can cause enormous stress, difficulty, and personal despair. We are blessed to live in a country that allows for the elimination of debts through bankruptcy. It is a protection against unforgiving creditors who would “grind the faces of the poor”. Bankruptcy relief allows those burdened by debts they cannot repay a “newness of life” in keeping with the teachings of Christ.

John Clayton Schleiffarth

5 Businesses That Rip Off The Poor

Stay clear of businesses that prey on the poor. The following five are some of the worst offenders.

1. Payday Lenders. There are over 19,000 payday loan outlets across the United States. Interest rates are typically in the neighborhood of 400%.

2. ‘Buy here, pay here’ Car Lots. You will pay a steep markup on the car itself and will be hit again on the interest rate. Large volume dealerships that offer sub-prime car loans may offer better deals to consumers with low credit scores.

3. Used Car Leasing. Beware of used car dealerships which offer to lease you a car. They usually require large down payments. Dealers retain the cars’ titles, so they don’t have to go through formal repossession procedures. If you stop paying, they simply come take the car or disable it with a remote ignition lock. I see clients paying $400-$500 per month for old high mileage cars. They could do much better.

4. Rent To Own. Rent to Own outfits specialize in getting people to pay two to four times the retail cost for furniture, computers, appliances, electronics and even tire rims. Consumers pay dearly for their impatience.

5. Banks. A 2008 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. study found that people earning less than $30,000 were far more likely to incur overdraft fees than those with higher incomes. Their fault? Sure. But $35 fees add up fast. Banks have also been known to reorder purchases maximize overdraft fees. A $1.50 debit transaction to buy a bottled water instantly becomes a $36.50 bottle of water. Credit Unions typically charge lower fees than banks and may be a better choice. Also, you can choose to opt out of overdraft protection or link your checking account to a savings account which will serve as you overdraft protection.

The depression era adage of “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!” is always good advice.

Content adapted from Liz Weston.

Foreclosure Help: Lenders Settle With State Attorneys General

If you are currently fighting to save your home from foreclosure, help may be on the way. Some of the nation’s largest home lenders have agreed to provide help to struggling homeowners trying to avoid foreclosure. Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Ally Financial will be providing homeowners in the State of Missouri with approximately 195 million dollars of mortgage relief as part of a deal brokered by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster along with Attorneys General across the country.
If you are fighting to save your home from foreclosure, this settlement may provide you new options your lender did not previously offer. Contact your lender and ask to be considered for the settlement benefits. It could help you save your home.

KEY PROVISIONS OF THE SETTLEMENT

PRINCIPAL REDUCTION

• Key provisions include aid to homeowners who need loan modifications now, including first and second lien principal reduction. This means you could see the amount you owe on your first or second mortgage reduced. Part of the loan will be forgiven.

• Borrowers who are underwater in their homes and behind on their payments but could afford to make them at a reduced rate will receive an estimated $86.5 million in principal reductions and other borrower assistance programs. Nationally, the servicers are required to work off up to $17 billion in principal reduction and other forms of loan modification relief nationwide.

• State attorneys general hope the settlement’s requirement for principal reduction will show other lenders that principal reduction is one effective tool in combating foreclosure and that it will not lead to widespread defaults by borrowers who can afford to pay.

REFINANCING OF UPSIDE DOWN HOMES

• Aid to borrowers who are current, but underwater. Borrowers whose houses are worth less than they owe will be able to refinance at today’s historically low interest rates. Servicers will have to provide up to $3 billion in refinancing relief nationwide, roughly $38 million of which will go to Missourians.

DAMAGES

• Payments to borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure with no requirement to prove financial harm and without having to release private claims against the servicers or the right to participate in the OCC review process. Missourians who have been foreclosed upon are eligible to receive roughly $2,000 each, up to about $31 million. Nationwide, $1.5 billion will be distributed to some 750,000 borrowers.

• Payments to signing states for penalties and economic harm caused by the unfair and deceptive conduct. The state of Missouri will receive over $40 million.

IMPROVED PRACTICES

• First ever nationwide reforms to servicing standards, which no single federal or state agency has been able to achieve. These servicing standards require single point of contact, adequate staffing levels and training, better communication with borrowers, and appropriate standards for executing documents in foreclosure cases, ending improper fees, and ending dual-track foreclosures for many loans.

• State AG oversight of national banks for the first time. National banks will be required to regularly report compliance with the settlement to an independent, outside monitor that reports to state Attorneys General.
Servicers will have to pay heavy penalties for non-compliance with the settlement, including missed deadlines.

• Banks are still accountable for other claims not covered by this settlement. The agreement holds the banks accountable for their wrongdoing on robo-signing and mortgage servicing and offers a narrow release related to this conduct. A joint federal-state task force has been formed to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the collapse of the mortgage lending and investment markets.

• Individuals may still pursue private claims

Bankruptcy Can Eliminate Income Tax Debt

One of the most effective ways to eliminate back taxes owed to the IRS can be to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filed for tax purposes, sometimes called a tax bankruptcy, will eliminate certain income tax debts. If the taxes owed are income taxes, after a period of time they become dischargable in bankruptcy. Although the rules are complex, a good rule of thumb is that if three years have passed since you filed your taxes, you ought to look at bankruptcy as a potential soultion to your tax debt.

A recent client I will call “Chris” came to see me. Chris was deeply distressed and owed over $35,000.00 to the IRS. The IRS was about to seize money from his bank accounts and garnish his wages. He was having a hard time paying his bills and feeding his kids as it was. After our consultation, he filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and now his tax debts are gone. Chris is in good standing with the IRS, and is debt free. Chris looks like a new man. “I never knew it could be this easy”, he told me.

Tax bankruptcies are not the answer in every situation, but they are a powerful tool to consider if you owe thousands in back taxes.