Immigrants are among the groups of people most frequently targeted by con artists and scammers. Recently, people pretending to be lawyers have taken advantage of the anxious state of immigrants. Posing as attorneys, these people claim they can help with immigration issues, bilking their “clients” out of money and providing no legal services at all. That is why California cities like Los Angeles are cracking down on the crime of unauthorized practice of law under Business and Professions Code Section 6126, according to reports.
These scams begin when a person claims that he or she is authorized to represent people before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or in immigration court, or that they are qualified to assist in preparing a will, corporate document or other legal paperwork.
Due to these scams, there has been a recent rise in complaints to the State Bar of California, the group that licenses attorneys in the state. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has responded to the scam by creating a “Notario” Fraud Unit to investigate persons who falsely claim that they are:
· An attorney (abogado)
· A legal assistant
· Possessing a court license; or
· A notary public (notario publico)
This unit has already secured several convictions.
The Unlicensed Practice of Law is a Crime (BP 6126)
Under California Business and Professions Code Section 6126:
“Any person advertising or holding himself or herself out as practicing or entitled to practice law or otherwise practicing law who is not an active licensee of the State Bar, or otherwise authorized pursuant to statute or court rule to practice law in this state at the time of doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in a county jail or by a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
If you are a former attorney who has been disbarred, suspended, placed on the inactive list or resigned with criminal charges, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony under BP 6126, if you continue to “practice law.” A misdemeanor carries up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. If convicted of a felony, you face up to three years in county jail.
What Happens If You Hired an Unauthorized Attorney?
What happens to you if you find out you hired an attorney who is not authorized to practice law? You will not face any criminal consequences, but what happens to your case?
The State Bar can petition the court to take over any law firm or law practice that was involved in the unauthorized practice of law. This means the State Bar will help you get the legal services you paid for, and that those services are provided by a licensed attorney.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Prosecutions for unlicensed practice of law are serious matters. You are facing jail time and expensive fines if you are convicted of the unauthorized practice of law under Business and Professions Code Section 6126. That is why you should contact a knowledgeable attorney at Wallin & Klarich if you are accused of violating BP 6126. Our skilled attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients facing serious criminal charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.