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Norcross Law Blog

Racial discrimination and the U.S. justice system

In Georgia as in the United States, individuals differ greatly when it comes to their views on race and crime. The divisions tend to lie along political lines, and have widened in recent years. A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center reveals that the U.S. population has become, in some senses, less biased toward foreigners and people of color. Unfortunately, our justice system and other institutions have yet to catch up with popular opinion.

Nationwide, fewer juvenile offenders are being tried as adults

The nonprofit Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ) has just issued a new report on the trends in the prosecution, sentencing and incarceration of juvenile offenders in the U.S. The report contained a great deal of good news. One trend is unmistakable: Far fewer young people in our nation are being tried as adults or incarcerated in adult prisons.

According to the report, the number of people under 18 being automatically tried in adult courts due to their age fell by nearly half between 2007 and 2014. At the same time, the number of kids under 18 who are incarcerated in adult state or federal prisons has fallen by two thirds.

What does Atlanta's marijuana decriminalization law do?

On Oct. 2, the Atlanta City Council voted unanimously to reduce the penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana. This brings the city into line with a growing number of larger cities that have decriminalized cannabis possession within city limits.

The new Atlanta ordinance doesn't actually legalize personal use of marijuana. Instead, it limits the potential penalty for those who violate the law:

  • The maximum fine for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana had been $1,000. It will now be $75.
  • Six months of jail time had been the penalty for having an ounce or less. Jail time has now been eliminated entirely.

State Dept. announces longer look-back period for travel purpose

The Department of State has just announced a new rule for what will happen to travelers who misstate the true purpose of their travel to the U.S. -- or who change their minds too quickly. Previously, if a traveler stated one purpose for travel on a visa application but then acted contrary to that purpose within a month of arriving in the States, immigration officials could presume that traveler had misstated the purpose of their trip.

For example, if a traveler applied for a tourist visa and failed to mention that he was planning to visit and marry a U.S. citizen, the State Department could charge him with willful misrepresentation if he carried out his true purpose within a month of arrival.

In a 'gray divorce,' it may make sense to cash out of the home

According to the Society of Actuaries, half of women and a third of men who are now in their 50s will live to be 90. Among married people, there is a 50-percent chance that one of the spouses will live to 92. That means that many people who marry at 30 will be together for 60 or more years. If you're not in a happy marriage, that can seem like a very long time.

The increase in longevity is probably one reason for the recent surge in so-called "gray divorce," or people getting divorced after 50. A recent survey of members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers estimated a 64-percent increase in such divorces. It also looked into the top areas of dispute in such cases, finding:

Avoiding jail time after a DUI charge

In Georgia, drunk driving is a common offense. In fact, roughly 20,000 state residents are arrested on DUI charges each year. Because related accidents lead to hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries, law enforcement officers tend to be tough on impaired drivers. Legal penalties include jail time, court fees, and the suspension of one's driver's license.

There are other - worse - consequences, too. The establishment of a criminal record can make it difficult to find suitable housing or employment. One's professional license may be revoked. Students can lose scholarship funding and financial aid. Moreover, recent research indicates that many people suffer terribly from the stigma associated with arrests and imprisonment. Those convicted become vulnerable to anxiety and depression, and have a difficult time carrying themselves with confidence in their communities.

Civilians and authorities alike have questioned whether the current system is adequate. Simply put, many wonder if there is a better approach to punishing DUI offenses.

Can police require you to use Apple Face ID to open your phone?

It's hard to imagine. Suppose you were arrested under suspicion of buying or selling drugs. The police might want to search the contents of your cellphone for evidence of the deal. Even if they obtained a search warrant, however, they might run into a new technological barrier in the form of Apple's Face ID.

Face ID allows the owner of an Apple device with iOS 11 to unlock the phone merely by looking at it. Once the recognized owner looks away, the phone locks back up.

U.S. Supreme Court: More leniency for juvenile offenders

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court recognize that juvenile offenders should not be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole except in the "rare" instances where a "crime reflects irreparable corruption."

But as of this summer, more than 2,300 inmates around the country are serving lifetime sentences for crimes they committed as minors. More than 7,000 additional individuals are serving "virtual" life sentences, wherein their mandated prison terms extend beyond the typical human life span.

4 myths you may believe about asset division in a Georgia divorce

Watching legal shows on TV, reading about celebrities getting divorced, and surfing the internet for information aren't necessarily good ways to learn about the law. The best source of information about divorce and family law is a lawyer.

Unfortunately, the information age has led to an explosion of information -- both accurate and inaccurate. How many of these myths do you believe?

Georgia, other states pass state-level immigration laws

In response to changes in immigration policy from the Trump Administration, the legislatures of 42 states and the District of Columbia are passing their own immigration measures. A total of 133 new immigration laws and resolutions have been passed at the state level this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Immigrant Policy Project. That’s nearly twice as many as last year.

“You’re seeing legislation that comes up because the feds haven’t fixed the issue, so states are trying to find ways around that,” said a state senator from Nevada.

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