First Step of Preparing Your Criminal Defense: Meeting With Your Lawyer

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Accused of a crime? Be sure you understand your rights, and be prepared. Call The Barrera Law Firm.
Preparing to go to trail in Harlingen, McAllen, Brownsville, or anywhere for that matter, to defend yourself in a criminal defense case is nothing short of nerve racking. You will be fighting for your freedom, and this is a battle that no one wants to lose. Without a good criminal defense lawyer, you could end up getting the book thrown at you, getting slapped with high fines and jail time. Your first meeting with your criminal defense lawyer will set the stage for your defense strategy. Being prepared for that meeting will get your case off to a great start by giving your lawyer a better chance at building a good defense strategy.

  1. Be prepared to answer some questions. Your lawyer is going to need all of the details about what happened. You may want to sit down a few days before your meeting and write down all of the details you remember about what happened to you before, during, and after your arrest. Your lawyer is going to ask you to remember the names and details of all the people involved in your case, their role, what they know and what you think they might know. You will also want to recount all the details you can remember about your arrest. If the arresting officers made mistakes and you can remember them, it may be important to your case.
  2. Have your own questions to ask. You will also want to prepare some questions of your own for your criminal defense lawyer. Ask how long they have been working in criminal defense, if they have had cases similar to your own, and what the outcome was. Ask their opinion on the outcome of your own case, including the best and worse case scenarios. Find out how much their services are going to cost and how they accept payment. Knowing up front all of the details will ensure that there are no surprises later on down the road.
  3. Bring documents and evidence with you. Bring all of the documents associated with your case to the meeting with your criminal defense lawyer. This includes items you feel could be used as evidence, such as letters, photos, emails or other documents. Bring your arrest records, and any paperwork you were given by the police. Your lawyer will be better prepared to build a winning defense strategy for your case if they have all of the evidence needed to back it up.
  4. Listen to your lawyer’s advice. Your lawyer will have some advice for you at the end of the meeting. They may tell you where to go and where to avoid, who to speak with and who to not speak with. Pay attention to their advice and even write it down. Your criminal defense lawyer is familiar with the system and knows what it will take to win your case. Going against their advice could end up costing you in the end if it causes your case to end in a guilty verdict.

Car Accidents in Brownsville, Harlingen & McAllen: What to Do

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Don’t let a car accident also wreck your life. Call The Barrera Law Firm.

Car accidents are never any fun for anyone involved. In addition to being scary, they usually result in damage to vehicles as well as slight to severe personal injury to those involved. When you are involved in a car accident, whether it is your fault or not, there can be much confusion and slight chaos, as you try to determine what to do next. Having a well thought out plan of what to do when an accident occurs can help you to make decisions on the fly, as long as you are not too injured to do so. Here is a basic list of what should be done when a car accident that results in personal injury occurs.

  1. Pull over out of the flow of traffic. When an accident occurs it may take you a minute to orient yourself. If you are able to move your car to the side of the road, out of the flow of traffic, do so immediately. This will help to reduce the risk of another accident occurring. If it is not possible for the car to be moved, then pick up your personal items as best you can and go to the side of the road. It is always possible that during the accident your gas tank may have been punctured, which could lead to an explosion. Moving away from the vehicle is the safest bet, but be sure to take your cell phone, keys and other important belongings.
  2. Call for help. Once you are safely out of the way of further harm, then call either 911 or the police if you have a local number. If you don’t have a cell phone, try to flag down another driver for help. The sooner the accident is reported, the faster officers will show up and get started on your accident report. If you have been injured, be sure and tell the operator so they can send an ambulance as well.
  3. Take out your car accident emergency kit. Many people like to keep a car accident emergency kit in their car’s glove compartment. This kit includes all the numbers you will need in an accident situation, such as the police, ambulance, your doctor and your insurance company. Other items can include a disposable camera for documenting the scene of the accident and the damage to the vehicles involved. It may also include first-aid supplies, such as bandages and gauze. If you have one of these, take it out with you when you exit the car.
  4. Exchange information with the other driver. Exchange car insurance information with the other driver. The police officer will determine who was at fault in the accident and use it to compile his official report. This information, along with the driver’s insurance information, will be needed when you make your insurance claim. You can never document too much information, as insurance companies often require detailed information in order to pay out on claims.

Steps to Simplifying a Divorce

Divorce is never going to be easy, no matter what you do. Despite your best efforts, it is an emotionally trying time that is made more complicated by finances and, if you have children, custody proceedings. While there is nothing you can do to take the pain away from divorce, there are steps you can take to cut down on its complexity:

    1. Find a good lawyer. This may seem like a no brainer, but it has to be said. If you choose to take the first rock-bottom priced lawyer you can find, then chances are you will be getting what you paid for. Look for a family law lawyer that has a good track record with divorces in the courtroom. Do some research, both online and by asking the advice of friends and family, especially those that have recently gone through a divorce. While a divorce lawyer is not cheap, choosing the right one is essential if you want to simplify your divorce, and subsequently your life. A good lawyer will take over your case and help you to avoid making poor decisions that could result in the divorce taking too long, or not ending in a way that is fair to your needs.
    2. Give your spouse back their possessions. Make your divorce easier by not having to decide who gets every single little thing. When your spouse moves out, give him or her back those items that are rightfully theirs. Try to divide up as much of the items in your house as is possible to avoid having to spend long hours debating who gets what. You have to decide what is worth fighting for. If it’s a family heirloom you have sentimental ties to, that’s one thing. But if you find yourself battling over a TV you can easily repurchase in the future, just let it go. It’s not worth the headache.
    3. Get your finances in order. When you sit down to talk to your lawyer, be prepared by giving them a full portfolio of your assets and debts, especially those that you hold jointly with your soon to be ex-spouse. You want to make sure that you are not stuck with debt in your name that should be shared with your ex. Having your finances in order will assist your lawyer in being able to create a plan of action for your divorce. The quicker they are able to figure out a settlement, the sooner you will be able to move on with your life.
    4. Be prepared to give. In the end, fighting over every little detail of a divorce will only prolong the agony. Look over your shared assets and decide what is important to you and what you are willing to give up. Going to the bargaining table with the intent of being able to give up a few possessions in order to make the proceedings simpler is sure to save time and heartache. Remember, possessions are just things, and can always be replaced. Your time, happiness and emotional stability are much more valuable in the long run.

Can I Change a Court Order for Custody, Visitation, or Child Support?

Under Texas law, a divorce decree, child support order, or custody order can be changed if there has been a material or substantial change affecting the best interest of the children. 

Additionally, orders specifically for child support only can be reviewed every three years. Any part of any court order can be changed. Sometimes people only want to change the place for pick up or drop off of the child, or they want a provision added relating to international travel, or relating to property of the child.

Sometimes a parent who wants custody of a child is not prepared for the fact that the court may not grant custody to them because they are deficient in managing the child’s health, education and welfare.

In that case, an attorney can create a modification of prior court order to grant the parent more time or more rights to the child in order to put that parent on the path of custody. Each case is different and requires a case-by-case analysis.

Call us for a free consultation to learn more at (956) 428-2822. 

Texas Divorces — Who Gets the Tax Refund?

Under Texas law, anything of value acquired during the marriage, including a tax refund, is presumed to be community property. That means that both spouses have to split it evenly, right?  Not necessarily. It is not that cut and dry. The court takes into consideration specific factors on a case-by-case basis with the objective of a fair and equitable division of the marital estate.

Sometimes, the parties have been living apart, so the court can divide the return based on the length of time of cohabitation with the children.  Other times, back child support is due as a result of living apart, so the tax return can be taken for the purposes of paying the back child support.

The United States tax laws govern who shall claim the children for tax refunds, so it is always advisable to seek an independent opinion from a certified tax professional.

Ultimately, however, division of the tax refund belongs in the province of the divorce court.

Call us for a free consultation to learn more at (956) 428-2822.

50 Ways to Leave Your VIOLENT Lover; PROTECTIVE ORDERS IN TEXAS

illustration of Restraining Orders title on Legal DocumentsDomestic violence is a serious matter. It is not forgivable. It is not something that gets better with time. It is something that must be addressed so the violent person can be handled or removed from the family unit.

While Paul Simon’s song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, may be about less serious matters, domestic violence is much more serious.

In Texas, Protective Orders are a key tool to accomplishing immediate relief from a violent family member or domestic partner.  The law looks to two major factors:

1) Whether Family Violence occurred; and

2) Whether Family Violence is likely to occur in the future.

A private Texas attorney may draft the application, assist in the preparation of the evidence and affidavits, and the presentation of evidence to get a Protective Order from a judge.

The reasons why Protective Orders are VERY IMPORTANT is that it restricts a person from coming within so many feet, coming to a residence, calling, texting or showing up to work places or schools. This is important because police often have to wait until a crime has been committed before arresting a person, but with a protective order, they may be arrested for simply violating the order itself, for example, driving past your house.

There are 50 ways to leave your lover if they commit Domestic Violence and The Barrera Law Firm, PC can help you.  But first and always, seek emergency police assistance in the event you are in danger and call the law firm after that.

18-Wheeler Accidents: What You Need to Know

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If you're in an auto accident with an 18-wheeler, call The Barrera Law Firm

As more and more goods and services are shuttled on our country’s many highways by big 18-wheeler trucks, the more chances there are for accidents to occur. While most big rig drivers operate well within safety regulations, when cars and trucks are speeding down the highway at 65 mph or more, the risk of accidents does increase, as does the danger of them causing more damage to the victims involved. If you are involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler, then there are some things you need to know:

  1. Determine who was at fault in the accident. Accidents can happen so fast, and in the confusion it can be difficult to determine who was at fault. When the officer shows up at the scene of the accident to make an official report, be sure you give them the full story, including all the details you can remember. If you know that the 18 wheeler caused the accident, provide a clear reason behind your logic and make sure it gets into the official accident report, as this will be used later to determine your insurance settlement.
  2. Get your injuries assessed by a medical professional. If you have been injured, go immediately to a hospital to have your injuries assessed by a professional. If you cannot drive yourself, go with an ambulance. Make sure you are get a complete report from your doctor as to the injuries you sustained from the accident. You will need this later on when you file with the insurance company of the 18 wheeler to have your medical bills paid.
  3. Obtain a copy of the official accident report from the police department. You also need to obtain a copy of the official accident report from the police department. You can either go down to the courthouse yourself to obtain your official copy or you can allow your 18-wheeler accident lawyer do it for you. This will be used to determine who was at fault for the accident. If it was determined the 18 wheeler was at fault, you will be able to file a claim with their insurance company for your medical bills, property damage and personal injury.
  4. Get an 18 wheeler accident attorney. Using an 18-wheeler accident attorney will get your claim settled in a more timely manner. The laws regarding accidents with 18 wheelers are different than those regarding regular auto accidents. Lawyers who have special training and expertise in 18-wheeler accidents are better suited for taking on this type of claim. In order to get the full settlement you deserve, it takes a little work, and if you are feeling poorly due to your injuries fro the accident, you simply may not be up for the task. Let an 18-wheeler accident attorney do it for you, it is their job after all.

Being in an accident with an 18-wheeler is never a good time. By getting a good lawyer and getting your claims filed right away, you can get it taken care of as soon as possible so you will be free to move on with your life.

What is a Pretrial Diversion in Texas?

Gavel with sound block and scales of justiceA Pretrial Diversion in Texas is an opportunity, available in some counties, to get educated and monitored for a period of time, and if all conditions of this contract are satisfied, one’s case is then dismissed.

This contract is dependent on the policies, procedures, and a case-by-case review.

A competent lawyer must review the evidence in advance to make sure the Pretrial Diversion is an appropriate alternative. If one fails a Pretrial Diversion, they are waiving a jury trial, which is a very valuable right.

For more information, call The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at 956-428-2822 for a free consultation.

Holiday Enforcement of Family Law Court Orders

Most court orders relating to child custody have provisions for Christmas possession and access to minor children.

These orders can be in the form of a Divorce Decree or a child support order. Sometimes, these orders are only found in protective orders, temporary orders, or they don’t exist at all. One should be sure to check to be sure they have a valid court order with an actual Judge’s signature.

If you have a court order that was never explained to you, see a lawyer and get every single paragraph of every page explained. If you don’t have any court order relating to your children and you don’t live with the other parent who has possession of the children, you must establish the order as soon as possible.

Holiday orders tend to be standard or custom, depending on the circumstances surrounding the children. These orders can be clarified, modified, and even enforced, if necessary.

Don’t wait for the holiday season to pass before you miss your chance to exercise your rights.

 

For more information, call The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at 956-428-2822.

Geographic Restrictions Relating to the Primary Residence of Children in Texas

Can you stop the other parent of your children from moving?

Geographic restrictions in Texas is a subject of intense legal debate. It’s a case-by-case issue that depends on many factors.

Here are some factors the court may consider:

1) Is there a consistent and dependable record of visitation and support for the children?

2) Does the other parent take initiative to participate in the child’s education, extracurricular activities and doctor’s appointments?

3) Is the purpose of the move mostly or solely in the interest of the parent and not the children?

4) How far is the move and how would it affect the children?

These are only some of the factors a court would consider. One must always do their due diligence to confer with the other parent about the move.

For more information, call The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation at 956-428-2822

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