Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I get arrested?
Be cooperative with the officer(s) who are arresting you. Remember that many officers are now equipped with audio and video devices, and they can record whatever you say. A bad attitude at the time of arrest can sometimes hurt you when your case goes to trial. Also remember that you have the right to remain silent. With the exception of providing personal information, it is best not to plead your case to the police. Once they decide to arrest you, you are not going to talk them out of it. As soon as you have access to a phone, it is best to call an attorney.
Do I have to talk to the police?
If you are arrested, do not talk to the police without the presence of an attorney. Invoke your right to an attorney immediately and request a phone call. Remember that the police are permitted to lie to you to gain information or a confession, and, unfortunately, some officers will lie to you to make a case against you.
What should I do if a warrant has been issued for my arrest?
You should seek the advice of an attorney. Your attorney will determine what the charges are and will have bond set. This can enable you to make arrangements for bail before you turn yourself in. Your attorney can arrange for you to appear at the jail to be booked in and post bond, limiting your time under arrest.
Do I need a lawyer for my criminal case?
Even if you are a lawyer, you need a lawyer for your case. If you are accused of a crime, you have a unique problem. The criminal justice system is not structured to protect your rights. The prosecutor does not represent you and is not likely to care about your personal problems or your desire to clear your record. Your claims of innocence will fall on deaf ears if they conflict with the police report. Only an experienced criminal lawyer can navigate through the mine fields of the criminal justice system.
How do I get someone out of jail?
In most cases, the fastest way to free someone from jail is to post a bond. If a person is charged with a state crime, the bond can be posted by a professional bondsman who will charge you between 10 and 20 percent of the bail amount. Bondsmen have agreements with the county of incarceration to guarantee the appearance of the accused at future court settings. Alternatively, a cash bond can be posted directly with the county by the accused.
Can I use the same attorney as my spouse for a divorce?
No. Ethically, a lawyer cannot represent both parties in a lawsuit. This is especially true in a divorce. Never agree to let your spouse's attorney provide legal advice for you (or vice versa). You need an attorney retained by you who has only your best interests at heart.
Can I obtain a legal separation?
No. "Legal separation" is not provided under Texas law. Usually, parties file a divorce action and enter into temporary orders that will govern their behavior, child care issues and property pending the resolution of the divorce action. Occasionally, parties will enter into Rule 11 agreements, which can have the same effect as legal separation.
How much access will I have to my children?
The courts have wide discretion in setting visitation and access to children based upon the best interests of the child. The Texas Legislature has established guidelines to assist the courts and promote the state policy of ensuring frequent and continuing access by the child to both parents. The clear trend is for both parents to have nearly equal access to the children, and co-parenting is strongly encouraged.
How is child support calculated?
Child support is governed by guidelines established by the Texas Legislature and based upon the income of the obligor (party who does not have primary possession of the children). The guidelines call for child support of approximately 20 percent of the obligor's net income for one child; 25 percent for two children, and so on. Percentages vary in cases where the obligor supports children in different households. Courts have the ability to deviate from the guidelines for good cause. The guidelines presume that the obligor will also provide health insurance for the children.
What is community property?
Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Separate property is that acquired by gift or inheritance or before the marriage or a traceable mutation thereof. All property is presumed community unless and until proven to be separate property by clear and convincing evidence. Wages and retirement benefits earned during the marriage are community property. Premarital agreements and post-marital partitioning agreements can be utilized to avoid aspects of the community property laws.
Is mediation an option?
Yes. Most family law matters are settled without a trial because Texas courts recognize that parents are in a much better position than the judge to make life-altering decisions affecting their children. Many courts order the parties to attend mediation prior to setting a trial date.