Criminal Law

Squatting Is Now Illegal Here’s An Update

On the 1st September a court ruled that squatting in a residential building was now a criminal offence. This includes if the person is staying without invitation in a residential building and therefore is officially a trespasser. This also stands if they have entered the premises as a trespasser, and if they are aware, or should be aware, that they are trespassing, either briefly or if they are living in a building or intend to reside there for any amount of time.

The court order is primarily to protect homeowners. Whereas previously, residential homeowners who wanted to evict squatters – who would claim squatters rights, would have to go through fairly expensive possession proceedings in order to get the property in question back. However now there is another option, although many have drawn attention to the fact that possession proceedings may still be quicker than taking squatters to court.

Squatting is now a criminal offence and the punishment for being found guilty is either a fine of up 5,000 or up to 51 weeks in prison, or potentially both depending on the severity of the offence. So if you return home from a holiday or business trip to discover that squatters have moved in, what do you do? The first step is to call the police and report the crime. Unfortunately owners cannot removes them forcibly due to section 6 of the Criminal Law Act. Therefore the owner of the property that is occupied must either issue civil proceedings or alternatively they can now take advantage of the new criminal procedures and recover possession that way.

But with many abandoned buildings lying empty and useless and the gradually growing number of homeless living on the streets the new ruling hasn’t been welcomed with unanimous support. Many liberals, creative types and those with activist tendencies argue that a lot of squatters are making use of previously uninhabited properties that would otherwise be going to waste. And isn’t it better that the plethora of homeless living on the streets of every major city have a roof over their heads? Of course this doesn’t apply to the homes of people which have been invaded while they’re on holiday, but it does seem to make some sense considering the amount of empty buildings there are.

The new developments ruling against squatting does not apply to occupying commercial properties, so it will be necessary for business owners and those that have companies in commercial premises will have to continue to rely on the existing civil laws to keep out squatters.

Hopefully the new laws will help protect those that need it, such as home owners who find their properties occupied by squatters, and make it both quicker and easier for them to reclaim their buildings.

What to do if You Need a Criminal Attorney

Unlike what you may see on television, legal cases are not solved in the span of an hour. Developing and working through a case can take months and may never actually go to court. If you have been accused of a crime, you should call a lawyer immediately. It is imperative that you choose a criminal attorney to represent you as each type of lawyer focuses on a different area of the law. You want to have the best defense you possibly can.

Choosing a criminal attorney is a difficult position to be in because you are usually pressed for time and your choices might be limited. However, if you remember a few key things then choosing the right legal representation will not be that difficult.

First of all, you want to find a criminal attorney that has experience. Lawyers that have just passed the bar exam may be capable in what they are doing, but there is something to be said about having a seasoned lawyer fighting in your corner. Law offices usually have a diverse staff, and if you ask for someone with adequate experience you will be taking the first step to finding someone that will handle your case with pride and adequacy.

Next, you want to find legal representation that is willing to work with you. Lawyers are not obligated to take cases (except for those assigned by the court) so you may need to interview a few lawyers to find one with whom you are comfortable. Typically, time is of the essence, so you will need to keep any interviews brief. Use your best judgment and trust your instincts.

One of the most important factors in selecting a criminal attorney is his success rate. If your legal representation regularly loses cases, you will not have confidence in his ability to win yours. For this reason, take caution in feeling pressured to hire a family member or friend to represent you. When facing charges of crime, you need the best representation you can get, and friendship or familial loyalty should not supersede the fact that you want to be exonerated.

If you have been arrested, you do not have to speak to the police until your lawyer has arrived. Providing information to the authorities before your representation arrives can prove detrimental. You have the legal right to have your representation present at any and all interrogations and questioning.

Being accused of a crime is not a pleasant matter. However, your anxiety can be lessened by choosing well when it comes to who will take your side and be in your corner. Even if you do not have a lot of time, giving your choice a little bit of thought will certainly help you in the long run.

Run a Background Check For Criminal Records on People Welcome in Your Home

When you invite someone into your home, it is an expression of trust. Unfortunately, even a long time relationship does not guarantee that an individual is worthy of your trust. Before you ask a neighbor to house sit or for a fellow PTA mom to drop your kids off after soccer practice, make sure they are worthy of that trust. A background check for criminal records can help you to ensure that the people you allow into your life are not simply waiting to take advantage. Of course, there is other information that might impact your decision to allow a friend to drive, but does not impact your friendship directly. Getting the information available on a background check for criminal records lets you make decisions with all of the cards on the table.

Before asking a friend to drive, you will want to make sure that they do not have anything on their records related to a Driving Under the Influence charge or Driving While Intoxicated. Any charges related to vehicular manslaughter are also serious enough to make you think twice before putting your children in a car that someone else is driving. It can also make you think twice before getting in the car yourself. If you know that a friend has some criminal items related to vehicular operation on their record, you might want to arrange to meet them at any location rather than car pool. Plus, depending on them for designated driver services might not be the wisest idea. Keeping information on past driving convictions a secret is not really a breach of trust, unless you think to ask directly. Instead, it shows a perfectly valid desire for privacy.

You might be concerned about violating another person’s privacy with a background check for criminal records, but you have a right to protect yourself and your family. It is not a violation of privacy to access publicly available information. Since the information is not protected, anyone can gain access. However, it is difficult to obtain all of the needed records on your own. When you retain a service to perform a background check for criminal records, you get all of the information you need in one convenient place. Of course, you can get additional information as well. You are not limited to only a background check for criminal records, you can also have a complete driving record run. You will need to determine for yourself the line between invasion of privacy and reasonable information gathering. The level of trust you place in the person may be part of the deciding factor. The more you are prepared to trust someone, the more information you need to make a good decision.