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Debra Joan Cheatham Reece
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Debra Reece’s Answers

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  • My question is can she take my baby across state lines and move states. I

    xwife is currently under investigation by DHS, for neglect and child abuse, she's had numerous men around my 3yr old son (convicted felons)(drug addicts) . I have supervised visits with my mother, my mother keeps him 18 to 20 days out of the month...

    Debra’s Answer

    Please take this answer in the spirit in which it is made. If you have "supervised visits," then there is clearly an issue that a court has taken with you being able to be around your child alone. It doesn't matter for this forum what that reason is -- just that a court has done that, and has apparently not made the same restrictions on the mother (or at least you did not say that it had).

    You need to talk to a good family-law attorney in your area. Since your mother is already keeping your child so much of the time, that lawyer may suggest a guardianship if there is some reason the court will not allow you to have custody of your child.

    And as another attorney responded to you -- for you to say you want to get a lawyer "who has enough brains" is completely insulting and is likely to keep anyone good from wanting to help you. So when you go in search of a good family-law attorney in your area, I suggest you be respectful. We are like any other service profession; there are a few bad ones, but most of us work really hard to be good at what we do because we care about our clients. Believe me, if we have the "brains" to get through law school, we could have also done a lot of other things that wouldn't require us to be in service to people who often don't appreciate us. So check the attitude at the door, or you'll find yourself with no one who will be willing to help you.

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  • "Got caught stealing"

    I was caught "stealing" at Walmart I was told by a CM that someone was following me inside walmart, I happened to be a the self check out I checked out some items and proceeded out the store, they stopped me before I got out the door and they got...

    Debra’s Answer

    You have received some excellent advice on here. If you have no record and are a first-time offender, there is perhaps something that can be negotiated with the prosecutor to keep you from having a conviction on your record. But your excuses that you are giving (whether they are true or not) are not going to matter. And if this occurred in Russellville, where you posted your question, your excuses are particularly not going to work with our local district court judge. Your best (and probably only) bet is to hire a good criminal defense attorney who can try to negotiate a plea with the prosecutor that will keep you from having a conviction. There are ways to do that, and they will depend on your behavior with the police officer and the people at WalMart. You should know that Wal-Mart is particularly aggressive about prosecuting shoplifters, and has multiple cameras in its ceilings throughout the store and, especially, at the checkouts, where they know people are more likely to try to steal stuff. So it is likely that your defense of "I forgot and didn't really put it in my purse" is either going to be supported or contradicted by their video. Get a lawyer now before you have a criminal record and it's too late. Good luck!

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  • Could I file small claim lawsuit against public university in Arkansas?

    I received a parking ticket from my college. The ticket was a complete nonsense and make a bogus condition. The parking department provides an appeal process but required to prepay the parking fine and $20 non-refundable fee. I do not know cou...

    Debra’s Answer

    The problem is (and Mr. Scholl alludes to it) that if the "public university" is one of the University of Arkansas campuses, or another university that is considered an arm of the state of Arkansas, then that University has something called "sovereign immunity" and you cannot sue it in court. This comes from an ancient rule in England where you could not sue the king in his own courts. Similarly, you cannot sue the State in her own courts. Instead, there is a process by which you go through the Claims Commission. It's long and complicated and much too extensive to go into here. You should talk to a local attorney regarding your issue. Unfortunately, many parking tickets are "bogus," but it's more expensive to fight them than to just pay them (and the officers issuing the parking tickets know this). So if you really think you have a case, be prepared to pay an attorney a good deal of money to take your case and handle the lawsuit, whether in court or in the claims commission. And know that you may end up not having to pay the ticket, but you will have expended a great deal more money to prove your point. Good luck!

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  • Can my employer charge me for all or part of the reported stolen money if he just takes it out of my bonus pay?

    I'm a manager at a restaurant and I make salary plus bonus. We were robbed at gun point during a shift that I wasn't working. They got $900. My employer charged me for $600 of the stolen amount and deducted it from my bonus pay.

    Debra’s Answer

    I agree with the other attorney who answered your question. If you earned the money, they cannot deduct it out of your pay. However, it sounds like the bonus is discretionary, meaning they don't have to pay it at all. If that's the case, they may very well be able to deduct it, especially if the bonus is based on profit (since the robbery loss would cut into the employer's profit). Speak to an employment law attorney in your area (there are several good ones), and let him or her know the full facts and circumstances in your case, including any employment contract you have that outlines your bonus schedule. Good luck!

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  • How can my husband adopt my oldest children when the other parent is absent

    I am a married mother to three. My oldest two are from a previous relationship, and he has had no contact with them since my oldest started kindergarten. That was 3 years ago. We were never married, he is supposed to pay child support but that's a...

    Debra’s Answer

    As others have mentioned, you are talking about a stepparent adoption. In Arkansas, if a non-custodial parent has failed to meaningfully visit or support a child, without good reason, for more than a year, the custodial parent can petition the court for a stepparent adoption. That is assuming the stepparent meets some rules as well. If the natural father consents, that is a bonus, but it is not necessarily required. You should hire a good family law attorney in your area who can represent you and your husband in a stepparent adoption. You will want an attorney who regularly practices in front of your family-court judges, so they will know the particular requirements of those judges. Good luck!

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  • Do I have to get probation or can I pay it off

    I got caught with .3 grams of marijuana what's going to happen I'm 17 years of age

    Debra’s Answer

    It all depends. Some courts will allow your attorney to work out a deal with the prosecutor where you pay a civil penalty and there is no conviction on your record. There are many variations on this. Your first step needs to be hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You don't mention whether this is being handled in juvenile court or in regular district misdemeanor court. So get a lawyer and talk to them about it.

    Good luck.

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  • What needs to be on a request for a hearing if anything? And shouldn't an appeal be done before a admin hearing?

    I need help with my request, not sure I am saying what needs to be said. This is what I have so far. "I received the enclosed notice on January 14th, 2016 which states the write to request a hearing on the placement of my name in the Child Maltrea...

    Debra’s Answer

    I agree with Mr. Scholl. A Child Maltreatment hearing in Arkansas is very different than in Connecticut. The laws are often different as well. If this is involving a Connecticut case, then you need to hire a lawyer licensed in Connecticut.

    I will tell you this much -- if this were an Arkansas case, you would definitely want to file an appeal to try to keep your name off the Child Maltreatment Registry. Some offenses cause your name to drop off after only a year, some are removable after one or five years, and some cause you to remain on the registry for life. Whether or not you are on a Child Maltreatment Registry can affect some jobs you could get, and many other rights and privileges you might have. So speak to a lawyer in the controlling jurisdiction immediately to find out your rights and responsibilities. Good luck!

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  • What should I do. I am guilty and I am not trying to get out of punishment, however I don't want this to possibly end my career

    I was caught shoplifting in Walmart for items less than 100.00. they apprehended me at the front brought me to the back and I returned the items. the police were called, I was not arrested, however I was given a citation for Theft of property 5-36...

    Debra’s Answer

    First, get off this public forum and don't discuss the specifics of your case publicly. You've already given enough information (crime, location, WalMart, nursing) to be able to target you, and prosecutors read these forums just like we criminal defense attorneys do.

    Second, hire a good criminal defense attorney right away. There are several options that might work in your area to completely keep this off your record and avoid a conviction. And while it may not automatically keep you from being able to renew your nursing license, many employers will not hire you (regardless of whether you are licensed) if you have a theft conviction on your record. After all, you would presumably be on hand around your patients' valuables in the hospital, nursing home, etc., where you work. You do NOT want a conviction. So do not just pay the fine (because that is an admission of guilt and will be put on your record as a conviction). Instead, hire a good criminal defense attorney who will plead you not guilty and then try to negotiate something with the prosecutor that will keep this off your permanent record.

    Good luck!

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  • How can I get third degree domestic battery charges dropped from over 2 years ago? we worked threw it & stayed 2gether.

    my son's dad was just picked up for third degree domestic battery from over 2 years ago and I had nothing to do with it how can we get it dropped?

    Debra’s Answer

    You need to speak to a criminal defense lawyer in your area immediately. First, there is no such thing as you "dropping the charges." The prosecutor brings the charges and only the prosecutor can drop them. Often, though, if the alleged victim in the domestic battery does not want the case prosecuted, the prosecutor will dismiss the charges voluntarily.

    If your son's father was arrested 2 years ago and they have only now charged him, then they have violated the speedy trial rule. On the other hand, if the alleged crime occurred two years ago and they have only now arrested him, they will have a statute of limitations problem (the statute of limitation is generally one year in a misdemeanor). The analysis of the case is going to depend on several factors, such as where has he been for the last two years and were the police easily able to find him, or did he move or leave the state or do something else that caused them not to be able to find him? He will need to discuss that with an attorney right away so a motion to dismiss can be made, if it is applicable.

    Good luck!

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