Friday, October 28, 2016

Social Media Used As Evidence In The Courtroom

Anything You Post May Be Used Against You In The Court Of Law

The onset of social media drastically changed the judicial system as we knew it. Before, we relied largely on seeking out and retrieving physical evidence and witness testimony to build a case for court.  Social media, which now comes to us on our phones, introduced an entirely new method of building (and attacking) legal cases. Social media has become one of the first sources people go to when looking for evidence to support their cases. The team at O'Donnell Law Center is here to shed some light on how today's social media platforms influence the legal world.

Understanding Basic Premises

Social media has been used in courtrooms for several years now, and it is widely viewed as a valid, acceptable form of evidence. For this reason, deleting posts or deleting/deactivating accounts and profiles during legal proceedings is often considered tampering with evidence and can be subject to fines and other penalties.

Once something is posted online, it never truly goes away (not even if you delete it). People have sometimes pulled posts that were published several months (and even years) ago for use in current cases. Since posts remain accessible forever, it is important to always be cautious about what you post. Even if you are not in the middle of a legal situation, it is wise to post content that can only be viewed in a positive light. If you are in the middle of a legal case, your best bet will be to refrain from publishing anything at all. Keep in mind that setting your account as "private" does not guarantee that the opposition will not find your posts and bring them up in court. Even personal messages sent via Facebook Messenger can sometimes be used as evidence.

Examples Of Social Media In The Courtroom

There are a variety of ways that social media can be a helpful method of obtaining evidence. Below are a few common examples:
  • As a public photo database, Facebook can be used as a way for witnesses to identify suspects.
  • Facebook's "check in" feature can be used to determine if someone violates legal parameters set by probation officers, parole officers, or child custody agreements.
  • Photos uploaded on social media can be used as hard evidence (such as photos of underage drinkers).
  • By looking at the publish dates for photos and posts, social media can be used to confirm the order of certain events.

Social Media Used To Commit Crimes

Unfortunately, social media does not only find its way into courtrooms by way of being used as non-partial, third-party evidence. Social media is also regularly used by criminals to plan their crimes. Here are a few examples:
  • Using social media to identify when people are traveling (i.e., when homes will be empty).
  • Creating false social media accounts to befriend minors and set up in-person meetings.
  • To track targets' locations.

O'Donnell Law Center Is Here For You

Due to its pervasiveness throughout modern society, you can be reasonably confident that social media will be present in your next legal case. No matter which side of the legal matter you find yourself on, O'Donnell Law Center has the skills and resources needed to protect your rights. If you are currently facing allegations, our criminal defense attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks can help you build a solid defense. If you believe you may soon be facing charges, our legal team can help you prepare. If you are fighting for custody, we can help you build a strong case to advocate on your behalf. 

For more information about our legal services in Camden County MO and the surrounding areas, visit our website:

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

National Business Women's Week: Supporting Today's Working Professionals

Women are playing increasingly prominent roles in the modern workforce. Women were once found almost exclusively in homes caring for their families, and now they are holding higher and higher positions of power in both small and large companies. In recognition of the contributions and achievements of working women, the Business & Professional Women's Foundation has designated this week (the third week of October) as National Business Women's Week.

As a woman-owned business, O'Donnell Law Center is excited to celebrate this week-long observance. In honor of National Business Women's Week, we are dedicating today's blog to some of the business law services at the Lake of the Ozarks to our local professional women.

Business Formation
Starting a business is a thrilling - but often daunting - process. Our legal team is here to help take the weight off your shoulders by assisting with the formation process. We can help you determine which type of business entity will best meet your needs and assist you with creating that entity.

Contract Review
Contracts are arguably the lifeblood of a successful business. If your business contracts leave out key points or if you sign an agreement without reading the fine print, you could find yourself in a very challenging situation. Our business attorney in Camden County MO can review all your contracts before they are signed, to help ensure that you don't enter into an agreement that may be detrimental to your business.

Contract Enforcement
Even with a solid contract in place, you may still face challenges when other parties fail to uphold their end of the bargain. If you have a properly executed contract, however, you may have the option of taking legal recourse. 

Customer & Vendor Disputes
No matter what your industry is, it is safe to assume that you will encounter an unhappy customer at some point along the way. It is also quite possible that you will find yourself involved in a dispute with one of your vendors. If either of these situations should arise, O'Donnell Law Center can be a resource to help protect your interests and defend your rights.

Business Dissolution
No matter what your profession, it is probably safe to assume that eventually, you will want to retire and leave the professional world behind. As a business owner, you will have to decide what happens to your business when that time comes. You may choose to sell your company or pass it down to a successor, or you may choose to dissolve your company entirely. No matter what you decide is best for you, we can help you make sure all the correct steps are taken and that all appropriate details are attended to.

Taking The Burden Off Of Your Shoulders
As the gender roles continue to balance out, today's working professionals have more on their plates. Most of today's working professionals must also care for their families. With so many roles and responsibilities to juggle, handling a legal issue on top of everything else can feel overwhelming. At O'Donnell Law Center, our goal is to remove the burden from your shoulders.  

For more information about our legal services at the Lake of the Ozarks, visit us at

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Monday, October 17, 2016

Everyday Reasons To Call Your Attorney

"I'm calling my attorney!"

When you hear the above phrase in movies or the media, it's often sensationalized, used as a threat, or only uttered in extreme circumstances. As a result, many people mistakenly assume that they should only reach out to an attorney at the Lake of the Ozarks in times of crisis. While it is true that having an attorney on your side during an extreme situation is valuable, you don't have to limit your contact with your attorney to these scenarios. In fact, there are many everyday situations where an attorney's counsel can be helpful. O'Donnell Law Center is here to provide a few examples.

Hiring And Managing Employees

As a business owner, ensuring that the proper steps are taken when hiring employees is essential. In order to protect your company's interests, you'll want to ensure that every detail receives proper attention. As your trusted business legal team, we can help you draft solid employee agreements and non-compete agreements. We can also review a prospective employee's existing non-compete to ensure that you are not taking an unnecessary risk by hiring him or her. Should challenges with your employees arise down the road, we can help you enforce your agreements.

Making End-Of-Life Preparations

Though few of us want to think about it, none of us will live forever. At a certain point, it is important to set aside some time to make the necessary end-of-life preparations. An estate planning lawyer at the Lake of the Ozarks can help you weigh the various pros and cons to determine what documents and overall estate planning format will best suit your needs. O'Donnell Law Center prepares wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and more.

Outlining Child Custody Agreements

With the divorce in America rate hovering around 50%, approximately half of all parents in the U.S. have to address custody laws in some way or another. Our family lawyer in Osage Beach MO can help you navigate this sometimes challenging and often emotional process. We have work for individuals going through a divorce to help secure custody arrangements that protect the children's best interests. We also have experience working with unmarried couples and individuals who wish to adopt a child, and grandparents who wish to become their grandchildren's legal guardians. 

Buying A Home

Home hunting is an exciting process, but it is also a critical turning point in one's life. Since your home is likely the biggest investment you will make in your life, it is important to ensure that your interests are protected. Your Lake of the Ozarks real estate attorney can draft the necessary contracts or review the contracts you are asked by another to sign. We can also review the closing documents to help you identify any benefits and/or detriments. 

O'Donnell Law Center Is Here To Meet Your Legal Needs

For almost any situation you may be facing, the experienced team at our general practice law firm in Osage Beach MO is here to help. From litigation to mediation to simple consultations, our team is dedicating to ensuring you meet with success in all your endeavors. For more information about our legal services at the Lake of the Ozarks, give us a call at (573) 552-0317 or visit our website at

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3

Osage Beach, MO  65065

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Insurmountable Debt: Today's Financial Crisis

8 in 10 Americans are in debt (Source: We all dream of achieving a debt-free lifestyle, but the unfortunate truth is that most of us will never get there.

However, having debt is not necessarily a bad thing. Car loans and mortgage loans, for instance, allow us to own cars and homes that we would never be able to afford if were limited to making out-of-pocket purchases. If you fall behind on payments, though, even "good" debt becomes a massive financial burden. If you or someone you know is struggling with delinquent debt, having a debt collections attorney on your side may be worth its weight in gold.

Debt In America - A Brief Overview

Americans are currently facing a debt crisis, with figures at all-time highs. Here are a few eye-opening statistics about the current debt level in America:
  • The total outstanding consumer debt is $3.4 trillion.*
  • 38.1% of households carry some amount of credit card debt.*
  • Student loan debt currently exceeds all other forms of non-mortgage debt.**
  • The average balance-carrying household owes $16,000 in credit card debt.**
  • The average balance-carrying household owes $27,000 in auto loans.**
  • The average balance-carrying household owes $48,000 in student loans.**
  • The average balance-carrying household owes $169,000 for mortgages.**
* Source: ValuePenguin
** Source: Slate

Debt's Downward Spiral

As we mentioned previously, manageable debt can be a good thing. It can even provide you with opportunities that may ultimately improve your financial situation. If you take on too much debt or if your financial situation changes, however, you may find yourself unable to meet all the required payments. If you aren't careful, this can become a downward spiral very quickly. If you miss a payment, you will likely incur late fees and interest that will be owed on top of your original payment. If money was already tight, paying these additional fees may be impossible, which may cause you to miss your next payment as well. Missing a second payment will incur more fees and interest, and the cycle can continue on from there.

Being Pursued For A Delinquent Debt

If you miss enough payments on a given debt, you will become "delinquent" and the creditors will likely take legal action to ensure they receive the funds owed to them. As consumer debt continues to rise, debt collections is becoming an increasingly lucrative industry. According to, it is currently grossing $15 billion annually (and still growing fast).

Even if you are being sued for a delinquent debt, you still have rights. Federal laws govern how debt collectors can go about pursuing delinquent debt, and if these strict guidelines are not met, a Lake of the Ozarks debt collections attorney may be able to help you prevail in your defense against the debt collector's lawsuit against you. A skilled attorney may also be able to help you negotiate a lower re-payment plan and ensure that your rights are protected.

O'Donnell Law Center Is Your Debt Collections Resource

If you are being pursued for a delinquent debt, contact O'Donnell Law Center. Even if the solution does not seem obvious to you, we may be able to help you build a solid defense. Mounting a defense against a debt collector is time-sensitive with strict deadlines, so we encourage you to reach out sooner than later. Give us a call at 573-552-0317 for more information.

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3
Osage Beach, MO  65065

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Understanding Maintenance Laws

In Missouri, when a couple files for divorce, one of the spouses may seek financial support from the other. This support, formerly referred to as alimony, is known as maintenance. A judge may make a maintenance order when one spouse cannot sustain living expenses and the other spouse is able to provide financial support. To help you understand the laws related to spousal maintenance, O’Donnell Law Center has outlined some points here. To continue this discussion please contact our Lake of the Ozarks family law attorney.

When is Maintenance Awarded?

A judge will determine whether a maintenance order will be awarded after evaluating several factors, including whether the spouse requesting support has sufficient income and resources, and whether the spouse can become self-supporting with job training or education. A spouse may also require support if he or she is the parent of a child, or children, who require in-home care and a job outside of the home would be unsuitable.

How is Maintenance Calculated?

There is no set formula for the calculation of maintenance in Missouri, and it is determined on a case by case basis.  Some factors a judge will consider include: duration of the marriage, whether one spouse has a disadvantage in terms of education or career training, and/or the ability to pay and earning capacity of each party. A judge may also take into consideration each spouse’s conduct during the marriage and the age of the parties.

What is the Duration of Maintenance?

Maintenance can be temporary, with a specific end-date, or it can end upon the happening of an event such as death or re-marriage, or it can have no pre-determined termination date, with the end-date to be determined at some point in the future.  

Can a Maintenance Order be Modified or Terminated?

If the court has determined that maintenance is to be awarded, the judge will make the order modifiable or non-modifiable.  Modifiable maintenance means the court can decrease, increase, terminate or extend the support based upon a change of circumstances. Under non-modifiable maintenance, the court will not modify the order. It is not uncommon for non-modifiable maintenance to terminate upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the receiving party.

How is Maintenance Enforced?

If you are ordered to pay spousal maintenance, it is important to make the payments regularly and on time. Missed maintenance payments may result in judgments against you and wage garnishment and/or seizure of property or bank accounts could result. Additionally, more serious implications could occur if the party receiving the maintenance payments files a motion for contempt. If the court were to find you to be in contempt of court, fines and/ or attorney fees and possibly jail time could be ordered.

Maintenance is not an absolute right, nor is it intended to punish the paying spouse. These orders are intended to support a spouse after a divorce and assure a reasonable style of living is maintained. For more information relating to divorce, spousal support and maintenance laws, contact the O’Donnell Law Center for an appointment. 

We Carry Your Burden ~ You Carry On With Life.

Disclaimer: No attorney-client relationship is created by the publication of this blog.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.

Phone: (573) 552-0317

O'Donnell Law Center, LLC
1026 Palisades Blvd. Suite 3

Osage Beach, MO  65065