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How Do I Get a U-Visa? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 4/17/12

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Evelyn: what paperwork do i need to apply for my u-visa?

Joe Escalante: A u-visa is generally granted to immigrants who are victims of a crime while they are cooperating with authorities during the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator. First you file the I-918 petition, then you get the proof from the police authorities that you qualify. That’s another form. You can download these forms and instructions here:

Adam: What is the criteria to become appointed to a federal judgeship right out of law school?

Joe Escalante: The Constitution doesn’t contain any criteria to be a federal judge. Theoretically, the President could nominate Jeffrey Brown if he wanted to. However, to get past the confirmation process, he would probably at least need a legal background. Good luck.

Marylou: my straight A grandson was side swipe by an 18 wheeler, who crossed lines to turn right. He knew he was in the wrong because I heard him tell the police and my grandson there goes my job and license. The policemans whole attitude changed and he thru my grandson to the wolves. Because Brad my grandson has only liability he was expected to get in contact with this gentleman ins. company. Never was able to and Geico just paid the man and shut the case. I was there I know what happen. There were also 3 boys in the car. All very responsible seniors. We took pictures that show who was at fault. Do we have any recourse. we were not called and by the time we were able to talk with Geico it was over. Brad starts UT on full academic scholarship this fall and this could really make his insurance rise. He cannot drive his car.

Joe Escalante: It sounds like Brad didn’t follow through on what he was supposed to do. Now Brad’s granmother is trying to clean up his mess. If Brad is going to be a success at UT, he’s going to have to learn some responsibility and take care of his own affairs. Maybe he doesn’t pay his own insurance so he is a bit “relaxed” about things that could affect his rates.
All I can say is he can get on the phone and tell Geico he wants to dispute this. He might need a lawyer to open it back up. I know you love Brad, but seriously, he’s got to figure this out on his own. His excuse is he couldn’t get ahold of the other driver’s insurance company? I’m not buying it.

Eric: I live in NYC and recently left my job working for an ad agency. I signed a non-compete agreement, but does that prevent me from going to work for one of my former clients?

Joe Escalante: That depends on the language of the agreement. Many of these non-compete agreements are unenforceable to the extent they prevent someone from making a lving. The purpose of the agreement is probably to prevent you from gaining an advantage over your old agency with the confidential information or training you gained at their expense. If you are not doing that, you are not violating the spirit of a non-oompete agreement, but you may be violating the letter of the agreement depending on what it says specifically. You should spend a couple hundred bucks showing it to a labor attorney, or you could get permission from your old firm and sign a new agreement that says you wont disclose anything harmful to the new company.

Bumpers: How do we go about entering our business as a franchise concept?

Joe Escalante: Whenever I think about franchising my Secret Service oriented Colombian Brothel, I check in with my friends at for professional advice:

Janice: At what age can a child decide to live with a grandparent if something happens to the mother and the child chooses not to live with the father?

Joe Escalante: This varies by state. The older the kid is, the more likely the judge is going to listen. However, it’s really up to the judge to decide what is in the best interest of the child. If grandma serves Skittle burritos for dinner, and that’s why the kid wants to live there, the judge wont buy it.

Judi: If I lose my case an unlimited civil case here in Ca- Credit card collection Can I then file bankruptcy or do I have to state that in my answer to the complaint in order to file bankruptcy later?

Joe Escalante: If it is established that you are in bankruptcy, that would halt all proceedings against you for money judgments. Nothing can go forward unless the bankruptcy court says it can continue at that point. If you don’t do this, and a judgment is filed against you, certain judgments can be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding. You should get a good bankruptcy lawyer. Click below to get started looking for one.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Judi:

Rhonda: I live in Texas, and would like to know if I am entitled to half of our joint income tax return?

Joe Escalante: In Texas, I believe there is a presumption that all property acquired during marriage is community property, so this should apply to funds earned during the marriage. A refund is just money earned, taken, and returned.

Jake: will buying my stocks under an llc i file specifically to buy them, protect them if im personally sued?

Joe Escalante: I think you are referring to the theory that you can protect your personal assets from lawsuits against your LLC. Being able to hide your assets from lawful creditors is not one of the benefits of an LLC.

Jo: Are we allowed to trim branches from our neighbor’s trees if they cover our backyard basketball court and are crowding out trees in our yard? (We would ask but he refuses to talk with us about anything…I’ve written about him in the past.) If we can, can we trim up to our fence line?

Joe Escalante: Yes you can. Just don’t kill the tree and you’re fine.

Teralyn: Joe, I am not in the legal field but I know a lot of people and I am CONSTANTLY hearing of how someone “done someone dirty” and no attorney will pick up the case. From Dr’s botching up a simple Gall Bladder removal & leaving it to leak bile for a week, to a real estate agent going out of their way to hide Mello Roos Taxes from a home buyer right up to the week after they move in. (no mention of the final monthly payment til a week after escrow closed) and I am just amazed at how there is little to no help for people who can’t pay for help up front. I’ve told friends, “call consumer help lines, there’s gotta be a county advocate or something”. And cant find any help. Then a Realtor friend of mine gets sued by some people who got evicted from a home (by the lender foreclosing) and he listed it, the property preservation company disposed of the items but these people went and found a FREE attorney to sue the Realtor. He had nothing to do with them losing anything, its a silly case and they got FREE help. There are so many with REAL cases who really did get duped and “done dirty” and they cant find the help. What kind of advice do you have for someone who really cant pay up front… is there an establishment in existence that says, “where there’s a case, we will help you”? Even good cases, slam dunk ones like the Mello Roos case, the consumer directed offices arent responding. What kind of cases are those consumer advocates looking for?

Joe Escalante: You can spend a lot of time on a case that seems just, but your family will starve if there’s not enough money in it. Malpractice insurance and other overhead costs in connection with maintaining a legal practice prevents lawyers from being superheroes. However, there are some places that will fight for you that aren’t lawyers, like this guy:

Arlinga: A friend of mines just found out that they have a warrant from 2000 in Alabama but the statue of limitation says that is out of date since 2006 but they want them to pay it. What should they do?

Joe Escalante: He should call a criminal defense attorny and get an estimate as to what it would take to make it go away. It might be cheaper to just pay it, but maybe not.

Arlinga: He said that it was 554 dollars. He asked should he just paid when he is able or what?

Joe Escalante: He should do whatever he can without hiring a lawyer because the amount is too small. He can file a petition himself with the court to vacate the warrant due to the S.O.L. Once he gets in front of a judge, the amount will probably at least be reduced. Good luck

Judi: On a case management statement regarding my unlimited civil case What does question 17 mean?(a) re “the litigation procedures in Code of Civil Procedure sections 90-98 will apply to this case? or (b. This is a limited civil case and a motion to withdraw the case from the economic litigation procedures or for additional discovery will be filed?

Joe Escalante: You just asked me to explain 9 chapters in the code of Civll Procedure, and how they will apply to your case. Not going to do it. Sorry. You need to engage the services of an attorney.

Martha: If you apply for a job and you only have a partial arm due to a birth defect,and they tell you they will call you back for a second interview and then you find out they say they can’t hire you for safety reasons although you have done this type of work before is this discrimination? He has an excellent work history with no accidents ever.

Joe Escalante: It could be. It would depend on whether they can back up their claim that it would be a safety issue. You might want to file a claim with the State Labor Board, or State Labor Commissioner.

Lauri: A year ago we formed a LLC. We were unaware, that when the company name was being checked for availability, they only compare it to our state. The name was available, so we formed it, only to find out that there was a company in another state with a copyright and trademark. Therefore, we are out all that money! What can you do?

Joe Escalante: I don’t know enough facts. Their trademark might be invalid if you have been using the name before them. And if you are not involved in interstate commerce, like with a restaurant, it might be a non issue. If you need to change your name, your LLC is still valid. You can operate under a DBA.

Bonnie: I will soon be taking care of my older (67 year old)brother. We will sell his property and he will be living with me. I want to set up a trust for his care and to have money in the future. He is on Medicare – and will need long time care or assisted living eventually. What type of trust should I look at?

Joe Escalante: He can place his money in a living trust that names himself as the beneficiary for purposes of long term care. He has to set it up though, unless you have a valid power of attorney over his affairs. Or he can just put his money in the bank and use it to pay his bills. The advantages of a living trust would only be known after a serious analysis of his financial picture by a Estate Planning Attorney or a Tax Professional, or both.

Debbie: I have a question, I have been having problems with my local borough council! One of the main problems is across the street from my house at a property that used to be a florist. There were 2 additional greenhouses on the property that have been torn down now for many years. There is trash accumalating there and tires (I am concerned about these because a friend of mine got bitten by a mosquito in the same town and died from West Nile Virus) rugs, broken glass, old wooden doors with nails sticking out, and on and on. There is even one place that looks like a lean-to where some squatter is sleeping. The boro has told me they have cited the property owner at least 128 times but it’s been more than 7 years so it has to be more than that. I have asked if I could clean it up myself and haul it away and have been told no, it’s private property. I asked for them to have it cleaned up and bill the owner, and told they can’t do that. I’ve been told they have been talking about what to do with the property and when I asked what were some of the ideas they came up with they couldn’t answer that one either. I am kind of at my wits end as what to do next. I would appreciate any advice you would have for me.
Debbie H.

Joe Escalante: You might try filing a lawsuit against the property owner. What are your damages? Devaluation of YOUR property values due to his neglect of his property.
The same damages could arguably incur liability for the borrough leaders that are neglecting their duty. Suing the government involves a different process but it can be done. You will at least get everyone’s attention. Good luck.

Stashia: Is it legal to be married to more than one person. And can a person be charged for kidnapping there own children?

Joe Escalante: No, and yes.

Stashia: How do you do the detailed drawings for a patent prevent from doing a duplicate invention and create a prototype if you don’t have any engineering design skills and find equity financing to do all these things

Joe Escalante: You must engage the services of a Patent Attorney to do this right. Good luck.

Chelsea: I created a company a year ago, under Nevada LLC…at the time I didn’t have money to pay for the extras I was completely unaware my LLc has been revoked and they want 1300 to reinstate (i don’t have that kind of money). Is there a way I can keep my company name and just start over with a company that actually informs you about extra paperwork and fees BEFORE I lose my status?

Joe Escalante: You can operate your company as a sole proprietorship for now. You may not need to be an LLC. But make sure you get plenty of insurance if you’re going that route. Then you can put off the state for a while until you become super successful and the $1,300 seems like chump change to you. Chalk it up to a learning experience and read everything next time. Really do your homework. Lesson learned; you’re going to be fine.

Shatima: Hi! I just became An Excellent Decision,Inc. An S-Corp, so what’s my next step? Lol. Building a business a step at a time… Going to hire 1099 employees as needed for now… Looking to build Business Credit.

Joe Escalante: Well, if we’re going one step at a time, let’s meet with a tax professional and tell him or her what the heck you are up to. Then get some insurance to insure whatever the heck you are doing.

Melinda: I have a child under the age of 21, the child moved out of the house because they wanted to, now the child is coming to me and saying that I’m legally responsible for them till the age of 21. What exactly does this mean? What am I responsible for?

Joe Escalante: After 18 you are as responsible for them as you are for me. I’m all out of Cookie Crisp, please send me some, care of LegalZoom, attn: Carrie.

LegalZoom: That’s a wrap for Free Joe! Come join us on Friday for more free legal advice:

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April 19th, 2012 at 5:42 am