Lawyer Nicholas W. Hicks
Lawyer Nicholas W. Hicks

Understanding the Fifth Amendment with Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York

New York Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains your rights outlined in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution addresses some of the protections afforded to citizens accused of crimes. Deeply rooted in English common law, this Amendment attempts to protect an accused person from being forced by the Government to provide ‘testimony’ against him/herself. 

Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York explains the Fifth Amendment in order to help citizens understand their rights. 

When someone ‘pleads the Fifth’, or otherwise exercises their rights under the Fifth, they are using this right to remain silent against certain kinds of questioning by the Government (i.e., police, prosecutors or any arm of law enforcement). 

Under the Fifth Amendment, there is an additional protection against ‘double jeopardy’. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that once a person has been tried for an offense, whatever the outcome, they cannot be charged or tried again with the same offense, even if new incriminating evidence is found after the trial. This protects people from being forced into court repeatedly to defend themselves. However the exception to the ‘double jeopardy’ rule is that the State and Federal Goverments are considered two separate entities. Which is to say, that a person could be found ‘not guilty’ in State Court, but then tried again in Federal Court with the same or similar charges, (e.g., the officers in the Rodney King beating case). This occurrence is not considered ‘double jeopardy’ under the law. 

Also included in the Fifth is a person’s right to legal counsel during interrogation. The accused party can request an attorney be present when speaking with the police or any person associated with law enforcement. Every person must also be read their ‘Miranda Warnings’ upon being questioned by law enforcement, (questioning evokes this right not the arrest). Failure to warn a person of their Miranda rights could result in any resulting statements being thrown out of court. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks stresses the importance of exercising your right to counsel before speaking with law enforcement. 

Finally, Attorney Nicholas Hicks reminds us, that when a police officer says “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”, remember that in fact it will be used against you. So protect yourself by remaining silent until you have a lawyer present. 

Contact an attorney right away if you need to discuss your rights in a criminal situation. 

About Nicholas Hicks: 

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School. 

Attorney Nicholas Hicks Discusses 5 Questions to Ask Before Filing Bankruptcy

It might be possible to improve your situation using tips from Attorney Nicholas Hicks of New York.

Declaring bankruptcy is an extreme measure that if used correctly, can save you money, time, and financial distress. However declaring bankruptcy can also be time consuming, expensive, and can negatively impact your credit rating. A bad credit rating can negatively affect your ability to make credit purchases, obtain employment and housing, just to name a few. Therefore, before you declare bankruptcy, Attorney Nicholas Hicks of New York suggests asking yourself five questions to determine if filing for bankruptcy is the best solution for you.

  1. Can you find the money to pay bills another way?

Attorney Nicholas Hicks suggests looking into obtaining additional employment if doing so does not negatively impact your health, or compromise you family relationships. Working a second or third job may be a temporary solution to help you pay down debt more quickly. Another possibility is to reevaluate your current job position. Research the job market to make sure you are not being underpaid. It doesn’t hurt to apply for better job opportunities with higher pay.

  1. Have you been following a budget?

Many people don’t follow a budget and do not know where their money goes. Without budgeting, it is impossible to determine where you can make changes in your spending. There are many budgeting programs and apps available today that make setting up a budget easy.

Attorney Nicholas Hicks of New York also suggests that you consider other lifestyle changes such as downsizing your living space or getting a roommate. Cutting down on housing cost can save you big money in the short and long run. If you eat out often, start cooking at home to save money on food. Budgeting allows you to clearly see where adjustments should be made.

  1. Is your situation temporary?

Realistically consider if your financial problems are temporary or long term. If you have historically paid your bills on time, Attorney Nicholas Hicks recommends waiting to see how much you can improve your situation quickly.

  1. Can you negotiate with lenders?

Many lenders will lower interest rates and or even reduce the amount owed if you tell them that you are considering filing for bankruptcy. Credit card companies are more likely to drop rates and/or reduce the outstanding debt because in most cases they lose even more money if you file bankruptcy. Attorney Nicholas Hicks of New York notes that in most cases, Student loans cannot be reduced or eliminated in bankruptcy. However, lenders can suspend payment requirements, change your repayment schedule or otherwise adjust payments to better fit your current income situation.

  1. Will bankruptcy actually benefit you?

Lastly, determine if bankruptcy will actually benefit you. There are various types of bankruptcies each having their respective benefits and negative consequences. It is best to consult with an attorney to determine first, if bankruptcy is the best option and if so, which chapter of bankruptcy best fits your needs.

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private school where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School.

Lawyer Nicholas Hicks

Lawyer Nicholas Hicks on Contesting a Divorce in New York

Contesting a divorce can be confusing, which is why Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York explains the steps needed to file. 

 

Filing for divorce can be tricky, especially when one person is not on board. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that when someone wants to say no to a divorce, they must “contest.” There are many reasons for wanting to contest a divorce. The most common reason relates to disagreements over separation arrangements. 

If you have gotten divorce papers from your spouse or their attorney, it is time to act fast in order to protect your rights.   Lawyer Nicholas Hicks notes that this next step is called responding. The law only permits you 20 days (or 30 days if served outside of New York State) to respond after being served divorce papers. If you choose not to respond appropriately or do not contest appropriately, the divorce can still be granted without your agreement and your rights could be impacted in a major way. 

While some people chose to represent themselves in a divorce action (see NYCourts website for forms), Lawyer Nicholas Hicks strongly advises against doing so. “I can’t tell you how many times I have had to turn potential clients away who wanted me to ‘fix’ the mangled legal mess they have created by trying to save a few dollars.  Some things are just worth paying for.”

It is also important to know, that although a divorce may be initially contested, most contesting parties will eventually agree to let their spouse proceed with finalizing the divorce assuming that a settlement can be reached.  Further Attorney Hicks notes that “a New York Court will almost always grant the divorce even it a trial has to occur to make it happen.” Which is to say, New York does not make people stay married.  

In the end however, contesting a divorce isn’t, as a practical matter, about preventing a divorce from occurring.  Contesting the matter allows the spouse-defendant an opportunity to protect their best interests, (i.e., asset and debt division; custody and support issues etc.).  So if you are served with a divorce action, do not under any circumstances ignore the situation. You should consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible. The clock is ticking.

 

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School.

Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks

Attorney Nicholas Hicks of New York Explains the Fourth Amendment

Every citizen should understand their Constitutional rights; Attorney Nicholas Hicks makes it easy. 

When the U.S. Constitution was drafted, the founding fathers had specific concerns regarding the protection of citizens against harm caused by a powerful government who might over reach its authority.  The 4th Amendment was drafted to, among other things, protect citizens from unreasonable search and seizures. However, although the Constitution prohibits ‘unlawful’ searches and seizure, the 4th Amendment does not prohibit all searches and seizures from occurring. There are Constitutional circumstances that deem certain searches lawful.

Attorney Nicholas Hicks of New York explains some things you need to know regarding your rights under the 4th Amendment.

A citizens’ 4th amendment right against unwarranted interference from the government is weighed against the rightful government’s interests in public safety. Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains that the extent to which the 4th amendment protects a person also depends on the location and circumstances of the search or seizure in question.

Search of a Home

It is considered unreasonable to search someone’s home without a warrant.  It is understood, that a person’s home is among the most private of places and should not be disturbed without strong Constitutional justification.  Further it is understood that a person’s expectation of ‘privacy’ is greater in one’s abode than in public.

Attorney Nicholas Hicks notes that there are a few exceptions in which a search of a person’s home without a warrant may be acceptable. These exceptions include giving law enforcement consent to search one’s home or law enforcement being in ‘hot pursuit’, meaning that a crime is in progress or has been committed and a suspect is fleeing into a dwelling;   Additionally, if the search is incident to a lawful arrest inside of the home and/or illegal items are in plain view (assuming the officer is lawfully in the dwelling to observe the contraband in plain sight) then such searches may be deemed Constitutional.

Search of a Person

If an officer sees unusual behavior that leads him to believe criminal activity may be happening, Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains that the officer can briefly stop the suspicious person. The officer may ask questions and make observations to gather more information.  However it is important to note, that unless the officer places the ‘suspicious’ person in custody (i.e., the person is not free to leave) the individual may lawfully walk away.

Search of Vehicles

There is an extensive list of situations that can lead to an acceptable search of an automobile. Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains the concept of ‘probable cause’ concerning automobile stops and searches.

If an officer observes a traffic violation or has reason to know that the specific automobile is stolen (a random plate check) or the occupant(s) are visibly involved in illegal activity, law enforcement may conduct a traffic stop.  Although a lawful stop has occurred, it does not necessarily follow that the officer may also search the automobile absent further probable cause that the automobile contains contraband (illegal drugs, weapons etc) or if the automobile is lawfully impounded an ‘inventory search’ of the automobile may be lawfully made.  However even if there is no probable cause to search a vehicle, Courts have held that narcotics are nevertheless permitted to walk around the outside of a vehicle at any valid traffic stop, even without other reasonable suspicion. 

Further, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed that officers at a U.S. international border may conduct stops and searches without probable cause. Further, Attorney Nicholas Hicks notes that highway sobriety checkpoints may be used lawfully to reduce the dangers of drunk drivers without any probable cause needed.  Finally, Attorney Nicholas Hicks notes that in addition to the U.S. Constitution, each State may differ in its own laws regarding procedure as relates to searches, (so long as the State rules do not violate U.S. Constitutional law). Therefore you should check with your individual state laws as well as federal laws to understand the full spectrum of your rights.

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from New York City foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School. Nicholas Hicks is now a practicing lawyer in New York.

Nicholas Hicks - Two Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Crushing Debt With Lawyer Nicholas Hicks

Two Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Crushing Debt With Lawyer Nicholas Hicks

Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains the difference between bankruptcy and debt settlement in New York.

People can find themselves in crushing debt for several reasons. Family emergencies, medical bills, or unemployment can take a toll on a person’s finances in a very short amount of time. In other instances, an accumulation of debt can be the result of poor spending habits and lack of budgeting. If you find yourself in this situation, Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York explains debt relief options to consider.

Bankruptcy and debt settlement are two common ways to clear debt that cannot be repaid. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks notes that these options are only to be considered when all other avenues have been exhausted. Although these options can reduce or eliminate debt, there are other consequences to consider.

Bankruptcy

In New York, Chapter 7 bankruptcy eliminates most unsecured debt, no matter how much the amount. These include debt from medical bills, credit cards and personal unsecured loans. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York notes that a disadvantage of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the possibility of surrendering certain non-exempt assets as a trade-off to eliminating debt. The Chapter 7 option take approximately 4 months to complete.

Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep all of your assets. However, you have to agree to pay back some, if not all, of the debt over a 36-60 month period. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that Chapter 13 also helps some people get caught up on mortgage arrears and in some instances can eliminate or reduce second mortgages/home improvement loans. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks notes that if you default on the Chapter 13 repayment plan, your case can be dismissed, which could result in loss of monies paid and creditors may resume collection and foreclosure activity against you.

Debt Settlement

In some cases, it is better to work with a lender to negotiate a debt settlement. Once you can prove to the lender that there are no means to repay the debt, they may accept a lump sum less than the principal which is owed or set up reduced payments with you. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York explains that it is common to settle for around 35 to 75 percent of the total balance. This choice may have less of a negative impact on your credit rating compared to bankruptcy. Attorney Nicholas Hicks further explains that you should also request that the lender report a favorable payment history with the various credit reporting agencies once you have completed your end of the agreement.

Lawyer Nicholas Hicks recommends contacting a debt relief attorney for help with obtaining financial freedom from debt. Learn more about debt relief from Lawyer Nicholas Hicks on his YouTube page at https://youtu.be/OrUyZvnQWOchttps://youtu.be/OrUyZvnQWOc

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private school where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School. Nicholas Hicks has been in private law practice in New York for over 20 years.

Nicholas Hicks - Child Support in New York

Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks on Child Support in New York

Before applying for child support in New York, Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks explains key facts you need to know.

When a couple files for divorce or otherwise share children in common, one of the first issues to address is who gets primary custody over the children. The noncustodial parent, who does not have primary custody, will, in most cases, be required to pay child support.  Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks explains how child support is handled in New York.

In New York, Family Court Officials determine the amount to pay. Parents are held accountable for supporting their children, in most cases, until the child is 21 years old.  Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks notes that any parent, guardian, or caretaker can petition for child support.

Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks encourages individuals to contact a attorney if they need help in locating noncustodial parents, establishing paternity, support determination, support collection, support enforcement, medical coverage for the children or enforcement, adjustment of child support amounts, or modification of child support orders. 

When working with a new client, Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks often hears, “How much will I be expected to pay in child support”? The New York courts use a general guideline to calculate the payment for the noncustodial parent. Factors include adjusted gross income and number of children requiring support. Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks notes that general guideline percentages under the Child Support Guidelines in New York.  Support is calculated on gross income (only allowing for the deduction of FICA). The support percentages are as follows:

  • 17% – One Child
  • 25% – Two Children
  • 29% – Three Children
  • 31% – Four children
  • 35% or more – Five + Children.

When filing a support petition, Attorney Nicholas W. Hicks recommends providing as much information as possible to the attorney.  

Information about the noncustodial parent should include full name, birthday, contact information, social security number, income records, and health insurance documents. Other useful information, if applicable includes a copy of the marriage license, current and/or previous child support orders, child-related expenses, divorce agreement, etc.

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private school where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School.

Attorney Nicholas Hicks Explains Grounds for Divorce in New York

Filing for divorce can be difficult. However, attorney Nicholas Hicks helps people in New York navigate through the process.

Ending a relationship isn’t as quick and easy as it used to be, before marriage that is. There are a million different reasons why a couple would choose to get divorced. However, when it comes time to file, the Plaintiff (person seeking the divorce) must establish the ground(s) for wanting the divorce. Attorney Nicholas Hicks helps people by explaining legal grounds for divorce in New York.

Legal Grounds for Divorce in New York

In 2010, New York implemented “no-fault” divorce, where the couple can claim a broken relationship that has lasted for a period of at least six months. However, attorney Nicholas Hicks notes that there are many other options which fall under fault-based grounds for divorce in New York.

1. Irretrievable Breakdown of Marriage (no-fault)

Under this, the newest ground for divorce in New York, the Plaintiff must state under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken and has been for a minimum of 6 months prior to the filing of the divorce action.

2. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment

Divorce can be filed under this category when there has been physical, emotional, or verbal spousal abuse. Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains that it creates an unsafe environment endangering someone’s physical or mental well-being. A judge will require evidence of those bad acts within the past five years.

3. Abandonment

One spouse (the defendant) must have abandoned the other (plaintiff) for more than one year. Attorney Nicholas Hicks describes abandonment as someone moving out of the home or changing the locks. If one party unreasonably refuses to engage in sexual relations, it can be considered “constructive abandonment.”

4. Imprisonment

If one spouse (the defendant in the divorce) has been imprisoned for three consecutive years or longer after the marriage, a divorce can be filed.

5. Adultery

Divorce can be filed if one partner committed adultery by cheating on the other. Attorney Nicholas Hicks explains that the adultery must be proven in a court of law. Proving adultery is often very difficult because, in New York, the evidence is needed from a third party.

6. Separation for a year or more in accordance with a filed written Separation Agreement.

Interestingly, parties do not have to physically separate and can in fact still reside in the same household after the execution of the Separation Agreement. However some Courts have held that the agreement is null and void if the parties begin living as spouses again (which has usually been interpreted as resuming sexual relations).

7. Separation for a year or more in accordance with a Judgment of Separation issued by a court of competent jurisdiction.

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from N.Y.C. foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private school where he eventually graduated from E.C.C., U.B. & U.B. Law School.

Lawyer Nicholas Hicks Shares 3 Things to Know Before Divorce in New York

Many people think approaching an attorney is the first step in a divorce, however, lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains three things you should do beforehand.

Divorce can be a complicated and emotional process to go through, even if it’s not a surprise. Those who are trying to navigate divorce in New York for the first time often turn to a lawyer. However, there are certain things to consider before making that initial contact. With more than 20 years of experience in private law practice, Lawyer Nicholas Hicks reveals three things to know before seeking a divorce lawyer.

1. Residency

Before filing for divorce, lawyer Nicholas Hicks recommends meeting the New York residency requirement. One spouse needs to have been living in New York for at least one year before starting the divorce or two years if from another state. Even if you were married in a different state, lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that you may still be able to file in New York-based on other criteria. Before contacting a lawyer, Nicholas Hicks recommends confirming dates of residency and preparing all relevant paperwork showing proof of such.

2. Legitimacy

Recently, New York incorporated “no-fault divorce,” where one spouse claims the marriage has been broken for six months or longer. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that previously, the legal grounds for divorce were based on someone committing offensive acts like adultery or abandonment.

However, if both people can agree about all issues related to the separation, lawyer Nicholas Hicks recommends proceeding directly with “no-fault” divorce. Issues that need to be settled usually include child custody, finances, and property. If those issues still need to be negotiated, you may need the help of a professional attorney, like Nicholas Hicks of Buffalo, NY.

3. Prepare Records

Even if both parents agree on a 50/50 split custody arrangement, lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that this does not excuse the higher earner from paying child support. In New York, children have the right to financial support from both parents until they turn 21 years old. Both total income and expenses calculate child support. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks notes that generally, people can expect to pay around 17% income for one child, 25% for two children, and 29% for three. To make the process easier, prepare all financial records before meeting with an attorney.

About Nicholas Hicks:

Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from N.Y.C. foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from E.C.C., U.B. & U.B. Law School.