Do I need a lawyer?
I would like to share these stories with my audience in hope to answer one of the most popular questions potential clients are asking themselves: do I need a lawyer?I met these two clients recently. Two of them have very different stories, but both have one thing in common: they both tried to handle their legal issues themselves.
The first client is a teenage boy who came to the US on a student visa from Russia. He is enrolled in high school, and recently together with his friend was accused of shoplifting. Instead of contacting an attorney, he decided that he did not want to inform his parents in Russia about “the situation” and decided to go to court himself. He was provided a free attorney. Now, I do not want to make any assumptions about legal aid attorneys, but this particular one, for some reason decided that my client did not deserve zealous representation and simply told him to plead guilty. The eighteen years old with no prior convictions, plead guilty to a crime of moral turpitude when he was not even the one caught with the merchandise. Even the prosecutor was in shock and reduced the charge to disorderly conduct, which is still a misdemeanor under the Immigration law. The free attorney also advised that my client that his visa will be revoked and he would never come to the US again.
Needless to say that the advice was incorrect. I only regret that the boy did not contact us earlier so we could have helped him to avoid having any record at all.
The second client is from one of the countries of former Soviet Union. He came to ask for help because local police refused to accept his crime report. This client was a victim of domestic violence and extortion: his former family member stole his immigration documents and refused to give them back unless my client payed him several thousand dollars. So, what do you think happened in the police precinct when my client decided to file a report? He was accused by the detectives of alleged immigration fraud! This was a clear case of profiling. I was so upset for the client and the police’s actions, that I had to go to the police precinct and after two hours of arguing with the whole precinct, the report was finally filed. I must say with regret, that no person who is not an attorney would be able to make those officers to accept the report. I do not know if we will be able to persuade the officers to investigate the reported crime, but at least my client has a copy of the report which will help him to restore his stolen documents.
I hope these examples will help you to answer that question I posed at the beginning of this post.