Friday, December 4, 2015

UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW IN NEW YORK - WHEN IT IS A FELONY

Section 485-A of the Judiciary Law was signed by the Governor in December 2012:

"Violation of certain sections a class E felony.

 Any person who violates the provisions of sections four hundred seventy-eight, four hundred eighty-four, four hundred eighty-six or four hundred ninety-five of this article is guilty of a class E felony when he or she: (1) falsely holds himself or herself out as a person licensed to practice law in this state, a person otherwise permitted to practice law in this state, or a person who can provide services that only attorneys are authorized to provide; and (2) causes another person to suffer monetary loss or damages exceeding one thousand dollars or other material damage resulting from impairment of a legal right to which he or she is entitled."

From the Governor's press release:

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation that will make the unlicensed practice of law a class E felony.

"We have no tolerance for scam artists who pose as lawyers and deceive New Yorkers in need of legal help," Governor Cuomo said. "This new law will help hold accountable individuals who defraud New Yorkers by offering services they are not licensed to provide accountable. I thank the bill sponsors for their efforts on this important legislation."
For most professions licensed by New York State, unlicensed practice constitutes a class E felony but under current law, unlicensed practice of law constitutes a misdemeanor. The new law will make serious instances of unlicensed practice of law a felony.

The new law takes effect November 1, 2013.

Senator Charles Fuschillo said, "Someone who hires an attorney is paying and entrusting that attorney to carry out some of their most important personal and financial wishes, such as buying or selling their home or creating a will. Scam artists who pose as licensed attorneys and jeopardize these important matters should face tougher penalties. I applaud Governor Cuomo for approving this law which will help ensure that phony lawyers receive real punishment for defrauding consumers."

Assembly Member Ed Braunstein said, "Over the past several years, there have been hundreds of complaints by immigrants who have been victimized by fraudulent attorneys. No one should ever be forced to leave the country because of the practices of dishonest con-artists claiming to be lawyers. By having this law signed, we are standing up for the rights of all New Yorkers to ensure that individuals receive proper legal assistance."

See  https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-signs-legislation-make-unlicensed-practice-law-felony

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