How Important Are the Price of Attorney Fees to Defend a DUI? Should Cost Be a Factor in Your Decision?
Interviewer: How much does it cost to get a lawyer? One of the biggest concerns that people have when it comes to DUIs, I think a lot of people are tempted to try to go for the cheapest lawyer they can find? Is that a good decision?
Steve Tomeo: It seems to me that the cost of legal fees should pale in comparison to the type of work performed. The more assets you put into your case the better the results usually are.
Getting What You Pay for
My father always told me you get what you pay for. You just get what you pay for in this world. To me, cheap is not better. I suspect that there are attorneys out there that might say, “I’ll charge you $500.”
An Attorney Advertising a Low-Cost DUI Defense May Not Be Intending on Defending the Charge as Strenuously as It Should Be
What’s going to happen after he gets the $500 and he says, “I’ll do your drunk driving for $500”? It won’t include the cost of a trial, but these cases typically take three and four court appearances just to resolve that doesn’t include a trial. Is that attorney going to go back and forth to the court three or four times, have conferences with the prosecutor, go to a judicial pretrial conference, prepare memos of law for the prosecutor to point out the areas of law that he is relying on? Is he going to do all those things for an inexpensive amount of money, or is he taking the cheaper, easier way out and just go in and walk the client down the aisle and plead the client guilty?
Knowing Your Rights: There May Be Defenses to the Manner in Which the Police Stopped and Questioned You
The job of a lawyer to get you out of the predicament that you’re in. This happens in many instances, but that is not his only function. He must know and understand the law. He’s got to understand whether you were stopped properly, whether there was probable cause to make the arrest, whether the police officer violated any of your statutory and constitutional rights. Then if he feels that there are, he has to make an argument for that. That argument can’t be him just saying so. He has to quote case law. Suppose if the court is 20 or 30 miles from your home, which often it is, is he going to make that trip back and forth? That person that hires that type of an attorney is fooling himself. I just think that when a person thinks cheap is better—he may not understand what life is about. Maybe the drinking is getting to him. When he goes to the bar and drinks his drink, he’s not quibbling about the price there. There’s no arguing with the price when you’re buying alcohol.
A High Fee Isn’t a Guarantee of Victory; an Attorney’s Fees Typically Reflect His or Her Expertise
Interviewer: What about the opposite side of the spectrum? This is where an attorney is charging a lot of money and it makes the person believe that because he’s spending a lot of money on an attorney, his case is likely to be favorably resolved. Have you seen that happen before?
Steve Tomeo: Attorneys that charge a lot of money due so because of their expertise and the success that they’ve had in court, their knowledge of the subject matter, their ability to get along with people, their court skills, the respect that they have amongst the judges and the prosecutors. I think it’s like anything else, the higher the quality—the more expensive the fee. I think with those individuals, they go the whole route for you. There’s no question of what’s going to be happening when they are on board on your behalf. They will hire experts to review the BAC test you took, review any machine errors or breakdowns, hire experts to review the SFST and videos and at times use a private investigator to interview or find witnesses.
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