CRIMINAL DEFENSE FEES are difficult to reduce to a schedule or chart – we do not offer anything like that in criminal cases. We also generally do not quote fees over the phone, as we feel it’s important for an attorney and prospective client to meet, if at all possible. It is a serious decision to hire an attorney to represent your interests, or the interests of your family member/loved-one and coming to our office and meeting us is an important part of the decision.
We understand that fees are often times the determining factor in what criminal defense attorney to hire in your matter. Charging fees is an unfortunate reality of running a private criminal defense practice. We must charge our clients a fee commensurate with the level of difficulty of the representation in terms of hours, complexity, costs, experts (if necessary), etc… and the impact taking a particular case will have on our firm.
FEES: As a criminal defense attorney for the last 9 years I have run my own law practice and quoted fees to my clients for representation. When quoting fees, I do my best to estimate the cost of representation in my firm. We consider such matters as the facts as represented to me in an initial interview, the nature of the case, and the impact it will have on my practice to take on the defense of your matter. We do our best to estimate the number of hours it will take to complete the representation and simply multiply that by my hourly rate. In flat fee cases, the fees paid include representation from start to finish, and is the total amount of attorney’s fees we will charge you at our firm.
FLAT FEES: I generally do not take criminal defense representation on anything other than a flat fee basis, my contract states clearly:
“This fee is earned upon payment for my consultation and giving you a course of action. This minimum fee is due regardless of the length of time it takes to reach a final adjudication in this matter. The fee is paid in exchange for me accepting your case, and for rendering advice on a plan of action. Upon payment, the fee belongs to me, it will be deposited into my operating account and it will not be held in trust for you. I would not accept this case for a lesser fee.”
And, “This is a flat fee case, I will represent you for the duration of this particular criminal matter, from the date you hire me until the conclusion of this matter by dismissal, deferred adjudication, plea or trial, for the fee of $[total amount of fee].”
This is our commitment to you, if we sign a flat fee contract we will represent you as long as it takes to adjudicate the matter you hired us to defend in the trial court by dismissal, pre-trial diversion, plea or jury trial. You will not be billed additional attorney’s fees in a flat fee case.
RIGHT TO ATTORNEY OF YOUR CHOICE: It is very important to understand that a client has the right to discharge his/her lawyer at any time with or without cause. The client always has the right to counsel of his/her choice. However, as it states in my contract for services,
“In the event that you decide to discharge The Ambeau Law Firm, you agree that we are entitled to compensation at the rate of $[my hourly rate] per hour, for the actual work done in your matter, and expenses incurred, as may be allowed by law. Hourly work is tracked in 1/10 hours and the fee earned will be determined by multiplying the total hours worked by our hourly rate.”
ADDITIONAL FEES: The only time that you will pay additional fees is if there are appeals/writs taken to the higher courts of jurisdiction, and only upon agreeing together that that is the best course of action. An appeal of the case after final adjudication is a separate representation and can be addressed at the conclusion of the trial level work. A writ, as addressed here, is asking the higher court to exercise supervisory jurisdiction over the trial court – asking the higher court to overturn or overrule a decision of the trial court. Writs are filed during trial level representation and before final adjudication, but this is an expensive process and would require additional attorney’s fees and substantial costs. Again, a decision to take this course of action is made in conjunction with our clients only. These matters are also covered in our contract for services.
EXPERTS: We also, in many cases, discuss the cost of hiring experts. Experts are not needed in every case, and in fact, not in most cases. When experts are possibly needed in a criminal defense case we will talk about that at the initial interview, if possible, and discuss the costs related thereto. Any expert fees we collect from you, not paid directly to an expert, are put into our trust account and paid directly from that account. Expert fees remain the property of the client until paid to the expert and any of these fees paid to our firm and not used will be returned to the client.
PAYMENT TERMS: We understand that fees in criminal defense cases can be extraordinarily burdensome. We understand that often times the person paying the criminal defense fees is not the person facing criminal consequences. We also understand that it is difficult to pay an attorney with which you have no previous relationship, or contact, a large legal fee. We appreciate this sentiment and offer the ability to pay fees in stages, (1) pre-arrest, (2) pre-trial and (3) trial, in limited cases, where total fees are excessively high. We also offer limited payment terms, again with the understanding that fees can be extraordinarily burdensome but require at least half of the total fee paid and the signing of a promissory note for the remainder that includes payment terms. The choice to enter into this arrangement for the client’s benefit does not affect the total flat fee charged or the client’s obligation to complete payment of the fees.
We are here to help you through this difficult time and are willing to speak honestly and openly about your financial resources and the cost of hiring our firm to represent you in your matter. Give us a call and come in and sit down with our principal attorney, Jarrett Ambeau, and we will make every effort to be fair and reasonable in the financial aspect of our representation.
DO NOT talk to anyone about your matter before communicating with an attorney. There are times where communication with law enforcement is the best way forward, but that decision should be made with the advice of counsel. If you wish to remain silent the most important thing to do is REMAIN SILENT – DO NOT TALK. If you do not wish to speak, you must invoke your right to counsel by saying something like, “I do not want to answer any questions without speaking to my attorney first.” You have to be clear, if you are not clear, say it over and over again until you get it right – and do not say anything else – REMAIN SILENT – and call an attorney.
IMPORTANT: This is not legal advice. I have provided this in an effort to inform you of what to expect, not to advise you on a course of action. Please consult with an attorney before making any decision that may affect your legal rights, liberty, freedom, or safety.
NEXT: Pre-trial Representation