ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The crime of practicing law without a license in New York will rise next November from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, after signing the new law Wednesday, says there's "no tolerance for scam artists" who pose as lawyers and dupe those needing legal help.
The Class E felony applies to violations that cause $1,000 or more in damages. The penalty is up to four years in prison.
Senator Charles Fuschillo, a Long Island Republican and bill sponsor, says scammers who jeopardize important personal business like buying a house or writing a will should face tougher penalties.
Assemblyman Ed Braunstein, a Queens Democrat, says there have been hundreds of complaints by immigrants victimized by fraudulent attorneys over the past several years.