What are your rates?
Please see my Rates page.
I’ve seen attorneys offer both flat fee and hourly rates, do you do that, and which is better?
I will always work at an hourly rate if that’s what the potential client wants, but for some cases I will give potential clients a choice between flat fee and hourly rates. It’s not that one type of rate structure is inherently better than another, there are just tradeoffs involved.
When I do offer a flat fee for your case, that’s because it’s a type of case and probably also in a Court that I’ve worked frequently in before, so I have a rough idea of what to expect at least as far as the temperament of the judge and prosecutor. The rates are based on the fact that for probably 4 our of 5 clients, after we review the evidence, we’re able to work out a deal at the first court date that’s hard to pass up and the clients are happy to take it and run. So the fee I set compensates me decently in those cases which don’t take a whole ton of work, with a little bit of “padding” to make sure that for the 1 out of 5 clients where we have good evidence to fight it out and try to win it (or we just need to fight it out because the prosecutor is being difficult), I’m already covered. It’s a bit like each client is buying a little bit of “insurance” to guarantee that if they have the case that they decide (with my advice) to take to the mat, they won’t have to worry about paying me any extra.
With an hourly rate you know that if you have one of the “easier” cases you’re only paying for the time I spend, so it will often be cheaper than the flat fee that was offered, but on the chance that yours is one of the cases that it’s best to fight, you’ll probably pay more than the flat fee that was offered. That’s the trade-off with hourly fees.
Doesn’t paying you a flat fee encourage you to do the minimum work on my case?
In a strictly financial sense, yes it does. Anyone who is paid a flat fee for something is economically encouraged to do the minimum work necessary to get the fee; that’s true. But if that’s what I did, I would hate myself, and I would be a bad attorney.
I became a criminal defense attorney not to try and get rich, but because I like the work and I believe in it. I like making sure that the police have to follow the Constitution. I also want my clients to be happy, and to get the best result possible (and I think my reviews suggest that most of them are happy with my work).
On the other side of the coin, hourly fees economically encourage attorneys to do the most work possible on the case, even when it’s not necessary or not helpful to the client, but obviously that would make them bad attorneys too.
Long story short, hiring an attorney in any way–on a flat fee or hourly or some other rate structure– involves putting your trust in them. Whether my clients hire me hourly or on a flat fee basis, I work hard and make sure that their trust in me was deserved.
How much experience do you have?
Please see my About page.
I’m charged with a “minor” crime, and lawyers are expensive. Can’t I just represent myself?
You can represent yourself in any case you want, from a speeding ticket to a murder charge, but you won’t be surprised to hear that we lawyers would usually recommend against it. There can be several hidden costs to even a “minor” crime which make it important to get the best result possible: higher insurance rates, the loss of your driver’s license, monthly fees for an ignition interlock device, fees for counseling programs, and a criminal record that impairs your later career prospects. A lawyer could possibly save you from these costs, give you piece of mind during the process, and might not be as expensive as you think. It’s worth at least a (free) consultation to find out.
I did the crime, and the police have evidence. Shouldn’t I just accept responsibility, plead guilty, and throw myself on the mercy of the court?
You can if you want to, but there are a couple reasons why you should think twice: Someone else who committed the same crime and fights the charge or negotiates with the prosecutor might get a lesser penalty, even if they eventually accept responsibility by pleading guilty. Something like 90% of criminal convictions result from plea deals, so the system, in a sense, has adapted to them.
Furthermore, even if you believe you are guilty of the charged crime, the police may have made mistakes or violated your constitutional rights while investigating your case. If so, forcing the prosecution to dismiss the case or reduce the charges not only helps you, but it helps all citizens by removing the incentive for law enforcement officers to abuse civil rights.
Why doesn’t your website contain stock photos of people in handcuffs, car keys, and glasses of alcohol?
Because this website was made by me, not a website company. I keep my overhead as low as possible, so I can charge lower rates.
Are things I tell you confidential?
As a general rule, whatever you tell me when we discuss your case is confidential and protected by the attorney/client privilege, even if you decide not to hire me or I decide not to accept your case. However, it might not be a good idea to use email for sensitive information, and it definitely is not a good idea to use your employer’s computer or your employee email to send private information about your case. Many employers monitor their employees’ emails.
What If I Have a Different Question?
To talk specifically about your case and your situation, use the Contact button.Content by Dain Smoland (Google+)