Jackson County General Law Blog

What is vehicular manslaughter?

If you face vehicular manslaughter charges in Missouri, this is a very serious charge for which you could serve a substantial prison sentence if convicted. As FindLaw explains, vehicular manslaughter is one of several Missouri involuntary manslaughter crimes, all of which are first-degree felonies

For you to receive a vehicular manslaughter conviction, the prosecutor must prove all three of the following:

  1. That you drove a vehicle while texting, intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
  2. That you accidentally killed someone as a result of your actions
  3. That your actions constituted criminal negligence, i.e., that they amounted to carelessness or a reckless disregard of your victim’s life

Joint custody could be in your child's best interests

One of the first things you might ask yourself when you decide to divorce is, "How often will I see my children?" The time you spend with your kids is precious, and you understandably want to protect that while also respecting their best interests.

But if you are like most fathers in Missouri, you may assume that your custody arrangement will automatically end up in the "traditional" manner -- kids stay with mom during the week and you see them on the weekends. Maybe only every other weekend. However, as fathers are now far more involved than they were in the past, this arrangement is not always best.

Dividing property in a Missouri divorce

One of the most difficult divorce topics to tackle is that dealing with property division. People often get emotionally attached to their possessions and finances, and it can be hard to part with items that people have accumulated during a marriage. Missouri follows the equitable division of property model when distributing marital property and assets in a divorce. This means that the judge presiding over the case will divide property and assets based on what he or she deems fair. The judge will often take into account certain factors, such as how long the couple was married, the occupation and health of each party and the reason for the divorce.

It is important to keep in mind that only marital property is eligible for division. Marital or community property is everything the couple amassed during the course of the marriage. This includes more than just the family home, vehicles and contents of the bank account. Marital property may consist of less common items, such as expensive antique, car, coin and art collections, tax refunds, copyright and trademark royalties, cemetery plots, stocks, country club memberships, term life insurance policies and travel reward points. Furthermore, if one spouse loaned money to a friend during the marriage and the money was not repaid until after the divorce was finalized, the other spouse is still entitled to half the repaid amount.

Does someone you love live in a Missouri nursing home? Read this

It may have been emotionally difficult for you to help your aging parent move into a Missouri nursing home. You may have tried all available options to help him or her stay home; yet, a time still came when everyone involved agreed that was no longer feasible, and perhaps, it was also no longer safe. Once your mother or father settled into new surroundings, you may have set a goal that you would visit several times a week or as often as possible.  

Like most Missourians, you're probably quite busy. If you have a meeting at work or have to stop off and run some errands on your way home, you might not be able to pop in to visit your loved one as often as you'd like. Most nursing homes are properly staffed, well-functioning establishments. In some, however, nursing home abuse occurs. That's why it's critical that you know how to recognize signs of abuse, as well as where to seek support to protect your parent if a problem arises.  

Protect your pool - safety tips from the American Red Cross

Have you jumped in a pool yet this season? The hot and hazy days of a Missouri summer can make the chance to swim in cool, clear water irresistible. The allure does not just draw in adults either. The idea of splashing in and getting relief from the heat appeals to the youngest toddlers among us and nearly grown-up teens, too.  

It is those very same youngsters that are particularly at risk, however, when they decide to dive in without appropriate supervision. If your children do not know how to swim, they should not get in the water at all when no one else is around; and even if they do know how to swim, they should never swim alone.

The purpose of Child Protective Services

That protection of children is a good idea is something most Missouri adults would likely agree on, but according to the state's Department of Social Services, not everyone is acting on this belief. 

In a fiscal year overview, DSS recounted numbers showing that in 2017, the Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline Unit "received over 68,000 reported incidents that involved over 98,000 children in Missouri." Those figures are staggering. It turns out DSS could substantiate about five percent of those reports, but even five percent - which seems like a low amount - means 5,141 children suffered abuse or neglect in the state in 2017.

Avoiding personal injury on the water

Have you been out on a Missouri lake yet this summer? If not, you may want to brush up on safety tips for keeping you and your family out of harm's way whether you are swimming or skiing.

State Farm Insurance offers advice specifically for the skiers in your family, so feel free to share it with your kids and grandkids before the annual get-together this summer.

Expungement law change good news for Missouri drug offenders

If you live in Missouri and currently have a drug-related criminal conviction on your record, you may find that it interferes with your life in numerous ways. Maybe it is making it harder for you to find gainful employment, or maybe it is limiting your chances of finding affordable housing. Regardless of how your criminal record is affecting your life, a new law that took effect this year may help you navigate the hurdles you face. At Kelly, Symonds & Reed, LLC, we understand how the law change can help state residents with nonviolent criminal records, and we have helped many clients facing hardship due to their records find solutions that fit their needs.

According to Fox 2 Now St. Louis, the law, which took effect in January, shortens the amount of time Missouri’s drug and other nonviolent offenders must wait before they can request an expungement. An expungement is essentially a way to cleanse your criminal record so that the details of your crime and conviction are no longer available to the public. The new law also increases the number of criminal convictions that are eligible for expungement.

How can you establish paternity in Missouri?

If you are an unmarried Missouri parent and you believe you either fathered a child, or that a certain man fathered your child, you may have reason to want to determine paternity. Maybe you believe you are a father, but the mother of the child in question disputes your claim, or maybe you know a certain man fathered your child and you want him to pay child support, but he refuses. Regardless of your reasoning for wanting to determine paternity, the process involved in doing so remains similar.

According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, arguably the simplest way to establish legal paternity is for both parents to sign an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity at the hospital at the time of the infant’s birth. However, if you and the other parent agree about paternity, but the two of you do not sign the affidavit at the hospital, you can typically still do so later. Instead of signing the affidavit at the hospital, you can do so with the help of either Missouri’s Family Support Division or the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services’ Bureau or Vital Records.

How are assault and battery different from each other?

If Missouri law enforcement officers charged you with assault and battery after you participated in a fight or argument, you may think you face one criminal charge. Actually, you face two. As FindLaw explains, while assault and battery are very similar, they are not the same, and the prosecutor must be able to prove different things before you receive a conviction or either.

For either alleged crime, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to commit it and that you did one or more things to accomplish your intent.

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