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Texas Legal Blog

Can officers search your car during a traffic stop?

Getting pulled over for an alleged traffic violation is not all that uncommon in Texas, especially if you are a relatively young driver. Usually, the officer says (s)he caught you speeding, failing to stop at a stop light or sign, making an illegal turn or committing some other reasonably minor infraction. Things can quickly escalate, however, if that traffic stop turns into a search for drugs or other illegal substances. But does (s)he have the legal right to search?

No, (s)he does not. When conducting a traffic stop, a law enforcement officer may do only the following things:

  • Ask you for your driver’s license, insurance and registration, all of which the law requires you to produce
  • Investigate the traffic infraction for which (s)he stopped you
  • Check for outstanding warrants against you and arrest you if any such warrants exist
  • Write the traffic ticket(s)

Should you hire a lawyer for misdemeanor charges?

Felonies have serious consequences in Texas. Murder, aggravated assault and destruction of property fall into this category and can result in thousands of dollars' worth of fines and years in prison. Unfortunately, many people assume that, while felonies require legal representation, misdemeanors are simpler to handle. 

While it is true a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, a conviction can still lead to substantial fines and time in jail. There are plenty of other long-term consequences to think about. You can certainly represent yourself in court regardless of the crime the state charges you with. However, you will always be better off with a lawyer by your side. 

Can you face assault charges for self-defense?

Texas has various classifications for assault charges. It can count as a misdemeanor if no physical harm occurred to another human being. However, if the perpetrator directed the assault toward a public servant, such as a police officer, then it automatically becomes a felony.

There are many defenses a person can make against assault charges. One common one is self-defense. However, in order for this defense to have a chance at being successful in court, certain criteria need to be present. 

What should you do when stopped for DWI?

If you drive drunk in Texas, then you can be certain the cops will pull you over. It does not even matter if you are famous, as Lou Diamond Phillips recently discovered. Earlier in April, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol and will serve two years probation. 

It is important to know your rights when the cops pull you over. Regardless if you had zero, one or five drinks, you do not want to give the officers any reason to arrest you. Know how to behave during these traffic stops.

How the court determines whether guardianship is necessary

Adult children with elderly parents face a mountain of challenges and often have many questions about how to proceed. When your parent is no longer able to make decisions for him or herself, the burden often falls on you, their adult child, to care for them and manage their affairs.

Guardianship is one legal tool that many adult children of incapacitated parents turn to for an effective solution. A guardianship may be the right choice in your situation if your parent is incapacitated and needs someone to ensure their health, well-being and financial interests are protected.

Don't risk losing an estate in guardianship cases

In the state of Texas, many families have lost a loved one and then suffered a double loss when the probate court system essentially took over authority in deciding how to distribute the loved one's assets and estate after his or her death. Many families do not have information about the responsibilities and risks of guardianship cases prior to losing a loved one.

If you are caring for an elderly or incapacitated parent, guardianship is something you should inform yourself about. It becomes particularly important as your parent nears the end of his or her life so you can avoid the risk of the court system stepping in and making decisions that are out of your hands.

What is the guardian of an adult child responsible for?

Becoming someone's legal guardian is a complicated process. In Texas, a person first needs to fill out an application and then receive court approval. During the court proceedings, a judge will determine if someone is truly in need of a legal guardian despite being over the age of 18. 

If a family member or another loved one requires guardianship, then it is vital to find the right person for the task. Guardianship can encompass numerous facets, and sometimes it will require a fairly hands-off role. However, there are certain things for the guardian to expect. 

4 important questions to ask when writing your will

While it can be difficult to think about your own mortality, it is often vital to caring for your family in the event of your unexpected death. Without a will, everything you own is in jeopardy. Your children may not even end up where you want them.

Too many Americans live life without a will, which is a serious issue that should be addressed. When you are planning your own will, consider these key questions.

Who should be a guardian for your adult child?

As you work on your estate planning, an important area to prepare for is the future of your adult child with special needs. You must appoint a guardian for your child to ensure he or she is taken care of properly once you are gone. Not just anyone will do, including family and friends. There are many factors you should consider as you make this significant decision. Ask yourself the following questions as you review possible candidates.

How to choose an executor for your estate

Creating a will is a wise move for everyone, regardless of age or assets. A critical decision you must make somewhere along the way involves naming an executor, or the person you will entrust with seeing that the wishes expressed in your will are carried out in the manner you desire.

Many people immediately think of family members or close family friends when naming an executor, and doing so has both benefits and downfalls. The executor role is one that requires a good degree of responsibility, from filing paperwork at appropriate times to making sure your tax needs are taken care of after your passing. When deciding who to name as your will's executor, consider the following.


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