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Things you should do if a Pennsylvania police officer approaches

You might find yourself in any number of situations during the course of a typical (or not so typical) day where you encounter a Pennsylvania police officer. Perhaps you merely see an officer pulling someone over in a traffic stop. Then again, perhaps that someone is you. If that's the case, or if a cop shows up at your door while you're at home, it's critical that you know your rights and how to protect them.

It's always a bad idea to assume that nothing much will come of a police encounter. You might think that and then feel shocked when you wind up in handcuffs, riding to a county jail in the back of a patrol car. It can happen. Much depends on the details of a particular situation, as well as what you say and do while interacting with police. Knowing your rights ahead of time can prevent a lot of problems down the line, especially if you face criminal charges.

Be prepared: Immigration court is not like criminal court

As a foreign national in the United States, you may already know that your status here is not as secure as you may like it to be. Whether you entered the country without going through the immigration process or you followed the legal procedures to obtain a visa, there is always some uncertainty, especially in the current political climate.

If you are ever facing criminal charges or accusations of violating immigration law, you may trust the justice system in this country. What you may not understand is that immigration laws are quite different from those laws that govern American citizens, and immigration court is not the same as district courts where federal cases are heard.

If you fit these descriptions, you may be more prone to divorce

It's impossible to look at someone who is married and determine whether he or she will someday get divorced. However, you may fit certain category descriptions that researchers in Pennsylvania or elsewhere have classified as high-risk groups for divorce. It's logical to assume that the more issues you can relate to, the greater your chances are that you and your spouse will decide to go your separate ways at some point in the future.

If that happens, it's not as important why you chose to call it quits, as it is what type of support system you have to help you come to terms with the situation and move on in life. You'd likely feel relieved if you and your spouse can resolve all necessary issues and achieve a swift and amicable settlement. Things don't always go that way, however, so it's also good to have a plan of action in mind if a particular legal obstacle arises.

Is there any way to fight breath tests results?

Did a night out with family, friends or just you end with police charging you with driving under the influence of alcohol? Did that charge come after you failed a breath test? If so, there is some good news for you. It may be possible to fight the breath test results in a Pennsylvania criminal court.

Many people believe breath tests to be extremely accurate. How is it possible to fight the results successfully?

You can have a healthy co-parenting relationship -- on paper

When you planned your wedding, you probably never considered the fact that your marriage could end. You went about your lives, which included purchasing a home in which you thought you would raise your children and grow old together. For whatever reason, your marriage began to deteriorate to the point where you and your spouse are considering divorce.

One of the problems you face is what to do about the marital home. Even though the economy continues to recover from the recession and the housing market crash, you may be one of many California homeowners who can't afford to refinance the home or sell it. If the two of you are considering remaining in the home, but separating and beginning the divorce process, you may need to create a plan to do so.

Felony charges of aggravated assault

Whether it was a tussle at your favorite bar, a dispute with a neighbor or an act of self-defense, if police arrested you on assault charges, you are likely concerned about what will happen next. However, when you learned that they intended to charge you with aggravated assault, you may have been confused and uncertain about how to proceed.

In Pennsylvania, a simple assault is typically a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. It can include actually striking someone or merely threatening or intimidating someone. Aggravated assault is a charge far more serious than simple assault. A conviction for this offense can have life-long repercussions, and facing this situation without quality legal counsel may be a mistake.

Prepare ahead of time for your immigration interview

Starting a new life as an immigrant in Pennsylvania can be exciting, challenging and somewhat frightening, all at the same time. Hopefully, you have a strong support network in place because major life transitions of any kind are often less stressful if you have friends, family and other helpful resources at your disposal. You can also do some research on your own to learn more about U.S. immigration laws or specific issues that may concern you or your loved ones.

If you recently married a U.S. citizen or are in the process of seeking a status adjustment for some other reason, a time may come when officials request your presence at an immigration interview. Trying to work, run errands, socialize and otherwise carry out normal tasks or duties on an average day is difficult enough if you have a language barrier and are still adapting to your new lifestyle; appearing at an interview where immigration officials will ask questions that may affect your legal status may be even more stressful.

Do your troubles signal reconciliation or divorce?

You and your spouse may be going through some tough times. In fact, the tough times may have been going on for a while, and you are now wondering if it is better to just cut your losses. After all, there comes a point where you are exhausted with the fight and longing for a more peaceful life.

It may not surprise you to learn that people who divorce have gone through similar struggles. However, you may not realize that happily married Pennsylvania couples also experience the kinds of troubles you and your spouse are facing. Psychologists believe that the different backgrounds and methods of dealing with stress that everyone has coming into a marriage play a vital role in how they endure marital conflict.

How is child support calculated in Pennsylvania?

When two parents no longer live together, the primary custodial parent, or the parent who has the children for more than 50% of overnights in a 2 week period, is entitled to child support.  When the parents have "shared custody," meaning it is 50%-50%, the parent who makes less money is entitled to child support.

I've been charged with DUI...what now?

The Pennsylvania DUI statute, 75 Pa.C.S. Section 3802, defines driving under the influence of alcohol as driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after imbiding a sufficient amount of alcohol such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a vehicle.  This is called "general impairment."

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Lancaster, PA 17603

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