The Unauthorized Practice of Law crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you practiced law without a license. Learn more detailed information about the Unauthorized Practice of Law offense below.
UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW ATTORNEY FAQs
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Unauthorized Practice of Law is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 8 “Offenses Against Public Administration,” Chapter 38 “Obstructing Governmental Operation.
The current Texas law defines the offense of Unauthorized Practice of Law in Penal Code Section §38.123 as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to obtain an economic benefit for himself or herself, the person:
(1) contracts with any person to represent that person with regard to personal causes of action for property damages or personal injury;
(2) advises any person as to the person’s rights and the advisability of making claims for personal injuries or property damages;
(3) advises any person as to whether or not to accept an offered sum of money in settlement of claims for personal injuries or property damages;
(4) enters into any contract with another person to represent that person in personal injury or property damage matters on a contingent fee basis with an attempted assignment of a portion of the person’s cause of action; or
(5) enters into any contract with a third person which purports to grant the exclusive right to select and retain legal counsel to represent the individual in any legal proceeding.
You can be charged with Unauthorized Practice of Law if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 38.123(a) as described in the section above have been met.
A conviction for Unauthorized Practice of Law is punished by default as a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and jail time of up to one year.
However, if you are convicted under subsection (a), and the state’s attorneys prove that you have previously been convicted under subsection (a) of this offense, then a conviction for Unauthorized Practice of Law is punished as a Felony of the Third Degree, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 10 years. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors