Frequently Asked Questions
If I am a party in a court case, do I need a lawyer to represent me?
All parties to a case may represent themselves or hire lawyers to represent them. The decision whether to hire a lawyer is ultimately up to you. Consider how important the case is to you and what might happen if you win or lose the case when making your decision. USLS's experienced lawyers can help you with your legal problems and even possibly represent you in court.


If I provide alcohol to minors, am I responsible for their actions while intoxicated?

Under Minnesota statute 340A.90, anyone who is injured by an intoxicated person under the age of 21 has gained the right to sue for damages, incurred as a result of the intoxicated minor's behavior, against the minor and whoever provided the alcohol to the minor. This is why it is so important to never provide alcohol to minors.

In addition, it is a gross misdemeanor to furnish, or provide, alcohol to minors. A gross misdemeanor is punished by a fine upwards of $3,000 or imprisonment of not more than 90 days and is considered a crime (609.2).


What is required to get a work visa in the US?

Visas are available for a limited number of foreign nationals to come and work in the U.S. The most common type is called an H-1B visa, which requires a U.S. employer to sponsor an applicant because they want the applicant to work for them in the U.S.

The applicant must have at least the equivalent of a bachelor's degree, and there must be a correlation between the job duties and the applicant's qualifications. Other types of work visas are available to those who fall into special categories, such as religious workers and those who are transferring to the U.S. within a company they already work for. For more information about work visas, schedule an appointment to speak to a USLS attorney.


What privacy rights do I have on my computer at work?
An employee generally doesn't have any privacy rights on a workplace computer. The theory is that the employer has paid for the computer, has provided the network, has provided the office space, and is paying you to perform work. They have a right to monitor what you do on their computer property while on their time, and you do not have a right to privacy using their resources.


I have an appointment with a USLS lawyer. What should I bring to the meeting?

The most important thing to bring is your U card. This allows us to make sure that you’re eligible for our services. Outside of that, what you will need to bring will be different on a case by case basis.

Generally, though, it is better to bring everything pertinent to your case. At your first meeting, the lawyer you meet with will help determine what will help your case and what they need to make copies of.

If legal documents are involved certainly bring those, but also bring things like copies of emails, text messages, or any other correspondences you might have had with the person. It is better to bring more information that will not be used than to not bring information that could have been useful.


Can I somehow clear my criminal record?
You can ask the court to seal one or more criminal cases. This is called "expungement." This action does not erase your criminal case record, but it does limit who can see it. More information can be found at the Minnesota Judicial Branch Criminal Expungement page.


If I am in college, am I still considered a minor?
If you are 18 years of age, you are an adult: With the passage of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment, the age of majority in this country was lowered to 18. You will be treated as an adult in all matters and have those rights and responsibilities; punishments will not be smaller like they might be if you were a minor.


Does USLS employ actual, experienced lawyers? Or just students in training?
Even though we are a legal resource for University students, we are, in fact, a law office with our own staff of professional lawyers. We have an experienced team that can help you with your issues. Additionally, USLS has been operating for over 35 years. Because of this, we are very familiar with problems that students are likely to face. Having ample experience also gives us a knowledge base of local community resources, allowing us to give you additional help, particularly about different landlords and leases.  


If I sign my lease, am I held to all of the contract, even terms I didn't read?
Before you sign a lease, make sure you understand all the language. A lease is a binding contract, and you will be held to all of its terms if you sign it. To ensure the terms of your lease are reasonable and to your satisfaction, USLS will meet with you and review your lease for free to identify any common problems including troublesome or unfair clauses.


If I will be studying abroad, do I need a power of attorney lined up?
If you will be studying abroad or out of the country for an extended period of time, you need power of attorney lined up. This is a legal document which allows you to have someone act on your behalf in your absence. Make an appointment with a USLS attorney to learn more or visit our power of attroney page.


Just how bad are the penalties for drinking and driving?
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): DWI is a costly exercise in bad judgment. If you are under the age of 21 and convicted of an alcohol-related offense, it could cost you over $30,000. It will also be a part of your driving record forever.


Do I really need automobile insurance if I drive on US roads?
The state of Minnesota requires anyone who owns a motor vehicle to have insurance. Failure to comply is a criminal offense and may impact your ability to drive. Always carry proof of insurance in your car.


I've been thinking about getting a credit card; what should I know?
Many credit card-offering banks target students. Before you apply for a credit card, understand your rights and responsibilities and the impact it may have on future credit. Meet with a professional at USLS to discuss your options. A credit card is a financial tool that allows you to buy now with a promise to pay later. Manage it, don’t let it manage you.


What are some simple steps I can take to protect my identity?
Identity Theft is when your name is stolen by another so that he or she can gain access to your cash, credit, goods, services. Identity theifs may even commit crimes under your name. Take steps to secure your identity. Lock your mailbox, shred documents that contain personal information, and notify authorities immediately if you suspect identity theft.


Is it actually a crime to carry a fake ID?
It is a crime to use a false I.D. identifying yourself or your age falsely or inaccurately.



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