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Collins Law Firm :: Blog

Archive for February, 2013

Unemployement and Pathways to Better Chances in the Job Market

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Our nation has faced some difficult economic times as of late. In North Carolina, these trying times have left over 400,000  unemployed and unsure of how they will be providing for themselves and their families. The unemployment rate for young North Carolinians (ages 20-24) more than doubled between 2007 and 2011—the second highest jump in the nation.  North Carolina joined six other states in 2012 to combat this growing trend in a network which emerged as a result of the Pathways to Prosperity Report by the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

The Pathways to Prosperity report was released in February of 2011 by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and was entitled: “Pathway to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century”. This report challenged our excessive focus on the four-year college education and argued that additional pathways need to be created to combine rigorous academics with strong technical education to equip the majority of young people with the skills and credentials to succeed in our increasingly challenging labor market.

Another aspect however—not addressed in the report or by the network— is the challenge our youngsters face due to their youthful indiscretions reflected on their criminal records.

Whether you are hired or promoted for a job may depend on the information revealed in a background check. Job applicants and existing employees as well as volunteers may be asked to submit to background checks. Employers are looking for the best possible candidates for their companies and background checks help sort through the overwhelming number of applicants they have. A blemish from days past can have a negative impact on an individual’s employability. An expungement may be the answer for certain, qualifying individuals who wish to clear their criminal record in order to have a better chance at employment.

If you or someone you know would like to open up career opportunities by discussing the possibility of expunging your criminal record contact Collins Law Firm  at (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a confidential legal consultation.

By Courtney Hull, Intern at Collins Law Firm

Buckle-Up Kids In North Carolina

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34 in the U.S. More than 2.3 million drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments as the result of being injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2009. Seat belt use and proper child restraint are the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes, yet millions of adults do not wear their seat belts and fail to properly secure their children on every car ride. Many of these deaths and injuries can be prevented.  Placing children in age- and size-appropriate car seats and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.

According to North Carolina General Statute § 20-137.1 (Child restraint systems required)

(a) Every driver who is transporting one or more passengers of less than 16 years of age shall have all such passengers properly secured in a child passenger restraint system or seat belt which meets federal standards applicable at the time of its manufacture.
(a1) A child less than eight years of age and less than 80 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system. In vehicles equipped with an active passenger-side front air bag, if the vehicle has a rear seat, a child less than five years of age and less than 40 pounds in weight shall be properly secured in a rear seat, unless the child restraint system is designed for use with air bags. If no seating position equipped with a lap and shoulder belt to properly secure the weight-appropriate child passenger restraint system is available, a child less than eight years of age and between 40 and 80 pounds may be restrained by a properly fitted lap belt only.

A violation of this section shall have all of the following consequences:

(1) Two drivers license points shall be assessed pursuant to G.S. § 20-16.
(2) No insurance points shall be assessed.
(3) The violation shall not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence per se.

For maximum safety and to avoid being charged with failing to restrain a child, follow these recommendations provided by www.buckleupnc.org:
•    Use rear facing child restraints as long as possible, but at least until age two. Most models can and should be used up to at least 30 pounds.
•    Once a child is turned to face the front of the car, use a child restraint with a harness until the harness is outgrown, from 40-80 pounds, depending on the model.
•    Use seatbelts for older children only when they are large enough for both the lap and shoulder belt to fit correctly.
•    Use a seatbelt on every car trip to set a good example for your children.

If you have been charged for failing to restrain a child, for a seatbelt violation  or if you have legal concerns about any area of law in which we practice, contact us at (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a confidential legal consultation.

By Lauren Seidel, Paralegal

Your Rights As A Landlord/Tenant in North Carolina

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Many families and individuals today are choosing to rent over owning their own home. Renting can provide certain benefits over buying that many find attractive, including minimal maintenance, no property taxes or home owners’ insurance, and less commitment. However, when disputes between a landlord and tenant arise, the living situation in a rental home can become unbearable.

Knowing your rights as a tenant or landlord may help to resolve disputes or avoid them all together. The laws governing the relationship between a landlord and a tenant are complex and come from several sources. Those sources include the law of contracts, the law of negligence, the North Carolina General Statutes, local health, safety and building codes, federal laws and regulations governing subsidized rental housing, and the Constitutions of the United States and the State of North Carolina. Outlined below are the legal responsibilities of a landlord and of a tenant.

A landlord must:
•    Make any repairs needed to keep your place fit and safe.
•    Keep the plumbing, heating, sanitary and electrical equipment in good and safe working order, and provide a smoke alarm.
•    If the landlord provides appliances, like a stove or a refrigerator, he or she must fix them if they break.
•    Keep the stairs, sidewalks and areas that are used by everyone in the building in safe condition.
•    Obey local housing codes. Many towns and counties have passed laws that say what a fit and safe place should have, such as window screens, hot and cold water, door locks and more. These laws are called the “Housing Code.” To find out if your town or county has a Housing Code and what the Code says, call your town hall or county inspections office.
•    Inform you if he or she sells the property.
•    Tell you in writing of any complaints about the way you are treating the property

A tenant must:
•    Pay your rent on time.
•    Keep your place as clean and safe as you can. Get rid of garbage in a clean and safe way. Keep the plumbing (sinks, toilet, bathtub) clean.
•    Not damage your place or let anyone visiting you damage your place. Remember: If your guest damages your place, you may be responsible. Your landlord may not have to fix damages caused by you or your guest. Your landlord may bill you for the repairs.
•    Give your landlord notice if you decide to move out at the end of your lease. If you have a written lease, usually the amount of notice required is stated in the lease. If not, North Carolina law states that proper notice is:
– 2 days if you pay rent every week
-7 days if you pay rent every month
– 1 month if the lease is year-to-year
– 30 days if you own a mobile home and rent the lot
Notice does not have to be in writing, but it is always better to write the landlord a letter, date the letter, include the date you plan to move and keep a copy of the letter.

Remember:  A tenant can be evicted for the following reasons:
•    Non-payment of rent- The landlord must demand the rent and wait 10 days before filing a complaint against you at the courthouse. To “demand” the rent, the landlord must either ask you for the rent or write you a letter about the rent and explain that you will be evicted unless you pay it.
•    Lease termination- If you stay after the rental period ends, either because the written lease ended or your landlord told you to move out, and the landlord does not continue to accept your rent, the court may evict you for “holding over.” This notice does not have to be in writing. If the landlord can prove that the lease has been terminated, you can be evicted.
•    Breach of the lease- Your landlord may try to prove that you broke (“breached”) the lease by causing damage, disturbing the neighbors or other actions. The landlord must prove the case with evidence. You will have a chance to present witnesses and evidence to show that the landlord’s claims are false or are not a violation of the lease agreement. The landlord does not have to give you notice before starting the eviction process, so long as the landlord is claiming that you breached the lease. However, the landlord must have a certain clause in the lease that allows him or her to evict you before your lease ends. It is called a forfeiture clause.

If you feel as if your rights as a landlord or tenant have been violated, or if you have legal concerns about any area of law in which we practice, contact us at (910) 793-9000(910) 793-9000 for a confidential legal consultation.

By Lauren Seidel, Paralegal