Columbus Alive "It's Only Money; Legal Action"

September 13, 2007

It's Only Money

Legal Action

By Shayla Shrieves

If the long arm of the law has you in its grasp, a common thought may come to mind: Do you need a lawyer?

Most of the time, you probably do. Attorneys are trained to navigate the justice system; they tend to know each other and the judges and can sometimes grease the wheels in a case that goes to court., a website provided by the Columbus Bar Association (CBA), offers easy-to-understand info about the legal system.

"There are a couple of questions which will help you decide whether you need to hire an attorney," the site explains. "What is at stake? Is it my liberty, my livelihood, my home or property? If anything significant is at stake, it is usually a good idea to at least meet with an attorney to discuss your options.

"The second question is, how complicated is this? Unfortunately, when it comes to the law, there are not many things that are simple and easy to understand, and little mistakes in procedure or wording can seriously compromise your rights."

Criminal defense attorney Terry K. Sherman, a sole practitioner with an office Downtown, said young adults tend to find themselves in the legal system for a variety of crimes including drugs, DUI and serious "Internet stuff" like pornography.

"There's a time to admit things, and there's a time not to admit things," Sherman said. "And there's a way to admit things." A good lawyer can guide a client through that decision.

"The function of a lawyer is a number of things: to counsel his client, minimize the charge and negotiate," he said. "If you stumble, a lawyer can get it such a way that a record gets expunged," or charges get reduced.

"For 22- to 30-year-olds, what you do at that age can affect you the rest of your life," Sherman continued. "Drunk driving, there are dire consequences: license suspension, insurance premiums rise... If a young person was to go uncounseled, with these kinds of charges, they can have a lasting effect."

Even police officers will tell you, any time a cop wants to talk to you, get a lawyer!

The CBA agrees: "Do not answer police questions without the representation and advice of an attorney. Even seemingly innocent or conversational answers to questions from the police can be used against you later. Politely decline to answer any questions until you can speak to an attorney," according to

If the boss uses foul language and you think you have an employment case, if you have problems with your landlord, if you get a speeding ticket or drive recklessly, consider what's at stake.

A charge for running a stop sign might not be worth the expense of fighting. But if a potential future employer frowns on conviction, you'd be smart to consider hiring an attorney to address more serious crimes. It pays to be safe, but it's all a matter of priorities.

September 13th, 2007

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