When should I get a lawyer?
by Lajita Allan-Agnew
There are really very few legal situations in which you will not need legal advice, at least, and others when you would be foolish not to get one.
Examples of when you can do without a lawyer are for small claims court, lawsuits that you do not want to contest and traffic offences. If you have a traffic fine, pay the fine and get over it. This golden rule is to be thrown out the window if the ticket will lose enough points on your license to cause a suspension or loss of licence. In these situations, based on the facts and the location of the infringement, a lawyer can get help you challenge the ticket.
The following are some situations that warrant a lawyer and the expense that goes along with it are:
- Family Law matters that involve complex issues around property and children;
- Wills and Trusts
- The death of a loved one
- DUI and or drug charges
- Criminal charges
- Property transactions
When couples mutually agree on all of the details of a split, lawyers are useful in limited capacity only. In such circumstances lawyers needs only be employed for drafting the agreement and ensuring that it is a fair and equitable outcome. When, however, there are issues of property, investments, savings, support, debt, and child custody arrangements to, it would be foolish and negligent to avoid legal representation. The terms of a finalised property settlement are very binding, and they can only be changed by going back to court under very limited grounds such as fraud. The old saying goes, “don’t’ save a penny and then spend a pound” – getting a good lawyer in time can ensure a good outcome and more importantly, save you from being held to a poor outcome.
Legal disputes are not restricted to your lifetime, but can plague your family after your death. Getting a lawyer to assist you setting up a will and or trust will save your family from disputes and legal issues after you die and ensure that your wishes were carried out to the letter. Your lawyer can set up your will or trust and a good lawyer will advise you to set it up as soon as you have a child and can make amendments periodically throughout your life as circumstances change.
Never go to court on a DUI charge without a lawyer — unless you are willing to accept the maximum penalty. Defendants who have personally hired lawyers always fare better than those who do not or those who take a duty lawyer. Remember, a duty lawyer is on case overload, and will usually recommend a plea bargain that will be worse than what a private lawyer could get you. If you qualify financially for a legal aid, still try to find a friend or relative willing to pony up the money for a lawyer.
Driving under the influence (DUI) has become a serious charge with mandatory sentencing. Consequences now include fines, jail time, loss of license, or any combination of these three. A good lawyer can present mitigating circumstances in a persuasive manner to get the charges reduced, especially if this is your first offense.
Facing any criminal charge is scary, and you may not even know your rights as an accused person. Get a lawyer immediately for protection of your rights and so that you are defended as well as possible — guilty or not.