What Do I Need To Know As A DACA Recipient Now That DACA Is Ending?

lawThe Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, is a national program that was created during the Obama administration in 2012. The program temporarily postponed the deportation of American children if their parents entered the U.S. illegally.

The DACA program gave permission to work, obtain driver’s licenses, and study to those who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16. The application for the program could be renewed every two years as long as the individual was enrolled in high school, college, or the military and had a clean criminal record.

What happens now that DACA is set to end?
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are up to 800,000 DACA recipients. What’s more, up to 7% of all K-12 students have at least one parent living unauthorized in the U.S. as of 2012. So what does this mean for those apply for DACA now that the program will be ending?

  1. Your DACA permit is valid until it expires
    First and foremost, it’s essential to know your DACA and work permits are valid until their expiration date. You won’t face deportation until the expiration date of your DACA is passed.
    Check your I-795 Approval Notice to find the expiration date. You may also find the expiration date of your work permit at the bottom of your employment authorization document.
  2. You’re no longer able to renew your DACA
     The deadline to renew one’s DACA was on October 5, 2017. Therefore, you’re no longer able to renew your DACA or work permit if either or both were set to expire as of March 5, 2018. What’s more, no new DACA applications will be accepted.
  3. You’re no longer able to travel abroad with advance parole
    In the past, DACA applicants were able to travel abroad with advance parole. However, this is no longer the case. Those who apply for, and those pending, travel abroad applications won’t be processed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

If you’re a DACA applicant, it may be in your best interest to hire an immigration attorney. Professional immigration lawyers are experienced in immigration law and will be able to help you navigate an uncertain future. Contact the law offices of John Elledge today for legal assistance.

What It Means To Get A Repeat DUI In Virginia

dui attorneyThe penalties for a DUI conviction can be serious if you plead guilty or are found guilty during your trial. The consequences for first DUI convictions can range from a small fine to six months in jail.

The consequences of being found guilty of a second or third DUI offense vary depending on the amount of time that’s passed since your last conviction, but most judges, juries, and prosecutors take these repeat DUI offenses very seriously. It’s essential you understand these penalties to know what you’re up against. If you’re facing a repeat DUI conviction, you will almost certainly face heavier penalties.

Your Second DUI Offense: Potential Penalties
A repeat DUI conviction within five years of your first is considered a Class One Misdemeanor. What’s more, you’ll also be fined up to $500 and sentenced to a month in jail at minimum. Depending on how high your blood-alcohol content was at the time it was recorded, you may be sentenced to 10 to 20 more days in jail.

A repeat DUI conviction within 10 years of your first is also considered a Class One Misdemeanor and requires up to a month in jail. However, if your BAC was recorded between .15 and .20, your fine will increase to $1,000 and you may be required to serve an additional 10 to 20 days in jail.

Your Virginia driver’s license will also be suspended for up to three years. However, you may be able to use a restricted driver’s license after four months to a year. Consult your DUI lawyer for more information on license restrictions.

Your Third DUI Offense: Potential Penalties
A third DUI offense within five years of your last charge may result in a minimum $1,000 fine and a six-month jail sentence. Additionally, regardless of the number of years since your last DUI charge, a third charge is considered a Class Six Felony.

A Class Six Felony means a Virginia judge has the right to sentence you to jail for up to five years with a fine of $2,500. That being said, your vehicle may be seized as well as your driver’s license for an indefinite amount of time.

Whether you’re innocent or guilty of your repeat DUI charge, it may be in your best interest to hire a DUI attorney from a Virginia law firm. Based on the average caseload, a public defender would need a year and a half to do one year’s worth of work. Therefore, if you’ve been charged with a repeat DUI offense, consider hiring an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.

3 Questions To Ask Your Immigration Lawyer During A Consultation

immigration attorneysThe process of establishing American citizenship can be incredibly challenging. However, it’s important to know during this time that you’re not alone. The foreign-born American population increased by one million people between 2013 and 2014 alone.

One of the best ways to ease your anxiety about your citizenship or immigration issues is to meet with immigration attorneys. Immigration attorneys can help you understand your options and figure out the best way to proceed.

However, before you solidify your relationship with an immigration attorney it’s important to first consider asking the following questions. These questions will help you decide whether or not your immigration lawyer may be the best representation for you.

What experience do you have in immigration law?

Immigration law is a complex practice. You want to be sure the lawyer you choose has the right experience in cases similar to your own.

Whether your case is on visas or naturalization, a Harrisonburg lawyer who understands the process you’ll be going through will know how to operate the courtroom and paperwork. What’s more, they’ll also know how to navigate possible challenges as they arise.

Do you have any former clients I can speak to?

A law firm is essentially like any other service; you want to be sure they have good reviews. By speaking to references or former clients, you get a good look at how they treat their present clients.

This is a good question to ask even if you decide not to contact their references. If your lawyer has happy to oblige, it shows they’re confident in their work and skills.

What will you do to help me during my case?

An attorney may be able to offer you legal help, but it’s also important to know what level of service to expect. By asking this question during your consultation, you can know what to expect from your attorney such as whether they’ll complete paperwork on your behalf.

Immigration attorneys are there to help you understand your case and how to move forward. For more information on how a Harrisonburg immigration lawyer can help you during your case, contact John Elledge today for legal assistance.

What To Do (And Not Do!) When You’ve Been Pulled Over For DUI

dui attorneyIt’s never fun to be pulled over, but especially not during the holiday season. Unfortunately, many Americans are unsure what to do in a situation where they’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Not knowing what to do or say could mean doing and saying the wrong thing.

When a police officer says you have the right to remain silent, sometimes silence really is the best option. Consider the following things to do, and not do, should you be pulled over on suspicion of DUI.

  1. Pull over
    When a police officer turns on their lights behind your vehicle, you should pull over properly to the side of the road. Be sure to turn on your signal so the officer knows you intend to pull over.
  2. Remain in the vehicle
    After you’ve pulled over, turn off your vehicle and remain in the car. Turn on the interior light of the car if it’s after dark. You should only exit the vehicle if the officer asks you to.
  3. Don’t behave suspiciously
    Many people are nervous when a police officer pulls them over. However, try to prevent your nerves from making you act suspiciously. Leaning forward or across the seat may give the officer the impression you’re hiding something. Keep your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight and relax.
  4. Listen to the officer
     One of the best ways to prevent an arrest is to listen and follow the instructions the police officer gives you (calling the officer “Sir” or “Ma’am” doesn’t hurt, either!). Up to 12,196,959 arrests were made in 2012 alone, and drunk driving is one of the most common charges. Failing to listen to instructions could cause you to be arrested.
  5. Don’t provide unnecessary information
    Answer the police officer’s questions without giving any additional information. Any details or arguments you need to share should be shared with a DUI attorney, not the police officer.
  6. Be careful of what you say
    Should the officer ask you how much you’ve had to drink, never answer the question with an incriminating response. Choose to remain silent or say you don’t remember. Any number you provide could come back to you in court.
  7. Don’t consent unless it’s implie
    Ask the police officer if the DUI test you’re being asked to take is voluntary. Implied consent laws require you to submit to BAC testing. However, other tests may be voluntary. Don’t volunteer to take these tests.

If you’ve been arrested or accused of DUI, it may be in your best interest to seek legal assistance from a DUI attorney. If you have been arrested for drunk driving in or around Harrisonburg, VA, then contact the law offices of John Elledge today for a legal aid consultation with an experienced DUI attorney.

John Elledge & Assoc’s Shelly R. James Changes the Game for Virginia Foster Parents

Shelly James, our appellate attorney has prevailed before the Virginia Court of Appeals in a case that guarantees the right of Virginia foster care families to seek custody in Juvenile and Domestic Relations District court and Circuit Courts in the Commonwealth.  See the article below, published in Virginia Lawyers’ Weekly in its November 20, 2017 edition:
Ex-foster parents can seek custody

Court-of-Appeals crThe former foster parents of a 3-year-old girl have standing to seek custody, the Virginia Court of Appeals has ruled.

The couple took in the girl when she was 6 months old and nursed her through difficult health challenges, including a liver transplant. While the girl is now living with another couple, the foster parents filed a petition seeking custody.

A circuit judge ruled that the ex-foster parents were not “persons with a legitimate interest” in obtaining custody, per Virginia Code § 20-124.1, which defines that term.

But the appeals court, in an unpublished decision authored by Judge Teresa B. Chafin, reversed, finding that the term “legitimate interest” should be interpreted broadly. The court also said the trial court erred when it dismissed an adoption petition for the girl on standing grounds.

The case is Yokshas v. Bristol City Dep’t of Social Servs. (VLW 017-7-276).

H was a girl born in Bristol in 2014; shortly after her birth she was diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition, biliary atresia, affecting the liver.

The Department of Social Services removed her from her biological parents when she was about six months old. Lisa Yokshas and Scott Greaser, a married couple, became H’s foster parents.

DSS made it clear to Yokshas and Greaser that it intended to return the girl to her biological parents, and required them to support H’s relationship with them.

The couple took very good care of H, nursing her through her health issues and taking her to Cincinnati for a liver transplant.

However, they had trouble letting go. They treated H as their own child, Chafin wrote, and called her “Lily” instead of her given name. The judge added that the couple was rude and dismissive of the birth parents, opening advocating the termination of their rights.

In October 2015, DSS removed H from Yokshas and Greaser, placing her with another foster family.

A month later, the couple filed both custody and adoption petitions for H.

The circuit court ultimately ruled that Yokshas and Greaser lacked standing to file either petition; they took the case on up.

Legitimate interests

The key to the circuit court’s custody ruling was language in Virginia Code § 20-124.1, which states that anyone with a “legitimate interest” can file a custody petition.

The statute lists some of the individuals who might qualify, such as grandparents, stepparents, blood relatives and family members.

Foster parents are not listed.

But Chafin cited a portion of the code section stating that the term “legitimate interest” shall be “broadly construed to accommodate the best interest of the child.”

She added that the definition includes but is not limited to the listed categories of people.

The couple argued that for nine months they functioned as H’s parents, helping her through a medical crisis. That experience gave them a “legitimate interest in obtaining custody.” The court agreed, Chafin said.

While DSS had removed H from their home, that fact had not diminished the relationship between H and the couple, the judge said.

Yokshas and Greaser were the “functional equivalents” of H’s parents, and it was an error to rule they lacked a legitimate interest in her custody.

The court also ruled that it was error to say the couple lacked standing to file an adoption petition.

The pertinent statute merely states someone who living in the commonwealth can file such a document. While the couple may not succeed on the merits of their petition, they still have standing, the court said.

Harrisonburg attorney Shelly James represented the couple in the case. Bristol lawyer Edward G. Stout was counsel for DSS. Joshua P. Sutherland III served as H’s guardian ad litem.

We congratulate Shelly for her fine work on the part of the firm and our clients.