Only official and active members of the California State Bar are permitted to practice law in California. Unauthorized individuals who do not follow this regulation can be prosecuted under California Business & Professions Code Section 6126(a): Practice of Law by Non-Member of the State Bar.
Build up your understanding of BPC 6126(a) right here. You can go over the exact definition of this charge, penalties for a conviction, and some legal defenses with the professionals at the Simmrin Law Group.
Defining the Practice of Law by Non-Members of the State Bar
The state of California only allows authorized individuals or individuals who have active membership in the California State Bar to practice law. BPC 6126(a) allows the court to specifically prosecute individuals who were never admitted to the State Bar if they:
- Advertise or Claim That They Are Able to Practice Law
- Actually, Practice Law
A number of court cases in California have narrowed down the definition of what “practicing law” entails. Unauthorized individuals are not legally allowed to:
- Provide Legal Counsel or Advice
- Prepare Legal Contracts for Securing Legal Rights
- Carry Out Tasks in Litigation or Court Cases
Reviewing Penalties for a BPC 6126(a) Conviction
BPC 6126(a) deals specifically with the practice of law by non-lawyers who were never members of the State Bar. Disbarred or suspended lawyers may also face criminal charges if the practice law under California Business & Professions Code Section 6126(b). These charges come with different penalties that we’ll review here:
Penalties for a Non-Lawyer Practicing Law
Non-lawyers who practice law can be charged with a misdemeanor. A first-time conviction under BPC 6126(a) for a non-lawyer can lead to:
- Fines: Up to $1,000
- Jail Time: Up to one Year
Note that non-lawyers who are convicted a second time must generally serve a minimum of 90 days in jail. However, judges retain the right to adjust this sentence in some cases.
Penalties for a Disbarred or Suspended Lawyer Practicing Law
Former members of the State Bar who were suspended, disbarred, involuntarily enrolled as inactive members, or forced to resign due to pending criminal charges are treated more harshly for practicing law. They may be faced with misdemeanor or felony charges under BPC 6126(b). Penalties may include:
- Fines: Up to $10,000
- Jail Time: Up to three Years
An individual’s criminal history and the facts regarding the current criminal charges can determine whether a BPC 6126(b) charge is prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Focusing on Defenses for BPC 6126(a) Charges
A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you build a defense if you are charged with a BPC 6126(a) violation. Your lawyer can go over the facts surrounding your case and may be able to build a defense by demonstrating that you weren’t actually practicing law.
The definition of practicing law used in BPC 6126(a) is not completely specific. Your lawyer may be able to show that your actions were not related to the practice of law in some situations, allowing you to avoid a BPC 6126(a) conviction.
Going Over Examples of BPC 6126(a) Violations
Man A studied the law in college but never graduated or became a member of the State Bar. Still, his friends say he gives good legal advice, so he sets up a side business where he handles small cases. He could be charged under BPC 6126(a).
Man B needs to make some extra money. He decides to create a website where he offers legal advice to clients over the internet, figuring he can conduct quick web searches to answer questions. He is not legally allowed to answer a legal question in California and could be prosecuted.
Considering Charges Similar to BPC 6126(a)
The state of California can hand down harsh criminal penalties to individuals who try to pass themselves off as professionals in other fields besides the law. For example, individuals can be charged with:
- California Business & Professions Code Section 2052: Unauthorized Practice of Medicine
- California Business & Professions Code Section 7028: Contracting Without A License
- California Business & Professions Code Section 7028.1: Engaging In Asbestos / Underground Tank Work Without Certification
Attempting to perform professional tasks without the appropriate certifications and licenses can lead to criminal charges throughout the state. These white collar crimes can be severely punished.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately
Dealing with California Business & Professions Code Section 6126(a): Practice of Law by Non-Member of the State Bar charges can be easier if you have professional help on your side. Start getting the help you need from the Simmrin Law Group by completing our online contact form, or calling (310) 896-2723.
Our criminal defense lawyers in Los Angeles can offer you advice with a FREE initial case evaluation.