FAQs

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CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Are you under investigation?

You have the right to remain silent – USE IT!

You should refuse to answer any questions when questioned by law enforcement officials in any potential criminal matter. It is natural to believe that you can convince someone of your innocence or talk yourself out of the situation. In most cases, however, speaking directly with police will significantly impair your ability to present the best possible defense. In short, do not speak to anyone about criminal allegations for which you could be a target.

Have you been arrested?

If you are arrested, remember that you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Everything you say WILL be used against you. Police will often promise better or special treatment if you will cooperate and speak freely. But you must understand: police have no legal authority to make agreements that bind prosecutors. Therefore, they cannot make things better for you after charges are filed. An investigator may also suggest that an innocent person has nothing to hide and therefore does not need a lawyer. Don’t fall for that one, either. You have the right to remain silent—innocent or guilty. Again, do not speak to law enforcement authorities without a criminal defense lawyer present.

After an arrest has been made, the defendant will be formally booked. This is also referred to as processing and will involve the law enforcement officers writing down and recording the information for the defendant. This can include taking their picture, recording their fingerprint, doing a formal search and confiscating any personal property. At this time, the defendant will move forward with the arrest process. The first appearance is known as the arraignment; this is where the defendant will be formally read all of the charges being held against them. This is also where bail will be determined. Bail is, essentially, money that is paid as a promise that the defendant will return for any future hearings. In some cases, the defendant will be released on their own recognizance. In others, a bail will be posted. If they can’t afford to pay, they will either stay in jail or work with a bail bonds company to post it.

After the arraignment, the next step in the criminal process will typically be plea bargaining. In many cases, the defense lawyer and the prosecutor will be able to enter into negotiations to resolve the case without moving further. This can be achieved, for example, by the defendant agreeing to plead guilty and avoid costly criminal litigation in lieu for reduced charges or penalties. If no plea bargain is struck, however, the process will enter into the next stage — the trial. This is the part that is most commonly known and involves both parties presenting their evidence and arguments. This can be in front of a jury of the defendant’s peers or simply a judge, depending on the circumstances. It is the burden of the prosecution at this time to provide evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.

We understand the confusion that can stem from an arrest and the uncertainty that you may face about what you should do next. We therefore encourage you to make your first step a phone call to the Law Office of Arthur J. White III, P.C. It can be daunting to face an arrest or a criminal charge and we am here to help alleviate that stress as best as we can. While we cannot guarantee results, we can promise that should you work with the Law Office of Arthur J. White III, P.C., we will work hard for you. We will do everything that we reasonably can to protect your rights should we both agree to enter into an attorney-client relationship
DIVORCE

Your spouse wants a divorce! What happens next?

At the outset, you should be absolutely sure that your marriage is beyond saving. If you are uncertain, you should encourage your spouse to join you in marriage counseling with a qualified counselor acceptable to both of you.
Caution: Some people hope that filing for a divorce will shock their spouse into reality and, therefore, save the marriage. While filing for a divorce sometimes saves the marriage, this is a rarity. Usually, it causes the other spouse to become more hostile. Therefore, the filing of a divorce should be filed with the realization that if you are asking for a divorce, that is what you will get.

A divorce may be granted on one or more “fault” or “no-fault” grounds expressly set out in the Texas Family Code. Most divorces are founded on the no-fault ground of “insupportability” (i.e. incompatibility) , which can be granted to either spouse if that spouse feels that the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict in personalities which makes any reasonable expectation of reconciliation impossible.

“Fault” grounds for divorce include adultery or cruel treatment. In that a court may consider “fault” in the breakup of a marriage as a factor in deciding how to divide the property and debts, a party may also choose to plead a “fault” ground for divorce.

All property which exists in whole or in part in the name of either spouse at the time of divorce is presumed by law to be community property. This is referred to as the “community property presumption”. Therefore, if you have any separate property, or if you are in possession of property which does not belong to either you or your spouse, you must point this out to your attorney. Unlike separate property, a court has the authority to divide community property in any manner that it deems to be “just and right” (as discussed in more detail below).

Debts and liabilities incurred before marriage, if still in existence at the time of divorce, shall remain the debt of liability of the party who incurred it. Debts incurred during marriage will be divided by the court between the parties at the time of divorce. One spouse may be required to assume a debt incurred solely by another spouse during marriage. Although not an absolute rule, the general rule of thumb is that, following the filing of the divorce petition, courts are usually going to award a debt to the spouse who incurred the debt during separation. Decisions will also need be made regarding contingent liabilities, such as past income tax liabilities which may arise in the future if the parties are audited, as well as tax liabilities for the year of divorce.

The parties, by settlement or a court after trial, will divide all existing property and debts. While the parties may by agreement make any type of division that they want (e.g., give to husband certain of wife’s separate property, agree to alimony, etc.), a court during litigation does not have such flexibility but is bound by the rules of law set out above with reference to property and debts. Also, these rules serve as the primary basis to guide the parties and their attorneys in reaching a settlement.
If there are minor children of the parties, all divorce decrees and settlements will contain orders governing the custody, possession and support of the children after the divorce. A “child” is any who was born or adopted by the parties. Once a child turns eighteen, the court’s minor jurisdiction over the adult child ends.

The non-custodial parent (e.g., possessory conservator) is generally required to pay financial child support to the primary custodial parent for the benefit of the children. Although this can take many forms, child support usually consists of periodic (e.g., monthly) payments to the custodial parent.

The legislature by statute has adopted Child Support Guidelines. Basically, the amount of child support under the Guidelines will be based upon percentages (based on the number of children) of the support payor’s “net resources” (as defined in the Guidelines). For example, the guidelines require the payor to pay 20% of his “net resources” for one child, 25% for two children, etc. Most courts generally follow the guidelines in the usual case, absent unusual circumstances.

We understand the confusion that can stem from the uncertainty of a divorce. We therefore encourage you to make your first step a phone call to the Law Office of Arthur J. White III, P.C. While we cannot guarantee results, we can promise that should you work with the Law Office of Arthur J. White III, P.C., we will work hard for you.
AUTO INJURY
 
You’ve been in an auto accident. What do you do?

Even a simple car accident can turn into a major headache as it often involves dealing with injuries, insurance companies, lawyers, and other parties remembering the chain of events slightly different. Even for the innocent driver in the accident, there are certain steps one should always take post-fender bender.

  • Make sure everyone is ok – before concerning yourself with vehicle damage and exchanging insurance information, make sure that all parties to the accident are ok. If not, call 911.
  • Call the non-emergency police line – most insurance companies will take their customer’s side in a dispute about the cause of the accident. Having a police report that details the facts from the accident is invaluable.
  • Start talking – to witnesses, that is. Get all the relevant contact information of any bystanders that may have seen the accident.
  • Take Pictures – having proof of the damage to the car will help with insurance, and serve as evidence if there is a dispute down the line. One helpful tip is to always keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment for these situations.
  • Get an attorney – Although you are never required to hire a lawyer for a car accident, often it makes good sense to do so. A car accident lawyer can also be helpful for settling a claim, handling negotiations with an insurer, and reviewing any paperwork you receive from the insurance company.
  • Take a deep breath, everything is going to be OK.
We understand the confusion that can stem from the uncertainty of a car accident. We therefore encourage you to make your first step a phone call to the Law Office of Arthur J. White III, P.C. While we cannot guarantee results, we can promise that should you work with the Law Office of Arthur J. White III, P.C., we will work hard for you.
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