International students often have English as a second language. Most international students are competent in the English language, however, the language of law and the U.S. legal system can be confusing and downright baffling for native speakers of the English language and even more so for those who were not raised with English as their primary language.
There is truth to the expression that, "Lawyers write the law so only lawyers can understand it".
To assist students in having greater understanding of documents that they may be required to use in court in Champaign County, the Student Legal Service has had the following basic documents translated from English into various languages.
The documents are:
- Jury Waiver
- Your Rights in Traffic Court
- Misdemeanor Plea Admonitions
Each form is available in English and can be downloaded. Each form is also available in Arabic, Chinese, French, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Nepali, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian, and Urdu, and can be downloaded. Other languages will be added as translations become available.
These translations are designed to familiarize you with the content of the form that you may need to sign in court. Only the Spanish translations are court accepted translations. The other language translations are solely to familiarize you with the language of the documents.
The forms do not substitute for legal representation or the use of a "translator" appointed by the Judge if you lack sufficient skills in English to fully understand the nature and consequences of the proceeding. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR A TRANSLATOR if you do not understand what is going on in court.
WARNING! CAUTION! BEWARE! BE CAREFUL ABOUT TRANSLATIONS! Translation of documents, poems, literature is a difficult art. Each translator selects a word or words that capture the meaning within the context of the document. No two translations of a document are likely to be the same.
This is particularly true with legal documents where certain legal concepts are culturally specific to U.S. Law. The concept of "presumption of innocence" and "the right to a jury trial" are not universal legal concepts.
When reading these translations you should be consulting with an attorney at Student Legal Service or with a private licensed attorney.