What Does Sanction Mean?

If you’re paying attention to international news at all lately, you’re probably well aware of the growing conflict between the United States and North Korea – specifically their intercontinental ballistic missile program which rumors toward the possibility of implementing nuclear materials. Through all the discussions, however, you also may have heard of the word “sanctions,” and you may or may not necessarily be aware of what that word means or implies for the world stage.

Merriam-Webster lists quite a few meanings for the word. However, in terms of international relations, the term “sanction” means the following:

Sanction (n) – an economic or military coercive measure adopted usually by several nations in concert for forcing a nation violating international law to desist or yield to adjudication

Basically, it means a bunch of countries gang up on one or two other countries using political, economic or military pressure to try to convince them to stop doing bad stuff – kind of like what’s happening with the North Korea situation right now.

Particularly used these days are economic sanctions, which imposes restrictions on international commerce between the target country and whichever countries are involved with the sanctions in the first place. As an example, the United States has imposed (or encouraged through other entities such as China or the United Nations) economic sanctions on North Korea in an effort to dissuade them from continuing testing within their missile and nuclear programs. Some of the particulars involving these sanctions include:

  • United Nations’ complete ban on all major North Korean exports, including coal, iron, lead, and seafood
  • Restrictions on imports of oil and energy resources as well as textiles from China into North Korea

The general concern for the country in question is usually one of economic consequence that forces the country to reconsider the course of action they are taking for the sake of avoiding a collapse of their economy. In the case of North Korea, however, the economy doesn’t seem to suffer too badly at the moment – at least, not to the point of discouraging such behavior or effort put into these programs. As Justin Hastings writes, North Korea appears to have adapted to the economic pressure in a number of surprising ways.

Other types of sanctions besides those resorting to economic sanctions include diplomatic and military sanctions, which essentially are what they sound like. Diplomatic sanctions generally impose a lack of communication between world leaders or the governments in general through canceled visits by high-ranking officials or the expulsion of diplomatic staffing. Military sanctions, while possibly inclusive of actual military action, differentiate themselves from wars through tactical, precise military strikes to disable a country’s military capabilities rather than destabilize the nation as a whole and prime it for occupation or liberation, whichever the case may be. More often than not, however, military sanctions themselves are less cumbersome than actual military courses of action. They tend toward resolutions similar to that of economic sanctions in that they impose restrictions on arms and weapons to the country in question.

The whole purpose in general for effective sanctions is to come to a relatively peaceful resolution to issues that rule the international stage, even if by attempts that seem akin to intimidation tactics such as threatening one’s economy or military capabilities, or by establishing less-than-ideal relations with other countries. While this may be considered similar to a tactic such as “muscling the pot” in a one-sided poker game, it is generally seen as a favorable alternative to military action where countless lives could potentially be lost as a result, and it better exemplifies unity of opinion and policy on the world stage.

Written by Timothy Abeel

Bankruptcy And The Means Test

If your debts are larger than your assets and the stress of having the debt is interfering with your ability to enjoy your life, you might want to consider filing for bankruptcy. When you file for bankruptcy you can legally eliminate your debts and you can get on with your life again. Once you finish a means test you will know whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, according to cramplawfirm.com.

If your income is low enough, you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy which will wipe out all your debt and you won’t have to pay any of it back. If you have a large asset like a lot of equity in a house or a very expensive car, you might have to sell it if the value exceeds your bankruptcy exemption amount.

You get to keep a certain amount of assets and equity in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and whatever exceeds the amount you can keep you have to sell. If you have a higher income and you have assets that you want to keep, you will want to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. With this type of bankruptcy you have to pay a portion of your debt back over a period of several years.

Once you file for bankruptcy, your debtors have to stop harassing you. If a creditor has filed a lawsuit against you, they cannot proceed with the lawsuit either. The means test is very important because if your income is more than the median income of the state you live in, the judge could dismiss your case which will put you back on the hook for all the debt you owe.

You might want to consider hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to make sure that you do everything right. If you try to fill out the paperwork yourself and make a mistake, you could end up delaying the process or you might have to start all over again. When your bankruptcy protection is lifted, the creditors can start calling you and threatening you again. Getting the paperwork done right the first time is crucial.

When you are planning on filing for bankruptcy, you have to start with the means test so you know what type of bankruptcy you are eligible for. Bankruptcy provides you with a legal way to start over and it makes sense if your debt is out of control.

Legal Definition Of Affidavit

Being in the legal system means the term “affidavit” is tossed around freely.

For those who are unaware, this may be a new term and something one may come across once or twice in his/her life. If that is the case, this is the ultimate read on what it means to see an affidavit and what it leads to legally.

Having this information is important to make sure you are on the right side of a legal matter and know how to respond when a situation such as this arises.

What Is An Affidavit?

Let’s begin with a simple legal definition of the term.

This is a written document with a list of facts that are approved by the “affiant” or person who is signing off on the document. This means the facts are under your name and a part of your perspective. This is not an opinion and should be cited as clear facts on the case.

The document states this is done voluntarily and you are not subjected to force or any other form of coercion when listing the facts.

This ensures the document can be used in the court of law as pertinent information (if necessary).

Who Takes The Affidavit?

The affidavit is taken by a public officer, which can include a court clerk, city recorder, county clerk, notary, or court commissioner. They are certified to complete the document and will have the authorization to push it forward as needed.

Each state has varying laws about what is allowed and what is not.

This is kept in mind by the public officer as the affidavit is pushed through. It’s important to note; the public officer is not permitted to take affidavits outside his/her jurisdiction.

Uses of Affidavits

In general, affidavits are seen in court proceedings but can also be used as a one-stop solution for larger groups in court cases.

An example of this would be a business that is under scrutiny. An affidavit is a way to get the word about all enlisted facts and sign off on them as a business. In some cases, affidavits are also seen being used in administrative proceedings, but this will vary from situation to situation.

This is an important document, and it is essential to receive legal assistance while pursuing such a document and having it penned on your behalf. It will have a significant role to play in court proceedings.

What Does Jurisdiction Mean?

I’m sure many of you have watched some sort of crime television show, considering how many there are. Law and Order, CSI, Blue Bloods, NCIS…the list goes on. And, of course, you’ve probably made note of some of the legal jargon they throw around in many of those shows. Words like, “incarceration” or “acquittal” or even my personal favorite, “exonerated.” Another important one is “jurisdiction,” and it’s important, not only because of how cool it sounds, but because of what it actually means to the modern day legal system.

Jurisdiction, at its base, actually has two rather significant meanings, both impacted by one key principle. One pertains directly to the authority for someone to hear a case and administer justice based on the findings of that case. Depending on the nature of the law or the crime that was committed, some cases might place jurisdiction in a state court while other cases would grant jurisdiction to a Federal court – based solely on the crime that was committed. However, jurisdiction can also refer to the geographical area in which a crime took place (also known as geographical or territorial jurisdiction), which can also be a determining factor in who might hear the relevant case. For example, it’s easy to assume that committing a crime in New York would not necessarily get you a court date or a trial in California. As much as it may have to do with logic applied to the situation, it is also due to who is granted jurisdiction in that particular situation. Both of these are due to the limits of legal authority granted to specific entities – their jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction is also predicated on the nature of the crime or transgression as it applies to what sort of relevant entity may hear the case and pass adequate sentence. For example, family and divorce courts obviously deal prominently in matters regarding custody or divorce proceedings, among other matters. However, you would never hear of a judge in a family court presiding over a criminal case that involved something along the lines of a homicide or sexual assault. This is due to jurisdiction being restricted from a family court setting and only feasible in a criminal court setting due to the sort of crime that was committed – also known as subject matter jurisdiction.

There are some unique cases involving a concept called “in personam” jurisdiction where, depending upon the circumstances of the case, courts can impose upon specific individuals to be sued or tried in settings and situations where said court wouldn’t normally have (most often territorial/geographical) jurisdiction. This most often occurs when a crime or a grievance takes place in one particular area of jurisdiction even though the defendant may be from or located in a completely different area with a completely different jurisdiction at the time that they are summoned to court. “In personam” or personal jurisdiction is a bit trickier to identify and requires many other factors to take place in order to determine if this sort of jurisdiction is applicable. However, having all three of these pieces (territorial, subject matter and personal) jurisdiction is important to determining a court’s right and ability to preside over a case. If even any one of these elements is missing, a court is legally unable to pass down a ruling upon a defendant.

Determining jurisdiction for police is much easier, depending on the sort of agency that an office of the law represents. Officers of a city police force have jurisdiction only within city limits. County sheriff’s deputies can enact authority anywhere throughout the county of their jurisdiction, excluding any activities that occur within city limits – they defer to local police officers. State troopers have authority to act anywhere throughout the state, though their ability to act with authority is limited within city limits or counties where jurisdiction would defer to other entities first.

What Is The Legal Definition of Acquittal?

Everyone has a basic idea of what the word “acquittal” means. If you’ve been acquitted of criminal charges, then you’re off the hook. Even though that’s the simplest explanation, not everything is so simple in the legal world, and a lawyer needs to know all the ins and outs and small details involved with every aspect of acquittal. So what is the more complicated, legal definition of the word?

An acquittal can take place in a number of ways, depending on the specific case. While the laymen know that acquittal is when a judge or jury finds a defendant not guilty of the accused crimes. The defendant is therefore cleared of charges and cannot be tried again for those same charges in the future. This circumstance represents a factual acquittal.

A different type of more legalized acquittal may take place in certain instances. These occur when more than one person is tried with charges that relate to a single crime. For example, if an accused bank robber is acquitted of robbing the bank, then the accused accessory who was driving the getaway car would indirectly be acquitted of that charge. If no one robbed the bank as far as the law is concerned, then no one could commit a crime by driving the accused away. The law is fun, isn’t it?

These two scenarios together represent the legal definition of acquittal.

An acquittal is dependant on the “not guilty” verdict. Because such a verdict can relate to certain charges stemming from a specific crime, but not all, sometimes the acquittal is partial in nature. In essence, a “not guilty” verdict and an acquittal are the same. It should still be understood that judges have the overall say and can acquit a defendant even if there is no “not guilty” verdict connected to the case. Judges can also overturn the decision of a jury–although this is extremely rare. These scenarios generally play out when a judge finds there is not enough evidence to try a defendant of a crime. Sometimes the prosecution oversteps a boundary and the judge steps in.

One of the most important aspects of acquittal is that it means you’ve been freed from criminal charges related to a certain crime–but that’s it. Oddly enough, just because a jury or judge hasn’t been presented with enough evidence to find you guilty of a crime does not mean that a civil proceeding can’t find you guilty of that same crime. In other words, the burden of proof in a criminal court is wildly different from that of a civil court, and you might still find yourself in hot water if someone has the right to sue you for a boatload of cash. In some cases, criminal proceedings might as well be a dry run for inevitable civil proceedings.

Acquittal in both the laymen’s and legal sense is fairly simple, but when you’ve been accused of a crime you should always have a criminal defense attorney present to help you understand the legal jargon and the potential consequences of a plea or eventual verdict. This is the best way to a robust and fair defense.

What Is The Legal Definition of Admissible?

The law is a tricky business, and for those of us who don’t know it well–or even the lawyers who do–it can be a pain in the neck. Sometimes we know for certain that something is true. Sometimes we even have definitive proof. But sometimes that definitive proof is inadmissible or deemed too far outside of bounds to be considered relevant to a case. For those of us who can’t quite wrap our heads around how something can both be proof an act was or was not committed but still be inadmissible in court, it might be important to shed some light on what the legal definition of admissible really is.

A legal dictionary simply says that evidence is admissible “if it is of such a character that the court is bound to accept it during the trial.”

Wow, isn’t that helpful?

A legally binding “Federal Rules of Evidence” further determines exactly what kind of evidence may or may not be used in a court of law, and explains and evaluates the reasons why. Many of us won’t like the primary reasons that certain kinds of evidence remain inadmissible, but here they are: if a piece of evidence causes “unjustifiable expense and delay” then it may be inadmissible. Evidence is admissible only if it helps further proceedings along, and unfortunately, pieces of evidence that aren’t cost-effective in a courtroom don’t fit the bill.

That might sound complicated, and that’s because it is. That’s why we hire lawyers in the first place. Because they’re taught to wade through a complicated legal battleground. Think of it like this: if we’re likely to argue over a piece of potential evidence’s validity in court, then it probably won’t be admissible in the first place.

For evidence to remain admissible, it needs to be both reliable and relevant. It can be demonstrative, documentary, real, or testimonial in nature. You’ve probably heard all of the common objections on TV: unfairly prejudicial, wastes time, hearsay, misleading, etc. These are examples of why evidence might be considered inadmissible in court.

Evidence that exposes a defendant’s character trait as a primary point of the case is usually deemed inadmissible in court, as is supposed expert testimony obviously not provided by an expert. Where the information came from is important as well. You won’t find a priest offering testimony describing what a defendant may have said in confession or a therapist regarding what was said in session. These are privileged sources of information that can’t be used.

Whether evidence is admissible or inadmissible is a primary reason why legal counsel is encouraged when a defendant is brought into court or charged with a serious crime. Without legal representation that is versed in the difference between what kind of evidence is relevant to the case, the court system will quickly grow fed up with a layman’s attempts. This is especially relevant in cases involving the need for a criminal defense.

Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment

This is actually a very good question. It is likely true that the definition depends on the workplace in which you work, and the policies and procedures that are in place, not to mention the general culture of the workplace.

We can admit that standards for “sexual harassment” can vary, from simply having physical contact, to those that have verbal sexual comments added to the definition.

The least common denominator for sexual harassment is about the work environment that comments or physical actions create. And these actions or words apply only to the workplace, at least in terms of the federal government guidelines.

From a legal perspective, sexual harassment is defined as any verbal or physical activity of a sexual nature that leads to a hostile work environment. It applies to either men or women received unwanting comments or physical contact and in situations where a worker’s employment status may be impacted by accepting or rejecting such actions or comments.

Such actions can be deemed a violation of the Civil Rights Act, Title VII, which addresses sexual discrimination, as such comments or actions are considered discriminatory based on gender or sexual orientation. Courts have determined that there are two types of actionable sexual harassment.

One is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, which is usually a person in an authority position requesting sexual favors or a relationship in exchange for either a promotion or bonus or to stay employed. The other type is called “hostile work environment” sexual harassment, which involves photography, comments or threats. Random and occasional such comments are one thing, but the hostile work environment can come about if the comments or threats happen so often or come from supervisors and managers that they affect worker’s ability to do their job or create feelings of intimidation.

In the second type of sexual harassment can not only involve legal action against the individual who conducts the harassment, but employers can also be potentially liable if two conditions are met:

  • If the employer had reason to be aware of the hostile environment, and
  • The employer did not take reasonable efforts to fix the problem.

And how would an employer be expected to know about the hostile environment? Legally, an employer can be found to have had knowledge if the employer had a complaint filed about the activity, management did not take action in developing an anti-harassment policy, and/or the activity is common knowledge among workers and occurs in the open on the work site.

Sexual harassment is handled differently by each state; some states have requirements for companies to have sexual harassment policies in place, while other states do not have such laws but may allow an employee to sue an employer based on privacy violations. It is a good idea to know your state’s laws and regulations involving sexual harassment and look for a policy for sexual harassment with your employer to understand compliance with federal rules and definitions.

There is no place for sexual harassment in the workplace, and it is up to all of us to be proactive and calling it out and getting sound legal advice to ensure that sexual harassment is expunged from the workplace.

Legal Definition of Wage and Hour Laws

Slavery was abolished in the United States 150 years ago. Since then, other forms of indentured servitude have been wiped out by labor unions and their work with various state and federal governments.

Thanks to these laws, no one is working for less than they deserve, gaining a sense of dignity.

Dignity is a key with most workers, no matter what work they are doing. And having some rules and laws to prevent companies from taking unfair advantage of workers has served to be very protective or workers, but has also affected the economy in other ways in terms of unemployment and average wages.

Called “wage and hour laws,” these laws at the state and federal level are a series of laws that provide for minimum hourly wages, hours of work, maximum hours of work before implementation of overtime, and establishing terms of overtime pay and vacation and sick-leave compensation.

Much of what states have created are based off the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which set federal labor guidelines, including minimum wage, a full-time work week, overtime guidelines and establishment of overtime and paid time off.

States have their own related laws involving wages and work hours, but they cannot be more restrictive than the FLSA, though they can be more generous and minimum wages can be higher than the federal minimum but cannot be lower.

Employers are required to comply with the FLSA by keeping truthful and accurate records of wages and hours worked by employees. On occasion, however, there are lawsuits involving possible violations of these wage and hour laws, either federally or at the state level. Actually, when it comes to employment or labor law, wage and hour laws are the most common maters in courts. The most common lawsuits involving wage and hour laws include:

  • Exemptions to overtime pay. There are some positions that are considered exempt from FLSA overtime rules, but some employers may mis-classify certain positions as exempt in order to avoid paying the federally mandated 1.5 times for overtime pay. The types of jobs that can be deemed exempt are spelled out in the FLSA, and it is a federal crime to declare exemptions or jobs outside the scope of the law.
  • Another common lawsuit mater involves the distinction between actual duties performed on a job vs. the job description. The FLSA allows exemptions for jobs which have specific job duties performed, and not just what is in a job title or on paper. Some employees will sue when they are doing jobs that should be compliant with FLSA when the job title or job description is considered exempt. Any incongruity between job title and duties can be grounds for a lawsuit.
  • What is called “off the clock” work. This may involve some employers changing a standard 40-hour work week by having 10-hour days and four-day weeks. There are also examples of companies trying to say that business meetings are not part of the work day and thus are not paid hours eligible for overtime. There are also some employers who may discriminate or retaliate against employees by withholding paychecks or bonuses.

Thanks to wage and hour laws, no worker above the age of 16 can work for slave wages or less. Knowing these laws can be a great protection for employees to hold employers accountable for their compliance with the law so as to not take a few extra profits on the backs of workers who deserve fair wages and reasonable work schedules.

What Is The Legal Definition Of Not Guilty

Congratulations, you’ve been found not guilty of a crime you may or may not have committed by a judge or a jury of your peers. Everything is right with the world (or if you had committed the crime, then slightly askew). But what does that mean for you and your future? Are you safe? Can you be tried again? If you were found “not guilty” of a crime that has been committed, then that means you can’t be held accountable for the crime with which you were charged at that time or at any time in the future.

Contrary to the plot of “Double Jeopardy,” a movie released in 1999, if you are found not guilty of first degree murder, whether or not you can be retried is up for debate. Usually you’re free and clear, but the funny thing about prosecution is this: it wants to win. If you really did commit the crime, and law enforcement only figures that out after you were acquitted, then double jeopardy statutes say you can’t be retried for that same crime. What they don’t say is that the prosecuting lawyer can’t hit you with a similar charge. In the case of the movie, you’d probably get nailed with second degree murder or manslaughter. Bummer.

Then again, if the prosecution relied on evidence that you committed offenses that fall into an umbrella under first degree murder and you are found not guilty, then you are not guilty of all the offenses found in that umbrella, second degree murder and manslaughter included. You can’t be retried for any of those offenses. It really depends on the circumstances, but let’s face it: the circumstances under which you would ever need to be retried for any crime are extraordinarily rare and you probably don’t have to worry about it.

Although a defendant can appeal a judge or jury’s decision to convict with a “guilty” verdict, double jeopardy laws guarantee that the prosecution cannot do the same.

In England, double jeopardy is complicated further. Their laws say that you can be retried if two prerequisites fall into place: first, the crime must be serious (think rape or murder). Second, new evidence must be made available, and it must be compelling enough that a new trial will even be considered.

In any case, guilt or lack thereof is a complex subject. If you are accused of a crime, be sure to acquire the services of the best criminal defense attorney you can afford. If the prosecutor smells defeat, it probably doesn’t matter if you’re guilty or not. They’ll offer a plea bargain that sounds better than the alternative. Be careful.

What Is The Legal Definition of Guilty?

Proving criminal guilt is no easy task, but the burden of proof is usually on the prosecution to show that a defendant is guilty of a crime. Criminal law defines being “guilty” as having been responsible for an act that offends a law on the books. If a local, state, or federal law says you can’t steal from the little market on the corner (guess what, all of them say that), then stealing from the little market on the corner means you’re legally guilty of breaking the law.

Although this has always remained the case, law has changed markedly over time and varies by which country you reside in. For example, in the U.S. the party being prosecuted is considered innocent until proven guilty, which pushes the burden of proof towards the prosecution. In the U.K. though, the burden of proof is on the defendant in certain defamation cases. In Scotland, another verdict in addition to “guilty” and “not guilty” is “not proven.” This one is self-explanatory–the defendant’s innocence is not assumed, even though he or she is acquitted of the charges that have been levied because not enough evidence is available to discern guilt and innocence.

Many believe that laws should be self-evident, although our society seems to be getting farther and farther away from that foundation that once stood so iron-clad. This assumption was based on the similar philosophical belief that a society should be allowed to condemn the immoral actions of people who go against the wishes of the masses. If you can be condemned by your peers, then it should be obvious what you did wrong. If you can’t figure that out, then there’s a problem with the system.

The law has always struggled to find ways of resolving a person’s guilt. What are the options? In ancient times (and even in some places today), an eye for an eye seemed like the best option. If you stole, then you could lose what you own. Alternatively, your hand could be cut off in the extremest circumstances. If you murdered another, then your own life would be forfeit as well.

Nowadays, many people see things a little bit differently. Forgiveness certainly factors into some criminal proceedings. If you wronged an individual or organization, then they generally can make the decision whether or not to prosecute. Then again, if the person accused of a crime shows no remorse, he or she is more likely to feel the full weight of prosecution. Why a person committed a crime can also become a factor in the eventual punishment. There is a difference between premeditated murder and a crime of passion, as it were. Many locales also treat hate crimes differently. Then again, if you stole a piece of bread because you were hungry, the sentence might be lighter at the end of the day.

Then, there’s another important question to answer: what is the purpose of criminal prosecution? Should the result be punishment, rehabilitation, or a combination of both? Should the death penalty be on the table? Should cruel and unusual punishment be outlawed, and if so, what defines cruel and unusual punishment?

These are questions we will likely continue to struggle with in the foreseeable future.