A defendant from Davis County, UT who was recently charged with drug related crimes was shocked to find dozens of letters from local lawyers wanting to help him out, for money of course. In fact, there has been a shocking rise in this trend of advertising legal services through letters all over Utah.
Unfortunately, this points to the very grim reality of just how accessible legal data is to anybody who is willing to pay for it. Another worrisome aspect of the situation is that neither the community nor the judicial machinery seems to have any concern for the privacy of those who are accused of criminal acts but have yet to be convicted.
The Davis County man who received a barrage of these letters said that he did not want his family members to know about his legal troubles and that the information was brought to light only by these letters, causing him much emotional trauma.
Not only lawyers but also firms that are not offering legal services in any way or manner are sending out this type of correspondence in a bid to get business from defendants. This is later passed on to the attorneys who are willing to pay for it. A defense attorney from Salt Lake City said that he was well aware of the practice and went on to add that these letters end up creating confusion and fear for those who are criminally charged.
He further added that some of these mailers are outright threatening and are clearly meant to pit one lawyer against another which may compel a defendant to give up on the services of his/her existing attorney.
Undoubtedly, this form of advertising poses a privacy threat for the defendant who may not want these letters, which often cite the charges that were filed against him/her, to become common knowledge. The law has no recourse for protecting such individuals as an order from the Utah Supreme Court only prohibits lawyers from speaking to potential clients in a bid to secure their business. However, nowhere does it say that these legal professionals or anybody working on their behalf cannot establish a written line of communication.