If you find yourself in legal trouble, one wrong move could worsen your situation. In an online forum titled “Ask Lawyers,” one person wanted to hear the law advice they think everyone needs to know. Lawyers of the internet had a lot to say.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Pick Up the Phone
“Pick up the phone and call a lawyer every single time you have a legal question,” one lawyer suggests. “I’ve spent countless hours on the phone with people over ‘hypothetical’ questions for which I billed $0,” they said. “I’ve also billed $250,000 for lawsuits that could have been avoided if someone picked up the phone and asked.”
2: Shut Your Trap
One lawyer keeps it simple: keep your mouth shut. “Please, oh please, please just shut up. It is so hard for us to fix the stupid thing you’re about to say even though you don’t have to say anything,” they said. “Just stop talking.”
3: Lie Detected
Another lawyer adds to the silent treatment. “For God’s sake, don’t EVER take a polygraph.” They said the police will try to tell you it makes you appear guilty if you decline. “Protip: If you’re being asked to take a polygraph, they either already think you’re guilty or are totally fishing.”
4: Get Out
One person asked what to do if the police pressure you to talk. A helpful commenter said, “Am I free to go?” is the golden question. “If they say you are, then leave. If they say you aren’t, you’re probably already under arrest.”
5: One at a Time
One New Jersey real estate lawyer joked that everyone should know if you’re going to break the law, only break one law at a time.
6: Don’t Tell
“Don’t consent to any vehicle search,” one lawyer advises. To search your vehicle without consent, an officer needs probable cause. “They won’t ask for consent if they have probable cause, so if they ask for your consent, they don’t yet have probable cause.”
7: Look It Up
We’re all used to searching every question we have on the internet and finding many answers. But one lawyer had an important reminder for the audience: “Google is not your lawyer.”
8: No Excuses
If you end up with a court date, make sure you’re on time, one criminal defense lawyer urges. “And, unless you have a genuine reason to be absent, or your presence is waived, you have to be there.”
9: There’s a Difference
One lawyer has a quick clarification they hope will “prevent people from looking stupid” in court. They said trademarks and copyrights differ in what they protect, how long they’re protected, and which bodies administer them. “Trademarks are used to protect how an entity identifies itself. Copyrights are for allowing the artist control over his art.”
10: Everybody Talks
Another lawyer wants to drive home that you have the constitutional right to counsel and to remain silent. “Use it,” they said. “Nothing good will come to you from your friendly little chat with the police.”
11: The Only Exception
With all this talk of staying silent, someone asked if there had ever been a situation where an attorney would advise their client to talk to the police. One in-house lawyer said yes. “If a loved one is missing, and I have information that police might find helpful in locating my loved one, that’s it. That’s the only scenario.”
12: Respect Goes a Long Way
Getting pulled over for a traffic stop can be nerve-wracking, but how you react can help or hurt your situation. “Have your documents ready. Be polite and show courtesy,” one lawyer advises. They say personally, they only give short answers to basic questions about where they’re going and where they’ve been.
13: Take It From Me
In a slightly ironic twist, one lawyer said the advice everyone should know is “not to get legal advice from randos on the internet.” One jokester responded, “Wait, so does that mean I SHOULD get legal advice from randos on the internet?”
14: Artificial Lawyer
Google isn’t a solid replacement lawyer, but one clever thinker asked about ChatGPT. “I’m not a lawyer, but the lies I’ve seen that system produce are awful, so I can’t imagine relying on it for anything that NEEDS to be accurate.”
One lawyer who responded was in court for Mata v. Avianca, wherein a lawyer used ChatGPT to prepare a court filing. Long story short, “It was not pretty for the lawyers.”
15: Let It Happen
To top things off, one person said if you end up getting arrested, do not resist in any way. Plus, “Tell the officer you want your lawyer present for any further questions.”
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