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Debra Joan Cheatham Reece
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Debra Reece’s Answers

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  • What are the rights of grandparents to see their grandchildren when they are allowed to see them and spend a week at at time

    When the mom gets mad at grandma she wont let them see children. the 3 year old is very close to her grandparents and has a room at their house. Her father was killed before she was born and the mother was more than glad to be supported money, hou...

    Debra’s Answer

    Both of the answers you have received are excellent answers. However, there is a caveat you need to know. A case from the US Supreme Court with your same situation (dad died, mom refused to let dad's parents see the kids, after at first allowing them to) was very clear that a fit parent has complete control over who their child is allowed to see, and that trumps any right the grandparents have to see their grandchildren. While Arkansas has a statute that allows grandparent visitation, that statute has strict limitations. If the mother is a fit parent, you may win a case in a local court, but it is likely that would be reversed by the Arkansas Court of Appeals or Arkansas Supreme Court, because the Arkansas statute cannot trump the decision of the US Supreme Court, because the Court's case stated that parenting, along with the right to complete care, custody, and control of one's children, is a fundamental constitutional right, and cannot be interfered with by a third party, even if that third party is a grandparent with whom the child has developed a relationship. Arkansas has developed some very, very narrow exceptions to that, but you will need to hire a family law attorney who is well experienced in grandparent visitation to be able to present the proper evidence to overcome that very heavy constitutional right.

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  • Can I sue Murphy Oil co for Personal injury and neglect?

    I pulled up to the pump in Berryville Ar to get Gas. My mother pulled behind me because she put her card in the card reader to pay for me. I flip the pump on and the hose split spaying over 16 gallons of gas all over my truck me and soaked my moth...

    Debra’s Answer

    As you can probably tell from the answers you have received, the question is not "can I sue?" The question is "If I sue, can I win?" To win a negligence suit, you must prove the oil company did failed to do something they should have done (sounds like you have that unless the hose split because a third party did damage to it and the oil company was unaware), and that was the direct cause of injury to you or your mother. Your vehicle was injured, but they offered to pay for a car wash, so a jury will probably feel you were sufficiently made whole for that. You and your mom were sprayed with gasoline, but that's not enough -- you have to have some sort of injury for which a jury would think you need to be compensated with money. You have not mentioned injuries. The officer's attitude has nothing to do with the oil company's liability. So unless you guys had medical treatment directly caused by being doused in gasoline, you probably would not be successful. You should talk to a personal injury lawyer. Bring in any medical records from any injuries caused by the gasoline. Most of them will give you a free consultation, so you can learn what your chances are of success. Good luck.

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  • What will be better to help our situation and to allow me to adopt?

    I was curious about something. My husband has some custody of his daughter, the birth mother hardly calls or visits. We haven't heard from her in 6 months and she hasn't visited in about 8 months. We plan on going to see his lawyer eventually and ...

    Debra’s Answer

    You should not contact her. But don't do anything to prevent her from seeing the child. In Arkansas, one year of failure to support OR failure to have meaningful contact with the child can be sufficient to terminate parental rights. It may depend on whether she was warned of this in the custody order. You need to consult a good family - law attorney now, rather than later, to ensure you lay the foundation correctly for a termination/adoption proceeding.

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  • Will an arrest for misdemeanor disorderly conduct in 2013 cause me to fail a background check?

    I got into a verbal altercation with my brother-in-law, whom was abusive to my sister. The officers got there and told me to leave. He called me a vulgar name, I called him a woman beating POS! The officer arrested me, not him! I spent 26 hrs in j...

    Debra’s Answer

    There is no way for us to know what your potential employer would consider "failing" a background check. As to whether it will show up on a background check, that all depends on how they do it. If they go through ACIC (Arkansas Crime Information Center ) or the state police, yes it will show up. If they go through a commercial background check company, it will depend on whether that company collects information on all crimes or only on felonies. You should probably disclose it, to be safe. Otherwise, they'll think you lied about it.

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  • I have been married for 21 years can I sue the mistress for wreaking my marriage? I live in Arkansas ?

    Or can I sue him for my broken heart?

    Debra’s Answer

    No. The alienation-of-affection cause of action was repealed years ago in Arkansas. You can divorce him, due to adultery. There is no law that can soothe a broken heart.

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  • What is DWI with Drugs and refusal to blood test ?what are the odds of beating it.

    My son is charged with DWI Drugs and refusal to take a blood test. He wrecked his car and I was there. He was not under the influence of alcohol, he blew 0 and they searched his car and found nothing. He had gotten stitches that day in his knee. t...

    Debra’s Answer

    There is no way to know how strong the State's case is without seeing the evidence. However, there are some very good facts here that a good criminal defense/DWI attorney can work with. You need to hire an EXPERIENCED DWI attorney, especially one that has extensive training in DWI-drugs cases. While we are not allowed to solicit business on Avvo, we are allowed to make recommendations, and you have one of the best Arkansas firms in your jurisdiction - Bennett & Williams in Conway. They not only have extensive experience in DWI-drugs cases, Brad Williams is the ONLY attorney in Arkansas to achieve the designation of Forensic Lawyer-Scientist from the American Chemical Society (you can google that -- it made the news back in January), and he is actually considered an expert in this field. There are only 38 ACS Forensic lawyer-scientists in the country. If it was my kid, that's who I'd be calling. (And no, I don't get a referral fee from them -- they're just that good.)

    Good luck!

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  • How much trouble can I be in for forging I have a prior for terror is tick threatening will I go to prison if convicted

    Criminal defense attorneys in central Arkansas good at forgery charges.

    Debra’s Answer

    Forgery and terroristic threatening are obviously very different crimes, but it is definitely not good that you have a prior conviction. You didn't say whether the prior terroristic threatening conviction is a felony or misdemeanor (in Arkansas, it can be either), but if it's a misdemeanor it probably won't affect things. If it's a felony, it may depend on how long ago it was.

    As for the current forgery charge, before anyone can give you any solid advice or predictions, they would have to know the actual facts and see the actual evidence. A good attorney can give you some explanations about possibilities, but only after filing a discovery motion and obtaining the prosecutor's evidence can someone really say how good the state's case is against you. It may be great, or it may be a very weak case that is easily defeated.

    You should immediately retain a good criminal defense attorney so they can begin working on your case. Even with a prior, it may be possible for you to have a non-prison outcome, depending on all the facts and circumstances. And don't give any further information on here. Prosecutors can read this site as well as us, and you don't want to reveal things about your specific case that can be used against you in court if they figure out who wrote it. Save that for your attorney!

    Good luck!

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  • How do I go about getting this expunged from my record?

    Im currently 20, I got arrested for Public Intoxication and Fleeing back in August when I was 19. I plead guilty and paid the fine just to avoid people finding out.

    Debra’s Answer

    In addition to the answers you've already been given, you need to know that Arkansas doesn't have a true "expungement" law. Instead, we have a law that allows your record to be sealed. But it's never destroyed. It's always there for law enforcement or prosecutors to be able to see. Public Intox is a misdemeanor and Fleeing can be a misdemeanor or felony -- you didn't say which you were convicted of, but I'm assuming it was a misdemeanor. If so, you have to wait until at least 60 days from the date of the completion of the last portion of your sentence. So if you had a fine, probation, community service, whatever -- the last thing you finished starts the 60-day clock. After 60 days, you can file a petition to seal. There are procedures to doing that, and as Mr. Dowden said, if you don't do it correctly, you will waste the filing fee and your time.

    You also need to know that there is not a guarantee that the court will grant your petition to seal. They usually will, because the standard for a misdemeanor is that "unless there is clear and convincing evidence it should NOT be sealed," the judge must seal it. We are not allowed to solicit on AVVO, but we can make recommendations. Since you are in the Fayetteville area where Mr. Dowden is, I can highly recommend him. I've known him for years and he is a former prosecutor as well as being an excellent criminal defense lawyer, so you should give him or another good criminal defense attorney in your area a call so they can begin the paperwork. You are much more likely to have it granted with an attorney's help.

    Good luck!

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  • How do I go about getting back support owed removed from credit if custodial parent was receiving ssi for the child?

    I am paying child support for 2 children and providing health insurance. 1 mother gets right at $600 a month and the other only $100 a month. How can I go about getting it to equal out more for both? The 2nd mother continuously through out the yea...

    Debra’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    Mr. Scholl is right. Your child support is not based on the mother's income or the child's income -- it's based on your income. Regardless of how much income the mother receives, your child support obligation is not affected. So if you did not pay during the time she was receiving SSI, you are in arrears and there will be no way to remove that from your credit report because it is correct.

    You may be confusing this with Social Security Disability. If the NON-custodial parent receives SSD, then a check is also cut for that recipient's children, and the amount of the dependent check can be deducted from the non-custodial parent's child support amount. That's because the child is receiving the SSD-dependent benefit solely based on the NON-custodial parent's benefits. However, if the custodial parent receives SSD, SSI, or anything else for themselves (or for the children based on the custodial parent's benefits), that in no way affects the non-custodial parent's obligation.

    So there is no fraud at all, based on the facts you related.

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  • Is there anything that can be done now that he accepted the plea deal?

    My 19 year old son was forced to accept a plea bargain that reduced his rape charges to 3 sex assault in 2nd degree charges. We were guaranteed conviction by his public defender if he took it to trial, he would receive life and would die in priso...

    Debra’s Answer

    First, there is no such thing as interrogating him "incommunicado". If he was either 18 or was 17 being charged as an adult, then in order for his confession to be admissible, he was read his Miranda rights, which tell him he has a right to an attorney during questioning. If he waived that right, that was foolish on his part; however, it is typical. Most of my clients knew they had a right to remain silent and have an attorney, but they waive and talk anyway. The public defender can't undo a confession that was lawfully taken, and a jury will convict (usually) if there is a confession.

    Second, the public defender's math was off a little, but was close. Sex assault 2nd degree is a class B felony punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison. And they can stack (run consecutive instead of concurrent) so a 50 year sentence is not excessive --it's within the range. However, it is what's called a one-third crime, meaning he is eligible for parole after serving 1/3 of the time, or 200 months. If he behaves in prison, that can be further cut in half to 100 months with a "good time" deduction. 100 months is 8.3 years, so the public defender's math was close. So long as he does what he's supposed to, he will be out much sooner than 50 years.

    I know that is no comfort to a parent. I have sons and I would be devastated. But a rape charge carries 10-40 years or life, so he could have been looking at 3 consecutive life sentences if a jury got hold of him. You don't say how old the alleged victim is, but if this was a child under 14, it jumps to 25-40 or life. And rape is a 70% crime, so he would serve a minimum of about 17 years before parole if he was convicted of even one charge, if the victim is under 14.

    In the long run and depending upon the circumstances, this may be the best plea offer available. The law doesn't work the way it should. Police are allowed to use intimidation and lies to get a confession from a young, vulnerable suspect and my experience is that they go into that interrogation believing they know the truth (and sometimes they do), and they're not walking out til they hear what they want to hear. Innocent people confess every day to crimes they didn't commit. Unfortunately, juries don't believe that. The vast majority of people who have been exonerated by DNA evidence long after their convictions actually confessed to the crime. So if your son confessed AND they had other evidence (like her testimony), a jury will likely convict. That's because most people think " well I would never confess to something I didn't do" and they sit on juries.

    I say all that because it needed to be explained to you and it sounds like his attorney never took the time to explain it (or you, as a mom, understandably don't want to hear it). But, depending on the evidence, there may be something that can be done. As Mr. Bowman said, we have a procedure called a Rule 37 proceeding that can get a new trial for someone who had either ineffective assistance of counsel or a coerced guilty plea. Honestly, that's a real high burden to make and it doesn't sound like it applies here. But there may be special circumstances where it does. You and your son need to know, though, that undoing the guilty plea means he goes to trial on the rape charges, and he could spend 17 years to the rest of his life in prison. That's a huge gamble. If he's truly innocent, you'd have to hire an expert to try to convince a jury about false confessions, and a judge might not even allow that testimony, based on what the interrogation recording shows.

    If you want to pursue something like that, you need an excellent criminal defense attorney and that doesn't come cheap. Nor does an expert witness. Unfortunately in our country, true justice is usually only obtained by rich people. On the other hand, if he did do what he's accused of, parole eligibility in 8 years is a damn sight better than 17 to life.

    Good luck in this. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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