Answers To Your Frequently Asked Questions
With a focus on always helping and advocating for our clients, in the most comprehensive manner possible, the attorneys and staff members of Agricola Law, LLC, are always happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the law.
Serving The Legal Needs Of These Communities
We are respected members of the legal communities of Opelika, Auburn, Phenix City, Valley, Lanett, Beulah, Salem, Smith Station and Montgomery, Alabama, as well as Columbus, Georgia. Our attorneys regularly represent clients in courts in Russell County, Lee County, Chambers County, Macon County, Randolph County, Montgomery County, Tallapoosa County, Elmore County and Autauga County, Alabama, and Muscogee County, Harris County and Troup County, Georgia.
Criminal Law And DUI
Can I refuse to take a breathalyzer test if the officer asks me to do so?
Not unless you want to face the consequences of immediately being arrested for driving under the influence and having your license suspended for 90 days. As a driver in Alabama, you’ve automatically agreed to be subjected to the implied consent law when you signed your driver’s license. With the roadside breathalyzer being the most commonly used test to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration, it is important to submit to the test if asked to do so by an Alabama officer. Other field sobriety tests have been shown to be highly subjective and have no pass/fail standard. These tests are used to build evidence against you, and so, therefore, you have the right to refuse to take them.
Do I really have to let police search my car if asked after being pulled over for a routine traffic violation?
As protection against illegal searches, police must prove “probable cause” to search your vehicle after pulling you over. If you consent, an officer won’t need probable cause and can search your entire vehicle at will. Even in cases where you believe you have nothing to hide, you do not have to subject yourself to a vehicle search. Again, it’s often a tactic to build evidence to be used against you when charged with a crime. On the other hand, if the officer explains that they have probable cause to do so, it is better to allow them access and resist disagreeing with him/her. If the search is proven to be unlawful, your lawyer can fight to have any evidence suppressed or charges dismissed.
How does a prenuptial agreement work?
Viewed to have the same weight as any business contract, a prenuptial agreement is a personal contract between two people before they enter a legal marriage. Outlining the distribution of wealth in the event of divorce or legal separation, a “prenup” is meant to protect the assets of one or both parties. A prenuptial agreement must be agreed upon by both parties and its stipulations for spousal support and disbursement depend on full financial disclosure.
How quickly can a divorce be finalized?
From the date of filing until the date that divorce is granted is 30 days by law. Though most people wish to have divorce proceedings go as quickly as possible, many factors often delay the process, causing most divorces to take several months. Child support and custody, alimony payments and division of property are often the reasons divorce proceedings are extended.
How long will this take and how long will it take me?
Every divorce is different and no specific timeline for completion is possible without knowing the factors that will influence your case. Please discuss your circumstances with one of our attorneys.
What’s the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?
A contested divorce means there will be some disputed issues between the parties, which will require the court to adjudicate if the spouses cannot come to an agreed-upon settlement. The disputed issues are generally about a property settlement, custody and parenting rights and/or spousal support (alimony). An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which the parties agree to the terms and conditions they set for themselves, with no disputed issues requiring court resolution.
Recently, I suffered injuries in a car accident where I was labeled as partially to blame by the insurance company. Can I still recover compensation for my injuries from the other driver?
The quick answer is, not if you live in Alabama. We live in one of the few states that prohibits a driver who was found to be at fault, even in the slightest, to be unable to seek compensation for their injuries. That being said, it is imperative that you understand this stipulation of personal injury law, as insurance companies often seek any means necessary to place partial blame on you in order to avoid having to compensate for injuries. Make sure to talk to a personal injury attorney to avoid being unfairly blamed for the accident.
How long will I have to wait to recover compensation for my personal injury suit?
Though insurance companies will be quick to offer you a settlement, it is not likely that it will be enough to completely cover your injuries as well as pay for damages to your vehicle and lost wages, both since the accident and in the future. Though it may be tempting to quickly settle, the insurance company is looking for a quick way out for a reason; and that’s because they know they’re saving money in the long run. Make sure you enlist the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer to ensure you get what your case is worth. In most cases, you may have to wait for approximately a year to receive compensation.
What are the deadlines for filing a personal injury lawsuit in Alabama?
Though the specifics of your suit may be different, most of the time the statute of limitations in personal injury cases is two years from the date of the injury. If your case involves a minor, a government vehicle or public employee, or occurred on government property, filing deadlines could be either shorter or longer.
Title IX & Student Conduct
I’ve received a Notice of Investigation from my school. What does this mean?
If you’ve received a notice of Investigation, this means that your school has received a formal complaint against you. A formal complaint is simply a written statement from someone alleging that you committed some sort of misconduct. Once the School receives the formal complaint, they are required to provide you this notice of Investigation. Among other things, this notice must include the allegations against you and provide you sufficient time to prepare a response before any potential interview. The receipt of the notice of Investigation triggers the beginning of an investigation.
It is important for you to know that federal law requires that schools presume you to be not responsible for the alleged conduct. Even though this is not a criminal process, this is similar to the “innocent until proven guilty” standard in a criminal process.
What does it mean to be responsible or not responsible for a policy violation?
Since this is not a criminal process, the federal law and schools do not use terms like guilty, innocent, or acquittal. If someone is found to have committed the conduct alleged, they are deemed responsible. If they are not found to have committed the conduct alleged, they are deemed not responsible.
What should I do?
You will most likely start to receive correspondence and emails from the investigator or investigators assigned to your case. You have the absolute right to not speak with them. And if you choose not to talk with them, they cannot use your silence to show that you must be responsible for violating the policy.
The federal law requires that schools allow you to have an advisor of your choosing. The school may have an advisor they can assign to you, but it is highly unlikely this person will be a trained attorney. They may just be someone who is familiar with the school’s policy. You have the absolute right to have an attorney represent you through this process. It’s vitally important that you speak with an attorney before you engage in any communication with someone from the school.
What are the next steps in the process?
The investigators will begin to conduct their investigation. They will do this by speaking with the complainant (this is the person who has made the allegation against you) as well as any other Witnesses they deem to be relevant. Also, they may look at emails, text messages, pictures, or any other documents that they believe are relevant to the investigation. Also, they will reach out to you see if you want to participate in an interview.
Once they have completed their investigation, you will be provided all of the evidence that the investigators have learned about. This will include any Witness statements and any other documentation. You will then have, at a minimum, 10 business days to review this evidence and provide a response. Once the investigators receive your written comments, they will then complete a written report that fairly summarizes the evidence learned. It may or may not include any credibility determinations or findings of responsibility. Regardless of whether it does, the investigators are not permitted to make a finding against you. If they make any sort of finding or credibility determination, it is only advisory. Per the law, you have an absolute right to have a hearing before a neutral decision-maker. This may be one person or a panel of people. Also, your advisor has an absolute right to cross-examine the complainant and any other witnesses that have made statements.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the decision maker will make a determination whether you are responsible for violating the policy or not responsible for violating the policy. If you are found responsible, they will also sanction you. Regardless, you have a right to appeal this decision.