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During the first few months of each year, as April 15th looms, many people are concerned about the requirements for filing their annual federal and state income tax returns. The tax filing process can be stressful, and many taxpayers may be worried about whether they will owe taxes or whether they may face penalties if they provide the wrong information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unfortunately, this provides scammers with the opportunity to target people and attempt to steal their money or personal information. Those who have been affected by these types of scams can consult with an attorney who understands legal issues related to cybersecurity.

Common Tax-Related Scams

Scammers may use a number of different methods of contacting people, convincing them that they owe money, or asking them to disclose personal information that may be used to commit identity theft. These methods include:

  • Unsolicited phone calls - Scammers may call people claiming to be from the IRS and demanding payment for taxes or penalties. These calls can often be threatening, and a scammer may claim that a person will be arrested, their bank accounts seized, their driver’s license will be revoked, or they will face other consequences. It is important to understand that the IRS does not make unsolicited phone calls to taxpayers.  The IRS typically contact people by mail first before using any other methods. The IRS also does not accept payments through gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, or cash sent through the mail.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Meganweb.jpgBy: Attorney Megan Drury

Wisconsin is a community property state, meaning that most property acquired by a married couple belongs equally to both. During a divorce, marital property is to be divided equally. This usually means 50/50, although there are a few reasons the court might deviate from this standard. One of the first steps of property division during divorce is sorting through all property owned by the spouses in order to determine what is marital property and what is separate property. Certain types of property acquired during the marriage by one spouse could be considered separate property. Conversely, some property owned by one spouse alone before the marriage could be considered marital property and subject to division during divorce. 

Making this determination can be complicated. You will likely need to enlist an attorney to help you sort this out if you are going through a divorce. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_JAKheadshot_20220221-181537_1.jpgBy: Attorney Jaclyn Kallie

Scams that prey on those who are seeking employment can be particularly cruel - and they are on the rise. Parents of young children, in particular, began seeking work-from-home opportunities more and more during COVID-related school and office closures. In the past, employment scams were a bit easier to spot. Before the pandemic, the simple fact that an employment ad offered a well-paid work-from-home opportunity was often enough to raise suspicions and trigger a deeper investigation. Now that a significant number of legitimate companies have most or all employees working remotely, spotting an employment scam can be trickier. There are, however, a few signs of a questionable position you can keep an eye out for. 

What Are Some Telltale Signs of an Employment Scam?

The sad truth is that these scams prey on those who are already struggling and in need of work. Parents of young children who suddenly had little choice but to work from home when schools shifted to online learning during the pandemic are common victims. Other common victims are young adults struggling to break into the workforce, who may lack the life experience to spot a questionable job ad. Signs to look out for include:

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milwaukee criminal defense lawyerBy: Attorney Nicole Masnica and Paralegal Rachel Sweet

Watching the local news may lead you to believe that people are constantly being caught and arrested for very serious crimes, like violent felonies and even murder. However, this is not quite true. The most common offenses that people get arrested for may surprise you. While we like to think that jails exist to keep dangerous offenders out of the community where they cannot hurt anyone, the local jails are typically filled with non-violent offenders. 

If you have already been arrested, you need not feel alone. Hundreds of people are arrested every day in Wisconsin. If this is the situation you are in, a qualified defense attorney may be able to help minimize the impact your arrest will have on your life. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_att-weitzner-1.jpgBy: Attorney Cameron Weitzner

You may be surprised to learn that even if you are not caught in possession of an illegal narcotic, you can still end up in jail over drugs. In Wisconsin, you could be charged with a misdemeanor for having drug paraphernalia - or a felony, if the paraphernalia relates to methamphetamine. The definition of what does or does not count as drug paraphernalia can be quite a source of confusion. Paraphernalia is not limited to items specifically designed for the sole purpose of using drugs. Almost anything has the potential to become paraphernalia if it appears that you intended to use it for that purpose. 

If you have been charged with a crime related to drug paraphernalia, it is important that you take it seriously and seek out an experienced attorney. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_JAKheadshot.jpgBy: Attorney Jaclyn Kallie

Being asked to sign a non-compete contract when you start a job may seem like standard procedure, or it could be a big risk for you, depending on your location and what line of work you are in. Non-competes may include any number of restrictions related to what type of work you can do, where, and when. While generally enforceable, in some cases these agreements may not be enforceable in whole or in part. If you feel that your non-compete clause is truly hindering your career progress and opportunities, it may be worth consulting an attorney for an evaluation. The agreement you signed may not be as ironclad as you may think. 

When is a Non-Compete Clause Unenforceable in Wisconsin?

In determining whether non-compete clauses are enforceable, Wisconsin law attempts to balance the freedom to move within the labor market with the protections companies seek to obtain with these agreements.  If every company was allowed to require every employee to sign a non-compete as a condition of employment, it would be quite difficult for the labor market to function.  Changing jobs could become quite difficult if this were the case.  Therefore, to be enforceable the terms of a non-compete clause must be reasonable and allow an employee to obtain employment, albeit with restrictions.  A few things you should know about non-compete clauses include: 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_att-nicole.jpgBy: Attorney Nicole Masnica 

Even the more serious forms of criminal trespassing are generally charged as a misdemeanor, carrying no more than a year in jail at the worst. Burglary, however, is at minimum a Class F felony, punishable by up to 12 years and six months in prison. The punishments for these offenses are wildly different, but these Wisconsin offenses themselves can be strikingly similar. The line between trespass and burglary is less clear than most people realize. Both involve entering or remaining in another’s property without consent. The difference may hinge on what the state thinks you were planning to do in there. If you are facing either charge, it is important to seek out a skilled defense attorney who can fight to minimize the legal jeopardy you are in. 

What is the Difference Between Criminal Trespass and Burglary?

First, it is important to note that in Wisconsin, there are different categories of both offenses depending on the type of property unlawfully entered and any offense you allegedly planned to commit inside. The degree of the felony or misdemeanor charged can vary based on a number of factors. That said, the definition of “burglary” may be much wider than you would expect. 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1906998922.jpgBy: Attorney Ray Dall’Osto

Scams are growing more and more sophisticated with each passing year. Avoiding scams can be difficult, due to both how common they are and how convincing they can appear to be. The elderly are perhaps the most common targets for Social Security and Medicare scams, although people of all ages can and do fall victim to scam artists. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that victims lost millions of dollars to social security scams in 2018 alone, and that number is only increasing. Keeping yourself, your family and your elderly or more vulnerable loved ones up to date and educated about current common scams is one of the best ways to stop these predatory criminals from victimizing more individuals. Read the governmental agency links on how best to avoid scams.  Contact a lawyer knowledgeable about consumer protection laws for help if you or a loved one were the victim of a scam or identity theft. 

What Are the Types of Social Security Scams?

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that no one from any government agency will ever call you and ask for your personal information such as your social security number. Anyone who does so is almost certainly a criminal attempting to steal your money, your identity or personal financial information. Some common scam techniques are as follows, which you can pass on to your family and friends as a caution:

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b2ap3_thumbnail_att-weitzner.jpgBy: Attorney Cameron Weitzner

It is often - but not always - fairly obvious when someone is drunk. The telltale lack of coordination, slurred speech, and of course, the smell can quickly tip off the police that they are dealing with a drunk driver. From there, measuring how drunk the arrestee is fairly straightforward and can be done using a blood test or breathalyzer. When the substance involved is something other than alcohol, determining whether a driver is under the influence can be a lot more complicated. If you are dealing with a drug DUI charge, your defense could be complicated and require the skill of an experienced lawyer. 

What Signs of Drug Intoxication Do Police Look For?

Many of these signs could be explained by something other than intoxication, but may still be used as evidence of a driver’s impairment. Police may suspect drug use if they see:

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Posted on in Uncategorized

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1692105757.jpgThe pandemic has brought out the best in a lot of people. Communities have banded together to help each other out and look out for the most vulnerable. Sadly, there are those who have taken advantage of the pandemic by inventing creative new scams. Many of these scams are designed to take advantage of more vulnerable people, especially the elderly. Spotting scams can be tricky. Scammers are often adept at creating a sense of panic, forcing victims to act quickly before they have a chance to fully evaluate and think through the situation. People who are already aware of these new scams and techniques stand a better chance of avoiding falling prey to them. 

If you already have been a victim, do not be too embarrassed. Scam artists are good at what they do and it happens to a lot of people. If you were harmed by a COVID scam, a lawyer may be able to assist you. 

What Scams Based Around COVID Should I Be Aware Of?

A little knowledge can go a long way towards avoiding scams. Make sure to pass on these warnings to anyone you know who may be more vulnerable to them. COVID scams include: 

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