Legal Ease-January 2022
5 Things You Can Do to Make 2022 The Best Year Yet
New Year’s resolutions are notoriously ambitious and difficult to keep. That doesn’t mean they’re not worth setting, though. We’ve made a list of the promises our friends, family members, and clients have made to themselves - things that are typical - and then we looked at ways to start on the path toward accomplishing those goals. Here are six things you can do this month:
1. Get in shape financially.
If you haven’t considered your financial status for a while, the beginning of the year is the perfect time to ask yourself some questions. How’s your credit score? How about savings? Do you have a budget you can work from? How about life insurance – do you have it, and do you have enough? Have you reviewed your beneficiaries recently? Any contracts you have with banks or other financial institutions should be reviewed and updated to reflect where you are today.
If you took out a loan and now you have the means to pay it off, do it! If that’s not an option, but you can lower your interest rate, that’s also good. Either way, you’ll have more money in your bank account at the end of the year.
If you’re still using autopay for a gym membership that you never use or a music service that you don’t listen to, save yourself some money and ditch them. Digital services like Truebill can help you go through auto payments that you may not even remember you’re making. Most of us have at least one or two of those “opt out” subscriptions that we can stop paying for – it’s another great way to add money to your bank account. You have legal rights with regard to your autopayments – this article from consumerfinance.gov lays them out nicely.
2. Update your will. (Wait … what?? You don’t have a will??)
Having an up-to-date will is incredibly important. Jainchill & Beckert can help by creating a will for you. If you already have a will but want to make changes, we can help with that as well. If you are married, both you and your spouse should have wills.
Having a will allows that your wishes will be honored after your death. No family wants to deal with a fight in Probate Court on top of losing a loved one. Getting your affairs in order today may be one of the greatest gifts you could give to your loved ones.
3. Set goals to improve your physical, mental and emotional health.
Maximizing health should be everyone’s goal, not just in January, but all year round. Learning a new language or skill can sharpen your brain. A new sport might help you to reach physical goals. Yoga and meditation can help you ease the mental stress you may be feeling. Even the act of setting goals counts as a step in the right direction!
4. Prepare for anything.
Every year brings surprises. Wouldn’t it be nice to be ready for whatever comes at you? Be sure to put jumper cables, a blanket, emergency flares and reflective lights, and an inflated spare tire in your trunk. Check your home to be sure smoke alarms are functioning. A wireless security system can keep an eye on your home and surroundings. Create a neighbors’ network to keep an eye on each other.
5. And one last thing -- we highly recommend adding Jainchill & Beckert as a contact on your phone.
Jainchille & Beckert
144 West Main Street
Plainville, CT 06062
We truly hope you won’t need us – but won’t it be great to have this information at your fingertips if you do?
Five Rules of Self-Defense
The concept of “self-defense” has been in the news a lot lately following a couple of highly-publicized trials focusing on its definition and use in deadly force situations. The riveting trials of Kyle Rittenhouse and the three defendants in the Ahmaud Arbery case were centered around claims of self-defense and whether the claim could be used to justify deadly force -- with very different outcomes.
As a primer (especially for everyone who has recently been through the instruction, training and background check processes for gun ownership here in Connecticut), Jainchill & Beckert has put together a brief primer about the complex and nuanced concept of self-defense.
What is “self-defense”?
Self-defense is what is known as an “affirmative defense.” This means that you, as the defendant, do not dispute the facts alleged by the prosecution (e.g., that you hit the other party), but rather, you claim that there are additional facts that, if true, justify your use of force.
If you have been charged with a crime in which you used force, there are essentially three factors that must be established for a self-defense claim to be considered.
1. An Imminent threat.
For both self-defense and defense of others, the threat faced must have been present (either through words that imply a threat of force or an actual show of force) and imminent such that it put the accused person in fear of immediate harm.
2. Reasonable fear.
In addition to the threat being imminent, the accused person must have been motivated by fear to use force. This is evaluated using the reasonable-person test, which examines how a normal, reasonable person would behave given the situation. If someone breaks into your home holding a gun, it is likely that a normal, reasonable person would react with force to protect his or her life or the lives of others in the house.
3. Proportional force
As an additional element, self-defense also requires that the force used is proportional to the threat faced. This is especially important in the context of deadly force -- a self-defense claim for deadly force won’t be valid if the initial threat that provoked response wasn’t deadly. In other words, if someone punches you in the face, you do not generally have the right to shoot the offender. But if you believe you are about to be shot and you shoot back, you may have a case for the use of proportional force.
In some cases of self-defense, the “duty to retreat” is called into question. Connecticut, like many other states, requires that a defendant make an attempt to avoid the use of deadly force by leaving a threatening situation if possible. Only after an attempt to retreat from the violent situation may a defendant use deadly force.
Anyone contemplating a claim of self-defense (or who has been accused of a violent crime) should have expert legal representation. Contact Jainchill & Beckert. We have been handling serious criminal defense cases for over 20 years. We can help! In the criminal justice system, everything is subject to a complex set of procedural and substantive rules. Prosecutors will undoubtedly have the legal knowledge and skills to call even your own memory and facts into doubt in front of a jury – is it worth taking that chance?
Changes to CT FMLA – What You Need to Know
Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act was established to allow employees time to provide care for family members and loved ones in times of need without fear of losing their jobs.
January 1, 2022 ushered in some significant revisions to the law for both employers and employees. These changes mostly concern categories of required employer coverage, covered family members for “care” leave, tenure requirement for job protection, and most importantly, total leave entitlement.
Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the changes Connecticut businesses and their employees will see:
· The minimum employee number that requires participation in CT FMLA changes from 75 to 1. In other words, any business with even a single employee must offer paid FMLA benefits in Connecticut, unless they can show that they offer the same or better leave benefits through their own implemented programs.
· The act will now provide leave for any employee caring for sons or daughters of any age, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings (and siblings in law), and any other individual closely related to the employee by blood or affinity. This greatly extends the circle of people for whom an employee can take a leave. (An important aside here – federal family leave requirements are dramatically different in this category, so if you work for a municipality or federal agency in CT, it will be important to look into your specific coverage.)
· The definition of an “eligible employee” changes. As of January 1, an employee must have three months of tenure with a company (no minimum hour requirement) to request a paid leave.
· As for total leave entitlement, we will see the previous entitlement of 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period expand to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period.
And Finally: The Midnight Ride of … Wentworth Cheswell
Chances are good that you’ve heard of Paul Revere, who rode through New England streets in the early stages of American resistance to British rule. He is the best known of the messengers, as they were known, who shared intelligence about the enemy to those organizing the fight for independence. Another of the messengers was Wentworth Cheswell, a soldier, early archaeologist and the first African American man to serve as an elected official in the United States.
The son of a slave who had purchased his freedom, Wentworth Cheswell attended school in New Hampshire, eventually settling there, marrying and raising 13 children. In 1774, as the British were building their military strategy against patriots by withholding gunpowder and weapons, Paul Revere made his ride to alert Massachusetts citizens that British naval ships just off the coast were likely arriving to build security around a fort that held the necessary gunpowder to mount the revolution in New Hampshire. The legend is told that at the same time Revere rode west, Wentworth Cheswell rode north, gathered volunteers to take the inadequately guarded fort, and ultimately secured not only gunpowder, but also light cannons and small arms that were used in the siege of Boston.
Cheswell went on to serve in further posts in the military during the American Revolution. His election to several posts in Newmarket and Exeter, New Hampshire helped to solidify the colony, and his unearthing of artifacts from indigenous tribes of the area established him as the first archaeologist in America.