Are We Aware of Economic Effects of Violent Crime?
Being a member of the legal profession possibly makes one more aware of the violent crimes going our in his or her community, but we possibly all need to be aware of what is happening in our immediate areas and to be involved in community affairs.
The economic effects of violent crime are costly to the community, the taxpayers and those directly involved in the crime… the victims and the perpetrators.
Murders, rapes, assaults, and robberies quite frequently impose overwhelming economic costs on the victims who survive as well as the families of those involved, not only in the loss of earnings and the legal and medical costs involved, but also the physical and emotional tolls.
Communities also are affected by violent crimes by property values decreasing and insurance premiums increasing. Communities also see reduced investment in high-crime areas along with decreasing population in these areas which lower the tax base for the community.
When the tax base or population is lowered, the cost of community services increase per person and at times the services themselves decrease due to the costs involved.
Violent crimes also impose significant costs on the community and the taxpayers who bear the financial burden of maintaining the police personnel and operations, courts, jails, and prisons directed toward these crimes and their perpetrators.
Also, it may not be considered an economic effect of violent crime in the community, but we also have to be aware that violent crimes are a direct threat to our safety and the safety of our children and grandchildren.
Successful efforts to reduce crime can produce substantial economic benefits for the community as a whole.
Reflections on Changing Times & Laws
Spending time involved in the court systems brings to ones attention on how much the law has changed thru out history.
Looking back into past history, we see that time moves forward, nations emerge and other ones vanish, our customs change, but it seems that man does not.
The first documented murder happened when Cain killed Abel in the Bible and crime has not stopped since. Laws were instituted by man in order to protect society and the court systems have evolved to uphold the laws.
In the past, stealing a man transportation (his horse) was a hanging offense for the offender and oftentimes a death sentence for the owner of the horse, especially if he was left stranded in the wilderness of the wild west without any food or water.
In todays world, stealing a mans transportation (his motor vehicle) is often done for a thrill by some and a business by others. It’s no longer a hanging offense and most of our society does not seem to be too concerned with the offense…. possibly the owner of the vehicle is… especially if its not insured. The thief might be, if he or she it caught.
In the past, murder was also a hanging offense and justice was often swift. Justice might have been in the form of a legal execution by hanging by the neck until dead or sometimes by vigilante justice. Or many times by family members that believed in an “eye for an eye”, especially when a marshal, sheriff or lawman might be many days travel away. Most of us “oldtimers” are familiar with the “Hatfield & McCoy Feud” which is an example of family members dispensing what they consider “justice”.
Over time, reasons for crimes such as killing and stealing have changed. They still happen, but in many different circumstances. Just watch the news and you will see what I mean. We now classify crimes into different categories with punishment to suit. In past history, murder and many other crimes was a hanging offense or death sentence. In todays society, maybe not!
In todays society, justice is usually not quite as swift, as the court systems at times move slowly. Moving slowly with some calm deliberation about dispensing justice is one way of trying protect the accused rights. Usually, opinions vary on whether justice is dispensed fairly by the parties involved, depending on which side of the law they are on at the time.
As we look at crimes and conditions in other countries and also the crime in our own country, I think most will agree that we need laws designed to protect the innocent and society as a whole.
Tax Time is almost here!
The end of the year is approaching and tax time is just around the corner.
It’s not too late to take action to lower your taxes for this year.
For businesses, end of year purchases, and prepaying some expenses and bills can get a few dollars in extra deductions for this year.
If you haven’t made a deposit to your IRA, now can be a good time to prepare for that.
Now is also a good time to go over your personal and business documents such as insurance, wills & testaments, powers of attorney, and health care paperwork to prepare for end of life events to make sure your survivors are properly taken care of.
MORE HELP FOR VETERANS!!!!!
The Veterans Administration has developed what is being called the “Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative”. According a Department of Veterans Affairs, April 30, 2009, Under Secretary for Health’s Information Letter, “The purpose of the initiative is to avoid the unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration among Veterans by ensuring that eligible Veterans in contact with the criminal justice system have access to Veterans Health Administration (VHA) mental health and substantive services.”
In Arkansas, the initiative is being administered through the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. The initiative is one of many programs that is being offered.
Although the initiative does not prevent or preclude a veteran from having to face the consequences of his or her actions, it does allow a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney an additional avenue to better serve the client.
The VJO Initiative website can be accessed at http://www1.va.gov/HOMELESS/VJO.asp.
If you would like to learn more about Veterans Treatment Courts, please see the Justice for Vets site.
Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?
Approximately 15 million United States residents are victims of identity theft. Their identities are used fraudulently with financial losses each year totaling upwards of $50 billion.*
On a case-by-case basis, that means approximately 7% of all adults have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
According to the Federal Trade Commission Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. The number of identity theft incidents has reached 9.9 million a year. Every minute about 19 people fall victim to identity theft.
And according to Wikipedia the Free online Encyclopedia, identity theft is a form of stealing someone’s identity in which someone pretends to be someone else by assuming that person’s identity, usually as a method to gain access to resources or obtain credit and other benefits in that person’s name.
The victim of identity theft (here meaning the person whose identity has been assumed by the identity thief) can suffer adverse consequences if they are held responsible for the perpetrator’s actions.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses another’s personally identifying information, like their name, identifying number, or credit card number, without their permission, to commit fraud or other crimes such as when someone uses your personal information and Social Security number to set up new accounts that they can control and use to make purchases, or to even get a tax refund.
If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, you may need to take several steps to recover from it. The federal government has a one-stop resource to help you report and recover from identity theft at www.identitytheft.gov
The site provides step-by-step advice and helpful resources like checklists and sample letters to use in your recovery process.
Warning Signs of Identity Theft
Once identity thieves have your personal information, they can drain your bank account, run up charges on your credit cards, open new utility accounts, or get medical treatment on your health insurance. An identity thief can file a tax refund in your name and get your refund. In some extreme cases, a thief might even give your name to the police during an arrest.
Some warnings signs of Identity Theft are:
- You see withdrawals from your bank account that you can’t explain.
- You don’t get your bills or other mail.
- Merchants refuse your checks.
- Debt collectors call you about debts that aren’t yours.
- You find unfamiliar accounts or charges on your credit report.
- Medical providers bill you for services you didn’t use.
- Your health plan rejects your legitimate medical claim because the records show you’ve reached your benefits limit.
- A health plan won’t cover you because your medical records show a condition you don’t have.
- The IRS notifies you that more than one tax return was filed in your name, or that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
- You get notice that your information was compromised by a data breach at a company where you do business or have an account.
If your wallet, Social Security number, or other personal information is lost or stolen, there are to help protect yourself from identity theft.
See the checklist at https://www.identitytheft.gov/
DO I NEED A WILL?
If you wish to designate how your estate is disbursed upon your death, you probably need a will. Your estate is generally considered to be your money, property and other possessions.
The laws vary considerably from state to state and if you die without a will, the state may decide who gets what, without regard to your wishes or your heirs’ needs.
A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property upon your death. Wills are also the best way to transfer guardianship of minors. A will can also be used to inform people about any other special wishes you would like carried out upon your death.
Also, in your will, you can name your executor, the person who you are designating to make sure that your wishes are carried out as outlined in your will.
You need for a will depends upon your specific circumstances. If you are a young person with no minor children and no assets, a will may not be beneficial to you. If you have minor children and extensive assets, a will may be beneficial to you and also your beneficiaries when you pass away.
If you have a small family with very few assets and you want to leave everything to them, creating a will is to meet your needs is fairly simple. If your situation is more complicated you’ll need to plan more carefully. A will can help make sure that what you leave behind passes to the people you intended.
To maximize the likelihood that your wishes are carried out, you want a will that is set forth in writing, and signed by you and your witnesses with your executor named.
As the laws do vary state by state, you may want to use an attorney to prepare your will to make sure it is legally valid and meets all the requirements set forth by the laws of your state.
Gary McDonald is a general practitioner who actively began practicing law in 1979.
His practice has included a multitude of subject areas which has resulted in a broad range of experience. He can proudly proclaim a good working knowledge of many areas of the law.
Mr. McDonald is no stranger to the courtroom, having successfully tried cases in the District, Circuit, Appeals and Supreme Courts of Arkansas as well as the U.S. District Courts of
Arkansas and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit.
Mr. McDonald strives to provide high quality services in a timely manner. He works both on an hourly and contingent fee basis as is allowed by state rule. Mr. McDonald’s regular practice includes the areas of Civil, Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, and Planning For Life, Last Illness & Death.
Southern State College, Bachelor of Science, 1975;
University of Arkansas, Juris Doctor, 1978;
Southern Methodist University, Master of Laws., 1979.
1979, Arkansas and U.S. District Court, Western District of Arkansas; 1984.
Union County, Arkansas and American Bar Associations.
American Association of Justice (Formerly the American Trial Lawyers Association)
Martindell Hubbell Peer Rating: Excellent
Mr. McDonald does not charge for an initial fifteen minute consultation.
This consultation will be used to determine if his office can be of service and the best way to proceed.
Mr. McDonald’s goal is to provide the highest quality of legal services in a timely manner.
He welcomes the opportunity to discuss how his office may be of service.
Offices Located in Simmons First Bank Plaza
100 West Grove Suite 308 El Dorado AR
PHONE (870) 862-1498 FAX (870) 862-4071