A fake lawyer for the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" stars was arrested last week. Mark J. McGuire, 53, had allegedly told the police that he was an attorney representing Jacqueline and Christopher Laurita, The Record reports. McGuire spent almost an hour with the Lauritas as they were questioned by the police in April.
The Lauritas and another "Housewives" regular, Joe Gorga, face their own charges.
What are the legal issues that McGuire and the stars dealing with, exactly?
The Unauthorized Practice of Law
McGuire has been charged with one count of unauthorized practice of law. Unauthorized practice generally refers to the performance of any professional services, in law or medicine for example, by a person who is not authorized -- usually because they are not licensed by the state to do so.
The definition of the unauthorized practice of law varies by state. New Jersey in particular has adopted the American Bar Association's model which states that a lawyer shall not practice law in a jurisdiction where doing so violates the regulation of the legal profession in that jurisdiction. This would include pretending to be a lawyer without an actual legal license. The crime is not limited to being a fake lawyer in the courtroom or in front of the police, but it also applies to giving any kind of general legal advice.
Assault and Terroristic Threats
The Lauritas and Gorga, on the other hand, face their own legal troubles. According to court records, the "Housewives" trio has each been charged with individual counts of assault and making terroristic threats, The Record reports.
The crime of assault generally refers to any act that puts another in fear of immediate harm. Each individual state's laws on assault will vary, but in New Jersey, one is guilty of assault if he (or she, in this case):
- attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another,
- negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon,
- or attempts, by physical menace, to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
Terroristic threats are serious charges under the general criminal category of threats. New Jersey law defines an offender as making a terroristic threat when a person threatens to commit any crime of violence with the purpose to:
- terrorize another
- cause an evacuation from the building, place of assembly or facility of public transportation
- otherwise to cause serious public inconvenience
The "Real Housewives" may have to see how a jury feels about these charges without their fake lawyer.
- Police: 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' stars' lawyer falsely claimed to be an attorney (Associated Press)
- Unauthorized Practice (FindLaw's LawBrain)
- Should the ABA Attack the 'Unauthorized' Practice of Law? (FindLaw's Strategist)
- What Are 'Terroristic Threats'? (FindLaw's Blotter)