Know Your Rights!

What Is "Know Your Rights?"

'Know Your Rights' on is a section devoted to making the complicated world of the law a little easier to understand. The law touches on literally every aspect of our day-to-day lives, whether we realize it or not. Don't believe me? Then go ahead and try to name anything you do on a daily basis that does not have a law attached to it:

- Breathing? There are air quality standards laws for both indoor and outdoor environments.

- Sleeping? There are all kinds of safety requirements for the mattress you sleep on, the sheets, even the detergent you use to clean them, let alone laws about where you can sleep, liability for lack of sleep, and so forth.

- Eating? Food is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the United States with laws affecting everything from food quality to shipping to advertising and disclosures about the ingredients.

--Playing on the Internet? You better believe it! From regulations affecting Internet Service Providers, to intellectual property laws regarding the sharing of content, to dozens of employment and contract issues for the companies providing content, and dozens of other laws, the Internet is crawling with laws.

Literally everything you do each day has a law associated with it in one way or another.

With laws all around us and touching our lives in various ways every moment of every day, it is important to understand where we each fit into that puzzle and what our rights and obligations are with regard to other people, companies, and the government. 'Know Your Rights' helps you do that by focusing on topics commonly encountered by ordinary people in their day-to-day lives. They also provide a resource for attorneys and other legal professionals wishing to brush up on a topic and gain a quick insight into a field with which they may not have dealt recently. After all, the law is an enormous body of knowledge and attorneys are expected to have a minimal understanding of all of it in order to even be admitted to practice!

The articles in 'Know Your Rights' are designed to be easily accessible to virtually any reader, short enough to avoid becoming overwhelming, but comprehensive enough to provide the reader with some valuable insights. Many of the articles are inspired by events occurring in the news or derived from popular internet search results. In other cases, we answer questions provided by you, our readers. As a result, 'Know Your Rights' is always growing, with fresh new content provided everyday. So if you do not see what you are looking for (yet), just ask! Best of all, you can follow, receive updates and new articles every day, and interact with us both through this site or through our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ pages.


How and When to Hire a Lawyer

  • Can I Break Up and Fire My Attorney?

    Before firing your attorney, be sure to consider negative consequences and any alternatives.

  • Can I File a Lawsuit Without a Lawyer

    Often, people may have viable bases for lawsuits but fear that they are not allowed to file their claim without a lawyer.

  • I Won My Lawsuit, Now How Do I Collect?

    So, you have won your lawsuit, but the other side has not simply cut you a check. What do you do? How can you go about collecting your judgment?

  • Should I Get a Written Retainer for My Case?

    If you are interested in hiring a lawyer, he or she may mention a "retainer fee." While you may hire an attorney without a written agreement, there are several reasons why you should insist on a written retainer.

  • What Are the Common Types of Attorney Fee Arrangements

    One of the biggest concerns of people in need of the assistance of an attorney is how much it will cost. The type of fee arrangement that is available to a client will often have a lot to do with the type of legal issues you are bringing to your attorney.

  • What Can a Legal Aid Clinic Do for Me?

    So, you have won your lawsuit, but the other side has not simply cut you a check. What do you do? How can you go about collecting your judgment?

  • What is an Attorney-Client Privilege

    Whenever someone hires an attorney, an attorney-client relationship is formed, and a privilege is created.

  • What is the Difference Between an Attorney a Paralegal and a Lawyer?

    One common area of confusion for those outside the legal profession is the difference between various job titles among legal professionals. After all, in many jurisdictions there are now paralegal firms that offer services that to some might seem similar to what an attorney can do. So what is the difference between an attorney and a paralegal, an attorney and a lawyer, and other legal professionals?

  • What Should I Ask Before Hiring an Attorney?

    Most people do not hire attorneys everyday. This may leave them at a bit of a disadvantage in knowing what they should find out from an attorney before hiring them. Before hiring a lawyer, you should get information about these aspects of the attorney-client relationship.

  • Why Should I Have to Pay a Retainer Fee?

    When hiring an attorney, a potential client is often asked to pay an upfront fee called a "retainer" in order to hire the client.

Your Rights in Criminal Law

  • A - Criminal Law Info

    Guide to Penal Law

  • How Can a Felony Conviction Affect My Career?

    If you are facing a felony conviction, the lasting effects on your career can endure for much longer than any time that you receive.

  • How Do You Get Out of Jail After an Arrest?

    Getting arrested is an incredibly stressful, confusing experience, both for the person under arrest and their friends and loved ones. And, once taken to jail, there is probably just one thing on everyone's mind: getting that person back out of jail. So, how is that done?

  • Intoxication Can Be Illegal in Circumstances Other than DUI

    We all know the dangers of intoxication or drug use before getting behind the wheel of a car, but when else can intoxication be against the law? It might surprise you to know that there are ways to commit DUI without even being in a car. In fact, there are many laws affecting intoxication and being aware of some of the more unusual ones could be the difference between a fun night out and a legal nightmare.

  • What Are the Different Types of Assault?

    The term assault is used with relation to any number of different crimes and civil offenses, often incorrectly. So, what is assault, actually? And what are the different types of assault?

  • What Are the Rules Regarding Warrants Based on Informant Tips?

    Dealing with informants is a controversial aspect of criminal law. Several Supreme Court cases have helped to mold this area of the law. States may have additional requirements under their laws.

  • What Happens if I Am Not Read My Rights?

    We have all seen police shows where, immediately upon arrest, a police officer begins telling the suspect "you have the right to remain silent..." The list of rights the officer is about to recite are known as Miranda Rights. So what happens if the officer does not read you your Miranda Rights at the time of arrest?

  • What is an Alibi and How Does it Work?

    You may have heard of someone using an alibi to avoid criminal liability, either in real life or on a television show or movie. But what is an alibi? How does it work? What are the legal consequences fo claiming an alibi?

  • What Kinds of Defenses Can I Use in a Criminal Case?

    It is well known that in American law, in order to convict someone of a crime, the prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But that is only one side of the equation. The defendant also has an opportunity to present evidence to support a defense. So what kinds of defenses can one raise in a criminal case?

  • Where is Marijuana Legalized, Decriminalized, or Still Criminal?

    Much has been made over the last few years about a push to legalize marijuana. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, making it the first in the union to allow for the medical use of marijuana. Since then, 19 more states, and the District of Columbia have enacted similar laws, for a total of 20 states and the District of Columbia with public medical marijuana programs.

Your Rights in Personal Injury Law

  • A - Personal Injury Laws

    Guide to Tort Law

  • Can I Sue a Spouse for a Personal Injury?

    While the classic rule was that spouses could not sue each other, the abolition of laws throughout much of the 20th century has all but eliminated this rule.

  • Hit and Run Accidents and the Consequences

    For those who have either been injured by a hit and run driver, or those who have lost a loved one, it is clear that hit and run accidents can turn an already unpleasant event into a truly horrible one. For those who caused the accident then fled the scene, usually in a panic, the consequences can be severe.

  • How do You Know Who is at Fault in a Car Accident

    Determining the responsible party for a car accident can sometimes be tricky. There is often a difference between who actually caused an accident and who legally is at fault. Understanding who is at fault will have ramifications on whose insurance will be required to pay for damage to vehicles and properties, and which driver might be held liable for personal injuries.

  • Who is Responsible When I Trip on the Sidewalk

    Have you ever been walking along a sidewalk or walkway and taken a fall? Maybe a step was uneven or there was ice on the ground, or a root had broken through the concrete. Whatever the case, it is possible to seriously injure yourself, even through no fault of your own, just walking down the sidewalk. But, who should be responsible for those injuries?

Your Rights in Bankruptcy Law

  • A - Bankruptcy Laws

    A Guide to Bankruptcy: Chapter 7, 11, 13

  • Common Questions About Bankruptcy

    Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that helps some people who cannot pay their bills get a fresh financial start by temporarily, or permanently, preventing creditors from collecting debts from you. Bankruptcy is generally considered the debt management tool of last resort because the results are long-lasting and far-reaching. A bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, making it difficult to acquire credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.

  • Different Types of Bankruptcies in America and the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act

    The law provides a mechanism for getting out of control debts back under control, either by restructuring debt or wiping out certain types of obligations. This is bankruptcy.

  • Effects of Bad Credit and Legal Considerations

    Negative credit can have many far reaching consequences. Although you may not realize it, the health of your credit history will determine whether or not you are suitable for all sorts of things, including basic needs like renting an apartment or getting a job.

  • Protect Your Assets From Judgment

    If you have already been sued, it is probably too late to do anything to protect your assets. But, if you are a planner and looking to protect your assets before you have a problem, this article is for you.

  • Stuck With Unaffordable Student Loans, Now What?

    Every year, millions of students are convinced to take on student loans with promises of huge salaries upon graduation, but often the reality is a bit different and these same students are left with an enormous debt and little or no means of repayment. Indeed, these debts can last for decades.

  • What is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

    When preparing to file for bankruptcy, there are often many things on your mind. How will this affect my credit? Will I be able to pay for this? What will I lose? What will I gain? But one question that many people do not even know to ask is "what is the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?" The answer can have profound repercussions on your case.

  • What Kinds of Debts are Discharged in Bankruptcy?

    When we talk about discharging debts in bankruptcy, we are usually referring to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Typically, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a restructuring of debt rather than a discharge, or forgiveness of debt. For that reason, for most people the main goal of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to discharge / wipe out their debts. For example, while there are many other types of debt that Chapter 7 will discharge, credit card debt is one of the most commonly discharged debts.

Your Rights in Business Law

Your Rights in Family and Divorce Law

  • A - Family Laws

    Guide to Parental Rights & Obligations

  • B - Divoce Laws

    A Guide to Divorce Laws in the US

  • Can I Get Alimony After My Divorce is Final?

    Sometimes, after a divorce has been finalized and a court has issued its final judgment or decree declaring the marriage severed, one of the spouses finds that they need spousal support.

  • How to Get an Annulment

    For those who have only been married for a short time, the question of whether an annulment is available versus a divorce is a common question. When things sour so quickly, there is often a desire not to share what would otherwise be marital assets or even acknowledge the marriage was real. But, is it available in your case and how is it different than a divorce?

  • My Ex Is Moving Away With The Children, What Can I Do?

    You are divorced, or were never married, but have children with your ex. You share custody or, at the very least have visitation rights. But now your ex tells you s/he is moving someplace with the kids that would make seeing your children as regularly as you would like much more difficult.

  • The Pros and Cons of an Uncontested Divorce

    Ending a marriage is never a simple process. However, it can be simpler in some situations when the spouses are able to remain civil and agree between themselves how to divide the marital assets, deal with custody and support issues, and handle any other matters. Also known as an uncontested divorce, it may be hard for divorcing couples to accomplish in many instances, but the benefits can be great under the right circumstances.

  • What Are a Father's Child Custody Rights

    Historically, one often thinks of a bygone era where child custody was always seen as a woman's right. But, times have changed and a more enlightened world has realized that a mother as the sole custodial parent is not always the best solution. Thus, what are a father's custody rights today?

  • What To Do When You've Decided It's Time To Get A Divorce?

    The decision to end a marriage can be a very complicated one. Emotionally it may be painful, a relief, or a complicated mixture of both sensations. Practically, many things need to take place before the process can be finished and you can begin to move on with your life. So where do you start and who can you turn to for information? How do you know what steps are right for your situation? What other things do you need to consider that you may not even know about?

  • Who Is More Likely to Get Custody: a Mother or a Father?

    The question of which parent is more likely to get custody is an ever evolving one. Once, there was a policy of ensuring that the mother always received custody, called the "tender years" doctrine, which assumed that young children needed to be with their mothers in their early, developmental years. But more recently, courts and lawmakers have realized that the mother is not always in the best position to provide a safe and healthy environment for children.

Your Rights in Employment Law

  • A - Employment Laws

    Guide to Labor Law

  • What Benefits are Employees Entitled to After Termination?

    Leaving a job, whether intentionally, by being fired, or through circumstances beyond your control (such as layoffs), is almost always tinged with at least a little (and often a lot) of stress. One of the biggest concerns faced by many in this position is what sorts of benefits they are entitled to? Will their insurance continue? Are they guaranteed a severance? What happens if they cannot immediately find a job?

  • What Protection is There for Whistleblowers?

    If you have seen something at work that must change, but your employer is unwilling to do anything about it, what can you do? Will you be protected or can your employer immediately terminate you? How much will you jeopardize your job by doing the right thing?

Your Rights in Immigration Law

Other Legal Rights

  • How Appeals Work

    So, something has gone wrong in your trial and now you need to take an appeal. Or maybe the other side was unhappy with the outcome and they are taking the appeal, leaving you to make a response. An understanding of the appeal process and what it really means to take an appeal can be crucial to your success at this point in your legal dispute.

  • Understanding Informed Consent

    Anyone who has ever been to a doctor has probably seen a form relating to informed consent. But what is informed consent? What happens if you are asked to consent to something that you do not understand and are later injured?

  • What are the Laws About Bounty Hunters?

    In the United States, bounty hunters are sometimes employed to chase down those who miss their hearings or trials in criminal cases.

  • What Is a Subpoena?

    A subpoena notifies a person that he or she must appear in court at a certain location, date and time in order to provide testimony as a witness.

  • What Is a Summons?

    A summons provides legal notice to a party about a lawsuit. It is the first official notice that a defendant receives to notify him or her that he or she is being sued.

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