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    Charged with an Offence? Three Reasons to Stay Away from Google!

    If you’ve been charged with a criminal offence or given a traffic ticket, the first thing most people do is reach for their smartphones and start searching the internet for answers – but, that might not be the best course of action.

     Here are three reasons why searching Google for answers to your legal woes could be the wrong approach.

     1. Misleading Information

    Websites are set up for a purpose.  Whether it’s to promote a service or to provide information for those looking for answers, websites are designed and maintained by people who have an interest in what they’re doing and the messages they are sending out.

     This means that a lot of information that can be found online can be incomplete, misleading or even biased. 

     Take this for example – a simple search of the words “benefits of vegetarian diet” will produce a wide-array of results.  There will be links boosting the benefits of vegetarianism along with others highlighting its risks and everything in between.  Many of these links are actually ads to companies that sell vegetarian products and meal kits or medical journals that want to sell subscriptions to a health-wise consumer.  Whichever link you click, you will be presented with information that appears to be factual but may be anything but. 

     The answer to a complex question like “should I become a vegetarian?” is not likely one that the internet can definitively assist you with. 

     Your legal problems are the same. 

     Whichever website you land on is not likely to have all the answers – let alone the right answers – and searching multiple sites in hopes to get a more complete picture could end in more confusion and contradiction than before. 

     Remember – there is no quality control department on the internet. 

    2. You Could End Up in a Wormhole

     The Internet can be confusing at the best of times.  With such a vast array of information out there, it’s hard to tell what’s what.  When it comes to legal issues, there’s no exception.

     Legislation and case law can be convoluted, nuanced and confusing – even at the best of times.  Most of what you find won’t apply to your case and some of it could even be out of date or no long applicable.  There could also be jurisdictional issues with whatever you are looking at.  After all, different places have different laws and the rules will vary depending on your location. 

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     Consider what appears to be a simple case of driving while impaired by alcohol.  The first thing a person may if given a charge like this is type something like “DUI” into a Google search. 

     This will yield a variety of interesting results – many of which will be totally inapplicable to what you are dealing with.  You will likely get results for impaired driving charges in the U.S., where the laws and the legal system is completely different than it is here in Canada.  You will also likely get information related to charges in different provinces and under different legislative schemes.  The information that you find could take you far off track from the information that you need. 

     So, remember, that simple Google search could end up really steering you in the wrong direction. 

    3. There Can be Consequences

     If you are served with paperwork by a police officer – whether it be a ticket or documents in relation to a criminal allegation – you should take it seriously.  There could be consequences ahead, and so there is information that you need to know now.  Time could be of the essence. 

     But – figuring that information out using a Google search could be the wrong approach.

     A bad Google search could lead you to believe that you are not required to attend court when you are.  Failing to appear in court as required could lead to a warrant for your arrest and an unpleasant overnight stay in a jail cell.  This is something you most definitely want to avoid.

     Similarly, a search might lead you to rely on incorrect or inapplicable information with relation to dispute periods.  For tickets with optional dispute processes, like those issued under the Motor Vehicle Act, deadlines are of the utmost importance.  Missing a deadline because of a bad Google search could compromise your rights and preclude you from dispute your ticket at any point in the future. 

     When it comes to legal matters, acting – or failing to act – before you understand the full picture could result in some unpleasant and unforeseen consequences.  You will want to understand your options in full prior to doing something that you might regret later. 

     And speaking of consequences, a Google search could end up causing you some pretty severe undue stress if you go about it in the wrong way. 

     People charged with offences often end up walking away from their Google searches with only the worst-case scenario in their minds.  After all, it’s just human nature.  Consider how many times you’ve probably Googled simple medical symptoms, like a headache, and gotten search results back for serious conditions, like cancer.  Chances are the worst-case scenario isn’t applicable – but it will freak you out anyways!

    Just remember – Google doesn’t have all the answers and where there are real consequences at play, you should avoid using it as your guidebook. 

     Instead of typing general search terms into Google to DYI the solution to your legal problem, try searching for a lawyer instead.  Most lawyers are just a phone call away and would be happy to help you navigate your problems, with precision and accuracy. 

    The lawyers at Sarah Leamon Law Group are available to help!

    Сall the lawyers at Sarah Leamon Law Group to learn how they can help.

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