5 Law School Tips For Entering Students

If you’re thinking about going to law school and you’re looking for some tips on ways to improve your chances of doing well, consider the 5 tips below. These are tips I’ve put together from my personal experiences in law school and the experiences of some of my law school peers.

Just because these tips have worked for us doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for you. Nonetheless, these are still pretty straightforward tips that will never hurt! Ultimately, you’ll decide what works best for you. Until then, consider the following.

1) Read The Assignments!
I know, it sounds really obvious, but it can’t be stressed enough. Read the assignments in their entirety!

You probably will not be surprised to learn that most law school reading assignments aren’t all that exciting. In fact, the reading materials for some classes are just downright awful. Nonetheless, you should read all of it. You will be surprised by how many of your peers don’t read or only read certain parts of the assignments. This gives the student who reads the entire assignment an automatic advantage. Plus, it’ll help you when it comes time for the professor’s Socratic method.

2) Don’t Fall Behind On Assignments
Piggybacking off #1, do not fall behind on your reading assignments. You’ll quickly find that it becomes nearly impossible to catch up after missing just one assignment. Page ranges for each class’ readings are anywhere from 35-70 (sometimes more and sometimes less) pages. Needless to say, the pages pile up fast.

Chances are pretty good that if you miss an assignment you’ll put off reading the skipped material until the very end of the semester, if you read it at all. You should avoid this! Also, if you skip an assignment, you’ll find it harder to follow along in class. You’ll essentially be relying on your professor to learn complicated new material while he/she teaches it to the class. Problem is, not all law school material is comprehendible on the first try (unless you’re extra smart), and not all professors teach the material clearly enough for a student without some background information to understand.

Best bet = don’t fall behind on your reading assignments!

3) Don’t Surf The Net (at least try not to!)
I can just hear some of my best friend’s saying it’s inevitable sometimes. Honestly, I’m not immune to it either. There are a myriad of reasons students surf the net during class. Not all reasons revolve around the professor. Sometimes you’ll be checking your e-mail, looking up sport scores, reading a news article, etc. The important thing to remember here is that you will not be able to pay full attention to both. Your class notes will suffer while you’re surfing the net. I guarantee it.

If you must check your e-mail, check it quickly. If you want a sports score, try waiting until the class is over or until your professor gives a class break. If you’re looking for news articles to read, just hold off. There’s usually nothing positive in the news anyway!

4) Make Your Own Outlines
You’ll hear the word “outlines” over and over again your first semester or two. Many students (myself included) will not even know how to start their first outline. Luckily, my school offered an Advanced Skills Program course that walked us through making outlines. If your school offers a similar course, you should consider taking it.

At some point, you’ll probably come across someone else’s outline. These are usually good to use as cross-references, but do not entirely rely on someone else’s outline (regardless of whether the author is first in his/her class!). No two courses are ever taught the same way. Different professors teach differently and sometimes use different casebooks. The same professor who taught the course last semester may decide to switch books or switch assignments in the next semester. Also, caselaw changes over time. There might have been some cases taught last semester that are no longer good law. If you rely entirely on the old outline, you’ll either get confused or you’ll remember the wrong material.

Another point to keep in mind is that by creating your own outlines you’re forcing yourself to study the material. Outlines take a very long time to complete. The good news is that you will inevitably start remembering a lot of the material you’re putting into the outline.

In addition, you’ll also find that certain concepts are clarified once you start working on your outline. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve floated through a class or two not understanding the material and feeling like the only student who wasn’t following along. Nearly every time, however, the material will become clear as day once I start putting it into my outline. Essentially, it’s a way of forcing yourself to write the course’s information into your own words. Such a practice will help you comprehend the material even better.

Try it out.

5) Don’t Cram!
Law school is different from any type of schooling you’ve done before. I have friends with MBAs and PhDs who say their respective programs weren’t as intense. It’s scary, I know. But, no worries-it’s still doable.

Let me just say that some of my best friends in law school are “crammers” and they have good GPAs (I personally don’t understand how, but it works for them). Thus, some people can still cram and do well. It’s also worth noting that one of my crammer best friends gets incredibly stressed out prior to final exams. On the other hand, non-crammers tend to be (at least it seems) much more at ease during finals. There’s a trade-off. You’ll learn where you fall after your first semester, but I still think your best bet will be not to cram.

Cramming in law school also tends to result in not being able to cover everything you’ve learned throughout the semester. Instead, you’re focusing on the major concepts and major cases. For the most part, that’s still good enough to pass a course. But, professors will tell you that sometimes the secondary concepts and cases will prove the difference between one grade and the other. Why not prepare in advance to increase the chances of earning the better grade?

These are just 5 law school tips that I’ve handpicked. I’m sure there are a bunch of other tips floating around on the web (it wouldn’t hurt you to read those too). As noted above, you’ll ultimately decide what works best for you on your own. Either way, make sure you work hard and then a little bit harder after that and remain focused on your studies. Law school isn’t easy.

City’s Traffic Light Camera Appeal Denied

Finally, a small victory for the little guy! It comes as no surprise to anyone that red light traffic cameras are an increasing annoyance to everyone except the municipalities who use them and the private companies that make a fortune off of installing and then maintaining them. Like many other traffic laws in Florida, traffic cameras serve one purpose and one purpose only – to continue to line the pockets of local politicians. Yes, we all know that proponents of red light traffic cameras espouse that their purpose is to advance public safety. Well, I am not buying it. As a traffic ticket attorney, I have seen too many instances where drivers have gotten traffic tickets when they weren’t even moving. Additionally, the knowledge that these cameras are the livelihood of private companies who have a major financial interest in advocating their use bolsters my skepticism.

Although the constitutionality of using these red light traffic cameras has been challenged in the court systems ever since their inception, recent news gives drivers, and traffic ticket attorneys, hope that they may be on their way out. On October 15, a three-judge panel for the Fourth District Court of Appeals denied the appeal of the City of Hollywood to have an earlier decision overturned. The previous matter supported Eric Arem’s claim that the issuance of citations by a private company is not permissible under Florida state law, which was then supported by the appeals panel reinforcing that state law does not permit private companies to issue traffic citations. Yet individual municipalities hire private companies, one Arizona-based company in particular, to install and maintain red light traffic ticket cameras. This results in a fiscally symbiotic relationship for both parties.

Drivers are surely elated at this development, but it does pave the way for many unanswered questions. Surely, one question that is in the forefront of most drivers’ minds is whether or not traffic tickets will still be issued in South Florida as a result of red light traffic cameras. It is not an easy question to answer because, although some towns have done away with traffic cameras, this most recent ruling pertaining to Hollywood is not yet carved in stone. According to Hollywood spokesperson, Raelin Storey, there is still a possibility that there may be a rehearing or it can be appealed before the Florida Supreme Court.

“This case has the potential to impact a number of cities that contract with (… the Arizona company),” Storey said. “If the administration of the program has to change dramatically, we would, of course, have to evaluate whether we can continue to afford to operate it.”

The determination made by the appellate court ruling states, “Such outsourcing to a third-party… for red light camera violations is contrary to the plain wording of the Florida statutes.” This “plain wording” provision prevents cities and municipalities from applying their own interpretation of law, thereby ensuring uniformity throughout the state in the application of traffic laws and the fines and penalties that arise from traffic violations.

This is far from the first time that the use of red light traffic cameras has been a matter of controversy. Back in June, a court ruled that several other Florida towns side-stepped Florida state law by the use of traffic light cameras prior to July 1, 2010 when the State Legislature approved the use of these cameras. The continued push to repeal or restrict the use of these cameras has met with resistance by those who support them and by safety studies being impeded in the State Legislature.

This recent ruling may have been aimed at Hollywood, but other towns such as Hallendale Beach and Hialeah have already done away with the unpopular red light traffic cameras. In light of all of this controversy, it’s not surprising to learn that many other cities are actively trying to circumvent similar issues from occurring. Additionally, the list of South Florida towns that are suspending the use of red light traffic cameras pending further action by the courts continues to grow.

“We have to be prudent,” Palm Beach County Attorney Denise Nieman said regarding that county’s decision to temporarily suspend their traffic camera program.

Unfortunately for drivers, each city still gets to choose whether or not to use these traffic cameras. Although the argument for doing so is that they reduce accidents, the fine for committing a red light camera violation is $158. With over 900 traffic cameras installed in Florida, most of which are in South Florida, this practice has generated over 750,000 traffic tickets and more than $119 million in fines.

A large portion of that revenue goes to the company that installs the cameras and generates the traffic tickets. This makes it obvious that this is more about being a profit-generating business than about any genuine interest in reducing accidents. After all, what better way to cover budgetary shortfalls than under the guise of concern for the public welfare? Of course, the private company’s website also touts how they are improving safety for the public’s own good, but you will be hard pressed to see anything posted there as to how lucrative this business has become for them.

In what would appear to be a frantic effort, the Arizona company that provides these traffic cameras to Hollywood claims that it can change the way they issue the traffic tickets. Why wouldn’t they scramble to come up with an alternative? In 2013 and 2014 alone, this particular company has gleaned a large percentage of roughly $28,000,000 that the State of Florida has paid to the traffic camera vendors.

Even though the debate regarding the legality and efficacy of traffic cameras continues to rage, no other precedent exists so this recent is ruling is now case law, at least for the time being. As such, it will hopefully pave the way for more municipalities to consider the legal ramifications of having the cameras installed and maintained. As long as they continue to be profitable, it’s likely that local governments will try to justify their existence. Eliminating the profit margin by doing away with third-party issued traffic tickets and fighting these erroneous traffic tickets in court are the best way to ensure a fairer playing field when red light traffic tickets are issued. In many cases, it is possible that refunds are due to motorists who have received red light traffic camera citations.

If you feel that you are one of those many drivers who have received an unjust red light traffic ticket, give us a call for a free consultation. We will be happy to review your traffic ticket with you and continue to work to protect your right and the rights of other drivers.

Cultural Rationality in Criminal Choice

The Criminal Statistics, England and Wales indicate that the majority of offenders are male and juvenile. Main-stream criminology has focused on male crime and has marginalised the existence of a ‘gender offender ratio’. To understand this phenomenon, the rationality of criminal decision making in female and male school children was examined at the peak age of female offending. The research programme involved examining the Criminal Statistics, England and Wales (1995); a self completion questionnaire survey and a semi-structured interview conducted in schools within a London Borough. Their criminal choices have been studied to see if they include consideration of a victim or the harm caused by an offence. The research has been grounded in Rational Choice Theory of Clarke (1987) which puts forward a vision of the criminal act in terms of its bounded rationality, ease and profit. This research will adopt the legal presumption that everyone understands the meaning of offences within the Theft Act 1968 and the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Applicable Theory

Situational crime prevention best fits the choices made by the economic offender but would the inclusion of consideration of harm to a person who is the victim of the intended offence explain the difference in female and male offending? Given that current research indicates that potential offenders may be exercising choices, what theory could be used to investigate these phenomena? The Rational Choice Theory of Clarke (1987:118) argues that however hasty or ill-considered, crime is the outcome of an offenders’ choices. It would be interesting to put questions to both male and females to examine their decision making proximate to offending and compare the responses they gave to the different criteria. The research would hope to explain the disparity in female and male offending by consideration of the Rational Choice Theory of Clarke (1987). This theory seems best equipped to explain property crime but not assaults. The potential offender may be making choices on the basis of a bounded rationality that is a combination of the prospect of being caught and the situations’ economics. It may be possible to explain the gender offending ratio by including the element of harm caused by the intended offence or indeed through introducing cultural constraints.

Matza and Sykes (1957) thought factors like kinship, friendship, ethnic group, social class, age and sex appeared to restrict the number of victims that could be targeted. They proposed that the juvenile acquires techniques that neutralise the violations and make them acceptable within the delinquent subculture without replacing the values of the dominant normative system. The techniques of neutralisation begin with ‘The denial of responsibility’ where the juvenile affirms, ‘I did not mean it’. Another technique is ‘The denial of injury’ when the juvenile will state, ‘I didn’t really hurt anybody’. In the third technique ‘The denial of a victim’, the existence of a victim is denied by the juvenile stating, ‘They had it coming to them’. This technique may be especially effective in property crime where no owner is present. The fourth technique is ‘The condemnation of the condemners’. The juvenile calls the condemners hypocrites by alleging favouritism or vindictiveness when it is stated, ‘Everybody’s picking on me’. Lastly, the fifth technique is ‘The appeal to higher loyalties’ where the juvenile declares loyalty to gang, sibling or friends by stating, ‘I didn’t do it for myself’. Sykes and Matza counseled more research into the differential distribution of the techniques by thought, age, sex, social group and ethnic origin. One possible explanation of the lower rates of female offending might be that the techniques ‘The denial of injury and The denial of a victim’ are not strong enough in females to neutralise the moral bind to dominant normative values.

The Rational Choice Theory of Clarke (1987:118) argues offenders choices determine crime even if those choices are hasty or ill-considered. Questions could be put to both males and females to examine decision making and compare their responses to the different criteria. There is an argument that females are more likely to commit offences if a victim cannot be identified and they are less likely to do so if a victim can be identified. It may be that women have a stronger perception of harm being caused to the victim and this empathy prevents the commission of predatory offences. Understanding whether choices to commit property crime or violence against the person by the potential male and female offender are influenced by the strength of the image of harm and a person as a victim at the time may suggest crime prevention measures. Any factors that were found to be effective could be employed at a potential crime scene or in educational programmes.

Is the moral bind that is described in Matza and Sykes (1957) being applied differentially between the gender? The responses of the male and female to these factors could be compared. The Theory of Cultural Complexity of Thompson, Ellis and Wildavsky (1990) set out four ways of life which are the result of the relative strength of a group’s pattern of social relations and a definitive set of shared values, practices and beliefs. These ways of life are termed individualist, fatalist, egalitarian and heirarchist. A member of each way of life will have a predetermined perception of risk that will determine whether it is accepted or avoided. Male and female offending might be re-interpreted as a consequence of the cultural rationality and justification of the risks of offending by the actors and not merely the situations economics or moral prohibition.

The hypotheses to be tested

Considering the above a number of hypotheses relating to juveniles can be formulated, in the case of the property crime and violence against the person:

1) Females cannot easily justify making the decision to commit an offence when harm is caused by that offence?

2) Females cannot easily justify making the decision to commit an offence when that offence involves the presence of a person who can be identified as a victim.

3) Female decision making takes more account of the risks of committing an offence than their male counterparts.

4) Female and male criminal decision making is influenced by a cultural rationality that is based on the risks of offending communicated to them by various sources.

A further consideration was the peak rate of offending for females was 14 to 15 years of age according to the Criminal Statistics (1995). This is a formative age when juveniles are crucially about to enter the final year of compulsory education before they leave school and make decisions about their future. Juvenile offending accounts for a significant proportion of all crime committed and any findings with crime prevention potential might achieve significant crime reduction.

The Study

Permission was obtained from London Borough Council to carry out the survey within three schools in the Borough. Each had the merit of representing a different type of educational establishment; a Grant Maintained school; a State funded school and a Technology College. The research programme consisted of a self completion questionnaire survey and a semi-structured interview conducted in schools within a London Borough.

The summary of the findings

For the findings to be valid each different method should ideally demonstrate consistency and reliability with the other. Respondents were told orally to omit answers to any questions if they felt they could not be accurate. The fact that this happened may be supported by periods of silence in the group interviews and by no response to large numbers of questions on the questionnaire by some respondents. The different methods revealed about sixteen points of similarity where findings were found to reliable and consistent. It would not be unreasonable to infer that the study is valid. The study was not disadvantaged by the fact that not all the results could be explained.

Qualifying features

The Criminal Statistics (1995) are based on recorded crime generated by the Criminal Justice System and the figures may be challenged because of the levels of unreported crime. This limited the corroboration possible between the two documents. The results of this study must be tempered by the fact that only a small sample of juveniles were surveyed.

The gender offender ratio

The secondary analysis in chapter five of the Criminal Statistics, England and Wales (1995) makes out a strong overall case for the existence of a ‘gender offender ratio’. The statistics show that female offending is generally three to four times lower than corresponding male offending. The statistical data also demonstrates the case for bias in the Criminal Justice System is weak. This research also supports the existence of a ‘gender offender ratio’ by virtue of the low number of females that stated they had committed crime in comparison to the male respondents. The females did not disclose that they had committed any of the predatory offences of burglary and robbery. Apart from the lower than expected levels of female juvenile convictions recorded in the Criminal Statistics, England and Wales 1995, these relative levels of offending cannot be explained away by the potential processing bias of a police officer’s discretion; police station cautioning or convictions in the Criminal Justice System. The females reticence to admit to committing crime and the males forthrightness about the same issues does indicate a gender role.

Female juvenile offending

In the survey, female juveniles were encouraged to offend by the desire for goods displayed in shops. Fashion is a value of female sexuality. Stealing clothes from shops may be more acceptable to females because it conforms with their idea of femininity. Television chat shows and news programs were said by them to motivate offending because they portrayed people that had successfully committed crime. The females watched a television presenter called Oprah Winfrey who regularly appraises social issues in her program. The sole case where females stated they would be violent was when they would take revenge on someone who hurt them. The female has a well defined sexual role in society and this violent reaction to hurtful behaviour might have its origins in the strong emotions arising from the unfaithfullness of a sexual partner. Additionally, the females believed that the state of being homeless and destitute might also give rise to criminality. They could be sympathetic with social reasons for offending. The females also seemed to think more about the social use of an article rather than whether it was at risk of being stolen. Females were strongly demotivated from offending by thinking about the police who are symbolic of the social values of law and order. To achieve the maternal goals of a mothers reassurance and protection at home, females would have a need to participate in an orderly society. They would be naturally more receptive to the messages of conformity represented by the symbols of society’s security.

When the actual crime was about to be committed females said that if the victim of the intended crime was a corporation they were encouraged to complete the offence. This might be because no person would be harmed and females had already stated that a victim of theft loses nothing if they are insured. The females said that alcohol and drugs weakened their sense of right and wrong resulting in a loss of self control that encouraged offending. Furthermore, a female stated that if she did not realise that her behaviour was criminally wrong she would not think that behaviour was risky. It appears that the immorality of what she was doing had not been effectively communicated to her. The females indicated quite strongly that once they knew something was wrong their moral values would stop them offending. This strong sense of moral value might have origins in the females sexual role where they raise children. To do this successfully, the female would have to instill the value of right and wrong in her children.

A large range of factors discouraged females from offending. The females said they would stop offending if they were watched by a stranger when they were stealing because they would feel guilty. Apparently, being thought of as a criminal could not be reconciled with their self image. The females affirmed that they could empathise with a person who is an intended victim of a crime. The ability to feel hurt and upset would stop them offending and is indicative of feminine gentleness. Moreover, females were again sensitive to the crime prevention symbolism of the police; court penalties; security guards; close circuit television and anti-theft alarms. These symbols increase the risks to a point that they would be deterred from offending. Furthermore, females said that cultural factors were important in lowering offending levels. In particular, family culture was stated to decrease the risks of offending. The females maternal instincts may require the adherence to family values.

A big factor in preventing females from re-offending was the distress and guilt that they imagined their mother would experience when they found out that their daughter was a criminal. A mother’s hurt and upset was stated to be a significant risk of offending again. The disclosure of criminality does not sit easily with family values or the image of being ladylike. The distress caused to the female’s mother also does not live up to the feminine value of caring for others. The females additionally said their friends would not approve of computer chip theft; burglary or robbery. These predatory crimes are not compatible with the females gentle and caring image. Their friends would try to dissuade them from this type of crime but might encourage stealing from shops. This last crime best fits the gender role. The female’s friends might even have a leader who could help to ensure that major crime was not committed by the group. Friends would appoint a leader if they were skillful at stealing goods for the group.

The females were capable of using a number of different excuses to justify petty offending to a friend. The justification of crime actually encourages its commission. Offending could be represented by females as an accident without any sense of responsibility. Females would also excuse an offence by stating that everybody did it. In other words, why victimise them for behaviour that is common place. Furthermore, the females could deny that there was a victim of an offence and believe that no real harm had been done by them. This last excuse would most readily fit in with feminine values. The females displayed two conflicting approaches to risky criminal situations. They would be both optimistic and uncertain about the level of risk in a crime situation. This might reveal that females are not single minded but flexible about the interpretation of the risk in the situation.

Male juvenile offending

In contrast to the females, the male juveniles were motivated by thrill seeking. This was stated with regard to beating people up but it was also mentioned in connection with a feeling of boredom. This thrill seeking is indicative of the masculine values of boldness and aggression. The juvenile males might be experiencing the frustration at not being able to demonstrate male bravery and competitiveness within normative society. To find a way of expressing these urges, males might be redirecting them into offending. This competitive nature; the resolution to succeed and disregard for most victims of crime, may be the reason that males were prepared to commit the more serious offences like burglary and sell the spoils to raise money. The males said they learned the detail of committing crime and its risks by watching television police programs like ‘The Bill’. The males said that seeing something on the screen made them want to copy it and this was apparent when one stated that violent films made him feel it was justified to use violence to escape capture. The media appeared to motivate the males, especially when males were portrayed as following the gender role of being bold; brave; powerful and aggressive. The male is biologically built more powerfully than the female and is better protected against the damage that might be sustained in the hunt for prey (Morris 1978). This might make them less aware of the physical risks in a criminal situation and explain why males wanted more information about the risks of offending.

Apart from the chance of being caught the single factor that would discourage the males from committing an offence was if the intended victim was an elderly lady. This scenario caused threats and protestations from the males towards any friend that might transgress against the value of male protection that an elderly lady should receive. Some said they would consider handing an offender over to the police. The fact that they were prepared to break an unwritten code and inform on someone to the police indicates how powerful the gender role can be. Moreover, the males said they would use violence to avoid being caught committing an offence. This also follows a gender role of being resolute and competitive. Covert cameras appeared to worry the males because they believed that even after offending they were still not safe from being caught. To confirm this fear of being secretly observed the males said that store detectives were a strong deterrent to them committing crime.

One male stated that he was under duress to continue to commit crime from adult criminals who run his housing estate. This was a situation that was unique to the males. He stated that he would be beaten up if he did not steal to order. His predicament is also indicative of the masculine value of dominating people. The probability of receiving a custodial sentence for an offence would stop the males from committing that offence again. They said that this would not preclude committing another offence because they appeared to believe that only committing the same offence again would count towards a custodial sentence. The reason the males feared its implementation might possibly be that the loss of liberty might curtail them from demonstrating their masculinity. The males said that a big risk of offending was the worry about their mother’s anger as a reaction to their offending. The males said this might stop them re-offending. They seemed to have to transfer the masculine value of anger to their mother to be better able to understand the situation. Perhaps, they might have reasoned that their mother had the power to prematurely exclude them from the protection of the home environment.

The males could only feel guilt about committing crime with some difficulty but if they did, it would stop them committing the type of crime they felt guilty about. It appeared that once males had decided to commit an offence, there were few limits on how far they will go. The moral values of the males appeared to be was subordinate to their masculinity. Males affirmed that they would point out the risks of committing crime to a friend but then the friend would be left to accept responsibility for what they had decided. The males did not use any form of justification that was unique to their gender.

Juvenile offending generally

Both genders were motivated by the desire to have money to buy goods. The females wanted clothes while the males said they needed trainers. The juveniles stated that they learned about the risks and rewards of offending from their friends. This was by gossiping with them or listening to them relate accounts of how others had been dealt with by the Criminal Justice System. Moreover, because very few had been caught offending, they had no first hand experience of the Criminal Justice System. They would have to be rely upon their friends information as being accurate. The genders both felt a pressure to be accepted; popular and admired by their friends. Another source of information for them was television and films. All gave evidence of the media influencing them. The method of committing crime would be watched by the juveniles to see if it was unsuccessful and then improvements figured out to improve the chances of success. Films with violence and drugs made at least one male believe violence was acceptable. However, when the juveniles were asked to state its effect on themselves, they said it had no affect. The significance of this fact is that apparently, they did not realise the influence that the media had on them.

All would physically help and support each other to facilitate offending. The females and males might be displaying a form of altruistic behaviour where they take a risk themselves to steal something that will give their friends what they want. In all three stages of committing crime both genders agreed that the biggest risk of offending was the likelihood of being caught. This risk discouraged the capacity to offend; the act of offending and re-offending. Imprisonment was stated to be a deterrent by females and males although the males seemed to have to believe it was more immediate than the females. Both genders also said that they were subject to peer pressure through all the stages of offending. The females and males said that a sense of right and wrong was necessary to discourage offending. In the females these moral value appeared heightened and complimentary to their idea of being feminine while males appeared to be able to overlay their masculinity on top of any moral values. All juveniles were discouraged from offending by a number of crime prevention symbols. These were police patrols; newspapers; books; magazines; sport; guard dogs; park keepers; high fence; shutters; locks; alarms and close circuit television. Both genders stated that the culture in their neighbourhood and community could discourage offending.

Females and males could justify offending by stating that they were loyal to their friends and denying that there was any victim of the offence. Both genders said they were in control but accepted they could do nothing about the risk of being caught. The males were definite about their perception of risk in the criminal situation which was very much in line with their masculine values. The females seemed to display more feminine reticence and adopted all four cultural perceptions of risk.

Both genders appeared to display the same rationality about committing crime. The females calculated the ease, opportunity, risk and reward in travelling on the train compared with the bus before deciding that the train fare was the better one to avoid paying. The calculation was not carried out with any precision but the likelihood of being caught did feature prominently in the reasoning. Similarly, the reasoning about being caught was extended to choice of the places to do graffiti. The males showed the same short cut appraisal of the criminal situation in committing thefts and burglaries and the risk of being caught was again a significant component of the calculation. The females and males could both analyse the method of committing crime portrayed in the media and suggest improvements. Both genders agreed that they had the choice to offend. Only the females were prepared to accept that others might find homelessness and destitution a good reason to offend. Although it could be argued that they could still choose to accept social security benefits. Even the male who was under duress to offend did have the choice to report the matter to the police. All appeared to employ the same type of heuristic to decide whether to commit crime or not. The major difference appeared to be what type of crime best fitted into masculine or feminine culture.


It is probably better that the first two hypotheses are considered together because of their similarity. These are that females cannot easily justify making the decision to commit an offence when harm is caused by that offence or a person who is the intended victim is present. The females in this survey stated they to have to employ all of the techniques of neutralisation of Matza and Sykes (1957) to enable them to commit petty offences: ‘The denial of responsibility, injury and victim; the condemnation of the condemners and the appeal to higher loyalties’. In contrast the males stated they used ‘The denial of injury and the appeal to higher loyalties’. There is evidence female juveniles find it more acceptable to offend where no human harm is caused to a person. They will approve of stealing from a corporations rather than a person and very few will commit predatory crime like robbery. The explanation for the differential application of the techniques of neutralisation is problematic and could be the subject of further research.

The third hypothesis is that female decision making takes more account of the risks of committing an offence than their male counterparts. In the survey there is evidence that shows female juveniles are more deterred by the symbols of society’s security in comparison to male juveniles. However, the apparent sensitivity of female juveniles to this symbolism is not necessarily due to them focusing on personal risk and the situation’s economics but their gender role.

Lastly, the hypothesis that female and male criminal decision making is influenced by a cultural rationality based on the risks of offending communicated to them by various sources has some foundation. The communication of the risks of offending, although they might reinforce the value system, have an impact that appears to be subordinate to the cultural values of femininity and masculinity.

Cultural risk rationality

It is suggested that a cultural risk rationality is operating in juvenile criminal choice. Morris (1978: 230) argues that Society imposes gender signals on females and males long before they reach puberty. In this presexual period Morris (1978) believes that children are given strongly defined sexual roles because boys will be given different clothes, hairstyles, toys, ornaments, pastimes and sports to girls. He argues that this process gives girls and boys strong gender identity of being socially feminine and masculine respectively.

This study has produced evidence of male and female juvenile offenders apparently having two different value systems. Both genders seem to use the same limited rationality but from within a different ‘world view’ of criminality that is reinforced by Society and their friends.The different values seem to be grounded in femininity and masculinity. The feminine values are of submissiveness, reticence; gentleness; sexuality; fashionability and ladylikeness. In comparison, masculine values are those of dominance; bravado; aggressiveness; competitiveness; bravery; powerfulness and resolution. The two different sets of values and beliefs are bound together by the altruistic practices that may be found in peer pressure.

The reason that females commit a far lesser proportion of overall crime and much lower levels of predatory offences than males is that in general, crime does not conform with their feminine self image. When a predatory offence like robbery or burglary is contemplated the females are simply saying ‘We don’t do that’. The male juveniles masculine values do not limit the choice of crime in the same way. Once they were motivated there would be few constraints. Juveniles might simply be severing the links with the culture of their peers as they grow into adulthood rather than re-establishing the normative values. It is proposed that to add cultural rationality to Rational Choice Theory (1987) would explain the different levels of offending and seriousness of offending between the female and male juveniles.

Crime prevention measures

Both genders seemed to obtain information about offending from the media and their friends. More control over the representation of criminal behaviour might deter crime. State intervention in juvenile culture through a life science course taught in the schools might bring more objectivity and morality into a juvenile’s decision making. Limiting juvenile’s access to alcohol by may help them to maintain self control.

Only a small number of offenders had been caught indicates a need for more surveillance. More security and police patrols could be deployed but juvenile offenders seemed particularly worried by covert surveillance cameras. Mobile covert cameras could be deployed at crime ‘hot spots’ to arrest criminals and strengthen the deterrent effect of these devices.

Males could be could be confronted with their guilt by facilitating offender and victim encounters in the Criminal Justice System. Police cautioning in its present form was found in this study to be ineffective. The males said that they would reoffend after a caution but would be displaced to a different crime. The males believed they were more at risk of a custodial sentence if they repeated the same offence after a caution. Moreover, this study demonstrated the small deterrent value of cautioning because of the numbers of undetected juveniles who persistently offend. All the juveniles were worried about their mother’s reaction if they were caught. Cautioning might become effective if the juveniles knew that their mother would also be held accountable by having to pay a fixed penalty for each caution they received.

Criminal Records – Investigating the Process of Running a Criminal Check

How often do you flip the news on, hoping to catch the weather report, only to hear about another story on “real life crime?” It seems that everywhere we look nowadays, from the television to the newspaper to the radio; we are subjected to these tales of horror. Except, unlike an engrossing book we can’t put down, these stories are happening all around us. From world headlines on down to our very own community, we are being victimized by criminals in every way imaginable.

We’ve all been made very aware that we’re living in dangerous times. To suspect the worst out of people until we know better is the norm in our world. Unfortunately, even the most cautious of sorts can be led to being swindled by a scam artist, trusting an unfit nanny to take care of their kids, or even to hiring a dishonest employee. One of the measures that are used to help protect against these types of crimes is a seemingly simple background search focusing on the criminal history of an individual.

There are many reasons why someone would want to run a criminal history on another person; however, they all center around one universal theme – safety. Protecting ourselves, our families, our businesses, and our finances, are our utmost concerns. Whether your company has regularly performed a criminal records search or is just starting this process – whether you’ve personally ever performed such a search before or not; there is specific information you need to know.

So, what is a criminal record and what, exactly, does it contain? In general, a criminal record contains identifying information, history of arrest, history of conviction, incarceration information, and any other possible criminal facts about the individual in question. Anything from minor misdemeanors on up could be found; however, there are a few things to clarify in the explanation of crime records. The breakdown is as follows:

Arrest Records include various law enforcement records of arrests. Even this has a wide meaning – some will only report arrests that led to convictions while others will report any and all arrests.

Criminal Court Records include criminal records from local, state, and federal courts.

Corrections Records include prison records that detail periods of incarceration.

State Criminal Repository Records include statewide records that are a compilation of arrest records, criminal court records, and correction records.

The largest misconception, and many people hold on to this belief, is that the United States has one national database that is a compilation of all criminal records everywhere – from the local level up to the federal level. This, simply, is not true.

The closest thing the U.S. has to a nationwide criminal database is the Interstate Identification Index, or the “Triple-I.”

This compilation is managed through the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI). The Triple-I will include criminal events such as: open arrest warrants, arrests, stolen property, missing persons, and dispositions regarding felonies and serious misdemeanors (which are defined as any crime that could result in one year or more of jail time). There are two things to understand about this database, however.

Only law enforcement personnel and agencies can access the Triple-I database. There is no nationwide criminal database available for the normal layperson.

If a county, city, or state does not report a crime to be entered into this database, it will not be found there. This means that many crimes that did not result in an incarceration in a federal prison will not be found in the Triple-I.

Law enforcement uses the Triple-I for a variety of reasons – from collecting a list of suspects for an unsolved crime to the prosecution of a charged individual. That’s great for them, but where does this leave the average American who needs to conduct a criminal history search? There are a few options – none of them are perfect on their own, but combined can, and will, give a fairly accurate picture of the person you’re investigating – if done properly. So how, or rather where, do you start?

Compile identifying information on the person you’re investigating. You’ll need, at a minimum, their full name, any prior surnames they may have had, and their date of birth. Be 100% positive you have their name spelled correctly. If you only have their name, you’ll have to do a little investigative work to get at least their birth date. Otherwise, you could end up with inaccurate criminal records that may not actually belong to the individual in question.

Ideas for locating additional information:

Talk to neighbors, coworkers, family members, or even past employers of the person in question.

Search online telephone directories as they often have the middle name, or at least the middle initial, noted with the address and phone data.

Utilize other online sources to try to gather identifying information such as their birth date and other names possibly used.

If possible, simply ask the person in question!

Obtain residential information on the person you’re investigating. You’ll need to know where they lived for the prior seven years. The cities and states at the very least, but again, the more complete data you have, the better.

Ideas for locating past addresses:

o Search one of the many free online services, often they’ll pop up every instance of the name that shows up in their database. This means if the person in question has moved around, each address associated with their name is likely to be in the database.

o If you do know the prior cities and states of their residences; you can search through past telephone directories, criss-cross directories (also called city directories and household directories) at the appropriate local libraries – and in some cases – online, for complete addresses of when the individual lived in that area.

o And again, if possible, you can always ask the individual you’re investigating.

Utilize free online sources to locate criminal records. Once you know the identifying information and the jurisdiction of the person you’re investigating, you can find the appropriate county, city, and state sites to access their public records. Realize that each state determines what is considered a “public” record, so you’ll have to brush up on the laws for the locales you’re investigating.

Also, it’s important to realize that a mere 25% to 35% of criminal data is available online, and this includes public data. So, while it’s a great place to start, it cannot be the basis of a complete investigation into your person’s criminal history. Realize, too, that many of the records will be missing key identifying information – such as date of birth, middle names, and/or social security numbers.

Pay for a criminal check to be done by an online investigation company. Most, if not all, online investigative organizations utilize the National Criminal File (NCF) as the database they search. This file is also the database most commonly researched for pre-employment background checks.

As you know by now, this file isn’t actually national; however, most states in the U.S. are included. Realize, however, that nearly all of the information that makes up the NCF comes from correction records only. Therefore, there are lots of possible holes for missing criminal activity – from county criminal records to state repositories. Anything considered a misdemeanor (an offense less serious than a felony) also will likely not be included. This means you could receive a clean report on an individual who, does indeed, have a criminal history.

Another drawback to the National Criminal File is the consistent lack of identifying information, just as with the online public records mentioned above. It is rare to find social security numbers or dates of birth to verify you definitely have the correct criminal history for your individual. The more common the name, the more unlikely it is that you’ll receive data that won’t have to be confirmed.

There are very few names in our country unique enough for this to not be an issue. Remember this, as you will have to dig deeper once you’ve received the report the NCF generated or the data you personally retrieved in your search of public criminal records.

Deeper how? Go to the source of the report. Meaning, you’ll have to consult the original data source the compilation came from. You can request a manual search from a fee-based investigation company, or you can do it yourself. However, it is the only sure way of verifying the information you have is correct. This means you’ll have to search civil records in the correct jurisdictions, and while you can do some of this online – as mentioned above; you may have to request the records in writing or go to the actual county that stores the data.

This is where you’ll be able to use the identifying information you collected. You can compare the date of birth, the social security number, full name, and the complete addresses of the person at this point. By doing this, you can rule out the inherent error probability with a common name.

One last thing to mention. If you uncover information that leads you to not hire the individual in question, you will have to abide by the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act). The FCRA mandates that when you pass someone over due to a criminal history report, it is their right by law to view the report you based your decision on. Make sure you follow this law or it could come back to haunt you in the form of a lawsuit.

Criminal history checks are an important facet in determining if an individual has a history in criminal activities. As with anything, gaining an accurate criminal report is largely dependent on what you put into it. With tenacity in acquiring complete identifying information, performing a fair and legal search, confirming whatever criminal data you do find; you will have an informative and accurate report at the end.

After all, the bottom line is determining that those you are seeking to protect – yourself, your family, your business, are safe from the criminal element.

Henry Lovett writes informational articles about people search, criminal records, background checks and other similar topics. To learn more about criminal records visit [http://www.criminalcheckreviews.com]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/680378

Family Business, Non-Family Business, Urban Myths.

After 20 years of working with Senior Executives across the world it’s interesting to see the mistakes when appointing Senior Executives. There can be many reasons why, but one reason is not understanding the differences of working in a Family Business and a Non-Family Business. I’ve recently met several Senior Executives who are unhappy with their employment because of this lack of knowledge and understanding and I’m meeting Business owners who didn’t realise there was a difference. These Business Owners feel that money and title is enough and stick to the Mantra of “Surely experienced ‘C’ level Executives can work in any company?”

Due to the change of economy, I have become more involved with assisting Family Businesses rather than just the corporates in finding ‘C’ level people. To do this successfully I believe that everyone in the process of hiring Senior Executives must understand the differences that separate the two entities. Having worked for an English and Indian Family Business in a past life this has helped me at first hand to see the ups and downs of these Businesses; this with a theoretical base has helped with running my own companies or advising others with theirs.

One recent company I have been involved with was run and founded by a successful New Zealand Entrepreneur. He does not have anybody in his immediate family to hand the reins over to. He has tried (outside the family) executives to fill his ‘C’ level roles and has had three people in three years! What is the problem? Was this a real Family Business? Was the Problem his, or the Executives?

We discussed the reasons for the failures but in terms of assisting the owner I got him to firstly look at where his people came from. All three had been ‘C’ level people in corporates and had done an excellent job in their corporate environment. They all returned to corporate life and continued to do well in their new roles. Why did they fail then in this successful company?

What I needed the owner to do was to identify a “Family Business”. I don’t normally use dictionary definitions but feel that in this instance Wikipedia gives a satisfactory explanation of a Family Business;

“A commercial organization in which decision-making is influenced by multiple generations of a family-related by blood or marriage-who are closely identified with the firm through leadership or ownership. Owner-manager entrepreneurial firms are not considered to be family businesses because they lack the multigenerational dimension and family influence that create the unique dynamics and relationships of family businesses” Wikipedia 2014.

We looked at his company and although he didn’t have anyone in the immediate family to take over the reins he had people who owned the company in minor leadership roles. We both agreed he did in fact have a Family Business.

He thought that buying in top salaried ‘C’ level Executives from corporates would enhance growth and sustain his business. He had not seen any differences between Family and Non-Family Business.

Urban Myths for Family Businesses;

All are unstable Small to Midsize businesses’.
As an Executive I don’t want to baby sit the junior family members so they can take over my job.
A non-family member will never run the company.
Mother and Father Companies, the only people that matter in the company are family members.
Emotional hard to work places due to family disagreements/arguments.
Incompetent family members in positions of authority.
Are these statements true or are they just Urban Myths?

Family businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the world economy and now merit serious consideration by Senior Executives looking to advance their careers. This is an amazing turnaround from 25 years ago when nobody wanted to work for a family-owned business. There now seem to be many positives;

Patricia Epperlein from InterSearch reports that;

In the USA, 90% of businesses are family-owned. They contribute towards 40% of that nation’s GNP and pay approximately half of its total wages.

59% of France’s Top-500 industrial companies are family-owned.

It is estimated that 70% to 85% of all businesses worldwide are family-owned.

Tom O’Neil NZ Herald. Jan 2014 states;

Small to medium businesses are the lifeblood of New Zealand industry. Various sources cite family businesses as representing 75 per cent of Kiwi firms, providing up to 80 per cent of employment and 65 per cent of national GDP.

It’s interesting to note that when companies around the world state that they are a “Family Business” they are trying to reinforce positive family values of, Integrity, honesty, trust and loyalty.

Not all Family Businesses’ are SMEs. Companies like;

Tata Group.
In New Zealand the Talley Family (Agribusiness) and the Pandey family (Hotels).
Simon Peacocke of BDO Auckland, an accredited Family Business Advisor works with numerous NZ Family Businesses and feels that they do well because of the following reasons;

Family businesses think very long-term and are very resilient, much more so than non-family businesses.

Second and third generation family business members start their apprenticeship at a very young age. At 5 years old they are hearing their parents talking about the business so they have an incredible depth of knowledge to draw on.

Their relationships with staff and communities also tend to be different – closer, more connected, more loyal.

Staff tend to become part of the family business and to stay on as long-term committed employees.

While corporates like to be seen supporting their communities, family businesses generally don’t promote they are doing this – they just do it.

They don’t throw lots of money at things trying to get rich quick.

They also have a powerful focus on building relationships with staff, customers and suppliers.

So is it worth working for a family company? Is it better to work for a Non-Family Business? Is there any difference when the economy is good or is in a slump?

Nicolas Kachaner 2012 in the Harvard Business Review states,

“Results show that during good economic times, family-run companies don’t earn as much money as companies with a more dispersed ownership structure. But when the economy slumps, family firms far outshine their peers. And when we looked across business cycles from 1997 to 2009, we found that the average long-term financial performance was higher for family businesses than for non-family businesses in every country we examined”.

Senior Executives looking for longevity in the work place should look at the Family Business as this would take them through economies varying peaks and troughs. They will need to be aware that this will always be done in a cost effective way.

Business Consultants believe that they can tell easily if the company is Family or Non-Family Business. You just walk into the Head Office. A Non-family office has a very substantial corporate office with a “Wow Factor”. The Family business being more Frugal has very few “Bells and Whistles”. This Frugality is about the Family Business CEO looking to invest in the long term 20 year plan with the business passing down the generations. The Non-Family CEO is looking to make an instant mark and will try and outperform the person they have taken over from. There are many studies that show that Family Businesses did better in the recent Global recession for the above reason. The Family Business is frugal in the good times and the bad allowing them to weather the storms of economic crisis.

This is one of the factors that had been wrong in my client with three ‘C’ Level people in three years. His ‘C’ level people came in with a quick turnaround plan which they hoped would give a quick fix and outspending the last person in the hope that they would do something instantly. No twenty year plan for them as they had never been afforded this way of working in the past.

Do Family Businesses perform differently in other countries?

Justin Craig, PhD states,

“Interestingly, in many aspects family businesses as a sector do not vary much from country to country. There are obvious cultural differences but a business with family involvement is challenging in every country. It is also more rewarding than the ‘corporates’, let’s not forget that. Of course, there are older businesses in Europe, for example, than in Australia and New Zealand and the United States, and the mind-sets of companies in Europe will differ than in the later developed countries. But day to day the differences are not noticeable. Older businesses have more at stake and lots more to lose but they also have advantages. Family leaders still have to manage three independent and interdependent systems being the family, the business and the ownership group”.

Appointing the right Senior Executives is crucial to any company and is a costly acquisition. There are many reasons why hiring at this level goes wrong but getting it right can make a huge difference to your company.

To answer one of my questions, can a ‘C’ Level person work in any type of Business, Family or Non-Family?

Yes, but only if they are armed with the knowledge of the differences of the two. What they must also be sure of is the type of business that they are going to work in as sometimes this can be a cloudy issue, making it difficult for them to decide which one it is. Look at those mighty corporate companies of Porsche, Tata and Walmart to name a few.

Finding the right ‘C’ Level Executive is a lengthy process and shouldn’t be rushed, if you need to rush you are better to go down the Executive Leasing Route in the short term which will allow you to take a breath and get the right permanent person in place. Work with your inside team or your outside partners to establish a good process, so the firm can articulate the process to the Senior Executives. Everyone appreciates the fact that there is a well thought-out plan in place.

For me, I decided a long time ago not to build a Family Business. I wanted to give my children the best in life, but wanted them to make their own way in life too. My children might disagree but as one is studying to be a Barrister and one is settled in a corporate I will wait and see if I need to step in? I have however, always agreed with Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett who said, “He would give his kids just enough so that they could do anything, but not so much as they did nothing”.