Had a lot of questions from friends as to whether they should settle the insurance claim themselves without a lawyer. I would recommend against that. There’s some real misconceptions about the role of an insurance company. They’re not your friends. If you have an adverse claim against them or they’re insured, they’re insurance policy. They’re not there to really help you as much as you would assume. You have to remember that these insurance companies are large corporations. They are trained to settle claims at the least possible settlement they can. A lot of people are okay with just getting the damage to their vehicle fixed. That’s just not acceptable. If you have a lawyer, make sure that you get your medical bills covered because the effects of a car crash usually come in later. We make sure that you start treating for those medical issues as soon as you hire us. We work of a contingency-fee basis. So we won’t get paid unless we settle it and we have some money for you. Those are just a few warnings about insurance companies, corporations, and how you should probably consult a lawyer and don’t try and take on those corporations alone.
In law school I studied international law and got to understand the nuances, the differences in various legal systems. And that becomes really important. For example, a notary on Nvidia in Mexico is a license to attorney. And that doesn’t communicate too well in the United States. There’s no direct translation for the term notary. And so, a lot of the times down here people go to what they perceive to be an attorney who is really just a notary. The notary will creates forms and recommend different courses of actions and it’s a really big deal down here because people are being guided by a person who doesn’t have a license, who’s not held accountable like a licensed attorney is. And it’s something that needs to be clarified. There are people who are trained to do this work and there are people that aren’t. And a notary, simply being a notary, does not give you a license to practice law.
Once I had a client who had a felony DWI that was found in a ditch. So I did the best DWI I could. In fact, somebody came forward and claimed that they were the drivers. Trial was a risky thing so she didn’t decided to go to trial against my urging. Sometimes clients’ best option is reduce jail sentence or prison sentence. Those affect me. Those I carry with me. I’m always mindful of the consequences.
A lot of people might be wondering whether they have the money to afford an attorney. Now, I personally offer payment plans and there’s methods of dealing with these issues. But what people should be thinking about, I think is can they afford not to have an attorney because a simple case can be dismissed. If you don’t have the right counsel, you may be put on probation or if you try to loan, you could maybe escape probation. There’s some hidden fees associated with that. We’re talking about probation fees. We’re talking about court costs and various costs of attending classes. Not to mention days off work. An easy case can end in a dismissal and you don’t need to be on probation. If you get the right lawyer, talk to the right lawyer. You could be saving money.
If a cop shows up at your door, first thing you need to ask is whether he has a warrant. If he does not have a warrant, you have a right to not let him in the door. Cops, usually are a little aggressive and the first thing they’ll ask is if they can come in. You wanna say nicely, “No officer. Let’s talk outside.” And I would walk outside, close the door, and have a conversation about why they’ve shown up. Usually, it will be a noise complaint to maybe a neighbor called up. But that would be my advice on this topic. There’s been a recent development in the law on this point. The Supreme Court took up the issue as to disagreeing co-tenants in an abode. The situation goes where one tenant says, “No, you cannot come in without a warrant.” And the other tenant says, “Sure, yes.” The Supreme Court decided, unfortunately, that the tenant that allows consent can be respected and so the officer can come in. That can lead to some trouble because anything that the officer sees in plain view when he walks into your home is seizable and can lead to criminal charges.
It happens a lot where somebody is arrested and you have substance in there, let’s just say, it’s marijuana. It’s found in a bag in the car and the officer arrests both the passenger and the driver. Happens a lot. I’ve handled cases and gotten dismisses on this type of case. What the prosecutor is looking for and the theory that they’re using is what they call constructive position. That’s the idea that you knew that drugs were in the car and your knowledge in itself is enough to charge you with possession of those drugs. That’s a real, that’s an interesting concept and if you get a good defense attorney, it’s a real fightable winnable case.
The cop will ask you to take a breath specimen right then and there. The result of that little machine is inadmissible in a court of law, which means they can’t use it. They’re using it to build probable cause to arrest you but that’s inadmissible when we get to court. The breath sample that we’re talking about is actually from the Intoxilyzer test. The Intoxilyzer test will be administered when you arrive at the jail. And you have a right to deny that breath test. There’s consequences because in the State of Texas, we all consent generally, we consent that when we’re driving a car, we’re not intoxicated. There’s consequences to not taking the Intoxilyzer test and that’s you lose your license. However, if you come to me, we can quickly get you what we can occupational license, so you can drive through work and meet your basic needs. And that serves as an alternative during the suspended period of time.
There’s been a recent change in the law of the Supreme Court decision that decided I believe in late 2013 that declared statutes that required blood sample after an accident; if the cop suspected the individual of being intoxicated. It was actually regardless of whether you consent to it or not. The cop could can administer that. The Supreme Court said that’s too much of an invasion of your own personal privacy. You’re talking needles into your arm. So they upheld the right even in those circumstances to not consent to a blood test.
Representing an undocumented person in this country in a criminal case can be really tricky. The immigrant needs to know of the consequences to pleading guilty because that opens lawyer up to an ineffective assistance of counsel claim. My clients, a lot of them are undocumented immigrants and I make sure to explain that if they want to plead guilty that has dramatic effects, drastic effects on their ability later in life to quality for a visa if they want not to be in this country illegally.
The usual beginning of a DWI is that a cop walks up to your door, and asks you whether you’ve been drinking. And to that point, they have no evidence on you. They claim to smell an odor of alcohol. They claim that your eyes are bloodshot, but that will not suffice to be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s why they ask you to get out of the car. That’s why they ask you to do the one leg stand, the walk and turn, and they put a little light in your face, and check the nystagmus in your eyes, because that is the evidence that they’re trying to find. And what you need to know is that you have a right to say no. You’ll be arrested, but that’s when you call me up, and we can get you a bond. And your case, more than likely, won’t even get a cause number, because the DA will not file it.