Entries categorized "Advice to Clients"

How Much do Lawyers Charge?

[Ed's note: This post is part of a continuing series entitled "Advice to Clients."]

"Gideon" at the Public Defender Blog has an excellent point about the problem working- and middle-class criminal defendants face. 

[T]he indigence levels are so low that a middle class person earning a regular salary wouldn't qualify for a PD, but yet probably doesn't make enough money to pay a private attorney the standard $1500 for representation.

I have to assume that the "$1500" amount is a typo. [Ed's note: Read these comments.]  If you're charged with a serious, non-capital felony, you should expect to pay a minimum of 15-thousand dollars.  A really good criminal trial lawyer will cost between $25,000 and $50,000.  If it's a serious white collar criminal offense, double those amounts. 

The problem is that few people (including most lawyers) have 25K or more sitting around.  What is a person to do?

The sad answer is that your only option is to cash in your 401(k) (if you're lucky enough to have one), mortgage your home, sell your car, take out credit cards, and beg and borrow from family and friends (if they haven't already abandoned you merely because you were charged with a crime).  I've met too many criminal defendants concerned with their credit rating.  Worry about your credit rating after obtaining a favorable disposition. 

If you get an unskilled lawyer, you will spend a lot of time in prison.  Not only will your credit be ruined, but likely, your life.  So if you miss some credit card payments because you're paying private investigators or lawyers, don't sweat it.  The only number you need concern yourself with is your "crime time."  Worry about your credit score later.

How to Talk to a Lawyer, Cont.

I'm updating this post with another piece of advice.

*    The law is what the Supreme Court (and other courts) says it is.  It doesn't matter what the Constitution says, or what the Founders intended.  We can certainly have a wonderful philosophical debate over whether an unjust law is really a law at all.  And we can debate whether the Supreme Court's current search and seizure jurisprudence is either right or just.  But in the meantime, we have to follow the rules - no matter how wrong they seem - that judges have given us.

In a post unrelated to ours, Dylan has offered some sound advice here.  Please keep it coming.

Great Advice

Do read this excellent post: How to talk to a lawyer.

I would add a couple of points:

*   Do not ramble on and on that the police did not read you your rights when they arrested you.  Chances are that the police officer was not required to read you your rights.  But do tell your lawyer once that: "The police officer never read me my rights."

*  Don't tell anyone but your lawyer your story, even if it's necessary to protect your reputation or good name.  It doesn't matter if you're as innocent as the Virgin Mary: If convicted, your life is over.  Your reputation will be that, "S/he's a convicted felon."  So instead of sharing the facts that prove your innocence with others, save them for your lawyer, and the jury.  You can worry about repairing your reputation once you walk from court as a free man or woman.

Please add your points in the comments section.