Write clearly.

We can't answer your question if we can't figure out what you're saying. So please do your best to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Also, avoid using too many pronouns. If you write "He told me that they said they would come back and they would arrest all of them," then you may know what you're talking about, but someone else reading will not. Say "a police officer" or "my husband" instead of "him."


Make sure you ask a question.

Often, we see posts on the legal advice boards that consist of a description of the poster's legal situation, but that then don't ask any specific question about that situation. These posts leave attorneys with little to go on. Even a general question (such as "What can I do?") is a lot easier to answer than a story with no other direction.


Don't try to convince us that you're in the right.

Many people who write here seem to urgently want to convince everyone of the rightness of their own case, and the wrongness of their adversary's. There may be a place for that, but it is when presenting a case to a court or other decision-maker, not when talking to your lawyer. There are two critical reasons for this: first, none of us are ruling on your case, so our approval doesn't matter. And more importantly, you don't want advice to be "sugar-coated," biased unrealistically towards you. If you tell your story with the maximum possible bias towards your own case, then you may well get an answer that sounds good to you - but you could then wind up in a courtroom where a very different version of events is described, resulting in a different outcome. In any legal dispute, you need to be prepared for what the other side will say about what happened. So try to keep some balance to your perspective.


Don't include your name or other personally identifying information.

When you consult with a lawyer in private, your conversation is protected by attorney/client privilege and confidentiality rules. But the internet is most definitely not private, and anything you post here could be seen by anyone, including the police or other parties to a case. Statements you make could be traced back to you and used against you. So keep questions general and hypothetical. This problem embodies a more fundamental paradox: It is often impossible to give good advice without knowing all the facts of a situation. But the more facts of your situation you reveal, the greater the risk that you reveal potentially damaging information, and we can't ask you to do that. So much of the time, the answer will have to be, "Consult with your own attorney in private." Even straightforward questions, such as "What is the statute of limitations for certain cases?", which seem to have unambiguous answers, can have important exceptions based on your unique situation.


Don't rely upon answers here as a substitute for hiring an attorney, or as your only guide to representing yourself.

It is almost impossible for questions here to include all the information you need to navigate the legal system. When we answer your questions here, we can see your world and your case only through the small window created by your words. To understand what you should do, we need to see the whole picture. Questions on this site can point you in the right direction, but often you will need to hire your own lawyer to work for you.