A cheap attorney may cost you
There is a big market out there for cheap, low-cost criminal defense. I refuse to get into that market. However, it is sometimes difficult for people to understand why one lawyer costs so much more than another one. I’ll try to give you a couple examples.
We just finished a vehicular homicide case and got a great deal for a client that had a lot against him. When his father came to see us, he complained that his attorney was doing nothing. It turns out, he paid his attorney less than what we would charge for a DWI case. As I explained, there is a lot of profit in that next to nothing retainer when you do next to nothing. We charged him about 10 times what he paid the previous attorney. Now that the case is over and he saw the 100+ hours we put into the case, I’m sure he thinks that it was a good investment.
We also had a client that went the opposite way and we just found out what happened with his case. His mother came to see us last year. We charged her a pre-indictment fee that was fair given the amount of work we had to do. He was charged with attempting to stab his wife. However, the wife denied this occurred and was in constant communication with our office. I called the AP on the case and she indicated that she was probably going to downgrade the case back to municipal court. In addition, the client was in the hospital due to mental health issues so he was in no condition to help us. However, the records from his stay there would really help his defense. Thus, this seemed like an easy case.
About a week or so after hiring us, his Mother spoke to another attorney that offered to do the whole case for the same amount we charged for part of the case. Thus, she hired him. Wouldn’t you be concerned with an attorney that would steal a case away from another attorney like that? Anyway, the funny thing about that was that the client wouldn’t have owed us anything if the case worked out like the AP said it would.
We had thought that the other attorney had just used our hard work to wrap up the case. However, this attorney did not take a statement from a wife before the case was presented to the grand jury. Thus, the client was indicted. In addition, at no point did the attorney get his medical records or have him evaluated by an expert to look into his mental state. Instead, the prosecutor threatened him with a big sentence if he didn’t plea guilty so his attorney told him to take the deal even though he claims he is innocent.
So he didn’t save any money, he has a felony conviction and he is likely headed to prison for a crime that both he and his wife claim never happened. So he paid this attorney all of this money for what exactly?