Diaz Law Firm


Personal Injury FAQ

First and foremost, ensure that everyone is safe and call for medical attention if necessary.

  • Report the accident so a police officer can make an official report and investigation.
  • Take the other person’s information. This includes name, address, insurance policy information, vehicle information and phone number.
  • Take pictures of the accident scene and injuries (if possible). This is important to help establish responsibility of the accident and injuries.
  • Never sign any documents you don’t understand. Remember insurance policies are not on your side and they will try to settle your case with the least amount possible. If they ask you to sign any documents accepting any offer, this will waive your right of getting your medical bills paid and the compensation you deserve.
  • Do not admit fault if you are unsure who caused the accident. Contact us immediately at 855-900-3429. Our consultation is FREE and if we don’t win, we don’t charge you!

You should never provide a recorded statement of facts to anyone, especially the insurance companies. They will almost always use your recorded statement against you to deny liability and monetary recovery. You should always talk to your attorney prior to giving any statement to the insurance companies and have your attorney present during the recorded statement. Most importantly, don’t provide statements of fault to anyone.

As a passenger you have the right to make a claim against any negligent driver. This may be the driver of the car you were riding or the other driver. Either of those claims would be filed against the negligent driver’s auto insurance. In the event that there isn’t enough insurance to cover for your injuries or there is no coverage, you have the option to make the claim under your insurance’s Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).

We represent clients on a contingent fee agreement for personal injury matters. This means that you don’t have to pay anything upfront and our initial consultation is completely free. Attorney fees are collected only if there is a recovery in the case. If the case is won, the attorney fees will come out of the amount recovered. Most importantly, we don’t get paid if we don’t win.

As a victim of personal injury in Texas, you may be eligible to file suit for compensation to help you recover and return to your normal life. Personal injuries can be extensive, requiring substantial care, treatment and rehabilitation. Medical bills and lost wages can quickly put families in financial ruin. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen, and we only get paid and charge you for services at such time as you win a settlement or your case in court.

Our results-oriented Texas personal injury attorneys work to get you maximum compensation for but not limited to the following:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earning potential
  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • Mental anguish
  • Property damage
  • Loss of companionship
  • Reduced quality of life

If you have questions about what types of compensation you may be owed or deserve as a result of your accident, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team is standing by and ready to get you the answers you need.

Personal injury cases handled in Texas are governed by the Civil Practice and Remedies Code. This Code provides guidance and rules regarding how the court will define and determine damages, liability, negligence, statutes of limitation, duties of care, recovery and more.

Personal injury laws are based on the legal doctrine of negligence, defined as a failure to act with a level of care a “reasonable” individual would have exercised had they been subject to the same set of circumstances.

Duty of care is something every Texas resident is subject to. This “duty” refers to the responsibility and duty of every member of society to act in a responsible way that does not put others at risk of harm. Further, some professionals are held to a separate (and often higher) standard of duty, such as a doctor or employer. A key component of each personal injury case is establishing and proving negligence.

Certain elements required to establish a case include:

  • Determining the existence of a legal duty owed to the plaintiff (you) by the defendant (the “at fault” party)
  • Proving the defendant’s breach or failure to fulfill such duty
  • Establishing and proving injuries and damages
  • Proving that the at fault party’s negligence resulted (at least in part) in causing your injuries.

Our personal injury lawyers are well-versed in establishing fault and proving your case. Call today for a free consultation and to learn more about our process and how we can help make sure you get the representation you deserve.

The Shared Fault Rule in Texas is a comparative negligence rule that determines proportionate responsibility. In short, each party may be responsible “in part” for the accident and subsequent damages and injuries. As such, liability for damages can be designated that are proportionate to the level of fault a party is responsible for.

This rule allows you to potentially collect compensation even if you were partially at fault for the accident. However, Texas adheres to a 51% bar rule, meaning that you are ineligible to collect damages for those injuries which you were 51% or more responsible for.

Our law firm knows what is needed to prove fault and get you maximum compensation. We gather the evidence needed to position your case and argument in the best possible light, ensuring the truth is presented in court.

Call or message today to find out how strong of a case you have against liable third parties.

No. Do not accept any settlement on behalf of an insurance adjuster without consulting with an attorney. Adjusters are paid to settle the cases for as little as possible and as quickly as possible. After an accident, the third party insurance adjuster will try to contact you and convince you to accept their minimum offer. Please don’t fall for this. If someone asks you to sign any documents you don’t fully understand, you might be signing away all your legal rights to recover the settlement you deserve.

This depends on how you handled the situation after the car accident. Texas has a statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims and there are certain requirements that need to be met. If you didn’t seek medical attention or failed to report the incident to the police or your supervisor after the accident, your case may be weakened. Calls us immediately to evaluate your case.

Your health is the most important thing. You should ask for immediate medical attention if necessary. After a doctor determines you are out of danger you should do the following:

  • Report the incident to your supervisor- this is highly important because your employer might deny the accident occurred during work and claim it happened outside of work.
  • Seek for medical attention- a physician needs to make an evaluation and recommend a treatment plan.
  • Call us- you need an experienced attorney by your side.

Criminal Law FAQ

Criminal law in Texas and across the United States refers to the theories of law and laws that define conduct classified as “criminal” and the rules that dictate how individuals who commit such crimes can be arrested, charged and prosecuted. Criminal laws include those at the local, state and federal levels of government, with each having their own unique set of “penal codes” that detail specific crimes and corresponding punishments. In lay terms, a crime is committed by any act (or omission of an act) that is in direct or indirect violation of any law in the penal code that prohibits or commands it. 

Criminal offenses, although diverse, can typically be categorized as:

  • Statutory crimes
  • Financial crimes
  • Inchoate crimes
  • Property crimes; or
  • Personal crimes

Statuary Crimes

These crimes include financial/white collar crimes, drug crimes, alcohol-related crimes, and traffic offenses. They are crimes which are specifically prohibited by individual statues and cover a range of specific offenses under each category. For example, alcohol-related crimes include DUI/DWI, open container, boating DUI, minor possession of alcohol and other crimes.


Financial and Other Crimes

These crimes typically involve financial gain through deception or fraud. They include but are not limited to: embezzlement, fraud (mail/wire), cybercrime, money laundering, tax evasion, blackmail and more.


Inchoate Crimes

These crimes are those which were initiated but not completed. They also include any acts that may “assist” in the commission of a crime. In order to be found guilty of an inchoate crime the accused must be proven to have taken a “substantial step” towards the furtherment of the crime. Inchoate crimes include but are not limited to: conspiracy, attempt and aiding and abetting.


Property Crimes

Crimes that fall into this category are those that involve interference with another party’s property. This can involve deprivation or use of the enjoyment of the property by the property’s rightful owner. Such crimes include but are not limited to: burglary, auto theft, shoplifting, theft, larceny and more.


Personal Crimes

Personal crimes involve or result in either physical or mental harm to another individual. Such crimes include but are not limited to: assault and battery, rape, arson, child abuse, domestic abuse, kidnapping and more.

After a crime is committed, a law enforcement agency conducts its investigation. After the law enforcement agency has completed its investigation, the case may be filed with the prosecuting attorney for review and, if appropriate, criminal prosecution. The prosecuting attorney considers such matters as the legality of the arrest, whether certain evidence essential to the case was legally obtained, and/or whether additional investigation is required. Depending on the facts and law involved, the prosecuting attorney may: accept the case for prosecution as filed; increase/reduce the charge filed; file additional/different charges; return the case for further investigation; or reject the case for prosecution.

As a general rule, a police officer must obtain an arrest warrant before taking a person into custody. But a police officer may arrest a person without a warrant only if: (1) there is probable cause to believe that the person committed an offense; and (2) the arrest falls within one of the exceptions specified in chapter 14 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. For example, article 14.01(b) provides that a police officer may arrest an offender without a warrant for any offense committed in the officer’s presence or view. A magistrate may issue an arrest warrant on the basis of an affidavit made by any person under oath before the magistrate, establishing probable cause to believe another person has committed an offense. The arrest warrant commands a peace officer or some other person specially named to take the body of the accused, to be dealt with according to law. A summons may be issued in any case where a warrant may be issued, and is in the same form as the warrant except that it summons the defendant to appear before a magistrate at a stated time and place. If a defendant fails to appear in response to the summons a warrant will be issued.

The person making an arrest is required without unnecessary delay, but not later than 48 hours after the person is arrested, to take the person arrested before a magistrate. The magistrate is required to inform in clear language the person arrested of: (1) the accusation against the person arrested and of any affidavit filed therewith; (2) the right to retain counsel; (3) the right to remain silent; (4) the right to have an attorney present during any interview with peace officers or attorneys representing the state; (5) the right to terminate the interview at any time; (6) the right to request the appointment of counsel if the person arrested is indigent and cannot afford counsel; (7) the procedures for requesting appointment of counsel; (8) the right to have an examining trial; and (9) the person arrested is not required to make a statement and any statement made may be used against the person arrested. The magistrate is also required to allow the accused reasonable time and opportunity to consult counsel and to be admitted to bail if allowed by law.

A peace officer who is charging a person with committing an offense that is a class C misdemeanor (other than public intoxication), may, instead of taking the person before a magistrate, issue a citation (ticket) to the person that contains written notice of the time and place the person must appear before a magistrate, the name and address of the person charged, and the offense charged.

Additional rights of an accused in a criminal prosecution include: the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt; the right against self-incrimination; the right to not be prosecuted for a felony unless indicted by a grand jury; the right to a copy of the accusation and a speedy trial by an impartial jury; the right to confront (cross-examine) the witnesses and to have compulsory process (subpoena) for obtaining witnesses, and the right of appeal.

The defendant in a criminal prosecution for any offense may waive any rights secured him/her by law. It should be noted, however, that in a capital felony prosecution in which the prosecutor notifies the court and the defendant that the state will seek the death penalty, the defendant does not have the right to waive trial by jury.

As a resident of Texas you have certain rights, even when arrested. These rights apply to everybody, including undocumented immigrants. One of those rights is the “right to remain silent”. This is part of your Miranda Rights and should be verbalized to you during (or as part of) your arrest. You also have the right to have an attorney present with you when you do decide to speak to the police. It is always advisable to politely assert these rights and to wait until your attorney is present before saying ANYTHING to the police. Ask if you are being arrested and/or charged. If you are informed that you are, politely and clearly state that you invoke the right to remain silent until such time as you have legal counsel present.

In most situations, contacting a Texas criminal defense attorney as soon as the first indication of potential trouble arises is your best option. The right criminal defense lawyer in Texas can advise you on the right course of action and the steps you can take to prevent an arrest, end an investigation, stop charges from being filed and more. Our criminal defense attorneys will ensure you take every measure possible to position you for a positive outcome. Signs you Should Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney:
  • People have told you the police are asking about you
  • You have been contacted by law enforcement
  • You have been arrested or charged
  • The police have informed you that you are under investigation or that you are a suspect or “person of interest” in a case

The exact process and steps will vary depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your case. However, the basic steps and procedures in Texas are as follows:

  • Arrest
  • Booking
  • Charged / Arraignment 
  • Bail
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Trial 
  • Sentencing
  • Punishment or exoneration (fines, probation, jail, or exoneration)
  • Appeal

The Texas Legislature designates criminal offenses in our state’s Penal Code as misdemeanors or felonies. Based on the relative seriousness of the offense, misdemeanors and felonies are classified into these categories:

Capital Felony

  • death or life imprisonment

1st Degree Felony

  • 5 to 99 years imprisonment; and 
  • may also be fined up to $10,000

2nd Degree Felony

  • 2 to 20 years imprisonment; and 
  • may also be fined up to $10,000

3rd Degree Felony

  • 2 to 10 years imprisonment; and 
  • may also be fined up to $10,000

State Jail Felony

  • 180 days to 2 years in state jail and an optional fine not to exceed $10,000 OR
  • the Court may impose Class A misdemeanor punishment

Class A Misdemeanor

  • up to 1 year in county jail and/or
  • a fine up to $4,000

Class B Misdemeanor

  • up to 180 days in county jail and/or
  • a fine up to $2,000

Class C Misdemeanor

  • a fine up to $500

A criminal case is prosecuted in the name of the State of Texas against the accused (defendant), and is conducted by the appropriate prosecuting attorney (prosecutor) acting under the authority of the state.

Prosecution of a class C misdemeanor in municipal or justice court is initiated by filing a complaint. A complaint is a written affidavit made by some credible person charging the defendant with the commission of an offense.

Prosecution of a class A or B misdemeanor in a county court, county court at law or county criminal court is initiated by filing an information. An information is a written statement presented in behalf of the state by the prosecutor, charging the defendant with the commission of an offense. An information must be based on a proper complaint and the complaint must be filed with the information.

A felony is prosecuted in a district court or criminal district court and an indictment (sometimes called “bill of indictment”) is required unless waived by the defendant. An indictment is a written statement of a grand jury presented to a court accusing a named person of some act or omission which, by law, is declared to be an offense.

The grand jury, organized by the district judge for a set term (usually 3 to 6 months), has jurisdiction only over offenses occurring in its own county. The prosecutor is entitled to go before the grand jury and inform them of offenses liable to indictment at any time except when they are discussing or voting upon the issuance of an indictment. The grand jury determines whether there is sufficient evidence to require the accused to stand trial for a criminal offense. At least 9 of the 12 grand jurors must concur to issue an indictment (“true bill”) and be present when the indictment is delivered to the judge or clerk of the court (to be filed in the court’s records). If the grand jury does not find sufficient evidence the case is “no-billed” and the suspect discharged. A no-bill does not bar indictment by the same or different grand jury at a later date.

When an information or indictment is filed, if the defendant is not in custody or under bond, a capias may issue. A capias is a writ issued by the court or clerk, and directed “To any peace officer of the State of Texas,” commanding the officer to arrest a person accused of an offense and to bring the accused before that court immediately, or on a day or at a term stated in the writ. Instead of a capias, the prosecutor may request that a summons be issued. A summons is in the same form as a capias except that it summons the defendant to appear before the proper court at a stated time and place. If the defendant fails to appear in response to the summons a capias will be issued.

The court may set any criminal case for a pre-trial hearing before it is set for trial upon its merits. The pre-trial hearing is to determine legal issues only such as: (1) arraignment of the defendant, if such be necessary; (2) appointment of counsel to represent the defendant, if such be necessary; (3) motions for change of venue; (4) motions for continuance; (5) defense motions to discover the state’s evidence in the case; (6) defense motions to suppress (exclude) evidence; and (7) any other defense motion. These matters are decided by the judge; sometimes the defense and/or prosecution present evidence and/or witness testimony.

Plea Bargaining

The disposition of criminal charges by agreement between the prosecutor and the defendant, under judicial supervision, is called “plea bargaining.” In exchange for the defendant pleading guilty or nolo contendere (no contest) and waiving the right of trial by jury, the prosecutor recommends a specific punishment which the judge can follow or reject. If the judge rejects the agreement, the defendant is permitted to withdraw his/her plea. If the judge follows the agreement, the defendant must obtain the judge’s permission before the defendant may appeal any matter in the case except matters raised by written motions filed prior to trial. The defendant usually waives the right of appeal as part of the plea bargain. The vast majority of all criminal cases are resolved by plea bargaining.


Non-negotiated Guilty Plea (Open Plea)

A defendant may plead guilty or nolo contendere to a criminal charge without an agreement with the prosecutor as to the punishment the prosecutor will recommend. The judge has the responsibility to assess the punishment applicable to the offense unless the defendant requests that a jury assess punishment. This is called a “non-negotiated guilty plea” or “pleading open to the court.” The defendant retains the right to appeal, but non-jurisdictional defects occurring prior to the entry of the plea may have been waived.



The Texas Constitution guarantees the accused in all criminal prosecutions the right to a trial by jury. The defendant may waive trial by jury and proceed with trial to the court (judge) with the consent and approval of the judge and the prosecutor in any criminal prosecution except a capital felony in which the prosecutor notifies the court and the defendant that the state will seek the death penalty.



The prosecutor may, with the consent of the judge, dismiss a criminal case. Common reasons for dismissal include: (1) insufficient evidence – for example, after indictment trial preparation reveals a fatal lack of evidence such that the court would instruct a verdict for the defendant; (2) crucial evidence is suppressed (excluded) because of an illegal arrest or search; (3) the case is re-filed to correct mistakes in the information or indictment or to better plead the case; (4) at the request of the victim; (5) the defendant pleads guilty to other offenses; (6) the defendant has never been arrested; and/or (7) necessary witnesses cannot be located.

Local correctional facilities designated by law for the confinement of persons include: (1) municipal (city) jails – generally hold arrested persons until either bonded or transferred to county jails; (2) county jails – hold defendants awaiting trial or transfer to prison, or confined for misdemeanor punishment or a condition or violation of a community supervision; and (3) community corrections facilities – such as restitution centers, boot camps, and substance abuse treatment facilities. 

The institutional division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice operates and manages the state prison system with more than 100 facilities located across the state, including: (1) transfer facilities – hold defendants awaiting transfer to prison; (2) boot camps – for first time felony (except state jail) offenders (age 17-25) using a regimented program similar to military boot camps; (3) state jail facilities – for defendants convicted of state jail (4th degree) felonies; (4) substance abuse felony punishment facilities (SAFPFs); (5) psychiatric and minimum, medium, and maximum security units (prisons) for inmates convicted of capital, 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree felonies, and inmates awaiting execution; and (6) private prisons – serve as prerelease centers for prisoners awaiting release on parole.

Community supervision, formerly called “probation,” means that the defendant is released into the community under certain conditions set by the court and subject to court supervision. The maximum period of community supervision is ten years in a felony case; two years in a misdemeanor case (three years if extended by the judge). However, if the offense is indecency with a child, sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault, the judge may extend the period of supervision for a period not to exceed 10 additional years. And the judge may extend the period in a misdemeanor case not to exceed an additional two years beyond the limit to pay the fine, costs, or restitution.

Basic conditions of community supervision include, for example, that the defendant: (1) commit no criminal offense; (2) report to the supervision officer as directed; (3) permit the supervision officer to visit at the defendant’s home or elsewhere; (4) work faithfully at suitable employment and support his/her dependents; (5) remain within a specified place; and (6) pay restitution to the victim and any fine assessed and all court costs. Defendants placed on community supervision are supervised by community supervision officers, formerly called “probation officers.”

A defendant’s eligibility for community supervision depends on factors including: (1) the type of community supervision; (2) the offense involved; (3) whether the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon or knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited; (4) whether the defendant has previously been convicted of a felony offense or placed on community supervision; (5) whether the judge or jury sets the defendant’s punishment; and (6) whether the defendant is sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding ten years.

One type of community supervision is a regular community supervision. The defendant is convicted and given a term of confinement which the judge immediately suspends and then places the defendant on community supervision.

In a deferred adjudication community supervision, after receiving the defendant’s plea of guilty or nolo contendere, hearing the evidence, and finding that it substantiates the defendant’s guilt, the judge defers further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and places the defendant on community supervision. Unlike the other types of community supervision, if the defendant successfully completes the supervision period, the judge is required to dismiss the proceedings and discharge the defendant. However, if the defendant violates a condition of the deferred adjudication community supervision, the defendant may not appeal the court’s decision to proceed with the adjudication of guilt on the original charge.

Finally, in a continuing jurisdiction community supervision (formerly called “shock probation”) or state boot camp program, the defendant is convicted and given a sentence requiring confinement. After serving a set period of confinement, the judge may suspend further execution of the sentence and place the defendant on community supervision.

At any time during the period of any community supervision, the prosecutor may file a motion to revoke and the judge may issue a warrant for violation of any of the conditions of the supervision and cause the defendant to be arrested and held without bond until a hearing within 20 days after demand. The state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (greater weight and degree of credible evidence) that the defendant violated the conditions of the community supervision. After a hearing without a jury, the judge may either continue, extend, modify or revoke the community supervision or, in a deferred adjudication community supervision, proceed to adjudication. In a deferred adjudication, the judge may assess the full range of punishment prescribed for the offense; if it is one of the other types of community supervision, the judge may not go beyond the original term of confinement. No part of the time that the defendant is on community supervision shall be considered as any part of the time that he/she shall be sentenced to serve.

An appeal generally occurs after a conviction when the defendant requests a higher (appellate) court to determine whether errors were committed in the trial that require a retrial or acquittal. The decision of the appellate court is made without a jury. If the case is affirmed, then the sentence must be served; if the court finds error that beyond a reasonable doubt contributed to the conviction or punishment, the case is reversed and a new trial or punishment hearing may be ordered. Sometimes, though rarely, a case may be reversed and the defendant ordered acquitted, that is, set free (e.g., state failed to provide sufficient evidence of guilt).

The state is entitled to appeal a limited number of orders of a court in a criminal case. For example, the state may appeal an order: dismissing all or any portion of an indictment or information; granting a new trial; or granting a defendant’s pre-trial motion to exclude evidence or a confession. The state may not appeal from a judge’s decision or jury’s verdict finding a defendant not guilty of an offense.

Parole is a system by which a prisoner earns the privilege to be released from prison prior to completing the full sentence. A prisoner may earn time off his/her sentence through the award of good conduct time. Prison authorities may award good conduct time to a prisoner who exhibits good behavior, diligence in carrying out prison work assignments, and attempts rehabilitation. If a prisoner engages in misconduct, prison authorities may also take away all or part of any good conduct time earned by the prisoner.

A prisoner under sentence of death is not eligible for parole. A prisoner serving a life sentence for a capital felony committed on or after September 1, 2005, is not eligible for parole. If a prisoner is serving a life sentence for a capital felony committed on or after September 1, 1993, the prisoner is not eligible for release on parole until the actual calendar time the prisoner has served, without consideration of good conduct time, equals 40 calendar years; it is one-half of the maximum sentence or 30 calendar years, whichever is less, if the trial court enters an affirmative finding that the prisoner used or exhibited a deadly weapon or knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited, or the prisoner is serving a sentence for murder, indecency with a child, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated robbery, or sexual assault. In most other cases prisoners may be eligible for release on parole when their calendar time served plus good conduct time equals one-fourth of the maximum sentence or 15 years, whichever is less.

The decision whether to grant parole is made by the pardons and paroles division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (512/406-5250; for victims only 1-800-848-4284). A prisoner released on parole remains under the division’s supervision and control subject to conditions much like a defendant placed on community supervision (e.g., report to a parole officer as directed; pay restitution to the victim).

Illegal reentry is considered to be a serious offense that can result in heavy monetary fines and imprisonment. The maximum term of imprisonment will depend on the criminal history of the defendant. The maximum terms are the following:
  • Imprisonment for no more than 2 years;
  • If the defendant has 3 or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against the person, or a felony that is not an aggravated felony, imprisonment for no more than 10 years; and
  • If the defendant has a conviction of an aggravated felony, imprisonment for no more than 20 years.
In Texas, Aggravated Assault is when a person commits assault and he/she either: 1. Causes serious bodily injury to another, or 2. Uses or exhibits a deadly weapon during the commission of the assault.
Overall, when one considers collateral consequences, the government treats the assault of a family member as a more serious crime than the assault of a stranger. It isn’t uncommon for Travis County judges to issue emergency protective orders (EPOs) in family violence cases that forbid defendants from returning to their homes and sometimes even prevents them from seeing their children. If children were present at the time of the incident then Texas CPS (Child Protective Services) may also investigate. In divorce court, a family violence conviction can be used to deny child custody and limit visitation rights. A family violence conviction can also cause you to permanently lose for any reason. If you are in the military, you may be discharged; if you work in law enforcement, you may be reassigned or fired. A family violence conviction could cost you a professional license or, if you are a skilled tradesman, make it impossible for you to be bonded. It will appear in your criminal record and will show up in pre-employment and pre-leasing background checks. Non-citizens convicted of family violence may be denied a green card or deported and denied re-entry. If you are convicted of even the lowest level of family violence assault, any future misdemeanor family violence or stalking charges may be prosecuted and punished as third degree felonies and you are permanently disqualified for an order of non-disclosure if you successfully complete deferred adjudication probation for any type of offense in the future.

Texas law allows prosecutors to seek a “family violence” conviction even when the defendant and alleged victim are not what one might ordinarily consider family. In addition to blood relatives, a family violence allegation can be made against a foster child or parent, former spouse, domestic partner, roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, and even a former boyfriend or girlfriend. Depending on the relationship, the term “dating violence” is sometimes used in place of “family violence.”

You might think the term “bodily injury” would require some sort of visible injury like a cut or even a bruise but the legal definition includes mere physical pain. As a result, you can be charged with “Assault with Bodily Injury,” a Class A Misdemeanor and jailable offense, if you are accused of merely slapping another person or pulling his or her hair. The definition of “serious bodily injury” is more intuitive. It means bodily injury that “creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
Texas law does not require the alleged victim to sustain an actual injury in an assault case. Physical contact that merely causes pain can suffice for an assault with “bodily injury,” which is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in the county jail and a fine of up to $4,000 (note that a jail sentence may be probated, depending on various factors, in which case a defendant may not actually spend any time in jail). Furthermore, a mere verbal threat or “offensive” physical contact can qualify as Class C Misdemeanor Assault under Texas law. This lesser assault is the equivalent of a traffic ticket.

To begin the process for expunction of records, one must first file a petition. A hearing will be set no sooner than 30 days after the petition is filed. Usually the expunction will be granted at that time, assuming the petitioner is eligible. From that point forward, the petitioner can legally deny the arrest which has been expunged. The arrest records, however, will not be destroyed immediately. Instead an order is transmitted to the agencies that maintain the records instructing them to destroy the records. Typically it takes up to 90 days for the agencies to destroy the records. It is important to check for compliance with this order since agencies often fail to fully comply with the order.

Family Law FAQ

You may file for divorce under the following grounds:

  • Insupportability – in legal terms, a “conflict or discord of personalities” such that it prevents any potential for a “reasonable expectation of reconciliation”.
  • Living Apart – defined as living separately in the absence of cohabitation for a period of three years or longer.
  • Confinement in a Mental Hospital for a minimum of three years and that the mental disorder requiring such hospitalization is of a nature and degree that adjustment is unlikely or that relapse is probable.
  • Cruelty, adultery or conviction of a felony
  • Abandonment – requiring that one spouse left the other with the intention of abandonment and remained absent for a minimum of one year

Texas courts tend to favor arrangements that involve joint custody, often with one parent awarded primary physical custody and the other parent awarded visitation/parenting time and typically ordered to pay child support.

The Family Code of Texas is used by the court to determine child custody arrangements. Depending on certain factors, including (but not exclusive of) both parents’ finances, ages of children, health, etc., legal rights and responsibilities will be determined for both parents, including:

  • Where the child will live the majority of the time (primary residential/physical custody)
  • Making decisions regarding education, medical care, religion (legal custody)

Physical custody legally refers to “possession”. A parent in Texas who has “physical custody” is said to be the possessory conservator and the child resides with that parent. Legal custody refers to the parental rights the parent(s) have with regards to raising the child and making decisions that impact the child’s day to day upbringing (i.e. the religion they are exposed to, medical treatments, where they go to school, etc.).

Calculation of child support in Texas is made at the court’s discretion, taking into consideration a number of factors such as:

  • Salary, wages and other income
  • Receipt of government benefits
  • Retirement benefits
  • Severance pay
  • Alimony, prizes, gifts or other costs

Upon making a determination, the court will designate a percentage of income that is required to be paid monthly as child support to the custodial parent.

The Following is Typical in Texas:

  • 20% of net financial resources monthly for one child
  • 25% for two children
  • 30% for three children
  • 35% for four children
  • With 5 or more children commanding 40% or more

There are additional factors that the court may consider when determining child support payments, based on the guidelines in Family Code Chapter 154.123. Some of the other factors the judge may consider include:

  • The child’s age and needs
  • The ability of both parents to financially support the child
  • Any financial resources that are available to support the child
  • Each parent’s amount of time spent with and access to the child
  • The cost of child care expenses incurred by either parent in order to maintain employment
  • Whether either parent has physical custody of another child
  • The amount of alimony or spousal support being paid or received by either parent

In some cases, one or both parents may not agree with the court’s determination regarding child support. Although the court order is legally binding, either parent has a right to contest a child support order in Texas. We can help challenge the order and advocate on your behalf to ensure your child’s best interests are at the forefront of every court decision.

An adoption is a court order in which the rights of the parents are transferred from the natural or birth parents to the adoptive parents. Once the adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents become legally responsible for the adopted child as if it were a biological child.

The adoption process in Texas consists of the following steps:

  • Pre-adoption home evaluation
  • Termination of paternity rights
  • Final adoption.

Immigration Law FAQ

Immigrant status is given to anyone who is applying to reside in the United States permanently, for example, an individual who is applying for residency via a spouse or other family member. 

A non-immigrant is someone who is applying for a visa to live in the United States on a more temporary basis. Common examples of non-immigrants include students, those coming to Texas for temporary employment, or those visiting family members for a specific amount of time. A non-immigrant is not the same as an undocumented immigrant. 

Yes! A non-immigrant has several options to change their immigration status and start on the path to permanent residence or even citizenship. The path toward upgrading your immigrant status differs depending on your individual circumstances. Our immigration lawyers can help determine the best path for you to change or alter your status and apply for a green card.

Even though you may not have a green card or citizenship yet, you still have rights under Texas law. Oftentimes, others may try to take advantage of your immigrant status such as employers subjecting you to unfair labor practices or trying to deny you the employment benefits you deserve or partners subjecting spouses to abuse and violence. In such cases, our immigration lawyers can help you file the necessary legal complaints in order to hold these citizens accountable for their actions. To learn more about your rights as an immigrant, contact our office today!

While it isn’t always easy, it is possible for an undocumented immigrant to apply for a green card and eventually citizenship in the United States. Our attorneys can evaluate your case and help determine the best path towards citizenship. 

Once you’ve established your preferred path to immigration, our immigration attorneys can help guide you through the process of acquiring your immigration visa or permanent resident green card. Some of these steps might include:

  • Filling out and filing sponsorship paperwork if you are immigrating through family or employment
  • Walking you through the application process
  • Helping assure you have all the necessary documents
  • Applying for your selected visa
  • Applying for your green card
  • Petitioning for an appeal if your application is denied for any reason
  • Filing for a change or adjustment of status
  • Helping you navigate the process of switching from non-immigrant to immigrant status
  • Filing for political asylum
  • Applying for refugee status
  • Acquiring your labor certification
  • Gathering evidence
  • Filing a motion to reconsider
  • Applying for permanent residence based on the violence against women act
  • Preparing you for your citizenship interview
  • Filing naturalization paperwork
  • Applying for residency by investment
  • Filing for visa extensions
  • Applying for immigration benefits 

Employment Law FAQ

Yes. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes standards for minimum wages, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor. The FLSA requires employers of covered employees who are not otherwise exempt to pay these employees a minimum wage of not less than $7.25 per hour and at least 1½ times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Certain occupations and establishments are exempt from the minimum wage, and/or overtime pay provisions.

Please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.

The FLSA protects covered workers without regard to an employee’s immigration status. No employer should have an unfair advantage because he employs undocumented employees and doesn’t pay them.

All employees of certain enterprises having workers engaged in interstate commerce, producing goods for interstate commerce, or handling, selling, or otherwise working on goods or materials that have been moved in or produced for such commerce by any person, are covered by the FLSA.

A covered enterprise is the related activities performed through unified operation or common control by any person or persons for a common business purpose and —

1. whose annual gross volume of sales made or business done is not less than $500,000 (exclusive of excise taxes at the retail level that are separately stated); or

2. is engaged in the operation of a hospital, an institution primarily engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, or the mentally ill who reside on the premises; a school for mentally

3. is an activity of a public agency.

Any enterprise that was covered by the FLSA on March 31, 1990, and that ceased to be covered because of the revised $500,000 test, continues to be subject to the overtime pay, child labor and recordkeeping provisions of the FLSA.

Employees of firms which are not covered enterprises under the FLSA still may be subject to its minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor provisions if they are individually engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce, or in any closely-related process or occupation directly essential to such production. Such employees include those who: work in communications or transportation; regularly use the mails, telephones, or telegraph for interstate communication, or keep records of interstate transactions; handle, ship, or receive goods moving in interstate commerce; regularly cross State lines in the course of employment; or work for independent employers who contract to do clerical, custodial, maintenance, or other work for firms engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for interstate commerce.

Domestic service workers such as day workers, housekeepers, chauffeurs, cooks, or full-time babysitters are covered if:

1. their cash wages from one employer in calendar year 2010 are at least $1,700 (this calendar year threshold is adjusted by the Social Security Administration each year); or

2. they work a total of more than 8 hours a week for one or more employers.

Tipped Employees

Tipped employees are individuals engaged in occupations in which they customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips. The employer may consider tips as part of wages, but the employer must pay at least $2.13 an hour in direct wages.

The employer who elects to use the tip credit provision must inform the employee in advance and must be able to show that the employee receives at least the applicable minimum wage (see above) when direct wages and the tip credit allowance are combined. If an employee’s tips combined with the employer’s direct wages of at least $2.13 an hour do not equal the minimum hourly wage, the employer must make up the difference. Also, employees must retain all of their tips, except to the extent that they participate in a valid tip pooling or sharing arrangement.

Some employers incorrectly classify workers as “independent contractors” when they are actually employees under the FLSA. It is important to know the difference between the two because employees (unless exempt) are entitled to the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay protections and correctly classified independent contractors are not.

The FLSA contains a two-year statute of limitations (three-years for willful violations). This means that any part of a back-wage claim which was earned more than two years before a federal court lawsuit is filed may not be collectible. To ensure we can complete our investigation before the statute of limitation expires, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

All discussions with our office are confidential and protected by the attorney-client privilege.

Here are a Few Suggestions

• If you don’t have a permanent address, give us your cell phone number, or the number and address of a friend or family member who knows how to reach you.

• If you are not sure of the name of your employer, some suggestions are: take a picture with a cell phone or write down the license number of your employer’s vehicle; do the same for any company names on the vehicle. Do the same for other employers on the job. If you get a paycheck write down all the information on the check before you cash it. If you can, make a photocopy of the check or take a picture of it. Make a note of your job location by writing down the address.

• If there is no record of your hours or pay, start keeping one. Every day you work, write down the time you start and the time you finish. Write down if you took time for a meal break and how long the break was. Write down every time you get paid, with the date and how much pay you received.


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