When should I get legal help?

Legal help and services in the USA can cost a lot of money. Legal issues can be very confusing. Sometimes, it is hard to know when to get a lawyer. If you are a refugee, you can ask your resettlement agency for advice.

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When should I get a lawyer?

Here are some examples of when you may want to get a lawyer. These examples come from the American Bar Association, a national organization that helps people with legal situations:

  • If you are detained by the police at the airport at another location
  • If you are discriminated against
  • If you are arrested by the police
  • If you are given official papers for a lawsuit
  • If you are in a big accident where you are physically hurt or where you or someone else’s property is ruined
  • If you have a big family event or change such as a divorce, adoption, or death (However, most of the time you do not need a lawyer to get married.)
  • If you have to file bankruptcy because you do not have any money to pay your debt

Interpretation in legal settings

Under US law, if you are seeking help or required to cooperate with a government agency or an organization funded by the government, you must be provided with language help. If you do not speak English well, you can receive interpreter for the following services:

  • Federal courts
  • State and local courts that receive money from the US government
  • Federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration and US Citizenship and Immigration Service
  • State and local government agencies that receive money from the US government such as your local social services, welfare office, or unemployment office
  • Legal services offices that receive money from the Legal Services Corporation or another agency of the US government to provide free legal services
  • Police departments that receive money from the US government
  • Hospitals that receive money from the US government
  • Schools that receive money from the US government

You can learn more about your right to assistance in your language: basic information about Federal Language Access Rights.

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If you are in immigration court, you must get help only from a licensed attorney or accredited representative. It is very important that you get immigration help only from organizations or individuals approved by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If you ask your friends or family for help, they might accidentally tell you incorrect information that could get you in trouble with immigration services.

If you need legal help for immigration, you can find low-cost attorneys and legal help. If you are using an online website to find legal forms, make sure you are using the official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Anti-fraud warning

Read this information to protect yourself from people who are not real lawyers! There are people who will pretend to help you so they can keep your money.They will try to make you pay for a legal or immigration service but not actually help you. Learn how to recognize them and protect yourself!

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) made information to protect you from fraud. You can read and download the information in English. Or you can read and download the information in Spanish. Before you get a lawyer, be sure to talk to your case manager or a trusted person in your community.

The information on this page comes from LawHelp.org and other trusted sources. It is intended for guidance and is updated as often as possible. USAHello does not give legal advice, nor are any of our materials intended to be taken as legal advice. If you are looking for a free or low-cost lawyer or legal help, we can help you find free and low-cost legal services.