Personal Injury, Criminal &
Divorce Lawyer Services for the
Fort Stockton, TX Area

How long have you been practicing law?
Since November 1991.  In December 1992, I opened my law practice in Fort Stockton, Texas.
 
Where can you practice?
I am licensed to practice in Texas.
 
What is your professional background?
I was in private practice from December 1992 to December 1996.  On January 1, 1997, I took office as the 112th District Attorney and served 5 counties as District Attorney for 8 years.  I decided not to run for a third term and returned to private practice after December 2004. Then in 2009, I was once again elected to serve - this time as Pecos County Attorney.
 
What types of cases do you take?
I take divorce/custody cases, personal injury cases, Deceptive Trade Practice cases, bad faith cases against insurance companies, Will and Probate law cases, and other types of cases.
 
Do you have experience in capital murder cases?
Yes, I prosecuted 4 capital murder cases while I was a prosecutor and handled the appeal in another capital case for the State of Texas.  In 2005, I was appointed to handle a post conviction capital case from Midland County.
 
How long does it take to get a divorce in Texas?
There is a 60 day waiting period which begins to run at the time the divorce is filed.  This is known as a "cooling off" period.  Most contested divorces take much longer than 60 days.
 
What happens in contested divorce cases?
After the divorce is filed, the court can have a temporary order hearing.  At the temporary order hearing, the court can decide where the children are going to live, who pays certain debts, set child support, make temporary awards of property and decide on other issues such as temporary alimony.  Later, Court will set a final hearing at which assets and/or liabilities are divided and issues relating to children, if any, are decided.
 
How can I protect myself from identify theft?
One way is to check your credit reports on a regular basis to make sure that no one has obtained credit in your name.  As a general rule, do not give out your personal information.
 
How can I protect my elderly parents from sales calls?
Make sure that their telephone number is on the national "do not call" list.  You can also tell your parents to always ask that the sales person leave a call back number.  It is very difficult to hang up on aggressive sales people who just won’t take no for an answer.  One elderly client bought over $700 in magazines which was just the amount of her social security payment.  Fortunately, we reversed these charges. Sometimes, it helps to write out something for your parent to say such as, "Give me your number so my daughter/son can call you back . . .".
 
What about Texas Lemon laws?
If you bought a lemon, there is a lot of information online, including self-help.  Here’s a link: http://txdmv.gov/motorists/consumer-protection/lemon-law
 
I am the victim in a domestic violence case and I want to drop charges. Can I do that?
Many people incorrectly believe that a victim has the power to "press charges" against the alleged abuser, or to later "drop the charges." All crimes are offenses against the community, not just the individual victim. All criminal complaints are prosecuted on behalf of the State of Texas. Only the prosecutor can issue or dismiss charges. This is important because it takes the responsibility for prosecuting the abuser off the victim's shoulders and puts it on the prosecutor's, where it legally belongs. It also means that the defendant cannot "pressure" the victim into dropping the charges.

Although the decision whether to prosecute or not prosecute is ultimately up to the prosecutor, the victim's opinion is important, and the prosecutor will take those wishes into account when making his or her decisions regarding the case. A variety of factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether to honor a complainant's request not to proceed with a prosecution. These include the nature and extent of the defendant's prior criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime, whether the defendant has other pending charges in the criminal justice system, and future danger to the community (including to the current victim).

The alleged victim can, however, execute a non-prosecution affidavit requesting that the charges be dropped. Sometimes, this can have an impact on the prosecutor's decision on whether to continue to pursue the case.
 
I was the victim of a violent crime. Who will pay for my hospital bill and my lost wages or help me collect for pain and suffering?
The Texas Crime Victim's Compensation Fund may be able to help you with medical expenses. With regard to compensation for pain and suffering, you may need to contact our office for a consultation.
 
I want to file a complaint about a police officer. Who can help me?
You'll need to report the matter to the officer's employing agency. That agency is required by law to receive a complaint, investigate the matter, and respond back to the complaining party.
 
I think someone is using my credit cards (or has stolen my driver's license). Can you help me?
If you are a victim of identity theft, you may call your local police. If you live outside the city limits, call your Sheriff's Office. If you live within the city limits, call the city police.

Also, you may also log on to http://www.consumer.gov/idtheft. There you can get a copy of the standard affidavit form for reporting identity theft to creditors. You can report the crime to the Federal Trade Commission's "Consumer Sentinel".  Be sure to read the Federal Trade Commission's booklet "When Bad Things Happen to Your Good Name".

Our office recommends that everyone get a copy of your credit report to make sure that you can account for all active credit cards, etc.  The 3 major credit reporting agencies are: 

Equifax
Transunion
Experian

Some of these companies offer credit monitoring which would notify you of inquiries into your credit.  This can be of value in protecting yourself from identity theft because you can be alerted very promptly.  For example, if someone is trying to get credit in your name, you would be alerted and promptly take action. 
 
If I get a subpoena do I have to go to court?
Yes, you must go to court. If you fail to do so, the judge may impose a fine or a jail sentence. (Be sure to bring your subpoena with you to court.)
 
Why am I a witness? I didn't see the crime happen.
Witnesses are not limited to "eye witnesses." You may not have seen the crime happen but you may know something about it. You may also know something about a piece of evidence, or you may know something that contradicts another witness's testimony. If you wonder "why" you are testifying in a particular case, ask the lawyer who subpoenaed you. There is probably a common-sense reason.
 
As a witness, do I have to talk in front of the defendant in court?
Yes. The defendant must be present in court to hear what all the witnesses say about him/her. The lawyer for the defendant is called the defense attorney and will ask you questions after the prosecutor does.
 
Is the district attorney my attorney or do I need to get my own attorney?
The district attorney represents the State of Texas in criminal court. The district attorney does not represent the victim.
 
If I miss work to testify, who will pay for my loss in wages?
Witnesses must go to court to testify about matters that they have knowledge of. It is a civic duty imposed upon all citizens in order to insure a just and fair judicial system.
 
Who decides what charges to file, and how do they make that decision?
If you were arrested, the arresting officer arrested you for what he/she thought was some violation of law. However, a prosecutor could decide that it was some other crime and this could increase or lower the charge.
 
What is plea bargaining? 
There are not enough prosecutors, judges, or courtrooms to try every case before a jury in every jurisdiction. A plea agreement is always designed to balance these competing interests: a defendant's right to a speedy trial, the seriousness of the case, the strengths or weaknesses of the case, the victim's wishes, public safety, punishment, rehabilitation, and deterrence. Therefore, a prosecutor may offer to make a specific sentencing/punishment recommendation to the judge in exchange for a plea. Hence, it is called a "plea bargain".
 
What if I have a question that is not listed here? 
Contact us or visit our office. We'll help you get your answers.

Not Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization