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Dog Bite Exceptions 
Were you aware that a dog in Virginia gets a "free bite" in most cases?  In other words, if the dog is not known to be dangerous and he bites or injures your pet, the owner may not be liable for damages.  In most cases, the other owner is considerate and pays any veterinary bills, but that does not always happen.  So what happens if there is no leash law and a dog you didn't invite comes onto your property and attacks your dog?  You might think that if there was no prior notice that the dog is dangerous you would be out of luck.  Well, that's not the case.  In Goochland, dogs are allowed to run free most of the year.  However, according to Va. Code Section 3.2-6586, if a dog enters your property without permission and injures or kills your companion animal, the owner of the offending dog will be held liable for damages.  There are also exceptions for livestock.  Before giving up on recovering money for damages, please call us to discuss any possible exceptions there may be.

Expungement in Virginia
Many people call about how to have a record expunged. Unlike some states that allow a single misdemeanor conviction to be expunged, in Virginia, if you plead guilty or are found guilty by a court of law, the chances of having your record expunged at a later date are slim. If you are charged with a crime and the charges are later dropped or nolle prossed, you have a good chance of having your record expunged. Or, if you have been ordered to perform some sort of restitution and your case is taken "under advisement" you may also qualify to have your record expunged. If you were a juvenile when you committed your crime, you may be able to have an actual conviction expunged. Lastly, if you have been granted a full pardon, you will likely be able to have your record expunged as well. However, even if you might otherwise qualify, if you have a poor record in general, you will still have to show that having the improper charges on your record hurt you in some other way - such as preventing you from gaining a promotion. If you believe that you should be granted an expungement for a charge you did not commit, please call us to help clear your record before it becomes a problem.

Landlord Tenant Act
Have you recently left or are planning to leave an apartment? Do you know what your rights are as a tenant? Landlords are required to notify you in writing within 30 days for any fees which they will be withholding from your security deposit. Oftentimes, landlords may try to withhold more than what is reasonable. For instance, if there was some damage to a carpet, they may try to withhold (and even bill additional) for full carpet replacement. The problem that may arise is that replacing an old carpet with new may not be reasonable. If the carpet was old when you moved in or if damage was to an isolated area, you should not be held liable for the entire cost to replace. If you are experiencing issues over excessive fees being retained, don't be scared to speak up for yourself. Ask what the life expectancy of the carpet was and when the carpet was put in place. Point out damages you noticed on the move-in sheet. There are many ways to reduce or even negate withholdings from your security deposit. In addition, if you are moving into an apartment, make sure you take pictures of any damages you see before moving in your furniture and note everything on the move-in inspection sheet. These will help to protect you when you leave the apartment.

Traffic Laws
There was a big change to DUI laws in the state of Virginia this past year.  Upon first conviction of a DUI for anything over .08, you will now be restricted from driving any vehicle that does not have an Intoxilyzer installed.  In addition, over .15, you will be required to have one installed in each car registered in your name.  Be careful and be safe.

Dangerous Dog Registry
Other new laws taking effect have to do with dangerous dogs. If a dog is found to be dangerous or vicious in a court of law, owners are required to report the finding and have the animal listed on the Dangerous Dog Registry. Citizens may also view the registry to determine whether a dog has been declared dangerous in the past. Please note that specific breeds in Virginia cannot be discriminated against. This registry lists specific animals known to have harmed individuals or other animals.

Do You Have a Will?
Do you know who will inherit or control your property and assets if you pass away without a will? Sometimes the answer is not what you think it is. For instance, consider a couple with two young children. Perhaps they were married and divorced, perhaps they never married. If one of the couple dies, chances are the children will go live with the surviving parent. That means that the surviving parent will have control of the deceased parent's assets. Even a simple will can solve this problem. Every time you have a major life change, it's a good idea to have your will reviewed. If you don't have one at all, you should get one to ensure that those you love are not left wondering what your wishes were. Or worse, leaving your loved ones knowing what your wishes were, but being unable to fulfill them.

Have you recently been named Executor or Administrator of an estate?
The passing of a loved one leaves everyone with a sense of loss and of their own vulnerability. At the same time, there is much that needs to be done to see that the loved one's wishes are followed. If you are an Executor or Administrator, do you know what steps you will have to take to administer the will? If there was no will, do you know what you must do to manage the estate? There are some very good government websites available that can help you, such as the Commissioner of Account's website for Henrico County. We can help you every step of the way - from speaking with the Clerk to finding estate valuators to ensuring that any outstanding bills are paid in the appropriate manner.

Have You been the Victim of ID Theft?
ID theft can strike anyone at anytime. Recently, a man who had his identity stolen for 35 years received vindication when the man that stole his identification was arrested. Unfortunately, cleaning up the problems made can take a great deal of time and effort. The Federal Trade Commission provides a website specifically related to ID theft. Learn how to recognize when you are at risk and how to protect yourself so that you don't become a victim of this crime.  If you have already been the victim of an identity crime, come talk to us about your legal rights.

Do you have anything of interest that you would like to see us address on this site?  Please let us know by sending an email to georgeandrewslaw@comcast.net and we will review your suggestion.

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