Misdemeanors In Texas

In the state of Texas, you have a Class A, Class B, and Class C misdemeanor. It’s unlike grade school. You want to get the C, you don’t want to get the A. Because a C entails– well the range of punishment for a Class C misdemeanor is up to a $500 fine, no jail time.

Class B misdemeanor, there is jail time. The range can be nothing to 180 days, and $2,000 fine. That’s for a Class B.

For a Class A, you’re looking up to a year in jail and $4,000 fine. So is it important to seek representation? I believe it is. If any time there’s jail as a consequence, I think you want to be represented by a person who knows what they’re doing. And when it comes down to the Class C tickets, there’s options, so it doesn’t go on your record and effect your insurance policy. Or eventually you could even lose your license, if you have too many of these Class C. We’re talking about traffic tickets, with those.

I handle all three types of misdemeanors. I would like to talk to you further, if you’re seeking representation on any of those.

Field Sobriety Test

When a cop shines a light in your eye, what they’re looking for, actually what they’re doing is, they’re performing a field sobriety test, called the horizontal gaze nystagmus. And that test, studies suggest that when you’ve had alcohol to drink, your eye will twitch at certain points. That’s something that everybody needs to know about the horizontal gaze nystagmus.

Awareness Is Key To Avoiding Legal Woes

Everyone makes mistakes, and some may involve legal issues. A well-rounded knowledge of the laws in Texas – including the potentially costly consequences of breaking them – can make an individual think twice before engaging in criminal acts. It can also benefit anyone who finds themselves on the wrong side of the law and needs to craft an effective defense.

There are several crimes that can result in fines, license suspensions and in some cases, jail time. Residents of the Brownsville area who are facing these criminal penalties could benefit from the services of an attorney.

Driving while intoxicated 

Whether someone is a victim or an offender in a driving while intoxicated (DWI) scenario, the outcome often brings ongoing hardships to both parties. Victims may incur injuries, vehicle damages and a host of other problems, all of which are sure add to the state’s case against the driver who is charged.

When it comes to drunk driving, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles reports that any driver age 21 or older cannot drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater. The allowable level drops to .04 percent for commercial drivers, and the state applies a zero tolerance policy to motorists who are under 21 years old. The state uses BAC test results, typically administered by law enforcement officers at the site of the traffic stop or at an accident scene, to build its criminal case against the offending driver.

In Texas, DWI penalties vary depending on a person’s age, license classification and other factors specific to the individual incident, such as whether the driver charged was carrying passengers or caused a death. Typically those convicted of a DWI charge can expect hefty fines, attorney fees and court costs, license suspension or revocation and the potential for increased car insurance rates. Courts may also require the offending driver to participate in DWI intervention and education programs and perform community service. Incarceration is also a possibility, even for a first-time offense. For minors convicted of DWI the penalties are more severe; for a first offense, license suspensions can span two years, and failure to complete a required 12-hour alcohol education program will add another 180 days to the existing license suspension. The ramifications for those who operate a vehicle while impaired due to drug use are similar in severity.

A review of Texas Department of Transportation data shows impaired driving contributed to 973 crashes and 1,089 deaths in 2013 alone, demonstrating the problem is not going away. No one wants to be charged with a DWI-related crime, but anyone who finds themselves in this situation could benefit from calling a Brownsville DUI/DWI attorney. The right lawyer can help with navigating through a sometimes complicated court system and ensure any sentence imposed is fair for all involved. An attorney can also aid in reaching a reasonable plea agreement that could result in a more favorable outcome.

Theft charges 

Texas state statute defines theft as the unlawful appropriation of property with an intent to deprive the owner of the property. There are a wide range of offenses of that could result in a theft charge, including everything from writing bad checks to acquiring stolen goods. Just as the nature and seriousness of the charges vary, so, too, do the potential consequences for those convicted of committing them. In an instance of shoplifting, the punishment may be a fine, depending on the value of the items involved. In more drastic cases, incarceration is a possibility.

The Texas Department of Public Safety crime statistics for 2013 showed citizens reported 604,398 incidents involving some degree of larceny or theft and 65,671 cases of motor vehicle theft. These combined figures far exceeded any other criminal activity reported statewide. Some of the more common kinds of theft committed in the Lone Star State include:

  • Standard theft – This is a relatively broad charge that addresses a variety of situations. It can apply to anyone who steals a wallet from an unsuspecting person, snatches a few dollars from their workplace or pilfers valuable tools from a co-worker has committed this type of theft.
  • Shoplifting – Concealing store merchandise with the intention of not paying for the items and leaving the premises is one way to be charged with shoplifting. The charge also applies when a person employs a deceptive practice designed to avoid paying for the item at its full value, such as switching out a higher price tag with one that carries a much lower cost.
  • Bouncing checks – Writing checks from a closed account to make a purchase is enough to incur this charge. Issuing a check on an account that lacks the funds to cover the amount of the transaction can be viewed as a criminal act under the law if the impacted businessperson is not compensated within 10 days.
  • Receiving stolen property – Whether the goods in question are accepted as a gift or purchased from the person who stole them, the individual obtaining this property has engaged in a criminal act if they have reason to believe the items were gained unlawfully.

Examples of other classifications include identity theft, theft of services and embezzlement.

Sentences imposed can increase in severity if the individual has already been convicted of a similar crime in the past, for example. In general, however, theft-related crimes carry differing penalties that hinge on the value of the stolen property. Under Texas law, those found guilty of stealing goods valued at $50 or less (or less than $20 if the transaction involved a check) face a fine of up to $500. A theft of items worth more than $50 but less than $500 is a Class B misdemeanor that could land a person in jail for up to 180 days and cost them up to $2,000 in fines. Again, the lower value threshold falls to $20 but less than $500 in cases when merchandise was acquired by check. In the most serious cases, where the theft involves depriving owners of property valued at $200,000 or more, the offender adds a first-degree felony to their criminal record. People convicted at this level could serve between five and 99 years in prison and be ordered to pay a fine as high as $10,000.

In a time when many employers turn to the Internet when considering potential new hires, having any kind of theft charge appear on a permanent criminal record poses a bigger problem than ever before. It’s also just plain embarrassing. Obtaining the services of a Brownsville theft attorney can be a big help for someone who wants to fight the charges, or work out a plea agreement that could result in a lesser charge appearing on a criminal record.

Marijuana possession 

The marijuana possession laws in Texas can bring stiff penalties for anyone caught with this drug in their custody. The Texas Penal Code states an individual has committed this offense if they are “knowingly and intentionally” in possession a usable amount of marijuana, or an amount great enough to be ingested in some fashion.

The consequences of a marijuana possession conviction are dependent on the amount of the drug an individual has on their person at the time the charge is incurred and whether the person charged has previously been convicted of a similar crime. Unlike what is the case in some other states, Texas residents who commit these crimes at any level face the possibility of jail time. Those found guilty of holding two ounces or less get a Class B misdemeanor charge on their record, could spend up to 180 days in jail and may pay a fine as high as $2,000. If carrying between two and four ounces, the punishment is a Class A misdemeanor conviction, up to a year of incarceration and a fine of as much as $4,000. The penalties increase to reflect greater amounts of the drug. A more serious offense in which an individual possesses more than 50 pounds but less than 2,000 pounds could mean between five and 99 years in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a fine of $50,000.

A criminal record that includes marijuana possession can cause lots of problems. It can act as a barrier when a convicted individual seeks employment, or if they aspire to attend college.

A Brownsville possession of marijuana attorney can be an asset in these drug possession cases. If the charge is for a first offense, a lawyer could assist in crafting a plea deal that offers a lesser sentence. In some instances an attorney can dispute the charge in court if there are questions about how police obtained evidence, or raise concerns regarding the particulars of an arrest.

Assault cases 

Assault charges can be imposed in several situations, not all of which involve physical contact with an alleged victim. In Texas a person can be charged with committing this crime if they injure someone, including their spouse, but could also be charged if they threaten to hurt another person.

In addition, the law applies to anyone who initiates any unwanted physical contact with someone else if it is clear the other person would be offended or provoked by such contact. That means a shove administered during a heated argument is enough to bring on legal woes. In most instances a police officer must witness the assault before making an arrest, but even if an officer did not see the act, they may still issue a notice to appear in court or obtain an arrest warrant. The exception to this rule is domestic violence allegations; in Texas law enforcement can make an arrest even without seeing an assault take place.

Either way, assault is a violent crime that prosecutors take quite seriously. If the confrontation caused severe injury to another or it involved the brandishing or use of a weapon, the charge can be elevated to aggravated assault.

The penalties that can come with an assault conviction vary depending on circumstances of each case. A simple assault in which a victim sustains relatively minor injuries constitutes a Class A misdemeanor and is punished with a fine of up to $4,000 and as much as a year in jail. A Class C misdemeanor assault charge typically involves threatening or uninvited physical contact, and those convicted at this level could pay a fine as high as $500. If the victim of the assault is a public servant, emergency service worker, a family member or domestic partner, the charge could get bumped up to a third degree felony. Those charges punishable by a maximum of a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison. Aggravated assault convictions can result in a prison stay of up to 20 years.

Being convicted of any violent crime is another way to add hardship to one’s ability to obtain employment, an in cases where a lengthy incarceration is possible, it can mean job loss, and a large chunk of time away from family and friends. All of this, combined with the fact that the law allows police to issue charges without seeing an actual assault or based on an alleged threat, illustrates the importance of getting a Brownsville assault attorney to assist in constructing a legal defense. A lawyer can help argue that an assault was never committed, or that it occurred as part of an individual’s effort to defend themselves.

Whether someone hopes to avoid a new mark on their criminal record, has a clean criminal record and wants to keep it that way, or is in the midst of criminal court proceedings, knowledge is power. But it’s not always enough. That is when retaining the services of an attorney can make the difference between paying for a poor choice and paying far too dearly.


What Exactly Qualifies as a Personal Injury Case?

Dealing with some type of personal injury can cause you to feel alone, frustrated and angry. Personal injury cases are one of the most common seen in the courtroom just because of the fact that they happen so frequently. If you feel that you’ve dealt with a personal injury that you could receive compensation for, you may want to know what exactly a personal injury case looks like or entails. Knowing the basics of a personal injury case can help you to decide if you are ready to file a lawsuit.

What Does “Personal Injury” Mean as a Lawsuit?
Unlike injury or damage to a property, personal injury basically refers to anything that caused a person bodily or emotional harm as a result of another person’s negligence. There are a lot of different situations that could represent a personal injury, so knowing these types of problems can help you to decipher if your case would be valid in a court of law. Personal injury is most often caused by the negligence of another person, but the injury could also have been intentionally done to you by another person in general.

What Qualifies as a Personal Injury?
No two personal injury cases are alike, since certain cases may seem more extreme than others. Understanding what constitutes as a personal jury will allow you to know when it’s time to speak with your lawyer about filing a case within the court system. Whether the injury was sustained out of pure accident or it was deliberately caused to you by another person, this doesn’t change the fact that you could be entitled to compensation.

Car Accidents
Accidents sustained while driving a car or being hit by a car are considered a personal injury. You might have been in a car accident where you were either hurt physically or emotionally. Some people, especially those who are either walking or bicycling, may be hit by a car that causes them extreme bodily injury. These types of accidents are incredibly common just because of the fact that most people drive on a regular basis.

Truck Accidents
Getting into an accident with a truck or dealing with problems caused by a truck can also be classified as a personal injury. Truck drivers are employed by a specific company and are trained and licensed to drive their vehicles. Because of this, you should feel safe on the road when driving around trucks and truck drivers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for those who are out on the road around these specific types of vehicles.

Accidents on the Job
Most employers will have insurance to cover the costs and compensation associated with accidents on the job. Depending on where you happen to be working, dealing with an accident can be incredibly common for you and your fellow coworkers. Whether you slip and fall at work because of poor flooring materials or you hurt yourself on heavy machinery or equipment, you can receive compensation for this type of accident.

Tripping and Falling Accidents
Outside businesses and stores are responsible for keeping their properties cleaned and free of hazards at all times. You’re probably familiar with going into a store and seeing a spill on the ground or a layer of ice that’s right outside the door in an area you simply cannot avoid. Slipping or falling at a business location can be dangerous, and it can cause a number of sprains and breaks that you’ll live with for awhile.

Personal Assault
Whether you were in a heated altercation with someone or were randomly hit or struck by another person, personal assault is definitely a type of personal injury that could allow you to file a lawsuit within the court system. Personal assault can result in minor injuries or it could result in major injuries that leave scars or require additional surgery to fix.

Accidents in a Home
You may be visiting a neighbor or are working on another person’s house as part of your job. If you sustain an injury in that person’s home or on their property, you could file a lawsuit because of negligence. This is especially true if the injury that you sustained while there was a direct result of something that the owner of the property could have avoided for you.

Accidents Caused by Defective Products
When a company gets wind that their product is defective in any way, shape or form, they will often have a recall on that product. If you were one of the unfortunate ones to be a victim of that defect, you could file a personal injury lawsuit. Defective products or services can range from anything you buy from a store to issues with a car that were later recalled.

Medical Malpractice
Visiting your doctor, dentist or surgeon are just some things that we all do quite regularly in our lives. If you’ve dealt with a problem as a direct result of a procedure you had done, this is grounds for filing a personal injury case against that person. It could be dentistry that was not done correctly or a doctor prescribing you the wrong types of pills. These types of injuries could cause life-long damage to the person, so it’s vital that you receive some type of compensation.

Industrial Diseases
Even industrial diseases could be classified under personal injury and could be compensated for as a personal injury case. Industrial diseases basically refer to life-long problems you or a loved one has sustained as a result of exposure to a harmful material in the past. For example, many people were exposed to asbestos decades ago because it was often used in home building and construction. Nowadays, people who were once exposed to asbestos are finding that they are being diagnosed with mesothelioma and other breathing problems.

Benefits of Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you or a close loved one has recently been involved in what could be a personal injury, filing a claim with a lawyer is a good option. Receiving compensation for the problem could pay medical bills, replace lost wages or just help to soothe the emotional pain and suffering that often comes as a result of a personal injury that was sustained. Compensation is never guaranteed with a lawsuit like this, but it never hurts to see if it is something that you could receive as a result of the injury you’ve sustained.

Another benefit to filing this type of case is the fact that it can help to prevent future accidents from happening, depending on the specific case you have. For example, you may be filing a lawsuit against a store that had slippery floors that you fell on. By filing a lawsuit, the store and its managers will be more prone to take better action at preventing this from happening again in the future. This could help other people who go to the store and would have otherwise slipped on floors that were not properly dried. In a way, filing a lawsuit can help you to receive compensation while protecting others from the same fate.

Filing a Claim for Personal Injury
If you feel that filing a personal injury lawsuit is the right option for you, it is vital to speak with a lawyer who can help. Many lawyers will work on personal injury cases, and they will be able to tell you exactly what they see coming out of your case. In some instances, you may feel that you have a case on hand that could help you receive compensation, but your lawyer lets you know that the case may not win you anything because of a poor outcome or similar outcomes they’ve had in the past with identical cases.

Filing this type of claim is also something that cannot be done overnight, and it’s imperative that you understand this if you are expecting to receive compensation within a matter of days of filing the lawsuit. In fact, it could take months before your case is seen in court, especially if you’re living in a very busy city area that handles hundreds of cases in a day’s time. Understanding that it could take time for you to receive compensation will also allow you to ensure that your case is fully together and can be presented well in a court of law.

Your lawyer will be able to walk you through the process of actually filing the lawsuit and what to expect. There is a lot of paperwork involved with personal injury cases, and having witnesses and others who can back up your claims will definitely help your case in the long run. It is vital that you let your lawyer know about any witnesses who might have been present or around you when you sustained the injury that you are filing in the court system.

Receiving Compensation – What Does It Mean?
Compensation is basically the amount of money or services you will receive if you were to win your personal injury case. Compensation is never guaranteed with a personal injury case, since some courts will either dismiss your case or not give you any compensation at all. Compensation can also come in a variety of different forms, but the two most common would be a large lump sum of money or regular sums of money spread out in several months or years. The specific type of compensation that you receive is up to the judge and your final ruling.

Getting compensated for a personal injury case may not seem like an enormous deal, but it can definitely provide you with the financial relief that you need. Oftentimes, people who were a victim of personal injury sustained medical ailments that now need to be paid. The medical bills can begin to pile up for you, but having compensation from the injury can either pay all or most of these bills. Also, many people lose income because of their personal injury, especially if they had to take days or weeks off of work because the injury was quite major. Compensation you receive from the case can help you to pay bills that your income would have otherwise paid for you.

Personal injury cases are very different from each other and no two cases are exactly alike. Some people sustain injuries while out shopping and others may sustain bodily harm from a defective product or service that they had been using. Other people may even get hurt while on the job, and this causes them to either lose their job or have to take a lot of time off of work because of the injury that they have. While it may seem like a relatively daunting task to visit a lawyer to see if you could potentially receive compensation from a personal injury, the money you may receive in the future can be an enormous benefit to you and your family.

The lawyer you’re working with will walk you through the entire process of actually filing the claim, what you need to do and going to court to be seen to receive compensation. While there are many steps and processes to actually filing a personal injury claim, your lawyer will be the professional who helps guide you through this difficult time. Knowing that you could receive compensation also helps tremendously if you have medical bills, utility bills and other expenses that have been piling up as a direct result of your injury. No matter what type of personal injury you’ve dealt with in the recent past, it’s vital to consider going to court and getting compensated for it. Whether you were in a car accident or had a problem at work with machinery or equipment, there is a way for you to get reimbursement for the pain and suffering that you have had to endure on your own.


Property Law

Property Law – Different Types of Deeds, Land Ownership Disputes

When it comes to the act of owning property, there are a myriad of laws that apply to such a thing. The two core areas in which the majority of these laws are designated to involve the types of property deeds that are available, as well as the types of land ownership disputes that can occur. Whether you’re looking to purchase land or property or already own some, it’s important to understand what these property laws entail, in order to be fully prepared in all situations. The following will provide in-depth details regarding these laws.

Types of Property Deeds

Property deeds are documents given from one party to another as a means of displaying a transferring of ownership of the property in question. There are a large variety of property deeds available, though there are five, in particular, that are among the most common. These include the Bargain and Sale deed, Quit Claim deed, General Warranty deed, Special Warranty deed and Grant deed. Each of these deeds are slightly different and depend primarily on exactly how the property is being acquired.

Bargain and Sale Deed

When taking a look at the Bargain and Sale deed, it’s important to note that this deed is commonly used for both sales of residential real estate and certain properties that have been seized by the court. Though a Bargain and Sale deed doesn’t entirely mean that the property is being transferred free of charge, it is rare that money will change hands. When money is involved, it’s typically less than is usual for a standard purchase of a property. A Bargain and Sale deed is used primarily upon the transfer of ownership from one family member to another or simply when one family member places the property into the trust of another family member. If a piece of property is bought at a foreclosure or tax sale, then this type of deed will also be used. Businesses that want to sell or buy certain properties will also need to use a Bargain and Sale deed. Unlike other types of deeds, it is not guaranteed that the person that a property is transferred to through this type of deed will end up receiving it.

Quit Claim Deed

The Quit Claim deed is actually similar in ways to the Bargain and Sale deed, primarily for the fact that the property is typically transferred to other family members. However, the one primary difference between these deeds is that the Quit Claim deed requires the property to be relinquished instead of sold. There is typically no monetary exchange involved with this deed either. The Quit Claim deed is primarily used between family members when transferring property, as well as friends and spouses that are going through a divorce. This is usually one of the simplest and most hassle-free ways to transfer a deed from one person to another.

Just like a Bargain and Sale deed, there is no guarantee that the property will actually be transferred to the recipient, which is why money is rarely used for a Quit Claim deed. As there is no guarantee with this deed, liens could still be placed onto the deed that prevents the transferal of the property. A lawyer doesn’t need to be used with this deed, though it is recommended if any sort of money is being transferred along with the deed. A Quit Claim deed is also used for such rare situations as needing to correct the spelling of one of the names on a previous deed and changing the type of tenancy between owners.

General Warranty Deed

A General Warranty deed is one of the most popular types of property deeds around. A General Warranty deed is typically used in the sale of residences. Unlike the previous two types of property deeds, a General Warranty deed comes with the guarantee that the buyer is able to receive the deed from the seller without any liens or possible debt being transferred along with it. This deed is given upon both parties agreeing to a certain price. This is obviously the best method of using a property deed for anyone that wants to sell or buy a property with certain guarantees and warranties, which typically means a hassle-free process throughout the entire ordeal. This deed is also commonly used in such situations as transferring ownership to a trust of someone else and for business owners that would like to sell or buy property. You will need certain information on hand when filling out this document, including everything from names and addresses to a legal description of the property.

Special Warranty Deed

A Special Warranty deed is a bit different than a General Warranty deed for the sole fact that it doesn’t provide guarantees or warrants against liens or debts over the entire history of the property in question, just any liens or debts that were incurred during the seller’s ownership of the property. As such, if multiple people or businesses have owned a property, the guarantee would only cover against any claims made during the time of the latest owner. A Special Warranty deed is used for a multitude of occasions, such as when buying or selling a property, when transferring a specific property into a trust and when wanting to include certain warranties alongside the property. It is used for both residences and commercial buildings. For the buyer, it’s mostly important to understand that just because there were no liens or debts for the current buyer does not specifically mean that there will also be none from previous owners.

Grant Deed

The last common type of property deed is known as the Grant deed. A Grant deed is one wherein the interest in a property is completely transferred to the buyer from the seller. This transferal typically involves a specific amount of money that has been fully agreed upon by both parties involved. The two things that this type of deed guarantees to the buyer is that the owner is legally able to sell the property and that the owner is able to do so without any debts on the property in question. However, there is a small caveat attached. In essence, there is no guarantee against any possible defects that could be found on the property. The two types of deeds that do include this guarantee are the General Warranty and the Special Warranty deeds. This deed is typically used for residences and among certain acquaintances that you might not know well. As such, it’s one of the more common deeds to use during the standard selling of a house or other residence.

Types of Land Ownership Disputes

While there are plenty of property deeds to take note of, the second most important aspect of property laws are the land ownership disputes that often result between any number of people or businesses. As can likely be discerned due to the name of these, a land ownership dispute is commonly brought about due to a disagreement over a portion of land. The following will go into more detail about the many different types of land ownership disputes.

Standard Nuisances

When owning land nearby another, there is always the possibility of certain nuisances affecting a person or business to the point where they have an issue. The nuisance law allows certain entities that own land to bring a case against a person or business that causes such nuisances as making too much noise, smoke, dust or frustrating vibrations. However, the court will not always take the case forward and the individual that owns the property won’t always get what they are looking to receive from the defendant due to the fact that the court takes into consideration that some of these nuisances are a part of everyday life and are essentially unavoidable. It’s when the nuisance is to a greater degree that the court will heavily consider taking action.

Statutory Nuisances

Statutory nuisances are a bit different than standard nuisances for the very fact that they typically involve any nuisance that could negatively affect or impact in any way a persons health. This includes everything from certain noises and polluted water to groups of animals and piles of trash/waste nearby a persons property, as well as smoke and hazardous fumes. Before this can be taken to court, local authorities typically investigate. Once the nuisance has been determined, certain actions can be taken to remove the nuisance to the point where it will no longer affect you or your business.


One of the most common forms of land ownership disputes is through the act of trespassing. When someone has entered onto your land illegally, a dispute is essentially started. Trespassing can occur at any time that someone has entered onto your land without your specific permission. This type of land ownership dispute can come into play in a number of ways. For instance, the standard act of entering onto land without permission is the most common way. However, it can also happen if someone erects a building onto a portion of the land that you own or if they erect a building that overhangs a portion of the land that you own. If any of this occurs, it is possible to go to court. The ruling of the court depends primarily on how severe the trespassing was. The person that files a land ownership dispute over trespassing on their land will typically receive a ruling in their favor.


The very act of having trees on the land that you own can cause issues with your land or your neighbor’s land if the tree happens to be partially covering both portions of land, thus resulting in a land ownership dispute. Whether the tree has already been planted long ago and no one is sure as to which person owns the tree or the tree is newly planted and grows to the point that it overhangs another persons or businesses land, there are a wide range of disputes that could result. First of all, if your neighbor’s tree happens to hang over a portion of your land, you have the right to ask them to trim it to where this is no longer the case. If they fail to do this in an efficient manner, the law allows for you to trim the tree itself. A tree that overhangs onto your property also has the possibility of causing damages or injury. If this happens, the person that owns the land that the tree is resting on will then be liable to provide compensation for any damages or injuries that may befall someone or someone’s property.

Boundaries and Fences

Another common dispute that tends to present itself often is with general boundaries of two pieces of land, as well as fences that divide the lands in question. There are times when a land ownership dispute will simply arise because one party believes that the boundaries of their land are being encroached upon. The easiest way to check to see if this is the case is by glancing at the legal documents to ensure the exact boundaries of your land and your neighbor’s land. These documents tend to be resolute in what they identify as the boundaries in question. However, there are times when these boundaries have been pushed by prior agreement. If a fence or barrier has already been erected when purchasing a property and piece of land, it’s important to note exactly whose land this barrier resides on, as this person has complete say over the usage of the barrier in question. As such, it’s not even possible to rest plants up against the barrier on your side without explicit permission by the owner. When building a fence, each land owner must ensure that it resides entirely on their property lest another land ownership dispute arises.


Private Attorney vs Public Defender

What is the difference between a private attorney that you hire and retain versus a public defender. There’s– at least in Cameron County, there is a pretty big misconception that the private attorney will do a better job than the court-appointed attorney.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Many of the attorneys in Cameron County, a whole lot of them, also take court-appointed clients.

The system that’s in place is what we call the wheel. And every month, for instance, you get five court-appointed clients. And you take them through the process. Two things, I think, that are very important for people to understand. One, the private attorney that you believe may do a better job for you because you’ve hired them could actually be also in a different case at the same time that you’re taking care– you’ve paid big dollars to be represented, representing somebody who’s court-appointed. So one thing I think that we should, that you should ask your attorney is whether he’s taking court-appointed cases as well. Because that’s something that they want to probably hide from you.

The next thing is, there are some really great attorneys here in town. A lot of them are on the court-appointed list. And they do a good job. Sometimes, a court-appointed attorney may be doing– may just do a better job than a busy private attorney that you pay for. So at the end of the day, just choose the attorney that you think trust, that seems like a good guy, that answers your phone calls. Because at the end of the day, that’s the guy that you want to hire.

Family Law: Getting Divorced In Texas

Factors to Consider When Getting Divorced in Texas

If you need to seek a divorce in the state of Texas, there are some particular laws and regulations that you should become familiar with so you can make educated decisions in your own best interests throughout divorce proceedings. The specific factors of each divorce will vary to some degree depending on who is seeking the separation, what kind of property the couple has, and whether or not there are children involved. Divorce is a major legal decision that should not be attempted without appropriate legal counsel. Let’s take a more detailed look at factors that may impact divorce proceedings in Texas.

Residency Requirements
It only makes sense that in order to get divorced in Texas, you have to live here. That means no matter how mad you might get at your spouse while here on vacation, you’ll need to return home to seek your divorce elsewhere if you are not a Texas resident. Residency in this state is very specifically defined and these requirements must be met in order to be eligible to obtain a divorce here. First, one member of the couple must have lived in the state for a period of at least 6 months continuously at the time of filing. Secondly, that same person has to have lived in the county where the divorce is being filed, for at least 90 days. It doesn’t really matter which person, the petitioner or respondent, meets this requirement just as long as it is met.

No Fault Divorce in Texas
Most divorces in Texas are filed under “no-fault” provisions. What this means is that neither party has to prove that the other party has done something wrong or has violated the marital contract. One must simply say that the divorce is necessary because of “irreconcilable differences” or some other similar reason. The benefit of this approach is that you don’t have to point fingers or place blame on one another. You just want to get a divorce and that’s the end of it. Some research has indicated that in states that allow a no fault divorce, suicide rates and domestic violence rates are lower. It certainly helps eliminate the need for further argument for all parties involved.

Another way that a couple can obtain a no fault divorce in Texas is to live completely apart for a period of three years. By proving that you and your spouse have maintained this lengthy separation, you are indicating that the marriage has ended and there is no hope for reconciliation. The court can grant your divorce on those grounds alone.

Community Property State
Texas is also one of nine “community property” states in the U.S. This means that following the divorce, each member of the couple retains the separate property they had at the time they entered into the marriage. Anything acquired during the course of the marriage, however, is considered community property. It will simply be equally divided by each member of the couple. The only real exception to this rule is gifts or inheritance. Those items are considered to be separate and the receiving individual is the sole owner.

All of this sounds much more simple than it is in real life. Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • One member of the couple may have had a pension plan or IRA prior to the marriage, yet made significant contributions to this plan during the marriage. In this situation, a good portion of that asset may be considered community property. Further consideration will be given to this matter after both sides review the pension plans or retirements available for each member of the couple.
  • If one member of the couple has received a settlement for personal injuries sustained in an automobile accident, medical malpractice, or similar incident, that settlement usually belongs only to the recipient. Any portion of the settlement, however, that is intended to compensate for lost wages would be considered community property.

Debts are usually shared just like assets. Both are owned by the couple as a whole and are separated appropriately in the divorce. It’s important that you have appropriate legal representation in a divorce so that you can adequately prove the factors necessary to support your stake in all of these issues.

Spousal Support
In many divorces, both parties are often curious to know whether or not spousal support will be required during or after the divorce proceedings. The legal term for spousal support is “spousal maintenance”, though it’s often called alimony as well.

Determining whether or not spousal support will be required is based on a two-step process.

  • First, the spouse requesting support must be eligible to receive it. What this means is that the spouse requesting support must not have sufficient property/resources following the divorce to meet basic needs.
  • Once eligibility for the support is determined, the next step is to determine how much support is needed and how the period for which it should be paid, if at all.

Factors such as educational background, length of the marriage, spousal age, work history, fault/no fault divorce, familial contributions, and attempts for seeking employment.

Once all of these issues are reviewed, the court can rule regarding the spousal support. They can either grant no support at all, the maximum allowable, or some other amount in between.

  • Just because a person is eligible for support does not guarantee that it will be paid.
  • Factors such as educational background, length of the marriage, spousal age, work history, fault/no fault divorce, familial contributions, and attempts for seeking employment.
  • Once all of these issues are reviewed, the court can rule regarding the spousal support. They can either grant no support at all, the maximum allowable, or some other amount in between.

The length of time that spousal support can be paid is also determined by the court. It can range for a period of:

  • Up to five years following divorce
  • Up to seven years following divorce if the marriage lasted more than 20 years, but less than 30 years
  • Up to ten years following divorce if the marriage lasted 30 years or more
  • In the situation where the spouse has a mental or physical disability or is caring for a child with a significant disability, spousal support can continue indefinitely as long as the eligibility criteria are still in place (i.e.- the impairment doesn’t improve)

The amount of spousal support following a divorce in Texas is limited to monthly payments of $5,000 per month or 20% of the payer’s income, whichever is less.

Divorce when Children are involved
When children are involved, a divorce is naturally quite a bit more complicated. The court is always going to try and seek what is in the best interest of the child/children involved. If the parents are working together to see that there is as little negative impact on the children as possible, then the court will likely support the decisions that the parents are making. That said, if the parents cannot come to an agreement that is in the best interest of the children, then the court will make sure it is done for them.

While the parents and court will make most of the decisions regarding child custody arrangements, a child who is at least 12 can submit their written preferences to the court. Those wishes regarding custody and living arrangements will definitely be taken into consideration, but there is no guarantee that those wishes will be fully granted.

A divorce with children involved will spell out very specific responsibilities for each parent. This will include ensuring that the children’s health, education, and other needs are fully met. The court will strive to see that the child’s life is disrupted as little as possible. Depending on if one parent has primary custody or if there is a shared custody arrangement, details such as who can claim the child for tax purposes, as well as visitation for holidays, school breaks, and regular day to day life of the child.

Cases with children usually result in a “parenting plan” following this divorce. This spells out those specific duties of both parents regarding the child/children involved. Some items often included in this plan include:

  • Designation of primary residence of the child
  • Who can make health decisions for the child
  • Who can make decisions about the child’s education
  • Which parent (or both) has a responsibility to provide health insurance for the child
  • Which parent (or both ) has to pay medical expenses not covered by said health insurance

Once a divorce is final and all factors regarding the child’s custody and living arrangements have been determined, it is possible to have these factors amended at a later date if necessary. These changes can only be done if they are in the best interest of the child and the following criteria are in place:

  • One or both parents agree to the change (this requirement will vary depending on the situation).
  • The child is 12 or older and expresses his or her own wishes to the court.
  • A parent with primary custody gives up the child to someone else’s care for a period of six months, or there has been a dramatic change in the living situation or circumstances of one parent.

If the agreement cannot be determined by the parents, then the court will step in to make a determination or request that the parties seek mediation to find an agreement.

Child Support
Depending on custody arrangements, it is possible that one parent may have to pay child support for the child/children’s maintenance and well-being. This requirement will be very detailed and spelled out in the final divorce decree. Child support comes in a variety of forms and isn’t always a check paid to the other spouse on a regular basis. It can include things like health insurance, medical insurance, or Social Security auxiliary child benefits paid in lieu of child support.

If one parent does have to pay monetary support to the other parent for the care of the child, there are some general criteria in place to determine how much must be paid. This amount will vary depending on how many children are being supported. For only one child, the paying parent will have to pay approximately 20% of his or her net income. In families with multiple children, the amount will vary between 25% up to 40%. If children are in multiple households, the calculation is done a bit differently.

In families with higher income, the court may make a determination that circumstances support a higher child support award. This payment will be limited to the “proven needs of the child”. If at any time one parent feels that the support payment is too high or too low, one simply needs to ask the court to review the situation and consider making an adjustment if necessary.

Grandparents Rights in a Divorce
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a divorce, it is not uncommon to see a grandparent petition the court or request an attorney for visitation or custody rights regarding minor children. Grandparents have very limited rights in these situations.

There are endless factors that may influence the circumstances of a divorce. If you find yourself in a situation where you may be obtaining a divorce for yourself, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel for advice. The decisions you make in this important process may have a negative impact on your future in terms of your property ownership and retirement benefits if they are not done wisely. Good luck!

Appealing An Older Case

A lot of people walk in the door and ask me whether they can appeal a case that they plead guilty to 15, 20 years ago. Or whether they can get an expunction or somehow get it off their record or reopen the case. The quick answer to that, unfortunately, is no.

That’s why it’s important that you investigate and really do your diligence when you decide to plead guilty. There are consequences. It lasts with you for the rest of your life (unless you get a pardon, and that’s hard to get).

So consult with a lawyer and understand that what you do at the time of the guilty plea will affect you for the rest of your life.

The Settlement Process Following a Personal Injury Case

The Settlement Process Following a Personal Injury Case

Once we start the process of pressing a personal injury claim, many things will start to happen. However, before we take your case straight to the Texas courts, my practice will attempt to negotiate a settlement on your behalf. We will negotiate with the negligent party, their lawyers, and their insurance company.

This settlement can make the difference between receiving the money you deserve sooner rather than later.


Why You Should Attempt to Settle


A settlement benefits everybody involved. It also saves time and money for you and my firm.

  • While settlement negotiations can sometimes last a long time, a trial can take even longer
  • A trial will require you to spend a great deal of time in court, which can compromise your health and well-being after an accident
  • Trials cost money. The longer it goes, the more you will have to pay the court

Settlements by contrast can happen quickly. It is not unheard of that an insurance company will outright accept your settlement offer. Imagine the whole process getting done and over with that quickly.

It will not always happen that way, but a settlement is almost always faster than a trial. And don’t think the speed in which a settlement negotiation can happen means that you will lose out on the money due to your for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering.


Before Starting the Settlement Negotiations


Before anything can happen, we will need to gather information. This is where you can help us the most. You should gather all paperwork that has anything even peripherally to do with your injury.

  • Bills – not just medical, but all of your continuing expenses since the accident
  • Doctor’s notes, prescriptions, diagnosis, charts and anything else related to your health
  • Receipts for purchases you made because of the accident and since the accident
  • The names of every person you remember at the site of the accident
  • The names and contact information of people who know you well, especially if you saw them on the day of the accident
  • Any notifications from your place of employment that you received after the accident

Be of as much help to us as possible. If we ask you to find a piece of documentation, a name, or anything else, make sure that you get it. Do not dawdle or waste any time.

We will need to put together everything to come up with a settlement amount. You can help us present a strong case just by handing over your collected paperwork.


Write Down Everything about the Accident


In addition, you should keep notes or a journal of all that you have gone through leading up to and since the accident. Describe the accident in as much detail as you possibly can.

Also, write about the trials you have gone through since the accident and how they made you feel. Explain how life is different because of the accident. Outline any struggles you had to endure.

This can help to prove emotional stress. While not always a factor, pain and suffering includes emotional stress. That means it can play a role in your settlement amount.


How Much You Should Ask For in a Settlement


Before the negotiations, you need a figure to ask the other party for. How much that figure should be depends on quite a few factors. The standard approach is as follows:

Medical expenses – This includes all of your medical bills from the accident. Even if your insurance paid, you should still add these expenses to your settlement amount.

Future medical expenses – If you have to continue treatment going forward, you should add the amount of these future medical visits as well. You should also consider adding more if you have a long-term or lifelong injury.

Lost earnings – If your injury caused you to miss work, then those missed wages should also go into the settlement amount.

Even if it constituted paid time off, you should add these numbers anyway. This can also include earnings lost from any side business or other money-generating endeavor you missed out on because of your injury.

Potential lost earnings – If you anticipate more time off work because of medical visits then you need to add those future wages.
Are you out of work indefinitely while you heal? Are you in a situation where you simply cannot return to your job because of the injury? Then these too should become a part of your settlement amount.

Personal property damage – If your accident also contributed to a property loss, then that also goes into the settlement amount. This can include things like a damaged car, house or even an expensive electronic device that you had on you at the time.
All of these contribute to your economic loss. There are other factors as well, such as pain and suffering. It is hard to place a price on these types of intangibles. However, when we are calculating a good settlement offer we will certainly consider these things.
Keep in mind the aforementioned documentation. Your notes can go a long way towards proving pain and suffering and increasing your settlement amount.


Be Realistic With Your Expectations


One important thing you should remember is that your settlement is not a means to make money. It is not for you to get rich off of. This is a misconception many people have regarding the settlement process.

This process is in place to compensate you for injuries, pain and suffering. That is why you often hear lawyers on television talk about “the money you deserve.” It is important to mention this because greed can upset the settlement process.

If we ask for too much, it can stutter the entire process. That is why it is important you work closely with me on figuring out the right amount to ask for. Beyond that, there are also a few limits to what you can ask for anyway.


Limits to Settlement Amounts


1. Limits due to coverage
One problem that many people never consider in personal injury cases is whether or not the negligent party has a means to even pay.

For example, if an uninsured motorist hits your vehicle, then there is no insurance company to sue for damages. You will have to seek to sue the individual instead. If that individual is just an average nine-to-five worker then the odds are you will not get anywhere near the amount you need.

Even if the other party does have insurance, there is a possibility that their insurance company only covers them up to a certain amount. The insurance company will not pay beyond that amount. In addition, that amount may also have to cover the injuries and other financial things for the insured.

Also, depending on the nature of the accident, it is possible for someone to have coverage that does not cover the specific act that caused the accident.

2. Limits due to liability
While you should never admit fault, it is possible that the insurance company will find a way to prove your partial liability in the accident. Partial liability does not mean that you do not have a case, but it does mean that you will not receive full damages.

Partial liability occurs in degrees. The more they can prove your fault, the less they are willing to pay in damages.

Understanding the limits can help you and my firm save time. We usually go about trying to gather copies of the negligent party’s insurance information. This is just to make sure that the insurance company’s coverage can deal with the amount that we ask for during your settlement negotiation.


The Negotiation Process


No matter what your desired settlement amount turns out to be, we will need room to negotiate.

That is why it is common for my firm to initially ask for a much larger sum than what we both came up with. This gives me a lot of room to negotiate down to the sum you really want, or even get you more than you asked for.

We will ask for something that is more but still within reason. After all, asking for an impossible sum can sometimes cause the insurance company to ignore it or simply tell us to take it to trial.

The adjuster for the insurance company will either accept or issue a counter offer. Before either of those things happen, the insurance company may want to launch their own full investigation. This means that you may have to consent to an interview or go see a doctor of their choosing.

The adjuster will point out things in your claim that the company feels need addressing. They may bring up liability or point out that a particular medical visit was unnecessary. You and I can address each thing they bring up.

This is also where a lot of the documentation you gathered comes into play.

This process will play out like a tennis match until there is a settlement agreement. Even if you feel in the end it is better to go to trial, the settlement match can continue to go on.

In cases like that, the insurance company will usually add a provision that we drop the case if you accept the offered settlement.


How Long the Settlement Process Takes


The settlement negotiations will take as long as they take. In some cases, they are over and done with almost immediately. In other cases, they can drag on for quite some time. As mentioned, they can even continue if you decide to go to trial.

If you have a particularly strong case, then the threat of going to trial can sometimes move an insurance company to act. However, it is important to remember that can also backfire and cause the insurance company to dig deeper into their investigation.

Patience is an important part of the process. While the possibility of a quick settlement exists, it is not the norm.

The best thing you can do to speed up the process is to make sure that you have an airtight case. The more firmly you are in the right, the less wiggle room the insurance company will have.

Many people like to blame their lawyers if a settlement takes too long. The truth is, we are doing everything we possibly can. We do not want the case to drag on forever neither. The negotiation process has a lot of downtime while you wait for a response.

Also remember that even a lengthy settlement process is typically shorter than a trial.


The Importance of Professional Help


Many people think that it is okay to pursue these types of cases on their own. While it is possible, it is not something that anybody should take into their own hands.

Here at the Michael Gonzalez Firm, we know who to talk to and when. We know how to go over an adjuster’s head. We know the right amount to ask for on your behalf. We can answer the difficult questions for you.

Each type of personal injury case will come with caveats that govern how they work differently from other types of cases.

An automobile accident and a slip at a grocery store are both good cause for a personal injury case. But both of these cases are handled in completely different ways. Here at my firm, we have these specific specialties. So we will know how to negotiate those unique avenues on your behalf.

No matter how much information you have about how personal injury settlement work, you should speak to me first. If you find yourself in any kind of accident, contact my firm about the possibility of a case immediately.

Miranda Rights

There is a common misconception about Miranda rights. Miranda rights attach when you are under interrogation and not necessarily when you are arrested. That’s why it’s important when you’re talking to a cop to ask him whether you are free to leave. Because if you’re free to leave, there’s no rights under Miranda. (Anything comes out that can be used in court.)

But once you’re under interrogation, once you’re detained and under interrogation, that’s when Miranda applies. And if they don’t read your rights, you can get those statements– and usually they come in the form of a confession. You can get those suppressed.