Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation introduced by State Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, D-Bayside, into law that would increase punishment for individuals who falsely represented themselves as attorneys.
Under Braunstein’s bill, unlicensed practice of law would be upgraded from a misdemeanor to a class E felony. The law will take effect on Nov. 1, 2013.
“Over the past several years, there have been hundreds of complaints by immigrants who have been victimized by fraudulent attorneys,” Braunstein said. “No one should ever be forced to leave the country because of the practices of dishonest con artists claiming to be lawyers.”
Cuomo said the state would have “no tolerance” for persons who deceive those in need of legal help by unlawfully representing themselves as an attorney.
“This new law will help hold accountable individuals who defraud New Yorkers by offering services they are not licensed to provide,” the governor said.
New York State Bar Association President Seymour James, Jr. said the consequences of taking bad advice from those posing as lawyers can include jail time, loss of child custody, deportation and financial hardship.
“Unscrupulous individuals pretending to be lawyers often prey on immigrants and the poor,” he said.