Steps to Contesting a Traffic Ticket

Steps to Contest a Traffic Ticket by CarosellaYou may think a traffic ticket is merely a costly inconvenience, but some traffic violations can have substantial consequences. Being charged with a DUI, leaving the scene of an accident and other serious traffic violations can lead to a revoked or suspended license, costly fines and even jail time. Seeking the counsel of experienced lawyers who handle traffic tickets in Pennsylvania may help you get charges reduced or dismissed and lower the number of points that are placed on your license. These four steps for contesting a traffic ticket can help you understand how the legal process works when you receive a traffic ticket.

1. Pay Attention to Points

Pennsylvania uses a point system for traffic violations. The more serious the violation; the more points placed against your driver’s license. Points for multiple minor violations can also add up quickly and put your driver’s license, auto insurance coverage and even your livelihood at risk. Serious offenses such as speeding in an active work zone can result in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

2. Be Polite to Law Enforcement

It may seem obvious, but being rude or belligerent with a police officer will not help your case. Comply with the officer’s requests and respond politely and calmly. If you are apologetic and compliant, many officers will issue a citation for violation of PA Motor Vehicle Code Section 3111, Obedience to Traffic Control Devices instead of speeding, which will help you avoid putting points on your license.

3. Promptly Contest the Citation

If you believe you received an unfair ticket you can challenge it in court. To submit a not guilty plea, check the “not guilty” box and date and sign the citation. Mail it to the court that is listed on the citation in the specified time frame, which is typically 10 days. If you do not pay or respond to a citation within this period of time a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

4. Hire an Attorney

If you don’t feel confident about contesting your ticket yourself, it is vital to hire an experienced traffic violations attorney, which is often less expensive than paying hefty fines and higher insurance rates. Having a lawyer in your corner also increases the chances of charges and fines being reduced or dismissed.

Your attorney will review your driving record and the facts of the incident for potential problems with human error, traffic control and enforcement devices. If you are facing criminal charges such as DUI or were involved in a motor vehicle accident, criminal lawyers should handle your case.

An attorney will take care of negotiations with all involved parties, which may include the officer who issued the citation, the judge and/or district attorney; and will appear in court to handle the resolution of your case. If you are convicted, he or she can also file a summary appeal of your traffic conviction to the Court of Common Pleas to have charges dismissed or reduced.

If you have been charged with a traffic violation, our skilled West Chester criminal lawyer will protect your rights and work to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

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This Is Why Bankruptcy May Not Be Your Best Option

Bankruptcy May Not Be Your Best Option by Carosella

The stress that comes with being buried in debt can be overwhelming, and many people facing high credit card balances, possible foreclosure and repossession of other assets believe that bankruptcy is their only option to repair their credit problems. In many cases, this is simply not true.

Unsecured debts such as credit card balances are typically dischargeable in bankruptcy, but some debts are not. Student loans, child support and some tax debt will not be wiped when you file bankruptcy. If you are facing financial difficulties, seeking the counsel of local bankruptcy attorneys who are knowledgeable about bankruptcy laws in PA can give you a clearer understanding of your options for reducing or eliminating your debt.

When Bankruptcy May Not Be For You

Your debt is high, but not overwhelming. There are a few ways to bring down your debt without filing bankruptcy. If you own an expensive home or vehicle, selling them and buying a house or car that is more affordable can be a viable option to reduce your debt. It can improve or keep your credit intact and allow you to finance a new car at a reasonable interest rate. Although filing bankruptcy may wipe out your unsecured debt, if the majority of your debt is secured debt like car loans, it is possible that you will lose what you have paid into the loan and the car itself. When you go to buy a new car with a recent bankruptcy in your credit history, you will have to pay significantly higher interest rates.

If you have a decent amount of equity in your home, selling your home or refinancing your mortgage could also help you pay off unsecured debt such credit card balances as well.

You qualify for a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate. With a debt consolidation loan, all of your outstanding unsecured credit accounts are consolidated into a new loan with one monthly payment. Before you apply for a consolidation loan, it is vital to consult with an attorney at a bankruptcy law firm who can help you determine which option will most effectively help you clear up your debt.

It’s also important to note that if you own a home you may be required to use it as collateral for a debt consolidation loan. If this is the case, filing bankruptcy may be a better option. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is similar to a debt consolidation loan in that it works as a repayment plan that consolidates all of your debt into one monthly payment. Although filing bankruptcy may affect your credit for a period of time, you won’t have to worry about being taken for a ride by a disreputable company or paying a lot more interest to get yourself out of debt.

If you are unsure about whether bankruptcy is right for you, our experienced West Chester bankruptcy Lawyers at Carosella & Associates can help you get your finances back on track.


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7 Common Misconceptions About FSBO

7 Common Misconceptions about FSBO by CarosellaThe number of Americans who are choosing to sell their homes by owner (FSBO) is rising. There are quite a few misconceptions about FSBO, and having a good understanding of what the selling process entails can alleviate stress and make it seem much less daunting.

1. You Need a Realtor to Accurately Price Your Home

It is easier than ever to determine how much to ask for your home. Many real estate websites list property values online–check out a few different sites to find out prices of comparable homes in your area; then come up with a reasonable number that’s not too high or too low.

2. A Realtor Has Special Skills and Resources to Market Your Home

Again, online resources can empower you to sell on your own. Most home buyers begin house hunting online, so posting your home on FSBO sites, Craigslist and other websites can give you all the exposure you need. Make sure to include plenty of good photographs of the inside and outside of your home, and include all pertinent information about your home, schools and the neighborhood.

3. Only a Realtor Can List a Home on the MLS

This is simply not true. For a flat, one-time fee, discount brokers and websites will put a FSBO home on the local MLS, which gives agents, brokers and buyers an easy way to find it.

4. FSBO Takes Longer to Sell

Regardless of whether you use an agent or broker, selling a home takes time and effort. As long as you get your home properly prepared for sale, respond to inquiries and schedule showings promptly, it shouldn’t take any longer to sell your home FSBO than it would if you used an agent.

5. It’s Easier to Schedule Showings and Open Houses With a Real Estate Agent

Scheduling showings and open houses according to your schedule instead of a realtor’s actually makes it easier. Meeting and talking with prospective buyers and their agents can also add a personal touch that may lead to a quick sale.

6. Negotiating is Difficult Without an Agent

While it’s true that most real estate agents are skilled at negotiating a sales price, a seasoned real estate attorneycan also negotiate on your behalf, and will always have your best interests in mind.

7. You Need an Agent or Broker to Draft Documents and Arrange a Closing

Many real estate agents use attorneys to draft and review real estate purchase agreements and other transaction-related documents. Hiring a skilled real estate lawyer to review contracts and draft other important documents can cost a lot less than paying a realtor a 3-6 percent commission fee while still ensuring that the entire transaction is completed accurately and all legal bases are covered.

An experienced for sale by owner lawyer can help you develop a successful strategy for selling your home and ensure that your rights are protected from listing to closing. If you are interested in selling or buying a home, our experienced West Chester real estate lawyers at Carosella & Associates can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected from start to finish.


How to Defend Against False Accusations of Domestic Violence

Being falsely accused of domestic violence can affect many different aspects of your life, including your employment, personal reputation, financial security, custody of your children and freedom. If you are facing allegations of domestic violence from a spouse, child, partner or other family member, having experienced criminal lawyers in your corner can help you prove your innocence and overcome the stigma that often comes with being accused of domestic abuse.

Many people automatically assume that a person is guilty when he or she has been charged with domestic abuse. This narrow-minded view can destroy lives and violate your right to due process and a fair trial.

Hoe to defend Against False Accusations of Domestic Violence

How to Protect Yourself Against False Domestic Abuse Charges

There are several steps you can take to protect your rights and your reputation before you are wrongly accused. If your relationship begins to go south and you believe that your partner or family member may make false allegations against you, being proactive can mitigate the damage his or her actions may cause if you are falsely accused.

Secure your valuables. It may be hard to believe, but some accusers will deliberately set you up to make things harder for you after domestic abuse charges have been filed. If your accuser takes your ID, birth certificate, phone or cash and then files charges, you may lose focus and have a more difficult time getting the help you need to ensure your rights are protected.

Let friends and family members what’s going on. When accusers claim that someone has hurt them or their children, people often take them at their word and refuse to believe the person who is being charged with domestic abuse. Keeping friends and family in the loop about your circumstances at home and sharing your fears about what may happen can help you avoid being wrongly judged if charges are filed against you. Preparing loved ones for potential trouble and allegations may make them more inclined to back you up, and preemptively seeking the counsel of a criminal defense attorney at our law firm in West Chester can also help you avoid some of the headaches that come with being wrongly accused.

Change passwords, PINs and codes on everything. Accusers have been known to log into the accused’s accounts and send messages from cell phones, email and other forms of communication so it appears as if the accused has been sending threatening messages. Make sure to create secure passwords for:

  • Bank accounts
  • Debit and credit cards
  • PIN codes
  • Computers & laptops at home and work
  • Vehicle entrance/garage codes
  • Mobile phones
  • Any other devices, accounts or systems that require login information

If you’re being abused, gather evidence. Abusers sometimes falsely accuse victims of domestic abuse to try and get ahead of charges that may be brought against them. If you are a victim of domestic violence, collect as much evidence as you can without putting yourself in harm’s way. Immediate help for domestic violence victims can be found by calling the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

Whether you have been wrongly accused of domestic violence or are trying to break free from an abuser, a West Chester criminal lawyer at Carosella & Associates will ensure that you receive proper legal representation and your rights are protected.


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Full Financial Disclosure in a Divorce. What does it mean?

What Does Full Financial Disclosure mean in a Divorce | CarosellaA key element at the start of any divorce proceeding, full financial disclosure is an accounting of each spouse’s assets, debts, income and expenses. Pennsylvania has specific procedures that must be followed for full financial disclosure so that each party has comprehensive knowledge of the other’s financial circumstances in a divorce.

Why is Full Financial Disclosure Required?

Courts require spouses to disclose their finances to determine equitable property division and support awards and prevent unfair settlements. Even if a couple reaches an agreement on their own, the court will review debt and asset division, child support, and alimony to ensure fairness.

How can a Divorce Attorney help?

Gathering financial documents can be overwhelming and time consuming. It is not uncommon for one spouse to handle most of the financial issues in the marriage, which can leave the other with limited knowledge of the couple’s financial situation or where financial documents and information are stored.

An experienced divorce lawyer will guide you through this process and help you gather all of the required financial information. If you find it difficult to collect information on your spouse’s finances, your attorney will obtain it though the discovery process. Typically, you and your spouse will be required to present:

  • Tax Returns
  • Pay Stubs
  • Proof of any other income such as social security, public assistance and child support or alimony
  • Account statements for all bank accounts, including joint and separate accounts
  • Individual and joint credit card statements
  • Itemized lists of personal property such as jewelry, furniture and other items
  • Stocks, bonds and other assets
  • All retirement and pension accounts such as IRA and 401(k)
  • Deeds, leases and title to property
  • Motor vehicle titles
  • Loan statements for mortgages, student loans, automobiles and personal loans
  • All insurance policies, including: health, dental, life, homeowners’, and auto
  • A list of monthly expenses and bills

Seeking the counsel of a skilled divorce attorney in Pennsylvania will ensure that you adhere to all the disclosure requirements for your particular case. A divorce lawyer can also help you with any updates and changes that must be made to your financial disclosure statement during divorce proceedings.

Challenging a Financial Disclosure Statement

The information contained in a financial disclosure statement is completed with the declaration that the content in the document is true and correct under penalty of perjury. Each spouse has the right to challenge a financial disclosure statement that has been submitted to the court, and failing to accurately complete a full financial disclosure statement can lead to being held in contempt of court and monetary sanctions.

Our West Chester divorce attorneys can guide you through the divorce process and ensure that your financial disclosure is accurate and your interests are protected.


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Prepare your Business for the next Stage. Create a Succession Plan Now.

Prepare your Business for the next Stage. Create a Succession Plan Now | CarosellaMany business owners do not realize that business succession planning is a vital element that should be included in the estate planning process. Not only does it protect your family’s interests if you pass away, it can help your business continue to grow and thrive after you retire or if you become incapacitated.

Drafting a business succession plan before your departure can keep your business on track and make the transition much easier for partners, managers, employees and customers who depend on your business for financial stability.

How to Create a Business Succession Plan

Every situation is different, and experienced estate planning lawyers can advise you on the various factors to consider when creating a business succession plan; and make sure that any partners, co-owners or investors are on board to avoid problems down the road.

Tackling your personal retirement planning and estate planning goes hand in hand with creating a business succession plan. Taking care of retirement planning can help you decide when to retire and determine how much you will need. Estate planning not only outlines your wishes and intent, but can help to preserve your wealth for future generations.

Create a written emergency plan that names a person or persons your spouse or children should consult in the event of your incapacitation or passing. Include specifics about the steps partners, key employees or advisors are supposed to take in these circumstances.

Review and update your shareholder and/or partnership agreements. This becomes particularly important as the shareholder pool changes or if a business is passed down to family members.

Create formal governance processes. Establishing a board of directors or advisors, developing an employment policy, and reviewing strategies for growth and compensation will help the transition process run more smoothly.

Provide training for the next generation. This gives your employees and any family members who work with you an opportunity to learn about how to run the business and the leadership and dedication it takes for continued success.

Tax Considerations and Probate

It is also important to recognize that the value of your business may grow or diminish between the time you plan your estate and when you retire or pass away. Keeping your succession plan up-to-date can ensure that the valuation of the business is accurate.

Another thing to take into consideration is the probate process your family will have to go through after your death. Skilled wills and trusts lawyers can help you create certain types of trusts that can allow some of your assets and business interests to pass outside of your taxable estate.

If you want to incorporate tax minimization into your estate plan, Grantor Retained Income Trusts (GRITs), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), and Grantor Retained Unitrusts (GRUTs) can be very effective estate planning tools. These types of trusts can be complex, so working with estate planning or business attorneys who are experienced in drafting irrevocable trusts is a must.

Consulting with a knowledgeable Chester County estate planning attorney can help you effectively pass on your business and give you and your family peace of mind, knowing that your legacy will continue long after you’re gone.

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What happens after a Felony Conviction?

Judge about to bang gavel on sounding block in the court roomFrom doing to time in prison time to paying costly fines, a felony conviction can have damaging consequences. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner is essential to protect your rights and help you work toward the best possible outcome in your case.

The most common types of crimes that may result in felony charges include:

  • Theft
  • Arson
  • Assault
  • Rape
  • Murder


Felony Conviction Penalties

Felony convictions typically come with heavy penalties such as incarceration in state or federal prison and hefty fines. The court may also require you to pay restitution to a victim, the victim’s family or state. Individuals who have been convicted of felony murder may even face the death penalty.

Probation and Parole

Not all felony convictions lead to time in prison–penalties for some felony crimes can include probation or parole. To qualify for probation or parole, factors such as past criminal history and time served in jail awaiting trial are taken into consideration.

Probation is the suspension of jail time. However, it is vital to understand that probation does not mean you are permitted to do whatever you like. The court places certain conditions on you when you are on probation, which may include maintaining employment, drug testing and counseling. It is also important to keep in mind that any violation of the terms of your probation may result in severe penalties, including returning to prison.

Parole is the conditional release of a convicted party before his or her full prison sentence has been served. A parolee must also follow strict conditions, and any violation of the terms of your parole can send you back to prison. If you have been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, a skilled Chester County felony lawyer may be able to help you negotiate probation or parole as an alternative to serving time in prison.

Felony Conviction Appeals

Appealing a criminal conviction can be difficult but it is possible to get a conviction overturned. In order to get a felony conviction reversed, you must prove that an error was made in the criminal justice process during your initial trial. Because the appeals process is very complex, it should be handled by knowledgeable criminal lawyers who have extensive experience in felony conviction appeals.


Criminal convictions stay on your record for life and can limit employment opportunities, prevent you from securing housing and cause myriad other inconveniences that negatively affect your life. Expungement of your criminal record can make it easier to overcome these obstacles.

Expungement is a process in which eligible criminal convictions or arrests are removed from your record in the eyes of the law. If you are considering expungement, consulting with a criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in the law and rules surrounding expungement in your state is essential.

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County, PA can explain your legal options, discuss possible strategies and advise you on the best course of action to take after a felony conviction.


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What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal-defense-lawyer-600x401Being charged with a crime can have grave long-term repercussions for you and your family. Finding an experienced criminal defense attorney who will best fit your needs and fight for your rights can make all the difference when it comes to winning or losing a criminal case. To ensure you obtain the best legal representation possible, there are a few important things to consider before hiring an attorney.

Look For Experience

Criminal law is complex, and having criminal lawyers who are skilled at handling cases similar to yours is an invaluable advantage. Many lawyers specialize in particular types of offenses such as DUI, drug offenses, and white-collar crimes such as embezzlement. There are a few questions you can ask to get a feel for a criminal defense attorney’s level of experience, including:

  • Which law school did you attend?
  • How many years of experience do have in criminal court?
  • Have you represented individuals who have been charged with the same or a similar crime?
  • How much of your practice involves representing people charged with this type of crime?
  • How many cases have you litigated in the court where my case will be assigned?

If a lawyer declines to discuss his or her specific experience or gives vague answers, look for someone else.


Go Local

Hiring an attorney with experience in the court where your case is pending can also give you a leg up when it comes to your defense. Although state law is the same in each Pennsylvania court, procedures do vary from county to county. Attorneys who are used to working in a particular area often know the district attorneys, clerks, local law enforcement and judges and how they operate in court. For example, if you have been charged with a felony in West Chester, a Chester County felony lawyer will most likely knows the ins and outs of negotiating with prosecutors and the court procedure there.


Get Personal

Your criminal defense lawyer speaks for you. No matter how stellar an attorney’s reputation may be, if you don’t feel comfortable with the person it is probably best to find another lawyer to represent you.

Ask yourself these questions when considering whether to hire a particular criminal defense lawyer:

  • Is the attorney someone I trust and can speak with openly?
  • Does he or she explain things in a way that I can understand?”
  • Does the lawyer see me as a partner involved in the decision-making process?
  • Does he or she express personal concern for my overall situation and possess a sincere desire to help?
  • Does the lawyer seem to be a person who engenders trust in prosecutors, judges and jurors?

Facing criminal charges can be stressful and the end result can have a significant impact on your future.  Whether you have been charged with a felony or are seeking expungement of a prior conviction, our experienced criminal lawyers in Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County, PA  will provide you with the personal attention you need and fight for your rights in court.

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Do you Need a Probate lawyer? Probate made Easy

Probate-lawyer1-600x397In Pennsylvania, you are not required to hire a lawyer for probate, but the process can be complex and time-consuming. To ensure all your legal bases are covered and required petitions and forms are filed in a timely manner, seeking the counsel of experienced probate and estate lawyers can be extremely helpful. There are a few things to consider when deciding whether to hire an attorney, such as the lack of a will, size of an estate and guardianship of minor children.

How Do I Start The Probate Process?

To initiate the probate process, a petition must be filed with the Pennsylvania Register of Wills in the county where the decedent resided. For example, if your loved one lived in Media, hiring Delaware County lawyers who are familiar with the local courts may help make the process run more smoothly. Jointly owned assets, certain types of trusts and assets such as life insurance or IRA’s with beneficiary designations may not have to go through probate. A knowledgeable attorney can advise you on which assets must be included in probate.

Common Issues Involved In Probate

Even if a will is deemed valid, a beneficiary may attempt to contest it during the probate process. If a valid will is not in place at the time of a decedent’s passing, the probate process can be complicated. The estate must pass through Intestacy laws, and property is given to those who are entitled to it under the Pennsylvania Intestacy statute (typically the surviving spouse and children of the decedent); not according to the decedent’s wishes.

If there is no executor, an administrator will be appointed by the probate court to handle the estate. It is vital to keep in mind that the court also has the authority to designate a guardian for minor children if there is no will. Creating a will with a practiced attorney for wills and trusts can ensure that your legacy lives on and your children are taken care of according to your wishes.

Depending on the complexity of an estate, probate may involve extensive administrative paperwork and litigation. It is essential to understand exactly which fees and taxes must be paid, and when. The probate process is very time-sensitive, and a skilled attorney will make sure all deadlines are met to keep the process running smoothly.


There are additional circumstances that may affect probate, including:

  • Complicated tax situations, such as unpaid taxes
  • Ambiguities in a will
  • Disputed claims by beneficiaries
  • Someone contesting an executor’s appointment
  • Issues with disputed debts or unfinished contracts
  • Property bequeathed to minors who do not have an appointed guardian or trustee
  • The estate’s assets do not cover all debts
  • Out-of-state property included in the estate
  • A very large estate with diversified assets


Estate planning lawyers can take some of these burdens off of an executor’s or administrator’s shoulders. The process of sorting out an estate can be very emotional, and creating wills and trusts ahead of time can help your family avoid unnecessary conflict and stress. To learn more about estate planning and probate, contact our experienced Delaware and Chester County lawyers to schedule a consultation today. 


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What is a Living Trust and Why you need One

living trust legal document illustrationMany people believe that estate planning only involves creating a Will to ensure your wishes are carried out upon your passing. Although a Will is an essential part of the process, there are many other things to consider when you are thinking about the legacy you want to leave behind. There are different types of trusts that can protect your assets and make sure your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. A Living Trust is among the most common.

What is a Living Trust?

A Living Trust is a legal document that places your assets in trust for your benefit during your lifetime, and spells out how you’d like these assets to be distributed upon your death. It can include bank accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles and valuable personal property. The most common type is a Revocable Living Trust, which may be changed or canceled at any time before your death.

How does a Living Trust work?

You name yourself as the trustee and remain in complete control of your assets, and may move them in and out of the trust as you wish. You also appoint a ‘successor trustee’ who will act as your representative upon your passing and transfer assets to your beneficiaries according to your wishes.

Your successor trustee is permitted to act on your behalf if you become incapacitated. He or she can handle financial issues such as managing property, businesses and paying bills. Such details are outlined in a living trust and can be carried out without involvement by the courts. Experienced living trusts lawyers can create a document that covers all legal bases and help your loved ones avoid costly and inconvenient court proceedings.

Why do I need a living trust?

In most states, a Will must go through probate, which can be a long and arduous legal process. The probate processinvolves establishing the value of your estate, settling any debts, paying taxes and transferring assets to your beneficiaries. Probate adds extra expenses to your estate and delays the distribution of your assets. It can take nine months to two years for probate to be completed. Our Chester County lawyers and Delaware County lawyers are well-versed in drafting wills and trusts, but if your estate must go through the probate process, our seasoned attorneys can provide your family with the legal support they need.

Another advantage of a Living Trust is privacy. A Will is a public document, which means that anyone can scrutinize or contest it, including creditors. Probate also allows the public to see the details of your estate. A living trust is private, more difficult to challenge, and can help to protect your assets from creditors. A living trust is particularly valuable if you have a large amount of assets, and can keep family matters from becoming complicated after you’re gone.

Knowing that the process of settling your estate will be easier for your beneficiaries can give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out appropriately. Our skilled legal team provides estate planning services tailored to fit your individual needs. To learn more about the services we offer, contact Carosella & Associates today!


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