Texas Penal Code 38.122 – Falsely Holding Oneself Out as a Lawyer
WHAT IS FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS?
The Texas law against falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer prohibits misrepresenting to another that a person is an attorney, with the intent to gain an economic benefit.
WHAT IS THE FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 38.123. FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER.
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit for himself or herself, the person holds himself or herself out as a lawyer, unless he or she is currently licensed to practice law in this state, another state, or a foreign country and is in good standing with the State Bar of Texas and the state bar or licensing authority of any and all other states and foreign countries where licensed.
(b) An offense under Subsection (a) of this section is a felony of the third degree.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS?
Falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer is a third degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer, a third degree felony, is between two to ten years in prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS?
A person charged with falsely holding himself out as a lawyer may be eligible for probation after a conviction, or deferred without a conviction, for a period not to exceed ten years.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS?
The false-lawyer statute provides no exceptions or affirmative defenses. A defendant on trial for falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer may raise any defense, or attempt to negate at least one of the elements the State must prove at trial.
- Can a person be charged with falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer if the person did not know their law license was suspended or revoked? One’s mistaken belief about his law license will not absolve him of criminal responsibility. This is because a defendant is only entitled to a mistake-of-fact jury instruction if he had a mistaken belief that would negate the required culpable mental state of the offense. The false-lawyer statute does not require the State to prove a defendant knew he was not licensed or in good standing—it simply requires the intent to gain an economic benefit through the unauthorized practice of law. If a person practices law without a license for pecuniary gain, he has falsely held himself out as a lawyer.
- Can a person give free legal advice or services without a law license in Texas? Purely gratuitous comments on legal matters are not criminalized under this law. People who perform free legal services or give free advice may risk exposure to prosecution for other crimes, but the false-lawyer statute requires proof of the intent to gain an economic benefit.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer, a third degree felony, is three years.
FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER IN TEXAS
The false-lawyer statute imposes the duty to maintain professional licensing qualifications on any purportedly practicing law for economic gain. It is intended to protect the public from untrained individuals who may endanger the public’s personal and property rights, as well as the orderly administration of the judicial system.
TEXAS FALSELY HOLDING ONESELF OUT AS A LAWYER COURT CASES
The case law regarding falsely holding oneself out as a lawyer in Texas shows a person may be convicted of a felony for a single misrepresentation to another that he or she is an attorney.
- In Rodriguez v. State, the defendant was a notary public, not an attorney, who ran an office for “immigration services.” She charged fees for filing paperwork, and told a man who hired her for immigration help that she was an attorney. Although her signs and business cards did not specifically identify her as an attorney, the jury found she held herself out as a lawyer—on at least one occasion—for payment.The appellate court upheld the conviction, explaining that the jury was entitled to believe the man’s testimony that the defendant told him she was an attorney.
- In Celis v. State, the defendant misrepresented that he was licensed to practice in Mexico, and was admitted to the Texas bar in 2000. He was convicted of falsely holding himself out as a lawyer upon proof that he was not licensed, and accepted over $1.3 million in attorney’s fees.On appeal, the defendant claimed he was entitled to rely on his mistaken belief that he was licensed and in good standing. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction, holding that ignorance of the law, and state bar requirements, is no excuse. Proof the defendant financially benefited for legal work without being licensed was sufficient to sustain his conviction.
Glowing Client Reviews
Trey is the man! I hired him because I had overheard a county court judge mentioning how awesome of an attorney he is, so if an endorsement from a judge won’t convince you then I’m not sure what will. I sure do hope I never find myself in a pickle ever again but if I do, I would hire Trey in a heartbeat. He’s honest, transparent, doesn’t beat around the bush, and will work tirelessly so that your clean record stays clean and unblemished. 5 stars, highly recommend!
I recently hired Trey Porter Law to help our teenage daughter with a drug charge. In the state of Texas she was being charged as an adult which carried a much stiffer penalty. Trey is very responsive, helpful, knowledgeable and is always available to answer any questions or concerns via phone, text or email. He was able to negotiate on her behalf so it was a pleasant experience. I would highly recommend Trey Porter Law.
Trey really helped me out. He was straight forward and professional, and really helped me in my case. I thought i was going to lose my job, but trey did everything in his power to help me keep my way of life, and still keeps up with me any details on my case.
I really appreciated all he did for me.
Trey is a phenomenal attorney that gets the job done right! He is dedicated to help his clients.
He made himself available and answered all my concerns immediately! I had faith in him and he continued to prove his expertise by helping me. I highly recommend Trey Porter!!
Trey Porter fought for me! I am a nurse and thought my career was over.
Very thankful I got Trey Porter involved. He responds to messages regularly and was very thorough.
He saved my career. Forever grateful!
Mr Porter is the real deal. You get what you pay for these days. I know that from my personal business dealings. Attorney Trey Porter was no different.
He was prompt, professional and poised. I was charged with DWI, and Mr Porter got the charge dismissed. I could not be more pleased or thankful. If you get a DWI, hire the best — hire Trey Porter.
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
WE FIGHT FOR DISMISSAL
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
Contact Trey Porter Today
Request a free consultation
The stakes are high. Criminal charges can have devastating, lifelong consequences. During the free, confidential consultation, Mr. Porter will answer questions surrounding your legal matter, and discuss and identify potential defenses.
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the State is working on your conviction. It’s time to start building your defense.