On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.
J Visa: Popular in the Wisconsin Dells AreaStudents from all over the world come to the Wisconsin Dells on a cultural exchange program (J Visa). The J Visa allows the foreign student to obtain employment for a period of time while they experience the Wisconsin Dells and areas nearby. Though it does not come without controversy, it is overall considered to be a beneficial program for both the foreign students desiring to experience American culture and for Wisconsin Dells employers who are unable to find enough local seasonal employees during the busy summer season of the Wisconsin Dells.
Are the J Visa Visitor Always Required to Return Home?I hate to give the typical lawyer response "it depends," but unfortunately it is true in this case. Not all, but many J Visa participants are required to return home for two years before being able to apply for permanent residency. However, they can always return on other non immigrant visas like the J Visa. J Visa students are required to return home if the following conditions are met:
Confusing? Immigration Law generally is! In fact, when the visitor comes to the U.S., someone marks on the J Visa whether or not the 2 year return applies and they are often incorrect!
If a J Visa Visitor has a 2-Year Requirement, Is There a Way Around It?Sometimes there is. Even for the visitors that are in fact required to return home for 2 years, there are few possibilities around it:
Some of these standards are high, but many J Visa visitors are able to apply and do not even know it. If you know a J Visa visitor in the United States that wants to stay, recommend they speak with an immigration attorney.
J Visa Visitor Who Intends to Stay in the United StatesIf you are, or know of a J Visa Visitor that intends to stay in the United States, then the J Visa visitor may be allowed to stay under U.S. Immigration law, regardless of what their immigration papers say. Many students come here and get married to a U.S. Citizen. Others simply want to apply for a different visa while in the United States. Some are required to return home and others are not. Don't waste time wondering, talk to an immigration attorney immediately to find out.
By Phillip Stamman
Please remember that nothing written here or anywhere on our website is legal advice and the information provided should not be taken as legal advice. Immigration laws are complex and not every detail is explained above. If you have a question, speak with an immigration attorney.
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Monday, March 25, 2013.
To protect victims of domestic abuse and other serious crimes, Congress created the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) petition and the U-visa. These petitions give important immigration benefits to victims of crimes.
What is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)? Typically, when a non-citizen (undocumented immigrant or visa immigrant) marries a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, the U.S. citizen can often petition for the non-citizen for lawful permanent resident status in the United States. This is a common way for non-citizens to receive permanent legal status, and even citizenship, in the United States. However, problems arise when the U.S. citizen spouse uses the immigration benefit as a form of control. The U.S. citizen spouse may even threaten not to petition for the non-citizen if she leaves or goes to the police. Congress found this abuse to be unacceptable and initiated VAWA.
VAWA is a federal law that allows victims (including men and women) of domestic abuse to apply for lawful permanent residence status without the help of the U.S. spouse. VAWA even allows immigrants who entered the United States without inspection to apply for lawful permanent residence status, an important benefit for many undocumented immigrants.
Requirements to apply for VAWA
Have questions or think you may qualify for a VAWA self-petition? Contact us today. Do not apply for a VAWA petition without the help of an immigration lawyer.
What is a U-Visa?In many ways, the U-visa is more broad than VAWA. The U-Visa protects not only victims of domestic abuse, but victims of other criminal activity as well. Congress understands that undocumented immigrants are afraid to contact law enforcement about crimes because of their unlawful immigration status. This fear makes immigrants extremely vulnerable to abuse, violence, blackmail, and other crimes. The U-visa was created to encourage victims to assist with law enforcement and the prosecution of criminal cases by giving victims immigration benefits. These benefits protect the victims and encourage them to help with the investigation and prosecution of the crimes.
If your a victim of a qualifying crime and assisted law enforcement, then you may be eligible for a U-visa. Additionally, once approved of the U-Visa, you become eligible to receive lawful permanent resident status after three years.
What is a Qualifying Crime to apply for the U-Visa?The qualifying crimes include, but are not limited to:
Requirements for U-Visa
Can Police Give False Promises In Exchange For A Confession?
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Monday, March 18, 2013.
Everyone has seen movies and television shows where police were interrogating someone the police believed committed a crime. In Murder by Numbers, Detective Mayweather (Sandra Bullock) and her partner separated two suspects and lied to the suspects that the other was confessing in order to get them talking. In other shows, violence is used, promises are made, anything is done in order to get the suspect to tell the truth. In Hollywood, the police officer is able to do just about anything to get the desired confession. But how far can they really go?
As requested by a member of our Southworth and Stamman Facebook Page, we received an inquiry on the subject: Can an officer make false promises in exchange for an admission of guilt? Unfortunately, I must give the common and annoyingly typical lawyer responses, "it depends" and "maybe." But don't worry, I won't stop there.
Police Confession: Promises in Exchange for Confession of GulitIn the past, any promise given in exchange for a confession was ruled inadmissible in court. This means that a confession given after a promise would not have been allowed to be used against you. But this is not necessarily the rule anymore. Now, the determination will be based on the "totality of the circumstances." In other words, the courts will look at the confession as a whole, including characteristics of the accused (age and intelligence) and details of the interrogation. Courts have allowed confessions based upon assurances that some charges will be dropped and even a promise that the defendant will receive a reduction in sentence. Additionally, some states have stricter rules than others, so it could also depend on the state.
So what does this all mean? In practice, courts do not strike down a confession as involuntary very often. Under some circumstances, promises (even if false) in exchange for a confession may not strike the confession. If so, the confession would be used against you in court. My advice? Get an attorney! If you are suspected of a crime, you should not speak with the police until you get an attorney. In court, an admission of guilt can be used against you, but a denial of guilt generally cannot.
Can an Officer Lie or Deceive for a Confession?
Without more evidence of overbearing the suspect's will, YES! Generally, police can lie to you to get a confession. They can tell lie claiming that somebody saw you commit the crime or that your DNA evidence is at the scene of the crime. This is not only permitted, but also used quite commonly.
What Should I do if I'm Suspected of a Crime?
Contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. You have a Constitutional privilege against compulsory (forced) self-incrimination. Even if you did not commit the crime, you could be tricked into admitting something you did not do. You may be confronted with information (even untrue information) that could lead you to say something by accident. Interrogation makes people nervous and people don't always say what they want to say. There is little to no benefit to speak with the police if you're a suspect of a crime. Contact an attorney instead of trying to defend yourself alone.
By Phillip Stamman
Note: Nothing I said here or in any other blog should be construed as legal advice, but statements of general legal principles. If you have a specific issue, you should contact a criminal defense attorney.
Also, do you have a general legal question that you want answered? Like Us on Facebook here, post your question and I may blog about it!
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Monday, March 11, 2013.
New Law Firm in Wisconsin Dells, WI. After starting off our practice in Mauston, Wisconsin, we decided to place our permanent location in the Wisconsin Dells. We spent the past few months looking at locations in Mauston, New Lisbon and Wisconsin Dells/Lake Delton, but decided that a Wisconsin Dells location is the best fit. Beginning May 1st, we are moving the firm into a beautiful cabin overlooking the river, right next to Moose Lodge.
Why the Wisconsin Dells?There are several reasons we chose the Wisconsin Dells area. First, the location is a great center point for our Criminal Defense practice, allowing us to readily serve the counties of Juneau, Sauk, Columbia and Marquette.
Secondly, the Wisconsin Dells benefits our Immigration clients. While many immigrants live in the Wisconsin Dells, we are also close enough to Madison to serve them as well.
Third, there just weren't many options in the Mauston / New Lisbon area. Hopefully there will be more economic development in that area in the future.
Once we're all moved in, we'd love to have you stop by and meet us!
By Phillip Stamman
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Wednesday, March 6, 2013.
"Are all defense attorneys the same? Aren't I going to get the same deal regardless of who represents me?"These are questions that come up often from people I talk to - friends, family, and potential clients. The answer is emphatically, "NO!" Not all defense attorneys are the same. Many people fall for this misconception and end up seeking out the lowest priced lawyer as if they are shopping at Wal-Mart for the cheapest television set. They wrongly assume that every lawyer is going to get them the same deal, so they go for the cheapest price available.
Working in the Prosecutor's Office in Mauston, Juneau County for the past few summers, I could see the difference in the diligent and competent work ethic by some lawyers, and not so much for others. Though I did not "know" which lawyers were cheap and which probably charged more, I'm sure I could pick them out. Some attorneys followed the same old song and dance for each case, while others looked for creative options and alternative solutions that often worked, effectively helping their client.
What to look for in a criminal defense attorneyThe commonly used quote "You get what you pay for" often, though not always, applies to lawyers as well. Does that mean that you cannot find an extremely competent and hard-working lawyer at a reasonable price? I believe you absolutely can!
Yet, looking solely at price, a person in need of an attorney can make a big mistake by not carefully choosing an attorney that will strongly represent him/her. Surely, price can and should be a factor in searching for the right firm, but it should not be the sole factor. Money is certainly an issue and you can find very qualified attorneys at a reasonable price. But make sure to spend time researching who the best fit would be. Will they treat your case as unique and spend sufficient time on it, or are they too busy or unwilling to put forth the extra effort that could seriously impact the result of your case? Whether it be our firm, or another firm, make sure you're comfortable with the attorney you select, not simply based it off the lowest price you can find.
By Phillip Stamman
Note: Nothing in this blog is intended to guarantee or even imply better results in a specific case. Nor does it intend to compare our services with another lawyers.
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Thursday, March 28, 2013.
As most people are now aware, Wisconsin residents are able to get a conceal and carry permit in Wisconsin. The conceal and carry law became effective November 1, 2011. Have you considered getting a conceal and carry, but don't know the steps? Are you unsure whether you are allowed to get a conceal and carry? In this blog, we will briefly walk you through the requirements and steps.
Who is Allowed to get a Conceal and Carry Permit in Wisconsin?Before starting the process of getting your conceal and carry, make sure that you are legally able to get a permit.
Some people are not allowed to possess firearms, and of course, not allowed to have a conceal and carry. Below are some of the most common factors. For a more detailed list, see Wis. Stat. 941.29. (Google search will bring this up.)
Remember that not every criminal conviction will result in your denial of a conceal and carry. If you've been convicted of a crime, be sure to check that conviction to find out whether it does or does not prevent you from attaining a conceal and carry permit.
Steps to TakeOnce you've determined that you qualified, here are the necessary steps.
Once your application has been approved, it will expire in five years. From that point, you will have to renew your license and, of course, pay another fee to the government.
Have any questions about the conceal and carry permit? Ask them below and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
By Phillip Stamman
Please remember that nothing written here or anywhere on our website is legal advice and the information provided should not be taken as legal advice.
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.
The Juneau County Diversion Program, created by Attorney Scott Southworth in 2010, ended on December 31, 2012. Due to the new Juneau County District Attorney's position that there was no need for the Wisconsin State Funded program, there was no request for an extension of funding and my position as the Program Coordinator for the program came to an end.
What was the Juneau County Diversion Program
The Juneau County Diversion Program was an intensive program designed for young (typically between age 17-25), first time, nonviolent offenders. The program often required the offender to do community service work, pay restitution, attend living skills workshops, write letters of apology, counseling, drug treatment and be paired with a mentor. If successful in the program, the offender would avoid a criminal conviction by having the case dismissed with prejudice.
Since the program required far more accountability (myself and each individual's mentor) and was more intensive than typical deferred agreements, not everyone completed the program. Those that did complete the program were statistically less likely to commit another crime, making Juneau County, and the State of Wisconsin, safer.
As a whole, the program reduced recidivism in the County and additionally improved the offenders' lives by giving them a life-time mentor and proper training to make them better and more desirable employees.
The Juneau County Diversion Program Ended - Now What?
Now that the Juneau County Diversion Program has ended, what becomes up these young, first time, nonviolent offenders now?
What are the plans that current Juneau County District Attorney Mike Solovey has for these individuals? Some of these young kids can learn from their mistake without having a Scarlet Letter C (conviction) weighing over them forever. Will they not be given the opportunities that some before them received simply because the program had to end? If there is a diversion program in place, are there mentors and staff to help keep these young offenders accountable to their agreement? These are some questions that the citizens of Juneau County should be asking.
As the former Program Coordinator of this program, I am sincerely concerned for the young citizens of Juneau County. Currently, my partner, Scott Southworth, now represents people charged criminally, including those that would have previously been eligible to enter the Diversion Program. In the future, I intend to represent people with criminal charges as well. I hope that our clients will be given similar opportunities to compensate for mistakes and be able to turn their life around, like so many did in the Juneau County Diversion Program.
On behalf of Southworth and Stamman, LLC on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.
An estimated 11 million people are living in the United States without legal status. Unfortunately, the topic often becomes engulfed in the constant political battle between Republicans and Democrats. Making this a political fight is absolutely unnecessary and nobody wins in this stalemate. So what should we be looking for here? What is the problem and how do we get bipartisan support to fix it? Here are a few p0ints of discussion that I think most reasonable Americans can and should agree on.
1. Allowing 11 million people to remain undocumented is NOT the solution.
We are only hurting our society by not offering up reasonable solutions to this problem. Without an opportunity for attaining some sort of legal status, more and more immigrants will drive without a driver's license, work "under the table" (wouldn't you if it was the only job you could get?), etc. To put it simply, this is not healthy for anyone!
Yes, many immigrants broke the law by coming across the border. Others overstayed their visa. On the other hand, many came across when they were children through no fault of there own. Should children be punished for an act of their parents? We don't accept that in our society. Instead of throwing out the unthoughtful and typical responses, "who cares, just deport them," or the polar opposite view, "free citizenship for anyone," lets find creative and better solutions.
2. Immigrants who improve our society should be permitted to become legal members of our society
Attaining a college education and joining the military to serve our country are just a few examples of our immigrants can improve our society and become a part of it. Our government can't simply hold a stick to punish those who came across the border. We must come up with creative solutions to allow people who broke immigration laws to have a chance at making it right, to become productive to our society instead of a detriment. If someone serves our country, he has a right to be a part of it. If another takes the path of education, we should welcome that person to be a part of our society.
Instead of forcing immigrants into hiding, we should encourage them towards self-improvement. We should welcome those people, not discourage them.
3. The border must be secure
Our government will never completely prevent people from coming across the border. But that does not mean the government should ignore the issue either. Failing to secure our borders leads to a continuing problem and it makes our country less safe. Documentation of each person in the United States is critical to our security and this should not be ignored. Every country protects its borders and any well-rounded immigration policy should encourage people to follow the steps towards legal immigration as much as possible.
The topic is going to continue to get heated. People, often because of their political party, will choose to ignore reasonable resolutions for political reasons. We shouldn't get caught up in political victories, but look towards a well-rounded and positive solution to improve our society. The immigrants already in the United States can be productive members of our society and we should encourage it. Along with securing our border, we must continue to look for positive solutions to fixing real problems.
Deferred action allows for certain people who came to the United States as children to defer removal action against them. Though Deferred Action does not give one lawful status, it does provide a number of benefits: employment authorization, the possibility of a driver's license and the ability to live in the United States for a period of time without fear of deportation.
What are the Requirements?
Deferred Action is limited to certain individuals who meet the following requirements:
1. Under age 16 as of June 15, 2012 (Born on or after June 16, 1981)
2. Came to the United States before his/her 16th birthday
3. Lived continuously in United States since June 15, 2007
Note: a short, temporary trip abroad may be acceptable.
4. Physical Presence in U.S. on June 15, 2012 and every day since August 15, 2012
5. Must currently not have lawful status.
6. Must be at least 15 years old, unless he/she is currently in removal proceedings.
7. Must have obtained a certification of completion from H.S. or alternative (GED, HSED), or currently in school, or honorably discharged from U.S. Armed Services
8. Must not have been convicted of a felony, "Significant Misdemeanor" or 3 Misdemeanors
9. Must not pose a threat to national security
Think you qualify or have a question about Deferred Action? Please contact our office
Southworth Law Office, LLC.