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Debra Joan Cheatham Reece
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Debra Reece’s Answers

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  • As a 20 year-old with no criminal record, I was charged for shoplifting $45 of stuff. Should I get a criminal defense attorney?

    I was recently charged with "theft of property" at a Walmart. I was going through self-checkout, and while I bought the majority of the items, I forgot about $45 worth of stuff. I was stopped by an employee and taken into a back room, and they pre...

    Debra’s Answer

    The letter about a civil claim has nothing whatsoever to do with the criminal charge. It's something Walmart corporate does. Yes, this can stay on your record. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a $2500 fine and up to one year in the county jail. You need to hire a good criminal defense lawyer who can try to negotiate a reasonable deal for you.

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  • What will i get in court?

    Hi thereLastnight I went to a pub with my boyfriend and friend.My friend got very drunk and started rows with everyone. I put her in a cab to go home she jumped out the cab shouting her mouth of at me. We both pushed each other. Then my friend sai...

    Debra’s Answer

    You have posted this in the forum for England, Arkansas, a small town in the central USA. You need to post it in the U.K., because the laws may be very different there. You should contact an attorney immediately to assist you.

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  • Can I be sued for selling a car that broke?

    I sold a 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse to a fellow teenager a few weeks ago. I told him all of the issues I knew about the car and he still agreed to buy it. I just received an email from his mother that she filed a lemon law suit against me and wan...

    Debra’s Answer

    She's lying and trying to intimidate you. The Lemon Law only applies to sales of new cars. Most sales of used cars are "as is" and without a warranty. Hopefully you had a non-teenager draw up the contract between the two of you. If there is a mechanical failure with the vehicle and you had no idea that was wrong with it, you are not liable in an "as is" sale, particularly since you let him know the things that you did know were wrong with it.

    This is not to say she can't sue you. People can always sue someone. But you are not sued until you have been served with the lawsuit complaint and summons. When and if that happens, you should contact a lawyer immediately. The issue is not whether she can sue, but whether she can win. And that will all be dependent on all the facts, including whatever contract you had with him. Good luck.

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  • Get included on receiving end wrongful death settlement

    Brother was killed in a car accident. His mother did not include me as his sibling, (same dad, different moms) but she included her other children. The money is being divided up between them and there is a hearing for whether or not our dad shoul...

    Debra’s Answer

    All of these attorneys have given you good advice. I believe you have grounds to file a motion to intervene in the case. Normally, they are not allowed to enter into a wrongful death settlement without all the heirs. That is not my specialty area of law, but you want to talk to an attorney who handles wrongful death claims who can advise you and get your appearance entered into the case. If you wait until the settlement has been decided, but you knew about the hearing, the court may decide you waived any right to object. Good luck!

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  • How much does a criminal lawyer cost?

    My friend has been caught with drugs in his pocket and is already a felony. How can the intent to delivery charges be dropped since he wasn't in the act of selling. He was supposed to get off parole next year but he has been violated for 6 months ...

    Debra’s Answer

    Arkansas's possession with intent to deliver laws don't actually require proof of intent to deliver. If the amount possessed is over the presumptive amount, especially if there are any other facts that support intent to deliver, then even if the amount was for personal use, the defendant can be convicted of possession with intent. There are many good criminal lawyers in Little Rock and many of us have state-wide practices, so your friend should talk to several attorneys. Without knowing the complete facts of the case, there is no way to predict what the fee would be, but you're probably looking at something in the neighborhood of $2500 to $4000, depending on the circumstances, assuming it doesn't go to trial.

    One thing I note: you asked how to convince the judge that these were his drugs and not drugs for him to sell? On the revocation, it doesn't matter -- his parole (or probation, if that's what it really was) can be revoked for any violation of the law. And on the new charges, it is actually the prosecutor that must be convinced, rather than the judge, in order to get a good plea offer. That's something his attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor on the case. And if negotiations fall through, then it would be up to the jury to decide whether he merely possessed the drugs or possessed them with intent to deliver, and what his sentence would be.

    Something else important: You say your friend was "caught with drugs in his pocket." However, there may be suppression issues involved. What I mean by that is that if your friend's constitutional rights were violated in some way and that violation led to the drugs being found, then it is possible to suppress the drugs and there would be no evidence for the new charge. I'm not saying that will happen; I'm just saying it's a possibility. If your friend can afford an attorney, he should hire one immediately. If he cannot afford one, then he will be appointed a public defender, and there are some really good public defenders in Little Rock. A public defender has the advantage of working with that prosecutor and judge every day; on the other hand, a private attorney has the advantage of much more time to devote to your friend's case. So there are advantages to each. Good luck!

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  • I have a judgement on my drives lic,in florida from acc i had back in 2001.Alcohol and drugs didnt not play a role in the case.

    So if i file bankruptcy will it be removed? and if so how do i go about filing on my own?I live in arkansas

    Debra’s Answer

    This is really a two-part question because it involves a criminal issue and a bankruptcy issue. As the bankruptcy attorney explained, the bankruptcy won't remove your debt from your record -- it would just (presumably) make it uncollectable. There are exceptions to that, and a bankruptcy attorney would have to look at the nature of what you owe to see whether it could be discharged in bankruptcy. You also need to know, though, that depending on what sort of "judgment" it is on your driver's license, the Florida driver control might not be able to collect your judgment, but that doesn't mean they have to give you your driver's license back. There are various things that can be attached to your driver's license, depending on the laws the legislature writes. For instance, in Arkansas, if you are behind on your child support, or if you have unpaid fines, unpaid restitution in a car accident that resulted in a ticket, or several other situations, your driver's license will be suspended until that issue is resolved. If you get your judgment discharged, your license may still remain suspended.

    You need to retain a bankruptcy attorney. The attorney is generally paid through the bankruptcy court with the moneys you pay in (a Chapter 13), or you pay the attorney yourself (a Chapter 7). Either way, bankruptcy law is ridiculously complex. There are multiple documents called "schedules" that must be filed with the federal bankruptcy court. You have to be admitted to the federal electronic filing system because all filing of documents is online in the federal system. So when you ask "how do I go about filing on my own," the answer is you don't. Filing bankruptcy involves understanding the bankruptcy laws, the bankruptcy rules, the federal rules of procedure and evidence, and the local rules of your court. These are things lawyers spend years learning how to understand, and you can no more do that yourself than I could hand you a scalpel so you could perform surgery on yourself. You may spend a little money on a bankruptcy attorney, but it will be money well spent because one mistake could cause you to either have your case dismissed, or even be held in contempt of court for not doing something properly.

    Hire a good attorney. Good luck in all you do!

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  • I have an appeals hearing scheduled with DHS. What type of attorney should I be looking for? Is there a specific specialty?

    Just received notice of a scheduled administrative hearing to appeal a true finding of child maltreatment. I have requested a copy of the investigative report, but as of today have not received it. This case happened in 2011. Unfortunately, the is...

    Debra’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    As someone else mentioned, this is more akin to criminal than family law. Many of us who are criminal defense attorneys have experience in DHS child maltreatment registry appeals. Just ask the questions when you call attorneys. You want to know their experience and track record. However, if they seem to be guaranteeing you can win, know that they're just trying to get your business. I've won all but one of my DHS appeals, and I still wouldn't make that sort of prediction with a client. Retain someone quickly because they will probably need to get a continuance on the current date so they can get the file and prep for the hearing. Good luck!

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  • How do I answer an order of ex parte without hiring an attorney

    He filed divorce and I was incarcerated so he got the girls, I fought him for custody when I was released, I won, I went to rehab a few years after and he file exparte to do away with support payments and the judge allowed me right to "answer" exp...

    Debra’s Answer

    Assuming you want to have a fighting chance at keeping your girls, you don't do it without an attorney. With the advent of so many "do-it-yourself" tv shows and websites, everyone these days thinks you can do everything yourself, including law. You can't. Besides needing to know statutory law, you need to know legal procedure, rules of evidence, and case law precedents in family law. No good lawyer is going to answer your question because you'd be setting yourself up for failure. Speak to a good family law attorney in your area who is familiar with that judge. At the very least, they may be able to help you with the pleadings (documents) that need to be drafted. Good luck with everything!

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