So You’ve Been Arrested…
You’ve been arrested, released on bail, waiting for your first court date, and facing an uncertain future. You may have lost your job, family and reputation. You’ve never been in a situation like this and you’re terrified of what’s to come. Having to worry about the situation at home, your marriage, your family and your job like never before is enough to drive anyone to the brink. On top of everything you have to search for an attorney, research their skills and background, price shop, drive to office buildings and possibly borrow money from friends and family, or sell property and liquidate assets, to hire the best attorney you can find.
Hiring an attorney, especially during a crisis, is never easy, cheap or fun. Nor do many folks ever plan on getting arrested so there is never a contingency plan for when these things happen. When they do, they scatter searching and calling any number of attorneys, making emotional decisions and wondering the entire time if they’ve made the right choices. If you’re reading this then you can likely relate to most of this.
Continue reading and hopefully you’ll have a road map to help you navigate these unchartered waters so that you may mitigate risks and optimize you’re chances of getting out alive.
What to Do
Before picking up the phone to call the first law firm, conduct a quick assessment of your financial situation. It might annoy some readers that we’re bringing up the money issue so soon in this article, but let’s be honest: all attorneys will charge you a lot of money and you need to be prepared, basically, to purchase a used car, cash. Check your savings, credit limits, retirement account balances, equities, etc. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, you’re likely to spend between $1,500 up to many thousands more. And not all firms offer payment plans and when they do they’re structured differently.
– Does the retainer fee include trial?
– If the case does not go to trial do you get any money back?
– What’s the most you can put toward the retainer fee?
– How long do you have to pay off the balance?
These are the types of questions you’ll need to ask.
Don’t Panic, Call
When you finally call to make an appointment or have a consultation over the phone, you can get an impression of how the firm operates by how they conduct the initial consultation. You may not speak to the actual attorney right away but it’s always in your interest to do so before you hire the firm. Tell them everything you can about the arrest. When, where, how, who, why, etc. The more information the attorney has, the better he/she can strategize a defense. This part of the consultation should take at least 10 minutes. If they start bringing up money and legal fees before you’ve told them your entire version of events, you may want to continue looking.
A diligent attorney will let you take your time, disclose all facts and opinions, and allow you time to vent properly and will ask you questions as well. You may end up (and should) speaking with several law firms before you find the right one. The right law firm for you is the one that you feel the most comfortable with for the most reasonable price. Don’t hire the least expensive attorney just because they’re the cheapest. Remember that in our consumer culture, you end up getting what you pay for. And don’t hire the most expensive firm assuming they must be the best. There are many large firms that quote very high prices, not because they’re the best but because of high operating costs.
Lastly, do your due diligence. With all that’s happening following your arrest you may not feel inspired research random attorneys. We understand. It’s overwhelming. On the other hand, not researching the attorney you’re planning to hire can make the situation worse. There’s a saying: in the age of the Internet, ignorance is choice. It takes seconds to read helpful reviews of any, if not all, practicing attorneys anywhere. Spend a few minutes to do so and go to the state bar website. Find out how long they’ve practiced, if they’ve had any disciplinary issues with the bar, where they went to law school. This information will help you affirm your decisions.
There’s a lot more ground to cover but you have to get back to searching and hiring an attorney. If you or a loved one have been arrested or you think you’re about to be arrested then call us. We’ll address all your questions and concerns respectfully and patiently.
Author: Jorge Guerrero