Monday, April 15, 2024

The Unbillable Hour – June 2021 [Free read]

WILLIAMSBURG — On the latest episode of the Unbillable Hour, Thomas “Tom” Cleator, Esq., William “Peyton” Akers, Esq., and their Associate Attorney, Deborah “Deb” Goodwin, Esq. are back to offer their legal expertise to answer the local community’s questions, for free!

The first question in this episode involves a married couple driving off after hitting someone. The person wanted to know if they could be forced to testify if they were clearly in the passenger seat of the car at the time of the hit-and-run.

Attorney Peyton Akers explains spousal privilege, stating that one cannot be forced to testify against their own spouse. Attorney Tom Cleator adds that this privilege only extends while the two are married. Attorney Deb Goodwin further noted that in the State of Virginia, this privilege also extends to disclosing confidential communication between the parties during the time of marriage as well. This would mean, a person has a right to refuse to testify against their spouse, and they can refuse to disclose any confidential communication between the two parties. However, there are exceptions to both, as pointed out by the attorneys. If one of the parties is the victim of a domestic violence situation then the privilege may not be asserted, as the court would need to hear each spouses’ testimony. Additionally, the privilege is not applicable when the proceeding involves a crime against the property of the other or against a minor child of either spouse. While there is spousal privilege, it is not absolute.

The next question deals with what constitutes as “kidnapping” and/or what rights a grandmother would have in protecting her grandchild should this occur. It was mentioned by the grandmother that the biological mother was neglecting her child and the grandmother refused to give the child back after watching him due to concern. While the mother eventually regained custody, the caller wants to know whether the grandmother violated any laws and if this did constitute as kidnapping. What legal steps should the grandmother have taken instead?

The grandmother could potentially be liable for kidnapping, however, within the State of Virginia, kidnapping requires there to be no legal justification for the taking to be considered kidnapping. As Attorney Deb Goodwin points out, the grandmother could have an argument for legal justification if there were signs of neglect or child endangerment. Attorney Deb Goodwin continues to state multiple ways that the grandmother could have the courts involved. She could get Child Protective Services (CPS) involved, which could have led to a custody dispute. She could have also filed for custody herself. A petition for custody may be filed by any person with a legitimate interest which typically are blood relatives, such as grandparents. While custody battles often take time, filing a Motion for Emergency Hearing could lead to a temporary order in which the court decides what is best for the child while the custody dispute continues on.

Our last question involves the topic of cannibalism. The caller wanted to know whether the actual act of eating human flesh was outlawed. There are a few laws on how you obtain the body or how you cannot obtain one by grave robbing or murder, etc. However, as Attorney Tom Cleator points out, there is technically not a law prohibiting the consumption of human flesh. There is, however, one that makes it a felony to defile a dead human body. Although, it is a gray area when discussing an alive participant who willingly donates their flesh for consumption. For all intents and purposes, this situation seems to have no legal barriers.

Lastly, Attorney Deb Goodwin stated that even if someone in their will specified that their flesh could be consumed, the law against desecrating a dead body would hinder this from being legally carried out.

Listen to the full audio here

As a reminder, Akers & Cleator Law Group practice multiple areas of law. They specialize in Family Law (divorce, child/spousal support, and custody & visitation), Criminal Law (traffic, domestic, misdemeanors, and felonies), Personal Injury (auto accidents, premises injuries, wrongful death, and negligence), Civil Litigation (mental health, contracts/breach of contracts, property damage, and more), and Debt Collection (whether you are collecting a debt or have a debt against you).

Akers & Cleator Law Group are here to help!

Go to or call (757) 707-8838 to schedule a consultation.

Have a question of your own? Use the form below to submit your question and it may be featured in an upcoming session.

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