What is the real impact of a criminal conviction?
A criminal conviction can result in the loss of your very freedom, your career, your house, family relationships, reputation, professional license, educational opportunities, and affect your entire future. A top-notch lawyer is the key to turning the tables on the prosecution and obtaining an extraordinary resolution.
Don’t Lose Hope; Your Situation is Not Hopeless.
Depending on the seriousness of the crime you are charged with, the most it will ever cost you is your life. Being convicted of a crime can result in the loss of your very freedom. It can also cost your career, your house, family relationships, reputation, professional license, educational opportunities, and affect your entire future. A good lawyer can help you; however, trying to figure out what a fair price for a very good Michigan criminal defense lawyer can be scary and confusing.
Ultimately what you are compensating a lawyer for is his or her time, experience, reputation, and skill. When LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is retained to represent a client, our lawyers take the case personally, and we will do whatever it takes to protect and defend our client. That responsibility is one we do not assume lightly. Often our client’s freedom is entrusted to our care, and there is no room for error. The only way we can sleep at night is with the knowledge that we have done everything possible to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients.
Most people don’t plan to be charged with a crime, and that is why we are committed to making quality legal representation as affordable as possible. Our lawyers handle the majority of the firm’s cases on a flat fee. In other words, you do not have to worry about being charged by the hour or for every phone call or email. Generally, the firm’s practice is to set a flat amount for the representation in your case in most matters. This gives you the peace of mind that if your situation becomes more complicated than anticipated or drawn out for any reason, you are not going to be financially drained or left without representation.
What is a free consultation?
A free consultation does not mean a free opportunity to get legal advice. Our attorneys get calls from many people every day, asking if we can tell them what they should do or if we can give advice or assistance to their lawyers. We can appreciate that a person charged with a crime will likely be very nervous and will want to call on our nationally ranked criminal trial lawyers for advice. This being said, the purpose of a consultation is to assess if you’re going to hire a lawyer. It is an opportunity for you to inquire about a lawyer’s experience, defense philosophy, trial record, and knowledge. It is also an opportunity for the lawyer, assuming he or she is reputable, to assess whether they are the right criminal attorney to help the prospective client.
Should you go over all the facts with a lawyer during a free consultation? Probably not. Going over all the facts of your case with a lawyer during a free consultation is probably not in anyone’s best interest, and it is likely not necessary. Once an attorney is retained, he will want to get a full history and recitation of all the relevant facts. For purposes of determining if the lawyer can help, knowing all the facts is more than what is necessary. It is also important to point out that the client is frequently not aware of all the “facts.” Although the client may know best what actually happened, other relevant factors are what allegations are made, what alleged statements are attributed to the client, what are the police or other law enforcement officers claiming (many times falsely), and much, much more. The facts don’t determine which lawyer is best; the best Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer can deal with the facts…no matter what they may be. The key in a consultation is to find the lawyer you feel would be best able to protect you and get you the best possible outcome (whether that is an amazing plea bargain or an extremely good sentence). No matter what the facts of your case are, the lawyer will have to deal with them. A great criminal attorney will get the best outcome possible, whether the facts are great or terrible.
Can a lawyer in a criminal case charge a contingent fee?
Many people who are charged with a felony or misdemeanor charge often want to find a lawyer who will not charge them unless they “win.” This is called a contingency fee. The Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits explicitly entering into an arrangement for charging or collecting a contingency fee in a criminal matter. Essentially, when you hire a lawyer relative to a criminal charge, you are paying for that person’s time, experience, and reputation and not the outcome. A lawyer who agrees to accept a “tip” or extra fee in exchange for a promise or guarantee of a particular result is willing to violate the ethical rules that govern their profession and should be avoided at all costs.
Can a lawyer promise or guarantee a particular result?
If you hear the words, “I promise you won’t do jail time…,” find someone else. Giving a promise or guarantee is unethical and probably illegal. It is a fraud, plain and simple. No lawyer, regardless of experience or relationships with judges or prosecutors, can guarantee anything reliably. If giving a guarantee or a promise is unethical, who do so many criminal attorneys do it? Desperation and greed, plain and simple. When people tell me that another lawyer is promising no jail, no prison, no probation, or some other result, our attorneys tell them to get the guarantee in writing from the criminal defense lawyer. What do you think happens? The lawyer refuses. If a result is a certainty, the lawyer should be willing to put it in writing. They won’t do it, they never do. Giving a promise in exchange for a legal fee is dishonest, unethical, and deceptive.
Do I need an attorney from Oakland County, Wayne County, or Macomb County?
Many people who are charged with a crime feel that they have to hire an Oakland County criminal attorney or one who is from Wayne or Macomb under the theory that the lawyers in the tri-county area are most experienced and considered the best in the State of Michigan. Considering the number of felony and misdemeanor charges in those areas, the level of legal representation is understandably considered by many to be of a very high caliber. This being said, it is not necessarily the case that a lawyer in another part of the state may not be an excellent attorney. The attorney that is going to be able to attain the best possible resolution in a case is NOT a local lawyer but the best lawyer. A great attorney will be known throughout the state of Michigan regardless of where their office is located. The top criminal lawyers in Michigan routinely practice in courts throughout the state.
“So how much is a fair fee in a criminal case?”
The unfortunate answer is, “it depends.” Many lawyers advertise a set flat fee for all kinds of cases, including criminal, bankruptcy, wills, trusts, bankruptcy, and more. Frankly, this is a sign of a desperate lawyer who cares more about the quantity of his or her cases rather than the quality of representation or the results obtained. This is a terrible sign for the client who enters into a lawyer/client relationship with one of these restaurant menu style lawyers. For example, a client with an OWI may just want a fair plea bargain, and a lenient sentence or a client on an OWI may have been stopped illegally, tested by a noncertified Datamaster operator and not given Miranda warnings. The first prospective client’s case will be far less time consuming, and the second potential client’s case is far more complex. What if a lawyer who promises to handle all OWI or DUI cases gets retained by these two clients? The first client will be overcharged in legal fees, and the second client will get sold out because the lawyer will probably be dishonest and claim that the case should not be fought.
A lawyer should be willing to meet with you in person and discuss your case with you in sufficient detail to be able to determine how much work the case will require and structure a fee that is fair and reasonable. Lawyers that routinely quote prices on the telephone should frequently be avoided because it is not a good sign that he or she is willing to fully consider what it will take to achieve the best possible outcome.
Do Criminal Defense Attorney’s take Payment Plans?
Many lawyers will offer a payment plan of some type. Some lawyers agree to accept monthly or weekly payments, and some lawyers will take a retainer (an amount required to initiate legal services) and then work out a payment plan for the balance of the fees. Unfortunately for those with minimal resources, the busiest, most successful criminal defense lawyers frequently have the most limited payment plans. It doesn’t hurt or cost anything to ask, though, so when you have an initial consultation, inquire about how fees can be paid and if a payment plan is available.
The bottom line…
The bottom line is that if you or your loved one is charged with a felony or misdemeanor or there is an allegation of criminal activity, you want the best possible Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer you can get. Most times in life, you get what you pay for. A court-appointed attorney is free, and they are frequently forced to make a living based on quantity rather than quality. This goes for “Yellow Page Lawyers,” “Plea Lawyers,” and lawyers who charge by one-size-fits-all legal fees as well. The bottom line is to try to find a great lawyer and meet with him or her to see if you can find a way to afford their services. Although the investment in a great attorney can be steep, it is often the best investment a person can make. What is your future, life, family, job, and reputation worth? What will it cost you to be represented by a lawyer that will fail to achieve the result you deserve or be unsuccessful in attaining the best possible outcome? Too much. What is the value of having someone by your side who has the ability, experience, and aggressiveness to protect you? Priceless.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation, or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.