How a Lawyer Can Help: Court Grants Motion to Waive Jail Fees; Client Gets Driver License Back

This week, a former client walked into our office to show me his driver license. As I held the license in my hand, I couldn’t help but smile.

In June, this young man had come to our office for help getting his driver license back. He had made some poor choices in his past, which resulted in a series of criminal charges, including an underage consumption charge and a DUI. As part of his DUI offense, the state revoked his driver license and he could not reacquire his license until he paid his court costs and fees in full. His total bill in costs and fees was over $15,000.

Unfortunately for our client, he was caught in a circular dilemma. He could not pay his court costs and fees until he secured employment, he could not secure employment without a driver license for transportation, and he could not get a driver license for transportation until he paid his court costs and fees. In short, until his court costs and fees reached a manageable level, he could not work or go back to school.

After a consultation with our office, we decided to take the matter head on. Our office pulled all of his court files and researched the nature of every fine and cost levied against him. We discovered that, of the $15,000 in costs and fees, over $10,000 had been assessed by the county jail. Our client had served over a year in jail and had been charged for every day he served. In our experience, a court is more likely to reduce or waive jail fees than court costs, especially those arising out of DUI offense.

Our office prepared and submitted a Motion to Waive Jail and Workhouse Fees, submitted that Motion to the court, and fought for our client to get his costs and fees reduced or waived. After negotiations with the District Attorney, our office successfully reduced our client’s court costs from $15,839.15 to $5,234.15, a reduction of over $10,000.

Had our client not decided to speak with an attorney, he may have never reduced his court costs and fees, and he may have had to wait several more years to attain his driver license.

I knew that day that I had helped him get much closer to his goal of getting his driver license back. However, to hold that license in my hand and see him smiling reminded me why I do what I do.

Do you or someone you know have a similar problem? If you have a legal issue and you aren’t sure whether a lawyer can help, don’t hesitate to ask. Our office offers free consultations precisely because we think everyone should know whether there are legal options that may provide relief.

W. Scott Kimberly Nominated for 2013 Ruthies Award for Favorite Attorney

The nominees for the 2013 Ruthies Awards, which highlight the best that Rutherford County, Tennessee, has to offer, have been published by the Daily News Journal. I am honored to be among the nominees for 2013 “Favorite Attorney.”

To support our office, you can go to the ballot for Favorite Attorney and vote for W. Scott Kimberly. You will have to scroll all the way to the bottom to find me, but it’s worth the wait!

Remember, every registered user can vote once per day, so feel free to vote early and vote often!

Who Gets the Engagement Ring When the Wedding is Called Off?

The three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering. -Anonymous

Engagements and weddings are part of life. However, some engagements do not result in weddings. When two people are engaged, but the engagement is canceled, those two people often need to determine who is entitled to keep the engagement ring, if any such ring was given.

I have written extensively on this issue over the past few months. First, I published a Legal Guide on Avvo, “Who Keeps the Engagement Ring in Tennessee?” which addresses Tennessee laws surrounding ownership of the engagement ring when a wedding is called off. Second, I published an article on Primer Magazine, part of the Legally Speaking series, “Legally Speaking: Who Gets the Engagement Ring if the Wedding is Called Off?” which surveys the various approaches that courts use to decide ownership of an engagement ring when the wedding is called off.

In short, the ownership of an engagement ring is relatively easy to determine. Every state has adopted on the approaches laid out in my Primer article. For review, the primary approaches adopted by state courts are:

  • Conditional Gift – An engagement ring is considered a gift conditioned upon marriage between the parties. If the condition does not occur, i.e., if the parties do not marry, then the gift is not completed and ownership of the ring reverts to the individual who gave (and presumably purchased) the ring.
  • Conditional Gift with Fault Considerations – An engagement ring is still considered a conditional gift. However, if the individual who gave the ring is at fault for ending the relationship, he is not entitled to a return of the engagement ring, even if the condition upon which the gift was given never occurred
  • Unconditional Gift – An engagement ring is considered a simple gift, which becomes property of the recipient once the gift is completed.

However, simply because legal ownership of the engagement ring is easy to determine does not mean that it is easy to recover the ring. For example, if the man is entitled to return of the ring, but the woman has possession of the ring, she might not hand it over simply because the man claims he has a legal right to the ring.

If an individual is entitled to legal possession of an engagement ring, but the party in control of the ring refuses to hand it over, the individual entitled to possession of the ring has a right to file an action to recover the ring. The appropriate action varies by state.

In Tennessee, an individual would need to file an “Action to Recover Personal Property,” in which the individual bringing suit could clearly lay out its claim for the ring. If the individual bringing the action is indeed entitled to ownership of the ring, the court will enter an order stating as much or award a judgment in an amount equal to the value of the ring.

If you would like to read more on ownership of an engagement ring in Tennessee, please read the Legal Guide posted on Avvo.

If you would like to read more on different approaches that state courts take in addressing ownership of an engagement ring, please read the Article posted on Primer.


A Guide on When and How to Hire a Lawyer

As an attorney who practices primarily in criminal defense and family law, I often tell my friends and family that I never want to see them in my office. Point being that, if you are seeking the advice of a criminal defense lawyer or family lawyer, something in your life has most likely gone wrong.

That being said, few ever anticipate being charged with a crime in advance of their arrest. In the same thread, few ever plan on getting divorced at the time they are exchanging vows.

Everyone has that family friend to call when they are in a bind. If their toilet backs up, they call their cousin’s friend who is a plumber. If their speakers go out, they call up their high school friend who works in electronics. Most likely, anyone reading this article has had a friend or family member hit them up for advice in their specialty.

Lawyers are no different. Every day, I get an unsolicited call or email from friends and family with various legal questions. Do I need to incorporate? What can I do if my neighbor’s dog keeps coming in my yard? My fiend owes me a hundred bucks and won’t pay. The list goes on and on.

The sad truth to hiring a lawyer is that most people don’t really know where to start. Sure, if you have a family friend practicing law, that is an easy call to make. However, what do you do if you don’t know anyone practicing law where you live? Or if you don’t know anyone in town that practices law?

To clear things up, I recently penned a piece for Primer Magazine titled “When and How to Hire a Lawyer.” This piece is a straightforward guide to determine whether you need a lawyer, how to find a lawyer, and how you will end up paying that lawyer. Hopefully this piece can help you or someone you know navigate the complicated road towards legal representation.