Getting Legal Advice Online is a Terrible Idea

Happy Friday, everybody. Hope you’re having a great week. Wanted to chat with you a little bit this week about something that has come up recently. And that is why you need to be extra, extra cautious if you are getting any kind of legal answers or advice online, all right? Now, I know you’re watching this online, but that’s kind of the point. I’ve had several people reach out to me recently about videos that I’ve posted in the past that are asking me questions or are exhibiting some confusion because they’ve heard something different when they spoke to somebody where they live.

Now, once I speak to these individuals and get a little bit more information, I come to find out that they’re asking me questions because they’ve heard different things in different states. I had one guy reach out to me and say, “Hey, I watched your video on expunctions and non-disclosures and my lawyer told me something completely different here in New York”. Or, I had one guy reach out to me about the theft ladder. And he talked about how, “Well, that’s not what I understand it”. And I found out that he lives in Wisconsin.

Really that illustrates the point of why it’s so dangerous to rely on information that you find online, be it YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google searches, or whatever, for answers to complicated legal questions, because you never really know where that information is coming from, what jurisdiction that’s based out of, if it’s even current or not yet. Laws change constantly. Generally speaking, when people leave a comment on my YouTube channel or whatever, that ask a question, “Hey, can you tell me about this”, my number one default answer is always going to be, you need to set up a consultation with a local criminal defense attorney, somebody that’s licensed in your state, in your area so that they can advise you what the laws are or what the procedures are, where you live, okay?

Generally speaking, when I’m giving these talks or when I’m chatting about a topic here on YouTube, I’m generally speaking about how things work here in Texas, because that’s where I’m licensed to practice. I also do a lot of federal work, but most of the time when I’m giving answers, I’m giving answers based on my experiences in the fifth circuit, which is Texas and Louisiana, this area of the country.

Now, generally speaking federal stuff transcends that and is a little bit more universal. However, I’m still speaking based on my experiences with judges, laws, rules, statutes here in Texas, okay? That is something to always, always, always keep in mind. When you are looking up an answer to a question that you have about the law and you find a website that looks like it has the answer, make sure you know where that answer’s coming from, make sure you know where that lawyer is based out of, where they’re licensed, because that really, really matters.

Anyway, the default answer is always going to be consult with a local attorney in-person, face-to-face. Don’t rely on things you find on the internet because that’s the number one best way to make sure that you’re getting the most up-to-date current and accurate advice possible. Hope you all have a great weekend. And I look forward to seeing you all next week.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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