Unauthorized Practice of Law

Chapter 38 of the Texas Penal Code defines offenses relating to the obstruction of governmental operation.

“Unauthorized Practice of Law”, as per § 38.123 of the Texas Penal Code, occurs when a person, with intent to obtain an economic benefit for himself or herself:

  • contracts with any person to represent that person with regard to personal causes of action for property damages or personal injury;
  • advises any person as to the person's rights and the advisability of making claims for personal injuries or property damages;
  • 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;
  • 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
  • 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.

An offense under this section is a Class A Misdemeanor, unless it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has previously been convicted under this section, in which case it is a third degree felony.

Punishment Range

Misdemeanor A

  • Confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year
  • Fine not to exceed $4,000
  • Both such fine and confinement

Third Degree Felony

  • Imprisonment in the institutional division for not more than 10 years or less than two years
  • In addition to imprisonment, may receive a fine not to exceed $10,000

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