We have all heard the saying that “A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing”.
Well, in the field of law, it can be a VERY dangerous thing when people who think they know something about the law begin to give “legal advice” to others.
While going out with a client and his friends, I once heard one of them tell one of their companions, who was apparently in some legal trouble, that he could refuse to go with police officers who say that there is a warrant for his arrest if they cannot show him the warrant and the nods around the table showed that many of those who were there believed it.
While I did not know them that well and, except for my client, they did not know I was a lawyer, I felt I had to butt in and say that this was UTTERLY WRONG because all that the Rules of Court require is for the warrant to be shown to the person arrested as soon as practicable if he asks for it and the policeman is NOT required to have it with him. The person giving the advice was even poised to argue with me until my client told him I was a lawyer and I was able to explain the details of the rules on this.
If it had come to pass that the person advised had not been told better and had actually resisted the policemen when the time came, then he would have been forcibly taken, or even worse if he continued to resist violently.
Another crazy piece of untutored advice I once heard over the radio said that a warrant of arrest is no longer valid after one year because it was already stale. WRONG! A warrant of arrest is valid, unless recalled by the issuing judge, until it is implemented regardless of how long it takes. It is not like a loaf of bread with a “BEST BEFORE” stamp.
On civil law, there is this common misconception that a married person can already remarry if he, or she, has had no contact with the estranged spouse for more than four years. Try doing that and you will be criminally liable for BIGAMY.
The four year period is only one of the many requirements to go to court to petition for a declaration of presumptive death which has a chance of prospering only if you can prove a “well-founded belief” that your spouse is dead.
Another very common, yet highly illegal, practice that I have heard several times, is to cause the late registration of a child as your child instead of going through the legal process of adoption. This actually amounts to the crime of Falsification of Public Documents or Simulation of Birth.
“Don’t worry, the promissory note you signed is useless because it was not notarized” someone said. This is pure NONSENSE. Most contracts are valid as between the parties without need of notarization.
The question really is why do people keep on accepting, or even asking for, legal advice from someone who is not qualified? Most are probably afraid to ask a lawyer for fear of being charged a hefty fee. People do not realize that even if you have to pay for legal advice, the money that you save from the trouble that wrong advice can cause will more than make up for it. It is equally true in law, just as in medicine, that “An Ounce of Prevention is Better than a Pound of Cure”.
The fact is that even lawyers, despite their training, will go back to the law texts to confirm legal principles or provisions. I have, over the years, told several people that if they ever find a lawyer who will claim to know everything there is to know about the law, they should continue to look for another one.
So, if even lawyers need to review the law just to be sure of a legal concept of provision, how can you trust legal advice from someone who is untrained and unschooled in the law?
If you believe otherwise, then you probably also believe that rubbing garlic and ginger on a dog bite will prevent rabies. Best of Luck To You, you will definitely need it.