About Witt Law Firm, P.A.
110 East Jefferson St.
Monroe, NC 28111
1. Will I lose anything if I file for Personal Bankruptcy?
Generally, you may file a bankruptcy and retain all of your personal belongings, including your house, your car and all household goods. A North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney will make sure that all of your personal belongings are protected. If you owe more on your car than the car is worth, the bankruptcy court will not sell your car, because after sale there would be no money left over to make a distribution to your creditors. The same goes for your home and personal property. Even if your property is worth more than what is owed on it, usually we can use the state bankruptcy exemptions to protect this items.
You may be more at risk of losing property if you don't file bankruptcy, as creditors can sue you and attach your bank accounts, garnish your wages and attach and seize your property. As a result, you may miss rent, mortgage or car payments, making it difficult to provide even your most basic necessities.
2. When do I get relief from creditor harassment?
Immediately. As soon as you come into our office, we will give you a client record number and you will then refer all future creditor calls to your bankruptcy attorney. No more credit card payments and no more harassment immediately upon retaining an attorney with our service.
3. Does my spouse have to file jointly with me?
If all or most of the debts are in your name only, your spouse may not have to file. Creditors usually cannot pursue a non-filing spouse, unless he or she is legally a co-debtor on the debt. Additionally, the bankruptcy should not be reflected on the non-filing spouse's credit report. The law does vary, however, from state to state so make sure you ask an North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney about whether or not your spouse has to file.
4. Who knows about my personal bankruptcy case?
The only parties that receive notice of the bankruptcy are your creditors, the bankruptcy court and the IRS. Generally, the bankruptcy will have no affect whatsoever on your taxes. Your employer will not be notified of the bankruptcy unless your employer is also a creditor. The bankruptcy is public record, so anyone who wants to find out could determine that you had filed. Generally, however, only you, your creditors and the IRS will know about the bankruptcy.
5. Will I be able to rent after I file personal bankruptcy?
There were over 1 million bankruptcies filed in the United States last year alone. Common sense will tell you that these people are not all living on the street. If you are presently renting a home or apartment, usually your present landlord will renew your lease without running an updated credit report, and will have no knowledge that you even filed a bankruptcy.
If you are applying for a new lease, there could be some slight difficulties that can easily be overcome. We have found that larger leasing companies usually have stricter policies regarding leasing to applicants with blemished credit. Remember that it is the blemished credit report, not necessarily the bankruptcy that is reflecting poorly on your application. Also, with no outstanding debt, you may appear to be a better risk than other applicants who have outstanding debt and blemished credit reports. We find that a good faith gesture, such as offering an extra month security deposit, may be enough for a potential lessor to overcome her concerns about your blemished credit.
6. How do I know if I should file personal bankruptcy?
*Are you calling because you are being sued??If you are being sued, and you own a home, we strongly urge you to speak with a legal professional immediately about filing a bankruptcy. A bankruptcy will stop a lawsuit immediately and prevent your creditors from placing a lien on your home or garnishing your hard-earned wages.
*Is your home being foreclosed or is your car about to be repossessed? If it is, very often bankruptcy may prevent the foreclosure action or repossession from proceeding and allow you to consolidate your mortgage arrears or automobile balance and make payments on those debts over time through a payment plan designed by us with your help. If your house is being foreclosed or your car is about to be repossessed, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may not be an option. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may save your house and your car.
*Do credit cards or medical bills have you so deep in debt that it is hard for you to save for the future? If you are only paying the minimum payment on the credit card bills from month to month (generally from two to three percent of the outstanding balance), and the interest rate is only 15%, you will take about 20 years to pay off a $10,000 debt. Do you really want to be in the same financial situation in twenty years? Chapter 7 bankruptcy can provide you with a fresh start that you are entitled to under the law and get you out of debt NOW.
7. Is filing personal bankruptcy immoral or does it make me a bad person?
Everyone is entitled to a fresh start. Many times, events occur in people's lives that cannot be expected. You may have had a sudden loss in income, a family medical catastrophe, a work injury, or any one of numerous other difficulties that would have been almost impossible for which to plan. Most of the people that we represent are good people who have encountered unfortunate circumstances and just want to get a fresh start. We understand that for most of our clients bankruptcy is the last resort. Many of our clients have a very difficult time determining if personal bankruptcy is the right decision for them.
You must ask yourself? Are the credit card companies concerned about your financial difficulties? Are you paying your creditors instead of saving for your children's education or your retirement? When is the last time you took a vacation? We believe that it is very important for an attorney to provide both bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy alternatives. We believe in giving you our honest opinion as to what will put you in the best possible financial condition now and into your future. The client always comes first. Please search through our listings of available attorneys to find one in your area, don't let creditors ruin your life.
8. How do I choose a North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney?
When considering filing a personal bankruptcy, you want to be advised by someone who is familiar and experienced with all of the "ins and outs" of bankruptcy law. Especially when you own a home or car or have other assets that you are trying to protect, you do not want your advice from an attorney who knows a little bit about a lot of different areas of law, but not a lot about bankruptcy. We spend almost all of our time on bankruptcy and getting people just like you out of debt. Educate yourself about your options, but be educated by someone who is qualified.
A North Carolina Bankruptcy Attorney will provide you with a range of fair fees right over the phone. Beware of any bankruptcy attorney who refuses to give you a fee quote over the phone.
9. Can I get rid of student loans or tax debts?
Any North Carolina bankruptcy attorney must have a sophisticated understanding of bankruptcy law to deal with student loans and tax debts. Until October 1998, student loans were discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy if the first payment on the loan became due more than seven years prior to the date of filing. In October 1998, President Clinton signed a new law into effect that disqualified all student loans from discharge. North Carolina Bankruptcy can still help you obtain relief from your student loan debts through the use of Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, our attorneys can consolidate your student loan debt, along with any other outstanding bills, and arrange an interest free repayment plan, so that you do not have to suffer through the burden of garnishments, harassment and other collection efforts by student loan agencies. We may even be able to reduce the amount paid to the student loan agency during the course of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy so that your consolidation payment is as low as possible. If you would like to find out more about how North Carolina Bankruptcy can ease the burden of student loan debts through the use of Chapter 13, search our site for a firm in your area or fill out the free evaluation form.
Tax debts are generally subject to discharge only if you file personal bankruptcy more than three years after you file a timely, truthful tax return. If your return is filed late, the taxes are generally discharged only if you file bankruptcy more than two years after filing a truthful tax return. Of course, these are general rules and you should speak with us, who will perform a detailed analysis of these issues.
10. Can I get credit after filing personal bankruptcy?
Although bankruptcy may legally be reported to your credit report for up to 10 years, you can begin to reestablish your credit immediately. Remember that "credit" is your ability to borrow money. Lenders consider many factors while determining whether to loan you money, but most importantly, they consider your debt-to-income ratio. You are probably visiting this site because you already have more outstanding debt than you have the ability to pay. So, arguably, you do not have credit.
Filing eliminates most, if not all of your debts, therefore reducing your debt-to-income ratio, potentially improving your ability to borrow money in the future. Some financial institutions actively solicit business from people who have filed. Lenders are in business to make money by lending you money and charging you interest. Lenders know that once you have filed, you will not be able to file again for 6 years.
Many of our clients have purchased cars immediately upon receiving their discharge orders. Many lenders have programs that provide for post-bankruptcy borrows to obtain home financing within a year or two after a discharge. Many of our clients even receive solicitations for unsecured credit cards almost immediately upon receiving their discharge. North Carolina Bankruptcy Lawyer just want to advise you to be careful not to get back into the credit card "trap".
North Carolina Criminal Law Overview
Criminal lawyers help individuals who are accused of misdemeanor and felony crimes, including but not limited to harassment, assault, theft, sale of illegal drugs, arson, murder and grand theft. They are capable of helping the person accused of a crime during every stage of the criminal process. Attorneys who practice criminal law know the ins- and-outs of the legal system and can negotiate with prosecutors to arrange plea bargains, lesser sentencing or reduced charges. If the criminal defense team and the prosecutors are unable to reach a settlement, a good criminal defense lawyer will have the experience needed to try the case in a jury trial.
What are the Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors?
Crimes categorized as felonies or misdemeanors vary from state to state but in general a felony is a more serious crime and often times carry a harsher punishment. Misdemeanors are less serious offenses.
Crimes such as murder, armed robbery and rape are classified as felonies. Typically a felony charge carries a penalty of more than a year in a state prison. Some states have a 3 strikes law. The three strikes law targets repeat offenders. Individuals who have been charged and found guilty of at least 3 violent crimes or serious felonies may be sentenced to life in prison.
Shoplifting, domestic disputes and assaults are typically considered misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are usually punishable by fines/probation/community service/court supervision or less than a year jail sentence.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Criminal Lawyer?
For someone who has been charged with a criminal offense in North Carolina, whether it be a felony or misdemeanor, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer is extremely beneficial. While the specific duties of a lawyer will vary depending on the specific case, in general a criminal defense lawyer will:
Advise the Defendant of Their Rights and Explain What to Expect at Each Stage of the Criminal Law Process.
The criminal process can be confusing for those who are not familiar with the North Carolina legal system. It starts with the arrest of a suspect and moves through booking and bail, arraignment, plea bargains, preliminary hearings, pre-trial motions, jury trial, sentencing and finally appeals. A criminal defense lawyer will walk the defendant through the process step-by-step to make sure their rights are not violated during the process and they will advise the defendant in making decisions throughout the process that will result in the best possible outcome for the case.
Ensure the Defendants Constitutional Rights are Not Violated.
All suspects placed in police custody or in custodial interrogation must be advised of their rights related to the Fifth and Sixth Amendment of the Constitution. These rights are commonly known as Miranda warning or Miranda rights. The common warning states:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning.
- If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
If a police officer questions someone who has been arrested without first telling them their "Miranda" rights, the case could potentially be dismissed and anything the defendant told police while they were in custody is inadmissible in court. If you've been accused or arrested for a crime it is always a good idea to invoke your right to an attorney before saying anything to the police.
Throughout the criminal process the defendant has other rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. These rights include but aren't limited to:
- The right to counsel, even if you cannot afford a lawyer.
- The right against self-incrimination.
- The right to a speedy trial by jury.
- The right not to face the same Criminal Law charges more than once (double jeopardy).
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to explain your rights to you and make sure the legal system does not violate your rights in any way.
Negotiate a Plea Bargain.
Going to trial in North Carolina can take weeks or even months and the results are unpredictable. A plea bargain can settle a criminal case quickly and will allow the defense team some control over the outcome of the felony or misdemeanor case. A plea bargain often means that the defendant will receive a lighter sentence for a less-severe charge than might have resulted from taking the case to trial and losing. There are other benefits from accepting a plea bargain including saving money on lawyer fees, getting out of jail if bail cannot be afforded, resolving the case quickly, and having a less-severe offense on a permanent record.
Investigate Facts and Evidence Related to Each Specific Case.
Often times in criminal cases the facts and evidence obtained by law enforcement are inconclusive. An experienced criminal defense attorney can investigate the facts and evidence related the specific felony or misdemeanor charge(s) and build an effective defense.
Cross-Examine the States Witnesses.
In North Carolina, the States witnesses are knowledgeable in the courtroom and know exactly what to say and not say during examination. A criminal lawyer also knows the ends-and -outs of the courtroom and will be able to cross-examine government witnesses regarding facts and evidence that work in the defendants favor.
Object to Improper Questions and Evidence.
During a criminal trial in North Carolina there are procedures for admitting evidence and standards regarding lines of questioning. A criminal attorney knows this procedure and will be able to object to improper questions or evidence.
Present Any and all Legal Defenses Relevant to your Criminal Law Case.
In North Carolina, many felony and misdemeanor charges have more than one valid defense. An experienced criminal defense attorney, who has reviewed the facts and evidence of a case can build the best defense based for each specific case.
If you've been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime you need the advice of an experienced criminal lawyer. Contact Witt Law Firm, P.A. today.