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Government action yields many questions, few answers

People in Nebraska and across the United States have been watching as the nation's approach to immigration has evolved since the recent presidential administration took over. Many of the actions and decisions handed down can feel abrupt and harsh, especially to those from other countries who have been in the U.S. for some time and who have become positive members of their communities and American society as a whole.

CNN reports that the latest in a string of policy changes and announcements seems to have left more questions on the table than it has provided answers. What is known is that the government will now treat any adult coming into the country without proper paperwork equally regardless of whether or not they have children with them. In the past, people entering the U.S. illegally with children were not arrested but were directed to immigration courts. That has now changed.

Firearm possession after a conviction

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges in Nebraska, one of the things on your mind at this time may well be the long-term consequences of a potential conviction. Depending on the nature of the charges, a conviction might involve a person performing community service and paying a fine or it might involve a person spending many years in prison among other penalties. 

Whether or not a person ends up being incarcerated, there may come a day when they are able to start rebuilding their life within society. At this time, things like the ability to get a job or a place to live might be impacted by having a criminal record. So too the person's right to own or possess a firearm may be influenced by the previous criminal activity.

Why is fentanyl such a popular drug?

Nebraska State Patrol troopers recently made the largest drug bust in state history during a traffic stop in April, according to National Public Radio. It is also one of the biggest seizures in the entire U.S. What troopers thought was cocaine has turned out to be pure fentanyl—118 pounds of it. That amount of fentanyl is lethal enough to kill over 26 million people and is being linked to overdose deaths nationwide. The synthetic opioid is estimated to be between 50 and 100 times more powerful than morphine, and between 30 and 50 times stronger than heroin.

Troopers became suspicious upon seeing a tractor-trailer being driven along the shoulder of Interstate 80 near the town of Kearney and pulled the driver over. The driver and passenger were arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and no Drug Tax stamp.

What factors are associated with Ponzi schemes?

If you are one of the many financially savvy people in Nebraska who is inclined to be involved in new investment ventures, you will want to understand some of the qualities often linked to illegal activities. The fact of the matter is that there may well be a fine line between a legal financial transaction or plan and an illegal one so understanding these details can be very important for you. 

A Ponzi scheme is one form of an alleged scheme to embezzle money essentially. As explained by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, this type of venture is named after a man who is said to have defrauded many investors in a plan involving postage stamps nearly a whole century ago. Today, suspicions may be raised about some investment programs if they share some of the features of that activity.

Probation and fines, no prison, for man

Nebraska residents who have been charged with even one let alone multiple felony offenses might understandably be concerned about the penalties they might experience if they are eventually convicted of the crimes. There can be a wide range of criminal penalties that vary based in part on the exact crime charged as well as whether or not a person has had any prior offenses depending on the type of crime. 

Certainly going to prison can have a major impact on a person's life and it may therefore be important for defendants to receive sentences that do not include required time behind bars. One man who has by most people's standards lived an upstanding life found himself facing the potential of going to prison after he was convicted of three separate felony offenses. However, a judge in the end sentenced him to pay $45,000 in fines and serve five years of probation.

Grandparents and grandkids - relationships that count

Grandparents and their grandchildren often have special connections that live in memories forever. Sometimes divorce, adoption or other fluid situations put those relationships at risk, leaving the former generation to wonder about its place in the ones to follow. A Boston College study may encourage Nebraska families who face this situation.

Researchers at the college showed "emotionally close ties between grandparents and adult grandchildren reduced depressive symptoms in both groups." Closeness also contributes to stability, which results in fewer behavioral problems in kids. They learn essential lessons about life from their experienced elders while helping the older generation remain mentally astute and interested in life. When families are changing, through divorce or other life events, researchers say grandparents can also provide a safe place for children to talk about what is happening.

Tax code changes and your divorce

If you and your spouse have been discussing filing for divorce in Nebraska, it could be very important for you to understand how the newly enacted tax code changes may impact the settlement choices you make as well as how the timing of your final settlement might impact your choices. As explained by the American Bar Association Journal, since 1942 people who have made spousal support payments have been able to deduct these payments from their federal income tax returns. That is going to change starting January 1, 2019.

The ability to deduct alimony payments has long been thought to help make people required to make these payments more likely to agree to these terms. Now that they will be paying taxes on the money they pay to their former spouses, they may not be so willing to pay as much in alimony or even to pay it at all. This may have serious repercussions for the people who receive alimony. 

Major sweep results in 27 immigration arrests

People in Nebraska who may be citizens of countries other than the United States have likely felt their concerns about potential action against them increase since the last presidential election. The current administration has made no bones about its position on people in the country without full documentation and many questions remain about the future for such persons.

While many must simply wait to see what types of rules or processes may be established, in the meantime they attempt to go about their daily lives and take care of their families and themselves. Such was the case when on one day in multiple locations around Omaha, 27 immigrants were detained and arrested by officers from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. All of the people arrested were males and originally were from Mexico.

Murder charge challenged by defense team

As with any criminal offense, people who are accused of felonies in Nebraska deserve the right to a fair defense and to be considered innocent of any crime until they are conclusively proven to be guilty. For some defendants, an important part of the criminal justice journey for them may well be ensuring that that are fairly accused of any charge let alone actually proving their innocence.

Such is the case for one man who has been charged with murder. The charge actually dates back to 2010 when a man is said to have killed a then 19-year-old college freshman who apparently disappeared. Reports indicate that the defendant said that he and the woman had a sexual encounter that was mutually agreed to after which time the man declined to drive her to a specific location.

Can police search your apartment building with a drug dog?

Contrary to what television shows may imply, police in Nebraska cannot simply burst into your home with a drug dog and search it for drugs. In fact, the Nebraska Legislature points out that not only does the United States Constitution's Fourth Amendment make unreasonable searches and seizures illegal, Nebraska's Constitution also provides this protection.

Police have to have probable cause and receive a warrant from the court before they can search your home, with or without a drug dog. To get this, they have to explain their reasoning for searching your home under oath to the judge, as well as what it is they plan to seize if they do find it there. However, if they do get the warrant, they do not necessarily have to knock before entering, and if there is an illegal substance in plain view, even if it is not listed on the warrant, police may still seize it.

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Monzón, Guerra & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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