Assemblyman Braunstein Announces Passage of Legislation Increasing Penalties Against Fake Lawyers

Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein (D-Bayside) announced the passage of legislation in the Assembly and Senate, which he introduced, that strengthens the law by protecting New Yorkers who suffer serious harm caused by individuals who falsely represent themselves as lawyers (A.5700-A/S.1998-A-Fuschillo).

“According to the Immigrant Affairs Program at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, there have been hundreds of complaints by immigrants over the past several years who have been victimized by fake lawyers. No one should ever be forced to leave the country because of the practices of dishonest con-artists claiming to be lawyers. By passing this law we are standing up for the rights of all New Yorkers to ensure that individuals receive proper legal assistance,” said Assemblyman Braunstein.

“This bill will make appearing as an attorney-at-law without being admitted and registered a class E felony instead of a misdemeanor and increases penalties for the unlawful practice of law when damages are in excess of $1000,” said Assemblyman Braunstein.

“Phony lawyers deserve real punishment for defrauding innocent consumers. People hire lawyers to carry out some of their most important personal and financial wishes, such as wills, home purchases, and marital separations. All of these important matters can be jeopardized if they are not carried out by a licensed attorney. This legislation would ensure that scam artists who pretend to be licensed attorneys face higher penalties,” said Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick).

“Individuals who fraudulently hold themselves out as attorneys can and do cause serious harm to their unsuspecting victims. Potential consequences for victims can include jail time, loss of child custody, deportation and other financial hardships,” said New York State Bar Association President Seymour W. James, Jr.