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Dallas Legal Issues Blog

Discuss drinking and driving myths with your child

People inexperienced with drinking alcohol may not fully know how even a single drink will affect them. As your child reaches the legal drinking age, you may anticipate him or her having a few drinks and likely going out with friends. While you want to trust your child to make good decisions, you likely also know that the wrong information could result in poor choices.

Though your child's friends may not have any ill intentions toward him or her, they may not always provide your child with the best insight when it comes to drinking responsibly or sobering up. As a result, you may want to take the time to dispel some common myths associated with drinking and driving.

Naturalization and your good moral character

If you have been anticipating the time when you would become a U.S. citizen, you may be frustrated by the recent circumstances that have limited the available services of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You are not alone. Many who wish to go through the naturalization process are feeling the same frustration over the delay of their application.

However, in addition to the events beyond your control, there are other factors that may delay or derail your path to citizenship. One of them is failing to meet eligibility requirements because of questions about your moral character. The USCIS has always had strict policies regarding the commission of unlawful acts by those seeking citizenship through naturalization, and recently, the government has clarified certain elements of its policies so that immigration agents can make fair and consistent judgments.

Do I have to submit to field sobriety tests?

When police ask you to step out of your car because they suspect you of drunk driving, it may be a little thing they observed that makes them suspicious. Perhaps your car drifted over the center line. Maybe an officer who pulls you over for a broken taillight believes he smells alcohol on your breath. No matter the reason, police must have probable cause to arrest you, and that means evidence that you may have committed a crime.

The time between police pulling you over and the moment they place you under arrest is when they are gathering evidence against you. Most of this evidence involves their own observations and perceptions, and the field sobriety tests are a prime example of this. If a police officer asks you to participate in field sobriety tests, you have the right to politely decline. It is wise to understand why this may be a good idea.

Health care kickbacks lead to heavy penalties

In generations past, it was common for a doctor to receive gifts as payment for services. A grateful family may have sent baked goods or produce, or a helpful doctor may have accepted more elaborate offerings in lieu of money. Those simple times are gone, and a more sophisticated and complex system now controls the way doctors receive payment.

If you work in the medical field, you may have patients who want to thank you with gifts. However, you may also face the temptation of vendors, pharmaceutical companies or other medical practices who offer enticing gifts for something in return. This is a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute, and accepting such offers could place your career and your future in jeopardy

Certain issues could put your citizenship application at risk

You may have lived in the United States for years, and coming here from another country may have been a stressful experience. Now you consider Texas your home, and you want to adjust your immigration status to become a naturalized citizen.

Pursuing citizenship can offer many benefits, but it is also a complicated process. You will need to gather the necessary information, file the proper petitions and other paperwork, take tests, and appear for any necessary interviews. In some cases, certain issues could put your citizenship application at risk of denial.

Will ICE agents enter a church to arrest me?

In recent years, you may have heard news stories about people hiding in churches due to fear of immigration agents and deportation. That is because many places of worship have become sanctuaries for individuals and families who feel threatened by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). And, in general, churches are considered to be "sensitive locations" that ICE may be reluctant to enter for immigration enforcement.

However, if you or a family member is thinking about seeking refuge from ICE in a church, it is important to understand your full range of options. To learn as much as you can, speak with an immigration attorney with experience in challenging detention, deportation and removal proceedings.

Facing a judge after a probation violation

When you heard the court's verdict convicting you of a crime, you may have wondered what the rest of your life would look like. Would you be spending months, years or decades behind bars? The judge's order of probation was likely a welcome relief. On the other hand, the prosecutor may have offered a deal of probation in exchange for your completion of certain requirements.

Regardless of how you arrived at a sentence of probation, you received the opportunity to serve your sentence in your own home instead of in a jail cell. However, this does not release you from your legal obligations. Probation has its own limitations and restrictions, and violating them can mean serious trouble for you.

Adjusting your resident status from temporary to permanent

A lot has happened in the time since you applied for your visa to work, study or travel in the U.S. Perhaps you met someone you want to remain with, or you simply fell in love with Texas. Whatever your reasons, if your temporary visa is due to expire, you have some decisions to make. You can request to extend your visa, or you can take steps to make the U.S. your home.

To stay in the U.S., you will need to apply for an adjustment of your status from temporary to permanent residency. As with any application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you should be prepared for paperwork and waiting. It is a good idea not to put off making this decision, especially if your visa is close to its expiration.

Protect your rights when dealing with police

Many people can go their whole lives with little or no contact with law enforcement. In some cases, when you deal with a police officer, it is because something terrible is happening in your life. You may be the victim of a crime or suspected of committing a crime.

Whether you have never encountered police or you meet them on a daily basis, it is important to know that law enforcement has boundaries, and when they overstep, your rights are in danger. In fact, while many Texas police officers take seriously their job to protect and serve, others may have their own agenda. They may take advantage of you if you are not knowledgeable about your rights and how to protect those rights.

Immigration court provides few protections for your rights

When you think of going to court, you may imagine appearing before a judge or jury to defend yourself against criminal charges. You may also know of people who have gone to court for family law matters, financial issues or to claim damages after an injury.

If you are in the immigration system, however, you may end up in a very different kind of court. Immigration court involves those who are seeking asylum or working toward their citizenship, but many of those who come before an immigration judge are at risk of deportation because of an expired visa, lack of documentation or criminal charges.

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