State of Texas - PARENT CONTRIBUTING TO NONATTENDANCE - Two to three months before school ended we contacted the school to let them know our 2nd and 4th grader would be missing the last four days of school. We scheduled our Disney vacation around my work schedule. The logic was let's go before it gets too hot and crowded. Also being the last four days of school there is no new information being taught and no grades being taken on these days so from a learning standpoint they did not miss anything. The attendance clerk waited until two days before we leave to let us know we would be turned into the court. Needless to say we went on vacation as we were not going to cancel a trip that had already been paid for. Now we have a court date (two cases, one for each child and both against my wife) in late August with potential fines of over $1,000. Between the two kids the lowest yearly grade was an 86 which is the only B between them. Questions:1) Do we have to hire a lawyer to represent my wife?2) If so, what would you estimate the cost of said represenation? 3) Can we request the cases be combined since the defense will be the same for both?4) In reading up on the law it states the judge can excuse the absences. With the circumstances outlined above, and obviously not knowing the judge, what do you think the chances are of the judge dismissing the cases once these facts are presented to the court?5) What other condsiderations should we be aware of?
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Hello and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies as I am typing out my answer. Please remember that this is general information only, not legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed.I am very sorry for your situation. Please allow me to answer each of your questions one by one.1) Do we have to hire a lawyer to represent my wife?Because this is a Class C Misdemeanor charge and you are not facing jail time if convicted, the Court will not provide you with a public defendant. However, it is highly recommended to retain counsel because an attorney knows procedural, evidentiary, and argumentative doctrine of the Court much better than one who does not practice law, and will help better your defense. So yes, an attorney is recommended:http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Lawyer_Referral_Service_LRIS_ 2) If so, what would you estimate the cost of said represenation? From $1000 to $3000, depending on skill of lawyer and years of experience.3) Can we request the cases be combined since the defense will be the same for both?Yes, you can - this is called Motion to Consolidate under Texas Penal Code Sec. 3.03 et seq - and your attorney can file it. 4) In reading up on the law it states the judge can excuse the absences. With the circumstances outlined above, and obviously not knowing the judge, what do you think the chances are of the judge dismissing the cases once these facts are presented to the court?Probably not good. In the last few years, contributing to skipping classes by parents has been prosecuted more heavily in Texas. I do not know why - perhaps it has to do with some push by the Attorney General to do their "part" to stop school skipping and consequently raise high grades. But unlike five years ago, this is no longer a walk in the park and the matter is now taken more seriously. Understand that here you have a bench (Judge) trial, but you are much better off perhaps asking for a JURY trial (you have this right). A jury is much less likely to convict because parents on the jury are less likely to vote guilty. So with a Judge, you have one individual making a decision, whereas with a jury, you have a group of individuals, possibly sympathetic, and you have to convince them all beyond a reasonable doubt to have you found guilty.5) What other condsiderations should we be aware of?Individuals in your situation may wish to fit into their argument that:-you have no criminal record-kids otherwise have good attendance record-this was the end of school year-what would any reasonable parent do?Also the DA is more likely to offer a plea deal or drop the charge if you ask for a jury trial. One possibility is deferred adjudication - def. adj. is when you plead guilty but the conviction is thrown out if you stay out of trouble for 6 months to a year and perform some community hours, etc. Then you can file a Motion for Non-Disclosure and redact the arrest and it would be as though it never happened.This is a Class C misdemeanor charge under Tex. Educ. Code Section 25.093. An individual adjudged guilty of a Class C misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $500. So the most you are facing is a $500 fine - however - this would go on your criminal record as a misdemeanor, and we do not want this. So it is best to fight this.I hope this finds you well. Please click Reply to Expert to keep talking, or rate my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Otherwise, reply to chat more until we are finished and you are ready to rate. I work very hard to formulate an informative answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups free after rating.)
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