|FAQ’s: (Frequently Asked Questions)|
Processing the Case:
|How long will my case take to complete?|
How much will this cost?
The total cost of your case will depend on the amount of time I spend on the case and the expenses incurred. I charge by the hour, and I bill in increments of one tenth of one hour. Effective January 1, 2005, my hourly rate is $200.00 per hour, and I bill at that rate for every task I do on your behalf. I do have law students (paralegals) who assist me from time to time. When it is logical and efficient to do so, I may delegate certain non-critical tasks to a law student. Their time is billed at $75.00 per hour, and is also billed in increments of one tenth of an hour. [Back to Top]
What is a retainer and how much will I have to pay?
A retainer is a deposit to secure the payment of legal fees that will become due in the future. The amount of the retainer varies from case to case. Whatever the amount, the retainer is deposited into my attorney trust account, where the money stays until it is earned. As I do work or incur expenses on your behalf, our fee contract authorizes me to withdraw funds from the retainer. If the retainer is used up, I will ask you to replace it with additional funds. At the close of the case and after all legal fees and expenses are paid, the balance in your retainer account is refunded to you. [Back to Top]
Will I understand the fee contract?
I normally use an engagement letter as the fee contract. An engagement letter is simply a letter that I write to you after our initial meeting. It will set forth the scope of services that I will provide for you, the fees and expenses to be charged, and the facts and circumstances that you related to me in our first interview. I ask all my clients to sign the engagement letter and return it to me. You will be provided with a copy of the engagement letter for your files. [Back to Top]
How often will I receive a billing statement?
Some cases move very quickly while other cases may take several months before any significant work is done. Internally, I keep track of my time and expenses and make periodic distributions based on what has been earned. If there are funds remaining on deposit I normally do not send a statement. If the retainer is exhausted, I will send you an itemized statement along with a request for an additional retainer. Of course, you are entitled to an itemized statement at any time, and I will be happy to provide one to you upon request. [Back to Top]
How often will I meet with my attorney?
My philosophy is that we should meet whenever it is necessary and appropriate in the defense of your case, but we should not meet unnecessarily. Because I bill you for the time I spend on your case, you pay for all meetings that we have together. Therefore, I am happy to spend as much time with you as necessary, but suggest that we use our time productively. [Back to Top]
Can I call you on the phone or send you emails?
I am available by telephone and email to answer any questions you may have about your case. Because I have an active trial and appeal practice, I am often out of the office during normal business hours, and thus unavailable to take your calls. If I am in the office but with another client, I do not interrupt my client to take a call. However, I do have voicemail and I make an effort to return all calls in a timely manner — usually within 24 hours. Because I may retrieve voicemail messages from the road, always leave your telephone number if you want a return call.
Email is an excellent tool for a quick question that is not urgent. I can access my email 24/7, and frequently check it after normal business hours. Often I can respond to simple questions, even if I do not have your file with me.
Because I bill by the hour, time that I spend listening to and responding to voicemails or emails is billed in the same way as any other task I do in your case. [Back to Top]
How long will my case take to complete?
This is perhaps the most often asked question, and is the most difficult to answer. There are so many variables that it is difficult to give an accurate response. Typically, misdemeanor cases are resolved within 4 — 6 months, and felony cases are resolved within 6 — 12 months. Appeals may take as long as 12 — 18 months. Remember, these ranges are merely estimates based on a typical case. Your case may move much more quickly or it may take much longer. [Back to Top]
Can I make the other side pay for my attorney fees and expenses?
Unfortunately, it is the rare criminal case where a defendant can recover attorney’s fees or expenses from the State or from the alleged victim. Before you can even attempt to recover the money you spend on attorney fees and expenses, the criminal case must be concluded. The legal action to recover these funds is a civil lawsuit, and I do not handle those types of cases. My advice to my clients is that you should assume that you will not be repaid any of your attorney fees or expenses, except under the most extraordinary circumstances. [Back to Top]
I am seeking an attorney to help a family member or friend. Will I be able to ask questions?
Even if you provide the money for the attorney, the attorney-client relationship is between the attorney and the person charged with a crime. Therefore, the only person who can authorize me to talk to you about the facts of the case is the defendant. Unless the defendant gives me specific authorization (in writing) to talk with you, I am required to maintain confidentiality. Sometimes I will advise the defendant not to waive confidentiality, even if the defendant wants to waive it, because it is in the defendant’s best interest to maintain confidentiality. While I am happy to answer questions about the legal process in general, I cannot discuss the defendant’s case with anyone else. [Back to Top]
But, since I paid your bill, I can ask anything I want, right?
It makes no difference who pays the attorney’s bill, his duty to maintain confidentiality remains the same. That is why I will often ask the family or friend who is paying the bill for another person to sign a separate document to acknowledge that the only person to whom I owe a duty of loyalty and confidentiality is the client. [Back to Top]
My friend or family member is in jail. How will you communicate with him or her?
Communication with an incarcerated defendant is particularly difficult. My office landord does not permit collect telephone calls, and therefore the inmate cannot call me directly. The inmate also does not have access to email, so he or she cannot communicate that way. The best solution is for the inmate to write me a letter. I am also happy to receive telephone calls or messages from family members, so long as those messages are limited to statements like "John needs to see you. Please schedule a visit and let me know when you plan to see him, so I can tell him the next time he calls." [Back to Top]