Do You Have Questions?
To find answers to frequently asked questions regarding the areas in which we practice, please use the links below or scroll down.
FAQ - General Information
You can expect that we will get a good grasp on your legal situation by making sure we understand the facts.
We will effectively advocate your position, while keeping your fees as low as possible.
For more information about our firm click here.
Yes. We evaluate cases on a case by case basis to determine if it can be handled on a contingency basis.
FAQ - Juvenile Law
Criminal cases involving a juvenile are governed by a different set of laws than adult criminal cases. While adult cases are considered “criminal”, Juvenile cases implement elements of both civil and criminal law and are part of the Texas Family Code. Because of this, juveniles do not have the right to trial by jury. Instead the judge will make a ruling on the case based on the evidence presented during an adjudication hearing.
One of the main differences in juvenile and adult criminal cases is what the court wishes to accomplish. In adult criminal cases, the goal of the prosecutor is to punish the offender. In juvenile law the goal is to do what is best for the minor, by rehabilitating and reforming the child.
Yes, the law requires that all juveniles must be represented by a lawyer in most proceedings. It is important that you choose an attorney that understands juvenile law so that your child’s rights are effectively protected. In some cases the judge may appoint an attorney to your child; however, you may be required to reimburse the county for the court-appointed attorney.
No, unlike adult criminal cases juveniles are not subject to post bail or a bond before being released into their parents’ custody.
Once your child is taken into custody by police, he or she will undergo an intake process. This is where juvenile officials evaluate your child to determine if your child will be released or held in confinement. The official will take into consideration your child’s home situation, the severity of the crime that was committed, the child’s age, and any past offenses to determine if they will release the child back into your custody.
At your first court setting, your attorney will have the chance to review the prosecutor’s file. This allows your attorney to build defenses against the prosecutor’s evidence. The prosecutor may even offer a plea bargain at this setting. However, most of the time the first court setting will be reset so that your attorney can have more time to review and build defenses against the prosecutor’s evidence against your child.
FAQ - Civil Matters
You don’t have to be a licensed attorney to represent yourself in court. You can not, however, represent a corporation even if you are the sole owner of that corporation. You will be held to the same standard as a licensed attorney if you represent yourself.
Most lawsuits for $10,000 or less are filed in Justice Court where the rules are a little more relaxed and the proceedings may be a little less formal. To learn more about lawsuits pending in a Justice Court in Harris County please visit Harris County Justice of the Peace Courts.
FAQ - Criminal Matters
Yes, absolutely! Showing up in criminal court without a lawyer is like showing up to a gun fight without a gun! The State is represented by lawyers whose only goal is to convict you. While it is their job to see that “justice” is done, the rights of people charged with a crime are often disregarded. You need a lawyer to protect your rights, stand up for them, and put the State to the task of proving their case. Whether it is to work out a plea agreement or representation at trial, you should not go to court without your own lawyer whom you trust to protect your rights and liberties.
FAQ - Family Law
While it is not mandatory that you have an attorney for your divorce, it is highly recommended. Consulting with or retaining an attorney to handle your divorce will ensure that your children’s and your rights are protected during and after the divorce.
In the state of Texas there is a minimum of a 60 day waiting period from the day the petition was filed for a divorce to be finalized. The judge can waive this waiting period in cases where family violence is a concern. After you file for divorce and serve your spouse, he or she will have until the Monday following the expiration of 20 days to respond. The divorce cannot continue until the deadline to respond has passed.
You may have many good intentions of why you may want to move out of the marital house before or during a divorce. It may be so the kids are not seeing you fight and argue with your spouse, or that your spouse is making promises of what they will agree to if you move out. Your spouse may even be making threats. However, there are several reasons why it is not in your best interest to move out.
Leaving the marital house before a divorce can lead to temporary orders that are likely to be made permanent when finalizing the divorce. You could lose all of your interest in your home.
Leaving the marital house during a divorce is likely to show the court that you are agreeable to allowing the other parent to be the primary caregiver of your children, or worse, that caring for your children’s daily needs is not important to you. This will have a negative effect on you in obtaining the right to have your home be the primary residence of your children.
If the spouses can agree on how they want to divide their assets, the courts will usually not interfere. However, if the spouses cannot come to an agreement on their own, it will be left up to a judge to decide.
The courts will usually allow each spouse to keep any separate property. Separate property generally consists of inheritances and any money or property owned by either spouse prior to the marriage. All of the community property will be divided among the spouses in a fair and equitable manner. This usually means that each spouse will receive roughly equal shares, unless a court believes that one party should receive more than the other based upon the following factors:
- Disparity of incomes or earning capacities of the spouses;
- The spouses’ capacities and abilities;
- Benefits which the party not at fault would have derived from a continuation of the marriage;
- Business opportunities of the spouses;
- The spouses’ educations;
- The spouses’ relative physical and financial conditions;
- The spouses’ separate estates (if any);
- Nature of the property to be divided;
- Fault in the breakup of the marriage (adultery, cruel treatment, other spouse is convicted of felony and imprisoned for at least one year, abandonment for a year or more, living apart for at least three years, other spouse is confined to a mental hospital for at least one year); or
- The parties’ attorney’s fees.
The courts encourage parents to come to an agreement on this matter. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will rule in the “best interest” of the child. The court uses many guidelines and factors to determine the “best interest” of the child, including the following:
- The desires of the child;
- The emotional and physical needs of the child now and in the future;
- The emotional and physical danger to the child now and in the future;
- The parental abilities of the individuals seeking custody;
- The programs available to assist these individuals to promote the best interest of the child;
- The plans for the child by each individual seeking custody;
- The stability of the home or proposed placement;
- The acts or omissions of the parent that may indicate that the existing parent-child relationship is not a proper one; and
- Any excuse for the acts or omissions of the parent.
FAQ - Probate Matters
Yes, in the state of Texas you are allowed up to 4 years to probate a will. If you fail to probate the will within 4 years, you may only use it to transfer the name on titles to land, but only if you can show by clear and convincing evidence a sufficient excuse for not probating the will within 4 years. One excuse is that you did not know of the existence of the will within 4 years.
An affidavit of heirship is a document that provides details as to the deceased’s family and marital history and identifies all of his or her heirs, real property, and unpaid debts.
Once it has been signed and notarized by two witnesses who are not heirs of the deceased, it is then recorded in the real property records of each county in which the deceased had real property. It serves as evidence that title to the deceased’s real property has passed to his or her heirs. For instance, an affidavit of heirship is useful when the child of a single parent wants to sell the parent’s home, but the title to the home is still in the parent’s name. Most title companies and real estate companies will allow the heirs to sell the property after an affidavit of heirship is recorded.
Like an affidavit of heirship, this document will list all of the deceased’s family and marital history and identify all of his or her heirs, real property, and unpaid debts. In addition, it will also list the person’s other assets, such as vehicles, bank accounts, and household belongings. This affidavit needs to be signed by two disinterested witnesses, as well as all of the person’s heirs, and it is filed with the probate court for approval.
A small estate affidavit cannot be used if (1) the estate has more than $50,000 in assets, excluding the homestead and exempt property, (2) the assets must exceed the liabilities of the estate, and (3) the estate has land other than the homestead.
Once the affidavit is filed, the probate court will consider the affidavit. If the judge determines that the affidavit meets the requirements provided by the Estates Code, the judge will sign an order approving it. The judge’s order can then be used by the heirs in case they need to show that they have authority to take possession of and distribute the deceased’s assets.
The small estate affidavit is a procedure that is relatively unique to Texas. For this reason, even though Texas law permits the heirs to take possession of and distribute a deceased’s assets, heirs may encounter resistance from people from other states who are unfamiliar with small estate affidavits. This problem most frequently arises in financial institutions that are headquartered somewhere else or that have branches throughout the country. You should make sure that the company or bank holding your loved one’s assets will be willing to distribute the property if a small estate affidavit is approved.
FAQ - Evictions
You don’t have to have a lawyer at the Justice Court level, but you do need one if your tenant appeals to the County Court. The reason for this is that at the Justice Court level, you don’t have to be a licensed attorney to represent your apartment complex, while at the County Court level you can’t speak on behalf of the apartment complex unless you are a licensed attorney in good standing with the Bar. We have represented many landlords in Justice Courts and County Courts in a cost effective manner.