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Debra Joan Cheatham Reece
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Debra Reece’s Answers

747 total


  • 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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  • Will I put somebody In legal danger if I'm 15 and he's 18 and I start dating him is there anyway we can be together

    I want to ask out a 18 year old and I'm afraid if we do get together I will put him I. Legal harm

    Debra’s Answer

    The age of consent in Arkansas is 16. So no, you shouldn't "be together" right now (assuming you're asking about the potential for having sex). There is a 3 - year difference allowed under Arkansas law, but that is based on birth date. He could be charged with a crime and have to go through a trial and try to convince a jury he shouldn't be convicted. Plus, if he's in ANY position of trust or authority over you (coach, tutor, youth ministry, Sunday school teacher, babysitter, etc.), then it's COMPLETELY illegal, regardless of age. So my best advice is wait til you're 18. Then he won't be in any danger at all.

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  • How do I arrange to file motion of modification for my back child support

    I have arrears in back support for around $23,000, have been unemployed for over a year and haven't had steady employment since 2009. I almost had a decent job offer with 40+ hours a week @ $10.00 per hour and missed it because OSCE suspended my l...

    Debra’s Answer

    You can't modify back-due child support. Period. You can file a motion to modify child support, but as Mr. Scholl said, the best it can do is change the child support amount from the date it's filed and forward.

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  • Can I move in with my friend with parental consent?

    My friend is 17 and is an emancipated minor. He lives on his own, has a steady job, and has no criminal record. I'm afraid living with my parents is a hazard to my mental health. If I were somehow able to get their permission, could I go and liv...

    Debra’s Answer

    No, you can't if you are under 18. Your parents have a legal obligation to care for you until you are 18. For them to allow you to move out would be considered parental neglect. An emancipated minor is just that--he is a minor, not an adult. They could choose to let you live with an adult--an aunt, uncle, grandparent, etc. But not another minor. As the other attorneys said, you would have to be emancipated yourself, and that's honestly not easy to get a court to agree to. Good luck.

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  • Is it legal/ fair to hear the plaintiff's side & wait 60 days to hear the defendant's side in a custody trial claiming abuse?

    I left my husband in July for emotional/verbal abuse & endangerment of our son in the summer heat. I got a lawyer. We had our temporary custody hearing in Sept. Our case was scheduled in Dec. (their side pleaded that it was too close to Christmas...

    Debra’s Answer

    In answer to your question, yes, a case can be put off many months, if the court's docket or the attorney's schedules do not allow for the rest of the case to be heard immediately. According to what you said, they tried to push it back in January again, but you insisted on pushing forward. Since the other side was not able to be heard then, it may be to your detriment that your side was heard so many months earlier, but that was your choice to make. If you had agreed to a continuance, it could have been set on dates where everything could have been heard at once.

    You have an attorney, and you need to be discussing these issues with him/her. Attorneys are forbidden by the rules of professional conduct from advising people who are already represented, because we don't know the facts of your case like your lawyer does. If your lawyer believes that something unfair happened, he or she will be able to advise you of that. But merely having a case heard on different dates a couple of months apart is not, in and of itself, grounds for an appeal.

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  • Why did the school allow me to follow through with my internship and completing the course

    My name is LaTonda Caldwell, I have a criminal record that were sealed in 2008. My charges were battery misdeameanor A in 2000 and possession of marijuania with intent to deliver felony C in 2006. I attend college in 2013-2015, for Early Childhood...

    Debra’s Answer

    Everyone who answered gave good advice. As for the reason they did it, a person can do a lot of things with a degree in early childhood education besides just work in a daycare facility. They may go further in their education and teach adults themselves. They may lecture or write. And the sealed convictions wouldn't matter then. But daycare centers are one of the few employers that can go behind the seal to see the conviction. If you are convicted of a violent crime (like battery), any place you would work with a vulnerable population (hospital, nursing home, daycare center, etc.) can have the seal opened. Your school was teaching adults, so they would not necessarily have been able to see your full record, nor would they have cared.

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  • Can the outpatient rehab deny me my records for owing a balance?

    I went to inpatient substance abuse rehab and completed it and then went to a transitional living program through the same rehab to do outpatient. I moved back home and was more than halfway through the outpatient program. I need the records of me...

    Debra’s Answer

    I'm not a debt collection lawyer, but I know that schools and other organizations can do this, so they may be able to, as well. However, your attorney should be able to subpoena the records and they can't ignore the subpoena. So talk to your attorney about this.

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  • Will I be charged with those possession charges, including the paraphernalia if they find no traces of drugs?

    I was pulled over, had 2 syringes & a spoon, I didn't have any drugs or controlled substances whatsoever. So right now I'm being charged for the 2 possession of paraphernalia and 1 possession of controlled substance schedule III Methcocaine. I'm g...

    Debra’s Answer

    If there are no trace drugs in the syringes, then the PCS charge should be dropped. Syringes and a spoon can definitely be used as drug paraphernalia, but they can also have legitimate uses (the syringes could be used for insulin, or to give an animal an injection, and a spoon is, well, a spoon). Without drugs, the PDP charges should not stand, UNLESS you made statements to the police that incriminated you and admitted to using them for drugs. However, you will need a good lawyer to represent you. The State bears the burden of proof, but that burden is much easier when the defendant is without an attorney. Hire a good attorney and let them help you. Good luck.

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