Why You Need a Cease and Desist Attorney
Whether you need to write a cease and desist letter or have received one, you may require the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Receiving a cease and desist letter, typically from a law office, can be intimidating. If you find the need to produce a letter yourself, an attorney can help you avoid legal issues while ensuring your letter is effective.
Let’s take a look at the legal definition of "cease and desist," some common reasons to write cease and desist letters, and why you should use an attorney.
The Basics of Cease and Desist Letters
If you believe an individual or entity is engaging in an activity that is harmful to you or your business, you can take action with a cease and desist letter. Alternatively, you may receive such a letter from someone who believes you are acting to harm them.
Cease and desist letters have no legal effect in and of themselves, but they are often the first step used when attempting to stop someone from continuing a harmful action. The existence of one of these letters serves as documentation if the issue escalates. Cease and desist letters document a party’s attempt to communicate and notify another party to stop doing what they are doing. The letter contains the potential consequences of disregarding the request and lays a legal foundation for the next round of action.
A cease and desist notification has three primary elements:
- A statement of the rights of ownership of any materials or other product.
- A statement that the user is violating those rights.
- A statement that the user must stop the specific activity or use immediately.
There may be other demands or instructions, or a formal request for proper attribution, such as in the case of copyright infringement or intellectual property use.
Common Reasons for Cease and Desist Letters
Cease and desist letters are written for a myriad of reasons, but there are several common topics.
- Infringement of intellectual property rights, including copyright.
- Continuing contact from debt collection services if they violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
- Defamation in the form of libel (published false statements) or slander (false spoken statements) harming a person’s reputation.
- Unsafe, hazardous, or illegal business activity, such as improper disposal of toxic waste.
- Discrimination by an employer.
- Harassment in any form such as stalking.
If you own a business yourself, a cease and desist letter can be one step towards preparing for a worst-case scenario.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney for Cease and Desist Cases
It’s tempting to think writing the letter yourself would be easiest and cheapest. However, a knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the seriousness of the grounds for action. He or she can explain whether or not your rights have truly been violated and the grounds for the violation.
Writing a cease and desist letter yourself without consulting an attorney could place you at risk legally or personally. If you improperly cite your rights and the grounds for stopping the activity, you could be opening the door for legal action against yourself or your business. If the letter is not written carefully in consideration of the issue at hand, the recipient may react negatively in a dangerous way.
If you are demanding payment or accusing another party of illegal action, an attorney ensures the letter will compel the offender to take notice. Also, a cease and desist letter arriving from an attorney’s office carries more weight in a court of law.
If you are the recipient of such a letter, an attorney can tell you whether it is legally correct and advise you of the appropriate next step.
Cease and desist letters are not simple documents. They carry legal weight and, as such, should be written with the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Houston defense lawyer Greg Tsioros provides legal advice and aggressive representation for clients charged with misdemeanors and felonies at both the state and federal level. Mr. Tsioros handles criminal defense cases of any stature – from orders of non-disclosure and expunctions to more serious DWI and drug charges.