Two brothers were exonerated after a trial in Chicago
This Opinion Piece appeared in the New Yoirk Times Sunday Edition
If you do not have insurance you will be facing suspension consequences in Ohio. If you do not have a valid license, you also may face criminal charges.
Minor infractions can have some consequences you were not aware of so we always suggest calling a lawyer before deciding to just pay the infraction. It is so much easier to prevent a problem than come in later to fix one.
If police suggest they suspect you of drinking or being under the influence of a substance you have a number of concerns. Understand you have choices.
If asked to get out of the car, you must comply. We suggest you ask about your status at every stage of the encounter with police. "officer am I under arrest?" "Am I free to leave?" Answers to these questions provide you with information from which to make decisions. If you are under arrest, ask for a lawyer. Do not provide any information to police other than identifying information about you. You will not talk your way out of an arrest. Do not try
If you are not under arrest, you still have choices. If asked to perform certain tests by an officer we suggest politely refusing. In our opinion the test are not related to your ability to drive and are designed to make it difficult for anyone to perform well. If you are asked to perform these tests, police suspect or believe you are under the influence. Your performance on these tests may make it difficult to defend you in court if arrested. Why help the officer with more evidence to support her assumptions about you?
If you are asked to submit to a test of your breath, urine or blood we also ask you to consider refusing. At this point you are most likely under arrest. Our experience is an officer will not reverse her decision to arrest you even if test results are below threshold levels. If true, there is little advantage to submitting upon arrest. The driving license suspensions may be longer at first for refusing however some of our clients can get privileges to drive while the license is suspended. Our experience is your case is easier to defend and you are more likely to have a successful result if you politely refuse to take the tests requested.
Our experience is most clients we represent prefer a flat fee agreement. It is easier to help make a decision between lawyers. It is easier to budget and provides certainty for a client that he or she can afford the full services needed. Some clients feel an hourly fee is more fair and are willing to accept the idea the final bill is not certain.
Hourly fees normally have a deposit of funds into a lawyer's trust account which the lawyer "draws' from when she earns the fee by performing the legal services for the client. Any remaining fees not earned are returned to the client. If the money runs out and there are still legal services to perform, the client will be expected to deposit additional fees to cover the expected future fees.
Lawyers who specialize can make an educated guess of how much work a particular case will require and provide the client with a flat fee for representation. These fees may take on many forms. Some have payment plans. Some have "benchmarks" such as a fee for representation in a case resolved in a plea and then require additional money for a motion which may dispose or limit the case and another fee for a trial.
There is nothing wrong with either type of fee. Each is designed for the comfort of the client. Most lawyers whose practice is handling criminal cases will consider both styles of fee agreements.
Since the Judge has so much discretion at sentencing, he or she weilds great power before and during a trial. Many judges impose a "trial tax" or penalty on defendants who decide to force a prosecutor to prove the allegations made. This means a judge will impose a more sever sentence just because a trial was held versus a plea. Some judges will blatantly inform the attorney about a client's likelihood of getting the "max" if there is a trial and finding of guilty. Others are more subtle but the message is clear to the lawyer who has a history with that judge.
No. You are asserting a right given to you by the Constitution. Police like to take advantage of the idea someone looks guilty if he or she asks for a lawyer. That is never true. The police are skilled interrogators. They do not have to tell you the truth. The United States Supreme Court has determined police may lie to someone during questioning. Why speak to someone who has permission to lie to you during the conversation? You do not have that same right.
A lawyer can protect you from unwarranted allegations. A lawyer can protect you from an overzealous police investigation. If you have done nothing wrong, a lawyer may successfully shorten an investigation by the police and reduce the incovenience to you. If you have done something wrong, then you clearly need the assistance of a lawyer before deciding whether to speak with police.
Quite frequently we hear "thank you" from clients who have sought our assistance when first approached or learning of the police interest in speaking to them. We have never heard "I really did not need you " once an investigation has been concluded. Lawyers are there to help you not hurt you.
We strongly suggest you consider a lawyer who specializes in criminal defense. If you have general medical issues you will see a general practitioner. But once an issue is identified, you are referred to a specialist. This is for two reasons; the specialist normally has additional training in this area and he/she has a good chance to stay up to date on all the advances of the specialty. We believe the same is true of lawyers.
Many lawyers advertise they will represent people on a wide variety of areas of the law. We think that is extremely hard to do for most. Every area of law is constantly changing with new procedures being put into place, new rules and always new court decisions to become familiar with if one is expected to do a good job for a client. The areas have grown so much the courts handling matters are in separate buildings with separate procedures and rules. Domestic Relations, Juvenile, Appellate, and Criminal cases are all in different courthouses in Hamilton, Warren, Clermont and Butler Counties. It is tough for a lawyer to know all these judges, clerks, and other personell, their likes and dislikes and keep up with all the changes associated with each.
We believe lawyers who specialize in the area of law they practice have a greater likelihood to know the judges better, have more interaction with the police and prosecutors and be more up to date with all the rules, cases and procedures. We believe lawyers who specialize stand in a better position to get you better results.