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.

Steps to Simplifying a Divorce

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Divorce is never easy, but getting a good divorce attorney to assist can save time and heartache
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.

Expunctions in Cameron County and Hidalgo County

Texas law provides a second chance for people who wish to expunge a criminal record. In order to be eligible, it is important to have an experienced attorney to help them understand if they qualify.

Whether it was an arrest at South Padre Island for public intoxication, a DWI in Los Fresnos, or a theft case in Weslaco, each circumstance must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The most important factor to consider for an expunction in Texas is whether the person was ultimately convicted of the offense. A person with a conviction will not be able to expunge their record.

Pretrial diversions that result in dismissals will usually qualify for an expunction. The District Attorney for Cameron and Hidalgo Counties will retain a record but that retained record is not for public databases. It remains as the District Attorney’s own privileged record in case another arrest occurs in that county and may be considered if the person gets into trouble again.

Persons charged with Class C misdemeanors who pleaded guilty or no contest, but received a deferred disposition, might qualify for expunction as long as they committed no offense during that deferred period and the statute of limitations has passed.

If you or a loved one would like more information on whether you qualify to expunge your record, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.

Making a Strong Criminal Defense Strategy

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Help justice fall in your favor. Call The Barrera Law Firm for a free consultation.
Ending up on the wrong end of the law, whether you are guilty of an actual crime or not, is no laughing matter. It is a serious situation that deserves a your utmost attention. Building a strong criminal defense strategy is important as it is all that stands between you and your freedom and heavy fines. Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your defense strategy as you want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare so your defense will go smoothly when you finally have your day in court.

  1. Choose your criminal defense team wisely. Always research at least three criminal defense lawyers before you decide on one. Choose one that has had experience with your specific type of situation. You may want to ask friends and family if they have had any experience with criminal defense lawyers. If you know of anyone who has had a case like yours and won, make sure you give their lawyer a try. A criminal defense team that is familiar with your type of case will better your chances of getting a verdict that falls in your favor.
  2. Discuss your defense options. Talk to your lawyer about your defense options. There are generally three versions of events that defendants of criminal defense cases have. The three options are a confession, in which you admit your guilt, a complete denial, in which you deny your part in the crime, and an admit and explain story, in which you admit to part of the story but not all of it.
  3. Disclose any and all details of your case to your criminal defense team. It is important to give your criminal defense team all of the details concerning your story. They need to know if there is any chance of surprise evidence or witnesses coming forward for the prosecutor. When your lawyer knows the whole story, they can prepare your defense around it.
  4. Decide on a strategy and then stick with your story. Once you and your criminal defense team have decided on a defense strategy, you will need to come up with a solid story. Practice your story day and night. Go over every detail until you know it by heart. Its easy to get scared and confused once you get up on the witness stand to be interrogated by the prosecutor. Having your side of the story completely planned and ready to go will help take the edge off so you wont’ appear so nervous to the jury when you are in the hot seat.
  5. Look professional when you show up in court. When you show up in court, make sure you look your best. For men, you should wear either a suit or at least a button down shirt and slacks. Try to cover, or minimize, tattoos and jewelry. Women should look professional as well, in either a pants suit or dress. Looking your best for court shows that you are serious. Since this will be the first impression the jury has of you, make sure it is a good one as they will be deciding your fate.

Divorce: Why You Need Good Representation

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If separation is the solution, call The Barrera Law Firm for a divorce legal consultation
When a marriage has reached a point where the only solution to problems are separation, its time to talk about divorce. When you are married, it is often the case that finances become intertwined. A divorce is the process of legally separating a couple’s finances in a way that is, hopefully, fair to both parties. While in a perfect world people would be able to do this simply between themselves, without the assistance of a lawyer and judge, most of the time the emotions that are a natural part of divorce prevent this from being a possibility. A good family lawyer, specializing in divorce, is a critical part of obtaining a fair settlement from a divorce proceeding.

  1. Calm and clear guidance. A good divorce lawyer will give you calm and clear guidance during your divorce. While your emotional state may prompt you to irrational and hasty decisions, the lawyer, who is emotionally neutral, will be able to guide you to make more productive choices.
  2. They know the way the system works. Going through a divorce is a complex task. There are many laws, statutes, and protocols that must be followed. While this may be your first divorce, it is one of many for a good divorce lawyer. This experience with divorces and having good divorce representation at your side will help you to navigate the waters of the divorce system and steer you clear to the other side with as little trouble as possible.
  3. Better chance of child custody going your way. When a divorce involves children, things can get even trickier. Choose your divorce lawyer very carefully if you will be fighting for custody of your children. Make sure that the lawyer you choose has had good success in the past with child custody suits.
  4. Will act as a mediator between you and your spouse. While you and your spouse may have trouble talking rationally about how to divide up your common estate items, a lawyer has no emotional ties to either of you and can act as a neutral mediator between you and your husband. For this reason, you want to make sure the divorce representation you choose is someone you feel comfortable with and who has a history of getting his clients fair divorce settlement.
  5. Why would you want anything less than great legal representation? A divorce can be one of the most challenging, and life changing, events in your life. Depending on how your divorce is settled, you could end up with, or without, your property, children and financial security. Why wouldn’t you want the best possible divorce representation to guide you during this difficult time? Choosing the least expensive divorce lawyer could end up costing you way more than you bargained for in the end, so do your research and make sure you choose a good one.

Having the best divorce representation possible is vital to getting a fair divorce settlement. With the right lawyer at your side, your divorce will proceed much more smoothly and result in a much quicker, and more amiable, split with your soon to be ex-spouse.

Expunge or Non Disclose; What’s the Difference?

In Texas, people sometimes confuse the law on whether they qualify to expunge an arrest record and record of prosecution.  Some people will request an expunction, although they pleaded guilty. If you pleaded guilty, most likely, you do not qualify for an expunction. Pre Trial Diversion Program completions may qualify, depending on what their Pre Trial Diversion Contract says. Also, depending on the method of dismissal, a waiting period may apply to expunge your criminal case as well.  Another important distinction is whether you received a deferred ajudication when you case was dismissed. If you did, and your offense is a Class B Misdemeanor or higher, than you likely do not qualify for an expunction and you would instead have to get an Order of Non Disclosure.

What’s the difference between the two?

The difference is an expunction is an order to destroy all records of arrest and prosecution and a non disclosure basically orders Texas DPS and other governmental agencies to not disclose the record of arrest and prosecution to certain private entities only.

 

For more information, please schedule a free consultation with Attorney Ricardo A. Barrera at (956) 428 2822.

 

Enforcement of Summer Possession in Texas Family Law

The Texas Family Code Standard Possession Order is one of the most misunderstood and controversial areas of visitation in Texas. It is broken down into two very different versions that are based on whether the parents live more than 100 miles from each other, or less than 100 miles from each other.

The Standard Possession Order summer visitation also may change up, depending on whether the parent entitled to summer possession designates dates for visitation prior to April 1st, that are different than the standard dates that begin on June 15 (if you are over 100 miles from where your children reside) and July 1 (if you are less than 100 miles from where your children reside). Also, the custodial parent can designates one weekend in between the 30 days visitation (if less than 100 miles) or the custodial parent may designate two weekends in between the 42 days (if more than 100 miles).

Here are some simple tips in dealing with summer possession:

1) Make sure and notify the other party three different ways, such as email, text, and certified letter of the pick up of the children (even if the court order clearly states it).

2) Keep an agenda over the summer of activities for the children that focus on bonding, developing the children’s education, and having fun.

3) Provide generous electronic access to the other parent, so the children feel comfortable, so long as it at a time that does not interfere with activities.

4) Order education apps or computer programs with lessons and tracking ability to work on the weakest subjects that child has problems with, according to their most recent report cards, You can always ask the teachers for recommendations.

For further information on how one can make sure their visitation rights are enforced, made up, or the other party is penalized for not providing court ordered visitation without a legitimate excuse, call Ricardo A. Barrera with the The Barrera Law Firm, PC at (956)428-2822 for help.

Talking to Children About Divorce

Research shows that children of divorced couples are as psychologically sound as those who come from intact family units. However, as the Huffington Post online reports, they also tend to experience “lingering distress” for years after their parents split.

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Communication with children about a divorce is vital. As is proper legal assistance. Call The Barrera Law Firm for a solid divorce attorney.
The main reason this seems to happen is because most parents do not talk to their children about their breakup. One study has shown that “less than 20% [of young adults from divorced families] said that both of their parents had talked to them in advance of the divorce” and that “only 5% reported that they had ever been given an opportunity to ask questions” about the process. This lack of communication creates “anxiety and helplessness” in children.

By contrast, those children whose parents do include them in the conversation about divorce reported “less painful memories and more positive attitudes” about their parents’ breakup. Following are some tips to help you decide what your children need to know about an impending divorce and how much say they should have in the matter:

  • Once you and your spouse have definitively decided to call it quits, tell your children. If they are young, it may be easier to tell them that “Mommy and Daddy may not be living together but that [they] will be with one or the other parent at all times.”
  • Give your kids a chance to ask questions, such as those pertaining to possible moves, school and schedule changes.
  • Accommodate their wishes as much as possible. That way, they’ll feel more in control of what’s happening to them and that their opinion counts.

Divorce marks the beginning of a sometimes painful adjustment period not just for the parents, but also any children they may have. If you are looking to dissolve your union, seek qualified legal assistance to help you and your spouse reorganize your lives—but don’t forget your children in the process. What they don’t know and aren’t given a chance to express about a divorce can hurt them in the long run.

Divorce and the Family Home

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Who gets the home in the divorce can be contentious. Call The Barrera Law Firm for help.
You and your spouse have decided to divorce. In Texas, property division is a big part of what comes next in the dissolution process. While such issues as child support, custody, visitation and maintenance can be revisited and modified in a divorce decree, you should know that once your property is divided, no changes can be made.

Where the family home is concerned, the spouse who receives primary custody of the children often feels compelled to keep the property. That spouse will typically argue that the children should experience as little disruption to their lives and routines as possible. Other arguments may center around emotional attachment to the home itself.

Regardless of whether children are involved or not, both spouses should put dollars and cents before sentiment when considering what to do with the family home. The individual who ultimately does get the property—if it is not sold—will have to consider how he or she will deal with mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, utility bills and routine maintenance on a smaller post-divorce budget.

Before the actual division is made, each spouse should evaluate their asses and debts to figure out whether keeping the family home is economically viable. While it may be possible for you (or your soon-to-be ex) to keep the family home, doing so may be unwise depending on what you/your spouse must give up to receive and keep the property.

For example, the spouse with the greater interest in the home may have to renounce their interest in such assets as 401(k) accounts, pension or other retirement plans and turn them over to the other spouse to achieve a fair division of property held in common. If the cost to keep the family home is too high, then it is probably best for the divorcing couple to sell the family home.

The attorneys at the Barrera Law Firm can help you make the best decision possible regarding whether or not to keep the family home. They will explain your options and develop a no-nonsense plan to make the division of property between you and your spouse one less thing you’ll have to worry about.

Criminal Record Expungement

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Don't let a criminal record shadow your life, call us for a criminal record expungement.
The Barrera Law Firm serves the entire Rio Grande Valley and offers criminal record expungement in Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen and beyond. Criminal record expungement is the sealing of criminal records, clearing criminal records so that records of arrest or prosecution that you may have will not be available to prospective employers, loan officers, apartment managers, college admission personnel or other officials.

It is an important service so that you can effectively move on with your life.

Deferred adjudication, which is pleading guilty to an offense, but having the court defer the plea of guilt for a period of months or years as long as the person complies with the conditions of the court will not necessarily protect you in this case. The guilty plea is never entered and they do not have a conviction on their record, however, there is a record of arrest and prosecution.

So do not let chance or a past mistake or even an error with the justice system allow the remainder of your life to be disrupted. Contact us for a free consultation on criminal record expungement.

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