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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Abandoned Property

ISSUE: A Landlord must often deal with property seemingly abandoned by a former tenant. While the Landlord would like to dispose of or sell this abandoned property, the Landlord may not know who owns the property or if there is a recorded security interest. In some instances, the Landlord may want to sell the property to satisfy unpaid rent or transfer it to the next tenant. Before any decision can be made, the Landlord must determine whether the property is truly abandoned and whether other parties may have a legal claim to the property.

THE LAW OF FINDS: "Abandonment" according to the Law of Finds, means that the owner of the goods has voluntarily relinquished "possession with the intention of terminating his ownership and with no intention of vesting title in another."

ACTION ADVISE: If the Landlord wishes to transfer or sell the property, it should: (1) Do a complete inventory of the property by 2 witnesses; (2) Examine the property for evidence of ownership; and (3) Conduct a UCC search for recorded liens or leases.

NOTICE: The Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act requires a letter to be sent to the former tenant giving a 10 day notice that unless the property is retrieved it will be considered abandoned. Normally Residential Landlords are held to a higher standard than Commercial Landlords when dealing with their tenants. Therefore, it would be appropriate to provide a 10 day notice to any person who you believe has an interest in the property, including parties with UCC claims, tenants, or names which are found on the property.

DISPOSITION: If none of these parties make a claim, the property is probably abandoned. This determination will have to be made in each situation on a case-by-case basis in conjunction with a lawyer. Non-legal factors may impact on your determination of how to dispose of the property, i.e. the value of the equipment or if it can be transferred to a new tenant in the same space. A carefully worded sale agreement of the equipment may provide some protection for the Landlord from a subsequent claimant.

The above article is not meant to replace legal counsel. If you'd like to speak to one of the attorneys at Gross & Romanick, call us at 703-273-1400 or fill out our online Information Request form.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Selling & Buying Business Assets

Ed Gross, Gross & Romanick's managing partner, discusses the purchase and sale of the assets of a business in this recent video.



Some of Gross & Romanick's business practice areas include business formation, business acquisition, merger, spin-off and reorganization, buy-sell agreements, computer law, collections, contracts/agreements, corporate formalities, employment law, franchise law, and limited liability companies.

To speak to one of our lawyers, contact us by calling 703-273-1400 or by filling out our online information request form.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wolftrap and Marijuana Possession

Summer in Northern Virginia means the start of the concert season at the Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts. For individuals that attend concerts and events at Wolftrap, it is important to realize that Wolftrap is not your ordinary concert venue. Unlike Jiffy Lube Live or the Patriot Center, Wolftrap is considered a “federal enclave”. This means that any conduct at Wolftrap that leads to criminal charges can result in those charges being filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division and not necessarily in the state courts of Fairfax County. Depending upon where you are located on the Wolftrap property and what officer issues you a citation impacts whether you must appear in the Fairfax County Courts or in the federal court.

Put more simply, simple possession of marijuana and underage possession of alcohol quite literally can become a federal case if committed at Wolftrap. Moreover, the United States Park Police are routinely patrolling the parking areas and concert grounds along with Fairfax County Police Officers and are usually in plainclothes and not easily identifiable. These officers can sometimes be rather aggressive in attempting to ferret out marijuana and alcohol possession. In one recent case, our attorneys successfully persuaded that United States Attorney’s Office that the arresting officer had been overly aggressive and had violated an individual’s constitutional rights. It is therefore extremely important that individuals charged in federal court retain an experienced attorney to ensure that their rights are fully protected.

Under federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act, and possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor offense. If convicted of possession of any amount, first time offenders face the possibility of being sentenced to up to one year in prison and being assessed a minimum fine of $1,000. For a second conviction, the penalties increase to a 15-day mandatory minimum jail sentence with a maximum of two years in prison and a minimum fine of $2,500. Persons charged may also be subject to an onerous pre-trial probationary period involving mandatory drug screens. Certain individuals may be eligible for a first-offender program that, in some limited circumstances, may result in dismissal and expungment upon completion of the program.

The attorneys at Gross & Romanick, P.C. has represented a number of individuals charged with possession of marijuana and underage possession of alcohol at the Wolftrap National Park for the Performing Arts. If you are charged with possession of marijuana or underage possession of alcohol, whether wrongfully or rightfully, it is imperative that you retain an attorney to represent you in Court. The attorneys at Gross & Romanick, P.C. are experienced in this area and can use their expertise to zealously defend your rights.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Charges For Drugs Not On List Of Banned Drugs

Why are you being charged if the drug that you had in your possession is not on the list of banned drugs?

The various schedules prohibiting certain drugs don’t always list the common or popular name of different substances. Sometimes the schedules list the scientific name of the prohibited substance. For example, a specific drug may not be listed on any of the schedules. Instead, the substances which are contained within the substance may be listed on the schedules. As you can see, in order to determine the potential for your defense, your attorney has to understand some of the chemistry involved in various drug offenses.

That is why hiring an experienced attorney like the lawyers at Gross & Romanick is so essential.

All drug charges, whether pending in state or federal court, are criminal in nature. These matters have serious financial and economic implications beyond the fines and costs assessed by the Court. For many, a drug charge is their first experience with the American legal system. This system has complex rules and procedures. An attorney knows how to navigate through the law, the rules and the court procedures. An experienced lawyer knows the law, as well as the procedures of the court.

Many drug defenses involve complex and technical issues, sometimes involving constitutional rights. A capable lawyer can assess and recognize whether the prosecution can prove its case. A lawyer can advise you regarding viable defenses; help you present defenses that work; and, when appropriate, can negotiate a satisfactory plea bargain. A lawyer can protect your rights and prevent you from being taken advantage of by an overloaded and impersonal legal system. In short, a lawyer is your ally in a complex and often hostile system.

If you’re facing a drug charge in Virginia, Maryland or the District of Columbia, contact the lawyers at Gross & Romanick today by calling 703-273-1400 or by filling out our online information request form.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

COLLECTING THE INTERNATIONAL DEBT

As international business becomes more commonplace, the insidious side effect is international collections. It is a fact that whenever business is conducted, there are unscrupulous and financially unstable businesses that cannot or will not pay their obligations. When this occurs with a domestic entity, it is easy to invoke the US legal process, obtain a judgment and attempt to collect the debt utilizing statutory collection procedures. However, when a foreign company refuses to honor its debt obligations, collection is far more complex and difficult.

Most domestic businesses lack the resources to litigate a case or obtain a judgment in a foreign country. Fortunately, in many circumstances resorting to the judicial process of a foreign country is unnecessary. Most states, Virginia included, can obtain jurisdiction and render judgments against any individual or business that has “purposefully availed” itself of the privilege of doing business within the state. Virginia, for example, is known as a single-transaction state. So long as the dispute involves a relationship where a single business transaction took place in Virginia, Virginia courts can and will exercise jurisdiction over the dispute. However, jurisdiction is only one step in the process of getting the foreign business to appear before a domestic court. The next step is providing notice of the claim, i.e. “Service of Process”. The foreign entity must be provided with legal notice that an action has been commenced against it in a Court in the United States. In most cases the Service of Process must be provided in compliance with the Hague Convention, which has requirements that vary from country to country. The good news is that once you obtain jurisdiction and service of process on the foreign business, you can obtain a judgment just like in a case involving domestic parties.

After judgment is rendered by a court, the collection process can begin. Typically, a judgment creditor has three tools at its disposal: garnishment, debtor interrogatories and actual levy. In most cases involving a foreign debtor, actual levy is not available because none of the debtor’s property is not located in the United States; actual levy requires taking physical possession of a tangible item. Debtor Interrogatories is the process of bringing a debtor or representative of the debtor before a court to answer questions about the debtor’s assets. Debtor Interrogatories may also not be a viable collection tool, because such proceedings require a judgment creditor to obtain personal service on an individual representative of the debtor and, although the Hague Convention allows for Service of Process, it is not considered personal service. Therefore, unless a judgment creditor is aware of an individual representative being physically located in the United States, serving debtor interrogatories may not be possible. Thus, in order to successfully collect, the judgment creditor must rely upon the garnishment process.

For the garnishment process to be effective, a judgment creditor needs to identify potential garnishees (companies who owe debts to the debtor or who hold money of the debtor). Business relationships within the industry and large international banks are the most likely target to be garnishees. In Virginia, a valid garnishment requires not only obtaining jurisdiction and Service of Process on the garnishee, but also on the judgment debtor. Gross & Romanick, P.C. is at the forefront of these issues, having recently convinced a federal judge that jurisdiction in a garnishment action is an extension of the jurisdiction to render a judgment. Xyrous Communications, LLC v. Bulgarian Telecommunications Company AD, 74 Fed. R. Serv. 3d 629 (E.D.Va. 2009).

Garnishment of an international bank may generate its own set of challenges as many U.S. banks that operate internationally have corporate structures in place designed to insulate the foreign operation from U.S. legal process. In these cases, the bank, not the judgment debtor, may push litigation in order to protect its corporate structure and customers.

In short, while collection of domestic debt is difficult, collection of debt owed by a foreign business presents additional challenges. Foreign entities often will fight with all their resources to avoid having to pay debts owed in the United States in order to shield the company from the United States judicial system. The attorneys at Gross & Romanick, P.C. are uniquely poised to successfully collect these international debts. Collection of international debt requires an exceptional understanding of the law, as well as tenacity and experience.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Traffic Ticket: A Satisified Client Writes In

After hiring Gross & Romanick to handle his recent traffic ticket, a client wrote the following to Jeff Romanick:

Jeff,
I received your letter noting the disposition of my traffic ticket.
 
I deeply appreciate the efforts you have went to on my behalf. The professionalism of your firm has impressed me. While I hope not to ever need your services again, I would utilize Gross & Romanick in the future and recommend you to anyone.


For more information about Gross & Romanick's criminal traffic practice, click here or call us at 703-273-1400.