Be careful when obtaining legal information on the Internet

February 11, 2018

The Law is an increasingly complex domain of human affairs.  It has become more technical and far-reaching.  At the same time, there is a great need for lawyers to offer services that are personalised and to provide information that is easy to understand.  Throw into this mix the many new easy-access social media and Internet tools and we find both lawyers and clients navigating uncharted waters.

Despite this, I encourage my clients to take an active role in their cases, especially in family and criminal matters.  For example, I often ask clients to provide me detailed information about their relationships with the other parties involved.  Sometimes their physical and emotional conditions become important aspects of a case and I must find an expert who will provide an opinion on that information in court.  I may undertake research on those subjects, even search the Internet to better prepare myself, but I would never rely on what I find there and, much less, claim to be a medical expert.  I leave that to the qualified.

The same should apply when you seek legal information.  There is nothing wrong with making your own efforts to become better informed about your case, but no one should rely on the Internet to make a final decision about how to deal with a matter.

Having your own lawyer to consult is much different than cherry picking information on the Internet.  Your lawyer is there to answer your questions and give you feedback about your specific case throughout the entire legal process.  He or she will come to know you and the other parties involved and be able to assess intangible elements about your case.  The Internet offers no information on those crucial issues.  In fact, a lot of the information found on the Internet can be seriously misleading.

Take for example Drinking and Driving (or DUI) cases.  There is a plethora of information on the Internet about your rights and the police's obligations when it comes to charging someone with that offence.  Many web sites list dozens of factors that could lead to an acquittal.  But if you believe this information, you can get the impression that it is just a matter of identifying one error by the police and you're off.  That is simply not the case.  It's not a matter of ticking off a checklist to determine if you are guilty or not.  What isn't often explained is that even if the police did one or two things improperly at different times during their investigation, you could still be found guilty.  You need to know these things.

In this modern day bonanza of legal information on the Internet there is a great need to be able to sift through what is relevant and what is not. And, when you take into consideration the evermore technical nature of  the Law, it should become clear that, more than ever, you need a qualified and dedicated lawyer to help you succeed in your court matter.

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