Choosing a lawyer can be an overwhelming task. There are many different types of lawyers that handle many different types of cases. Some cases may even overlap practice areas. Most lawyers have experience with a variety of cases and will be able to help you with your needs. Despite the prevalence of “lawyer jokes”, lawyers are service oriented and look out for the best interest of their clients.
A lawyer is an individual who is licensed to practice law in a state. Lawyers are also known as attorneys or an attorney at law. Some lawyers are licensed in multiple states. Some lawyers are admitted to practice at the Federal level as well. “Practicing law” can mean many things, including drafting legal documents, representing a client in court, and/or providing legal advice to a client. Lawyers can work in a law firm with other lawyers, with a partner, or practice by themselves in a solo practice.
In most cases, a lawyer will be chosen based on the type of case, or practice area, and the location of the case. Lawyers can provide a wide range of services to their clients. Some lawyers handle many different types of cases. Some lawyers specialize in one or two types, such as family and divorce law.
What is Criminal Law?
Criminal law is the body of laws that pertain to crimes. Crimes are actions or behaviors prohibited by state or federal laws. Crimes are punishable by fines, probation, and/or imprisonment. Usually, crimes are categorized as misdemeanors or felonies.
Another category of criminal law includes local ordinances, infractions, and/or minor traffic violations. These types of offenses are punishable only by a fine. These cases are simpler and can be handled by the individual themselves, should they choose to do so. There are, however, certain traffic violations that may result in harsher punishment, such as the suspension or loss of a driver’s license. A lawyer should handle these types of cases.
What Do Criminal Lawyers Do?
Criminal cases usually involve a prosecutor, a defendant and a defense attorney. A criminal lawyer is also sometimes called a defense attorney. These lawyers can be hired by the defendant or appointed by the court to represent the defendant.
In serious cases, where punishments are more severe, a criminal lawyer is highly recommended, even necessary. A criminal lawyer can advise an individual on the consequences of conviction or guilty pleas. Some guilty pleas, even to misdemeanor charges, can have long-term consequences. A guilty plea can also affect immigration status or lead to deportation of a non-citizen.
It is important to remember that, in most cases, when an individual cannot afford a criminal lawyer, the court will appoint one to represent them. It is also important to keep in mind that if an individual is sentenced to jail time, they will not be able to earn an income and may lose a job.
What Do Civil Lawyers Do?
Civil law is a broad term that encompasses many areas of law, encompassing virtually every non-criminal matter. Civil law usually involves private matters including litigation, or suing another individual, and transactions, such as business contracts. Civil matters include contract disputes between businesses, real estate, and personal transactions.
Unlike criminal cases, there is no determination of guilt or innocence. Usually, the parties may only recover monetary damages, including punitive damages in some cases. Another possible relief that can be obtained in a civil dispute is an injunction, or an order issued by the court preventing a party from doing something.
Another common type of civil law case is a personal injury lawsuit. In a personal injury suit, an individual is injured, mentally and/or physically, because of an accident, defective product, or an act or failure to act by another. A court may award a plaintiff in a personal injury suit monetary damages for their injury.
Civil law cases can be complex. Failure to follow the local court rules can lead to monetary sanctions from the court or the dismissal of an individual’s case. It is extremely helpful to have a lawyer in a civil matter.
Even in transactional civil matters, such as drafting a contract, a lawyer can be very helpful. A lawyer can make sure contracts are drafted correctly and avoid problems at a later date. A real estate purchase, business purchase, and/or creation of a trademark or copyright will most likely involve a lawyer.
What Do Family Lawyers Do?
Family law is law that involves family matters. These matters can include marriage, divorce, adoption, child support, custody and establishing parentage. In most cases, marriages do not require a lawyer but a prenuptial agreement should be reviewed by a lawyer. In some states, it is required, unless expressly waived, that an individual is represented before signing a prenuptial agreement.
Many family law matters begin after a couple has been married. Divorce can be a difficult situation, especially when children, businesses, or large amounts of money are involved. It is important in divorce cases for an individual to have a family lawyer representing them to ensure their rights are protected.
A lawyer can advise an individual what they may be entitled to in their state, as laws vary by state. Issues may include alimony and child support. Without a lawyer, an individual runs the risk of inadvertently waiving their rights to alimony, visitation with their children, or even custody of their children.
What Do Probate and Estate Planning Lawyers Do?
Legal matters of probate include probating wills, guardianship, emancipation and conservatorship. Probating a will includes distributing property after a decedent, or individual who passed away, under court supervision. Guardianship is when an adult is appointed by the court to care for a minor child or a minor child’s property, such as a trust fund. Emancipation occurs when a minor child is granted certain rights of an adult, such as signing contracts. Conservatorship occurs when an adult is appointed to care for another adult who cannot care for themselves.
Most individuals are familiar with the will and estate planning portions of probate law. Estate planning usually includes the drafting of a will to prepare for an individual’s passing. This may include distributing property and creating trusts, usually with money for minor children.
An experienced probate lawyer is highly recommended in probate matters, especially where significant amounts of money or property are involved. This ensures the wishes of the individual drafting their will are followed and their property is distributed as they desire.
A lawyer is also experienced with necessary language that may be needed in the will in order for an individual’s wishes to be carried out. A lawyer for wills can also assist if a beneficiary contests a will to protect their potential inheritance.
Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?
LegalMatch.com is a fast, free, and confidential online platform to help you find the right lawyer for your case. LegalMatch.com provides attorney-client matching services based on the type of case, type of lawyer needed, and your location.
You simply submit your legal issue and you will be matched with a lawyer that can help. There is no fee to submit your case. The process only takes about 15 minutes and you get to choose the lawyer you want to work with.