Author Archives: Dean Ryan

Domestic Violence: What You Should Know Before Calling 911

If it’s an emergency, you call 911. That’s a given, right? But most people aren’t aware of the costly legal ordeal you expose yourself to when it comes to Kansas Domestic Violence laws. Yes, there are certainly times when law enforcement needs to be involved, but consider for a minute what happens when they show up to a “garden variety” spousal spat.

Here’s a typical situation…

You are arguing with your significant other over something. Likely one or both of you have had something to drink, and emotions are high. If both of you would just walk away and deal with the matter in the morning it wouldn’t be a problem as far as criminal actions go. But, in the heat of the moment, one of you decides to call 911. Then the police show up.

This is when a simple argument turns into a nightmare.

Kansas Domestic Violence LawsThe police arrive. They are not there just to referee and calm everyone down. They have come to arrest someone. That’s the law, and if both of you are judged to be offenders by the officers, you’re both arrested. Unfortunately, this is how a simple spousal argument quickly escalates into a criminal charge of Domestic Violence. Now you’re arrested, taken to headquarters, processed, finger printed and your mug shot taken.

Right about the time you are handcuffed and head-pushed into the squad car, you’re regretting that call to 911. But none of this matters any more. It’s all out of your control now. You can’t change your mind. You can’t say we promise to stop fighting, and “please, let us go home.” The system is in control now, and you’re about to enter their legal grinder.

Even worse, if you have children, and both of you are arrested, your children are shipped off to state custody. But that’s only the beginning of the nightmare. Now you need an attorney – more expenses. And if you’re convicted, it is probably a minimum jail sentence of less than 10 days, plus fines and court costs. Worse yet, with a domestic violence conviction on your record, you can’t hold a number of jobs, own or possess a firearm or hunting license, join the military, be eligible for many government jobs and you may be terminated from your current job. This is the nightmare many law-biding citizens find themselves in when they call 911 over a simple marital spat. You would have been much better off working out your differences privately.

I recognize domestic violence and abuse is a problem. If you are in that situation, you need to get help immediately. There are a lot of great resources out there for you. I have listed some below.

In closing, you should really think long and hard before involving law enforcement in your personal lives. You won’t like the way you are treated.

Kansas Attorney General Domestic Violence Page

Kansas Bar Association Domestic Violence Guide

Kansas Domestic Violence Help and Programs

The Ugly Truth About Vehicle Repossession

Truth about vehicle repossessionI am discouraged by how often someone comes to my office asking me to help them solve a problem they are having with a bank or credit union regarding a voluntary repossession of a vehicle.  For some reason people believe that if they simply give a car back to the lender they are all done with it.

WRONG.

Here’s what actually happens. The lender is entitled to spend as much money as needed to sell the vehicle. So first, most banks send the car to a repair shop and fix any issues and then put it on their lot to sell it. Then if it doesn’t sell fast enough, the vehicle is taken to a “closed” dealer auction and sold for less than wholesale price. All the costs of repairs, auction commissions, hauling the vehicle to the auction and any other costs are tallied up and added to the amount you owe the bank.

At this point the bank, lender or credit union has a loss. Now you not only have to pay for the lender’s costs in recovering the vehicle, fixing the vehicle and selling the vehicle, you find that they sold your vehicle for sometimes thousands of dollars less then it was worth, and you have to make up the difference. Now you have no car and are still making payments. If you had sold the vehicle yourself you could have gotten much more for it than the wholesale auction your lender used. Unfortunately, the end result for a lot of folks is often bankruptcy.

If given a chance, before the return of the vehicle, I can occasionally work a “deal” with a lender to take back a vehicle and get them to agree to forego any deficiency. Deficiency is the legal term used for the amount you owe the bank because by returning the vehicle and letting them sell it for half price, you still owe on your original note.

Also, never trust a bank verbally telling you anything. And especially don’t trust them if they say you will owe nothing if you bring the car back to them.  If a lender’s statement is not in writing, it didn’t happen. This exact situation happened in my office today. The credit union actually encouraged the debtor to bring the car back and said, on the phone, he wouldn’t owe anything. Now that the car is sold and the bank wants over $8,000! And surprise, surprise, nobody at the bank remembers saying he wouldn’t owe anything if he returned the car.

If you are late on payments on your car, boat, motorcycle, whatever, NEVER voluntarily return it to the bank and wait to see what the damages are. Usually, the damages are stunning and most times, completely ridiculous. Speak with me first so we can review your options and negotiate with your lender. If we can’t come to an agreement with your bank, we can look at other options. Doing this could save you thousands of dollars when you need it most.

The Confusion about Carrying a Firearm

NRA Guide to State Firearm LawsMore and more people feel the need to arm themselves these days. I suppose with all the criminal activity reported on the news people are more fearful and want to defend themselves, and for good reason. The sad part of this is the confusion pertaining to firearm laws. People who think they are law abiding citizens find themselves in trouble and end up arrested when they had absolutely no criminal intent. Unfortunately, the same is true with many of the laws and regulations in our country. It is not possible to keep up with them all, not even for attorneys.

There is little doubt that the laws for owning, carrying and transporting firearms are confusing. There are a large number of Federal Statutes dealing with weapon ownership, and each State has its own laws. None of the laws are the same so it is nearly impossible to know what is legal anywhere you go. Seems unfair, but that’s the way it is.

Kansas has opened its laws by not requiring anyone to have a permit or license to carry a firearm.  This is true whether you are hiding a gun in your pocket (called concealed carry) or if you wear it out in the open like a cowboy in the old west (called open carry). There are still a number of unknowns even in Kansas with these very unrestricted carry laws.

For example, be very careful not to “brandish” a gun. Brandish is a non-legal term that means you are handling a gun in a way that someone near you thinks they are being threatened. You can’t point a gun at someone or point the gun and threaten to use it. Also, you can’t pull your coat aside to reveal your hidden pistol like you see in the movies. All of these acts can get you arrested for Assault with a Deadly Weapon.

Further, there is no direction legally on whether you can carry your concealed pistol into a business or public place that has a “no weapons” sign on the door. This is the sign you see with a gun in a red circle with a slash through it.  Remember, if you have a concealed carry permit you must abide with that sign as it is part of the concealed carry license requirements. No such requirement is made on someone without a concealed carry permit.

This may seem unfair, but in Kansas you can carry concealed with or without a permit. If you have a permit you definitely have to abide with the regulations of that permit which are more restrictive than carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Be safe and don’t take your weapon into a building marked with the no weapons sign, and if you have a concealed carry permit, make sure you are familiar with the restrictions that come with that permit.

NRA Building Fairfax VAIn Kansas it is pretty safe to carry any weapon however you like.  Don’t assume that to be the case in any other state.  That gun in your car glove box can get you arrested in almost any other state in the Union. If you must transport a weapon outside Kansas, be certain to check the laws of the state you are traveling to before you go. This is a pretty easy search on the internet.  The NRA has an excellent summary of all state carry laws here. The site also includes links to other states that recognize your permit to carry.

Additionally, you can transport a firearm on the airlines if you comply with all the requirements of the state you are flying to and the requirements of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  You can see these regulations here.

It is also important to note that Kansas is experiencing some problems with the expungement statute.  Federal law allows someone that has been convicted of Domestic Violence, but had the conviction expunged, to purchase and own a firearm. Because of the way the Kansas Expungement law is written, Kansans that have ever been convicted of Domestic Violence can never own a firearm, even after the conviction is expunged. If you get charged with Domestic Violence, be aware that it will affect your gun ownership rights in Kansas forever.

Although Kansas is very lenient with concealed and open carry from a statutory standpoint, be very aware that local law enforcement is not at all comfortable with you being armed. Be it either open carry or concealed carry, when a “Barney Fife” discovers you are armed they will likely try to figure out a way that you are breaking the law and get your weapon from you.  The right to carry arms is still considered by law enforcement and statute a right to hunt and defend yourself.  Any action other than these two purposes will likely get you in trouble and you will be visiting me. So, be wise, be smart, and enjoy and use your firearm wisely.