Would The Courts View Me As Arrogant If I Hire A Private Defense Attorney?
Almost all the judges are attorneys. Most of them used to be prosecutors or defense attorneys in the criminal system. A number of them came from the civil system but most of the ones in the criminal courts who handle the DUI cases have a criminal background. They understand the law. They understand and often recommend that someone charged with a DUI get a lawyer. You are not penalized for getting a lawyer. No one has ever been penalized for just hiring a lawyer. There are people who hire the wrong lawyer, a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing. Those situations turn ugly, meaning someone gets a worse outcome than they would have with a good lawyer.
If you hire someone who is considered a top DUI lawyer from the San Francisco bay area, you will not be penalized by the court. The courts are shocked when they hear someone say, “I am not going to get a lawyer for this DUI case”, especially when it’s a complex case. The judge may say, “They’re a bunch of lawyers you might want to talk to” or “Call a local bar association” or “Go online and find a lawyer”. They will usually just say, “Find a lawyer and come back in a couple of weeks” You will not be penalized for actually hiring a lawyer. In fact, the courts have more respect for you. You’re actually not making a wise decision by defending yourself on a DUI case.
Are Low Cost DUI Attorneys a Viable Option for a Person Charged with a DUI?
Low cost or low fee would be $1,000 to $2,000. Attorneys that charge this low of a fee are unlikely to have the resources or time to represent you properly, simply because they have to find more cases just to earn enough money to run their business. They are often working for someone else who is giving them a cut to do the case. There are a number of firms like that or individuals that already have 5 or 6 pending cases on your court date. This is common in counties like San Mateo county. Low cost attorneys are pleading out 5 or 6 clients, pleading them all, no contest or guilty all at once and those files are looking pretty thin.
They just took their money, and didn’t do anything to fight their case. They didn’t file their suppression motions, which need to be filed in cases on multiple offenses and checking priors, seeing if the priors are valid priors. That’s something which should be done. Someone should check machine records, check the procedures used for the blood testing and get the blood retested when appropriate. There are a lot of different things that an attorney can do like getting the discovery, getting video and all the CHP records. More of the local police departments have video now and are getting audio of the stop. So pinning down time and things that were said and determining the probable cause through a police communication audio are also things that an attorney does.
There just so many different things that an attorney must do. These cases cannot be done for lower fees. The top DUI lawyers are usually going to charge between $3,000, $3,500 up to $5000 or $6000 for a first offense DUI and sometimes more if it’s more complex. The fees generally depend on the quality of the lawyer. You can get good DUI lawyers for less than that, but a lot of times what you’re paying for is results. Are you paying to get someone who is well respected in the courts and knows what they’re doing? You’ve got to pay for that. Not all lawyers will do payment plans. In payment plans, you pay part of the fees upfront and you make payments after that.
An Attorney Cannot Perform All Required Duties for a Fee Lower than $2000
Trust goes both ways, you’re trusting the lawyer to defend you; to protect your constitutional rights and the lawyer needs to trust you to do a payment plan. If a lawyer won’t take a payment plan, maybe they don’t trust you. That’s something that you can look at as well when you’re trying to pick a lawyer. Anytime that you’re paying less than a couple of thousand dollars or less; you’re not getting a defense. You’re not getting an experienced aggressive DUI lawyer to defend you. None of the top lawyers come close to that number, to $2000 or less. It’s just unheard of in this field by the best lawyers out there.
The reason is because an attorney would have to take on twice as many cases and then they can’t defend their clients the way they want to by spending time on their cases. If you want someone to just hold your hand and plead guilty right away, that’s where you might as well go to defend yourself or get a public defender. That’s actually an insult to public defenders because there are very good public defenders in the Bay area but at that low fee you’re not going to get a top DUI lawyer.
By Aaron Bortel
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