Another Reason To Hire Your Own Attorney

July 16, 2009

The other day I went to visit a client in the Oakland County Jail who had been charged with Attempt to Commit Robbery While Unarmed.  I had been retained; however the court appointed attorney beat me by a few minutes and was already speaking to my client.  When he realized that I had been retained (and he would not get paid) he quickly left.

To my surprise, the court appointed attorney told my client to waive his preliminary examination and to plead guilty without ever seeing a police report.

Contrary to the court appointed hack, I actually took the time to read the police report.  I did not waive the exam and the preliminary examination was held.  It turned out the case was pretty weak and the prosecution agreed to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor assault.  My client will get no jail and some probation.  Had he listened to his court appointed attorney he would have had a felony and faced possible prison.

Sometimes it pays to hire your own lawyer.

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Just say no to police searches.

April 4, 2009

I am currently defending a 22 year old woman who was charged with possession of a Taser Gun.  (In Michigan possession of a Taser Gun is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison).

In this case my client (who is 22 year’s old,  5’2 and about 105 pounds) was a victim of a robbery while getting off of work.  (She was a  waitress and worked nights).  Fearing for her safety she lawfully purchased her Taser Gun at a gas station in Kentucky (where she lived).

Sometime later my client moved back to Michigan and took a job as a waitress at a bar in Downtown Detroit.  Because she worked in a dangerous area she kept the Taser in the backseat of her car.

One evening she was driving home from work and was pulled over for speeding by the Bloomfield Hills police.  The officer asked my client if it was alright if he searched her vehicle.  Not realizing the ramifications of her answer, my client consented.  When the office found her Taser, my client was arrested, spent the evening in jail and is now being charged with a felony. 

This could have all be avoided, had my client simply refused the officer’s request to search her vehicle.

The police cannot search your vehicle when all you are being ticketed for is a routine traffic violation.  As a general rule, when an officer “asks” for permission to search your car it is a clue that the only way he will get to search your car is if  you give him permission to do so.

You should NEVER consent to a police search of your vehicle.  Even if you belive you have nothing in the car that could harm you, you can never know what the officer will find.  My client learned this the hard way.

Why a court appointed attorney is not a free attorney.

April 3, 2009

Today I had a client walk into my office asking if I could get his Guilty plea to domestic violence set aside.

In this particular case my client was charged with Domestic Violence for grabbing his ex-wife’s cell phone in the middle of an argument.

My client was provided a court appointed attorney in a District Court. This court appointed attorney “strongly encouraged” my client to plead Guilty.

My client did not want to plea. He advised me that he informed his attorney that his ex-wife was lying and that he wanted a trial.  Perhaps this attorney did not like trying cases, but for whatever reason he pressured my client into entering a guilty plea.

When my client asked the Judge for a new court appointed attorney, the Judge refused his request.  Reluctantly, my client entered a plea of “No Contest” believing that he would be sentenced to no more then 12 months of non-reporting probation.

Now of course my client was sentenced to 24 months of reporting probation has to undergo anger management, drug testing and every other program that the the court could conceive of. Also included in his costs and fees is reimbursement for his “Court Appointed” attorney.

There is a lesson to be learned here.

A court appointed attorney is not necessarily a free attorney.  In most cases when you are sentenced, reimbursement of a court appointed attorney is included in the judgment of sentence. Even if you are found not guilty you may get a bill in the mail.

So my question to anyone faced with criminal charges is this:  If you have to pay for your attorney, shouldn’t you get to pick your attorney?

I would suggest that anyone facing criminal charges call several attorneys. You many not be able to afford Geoffrey Fieger, but there are many hardworking, compassionate, and experienced attorneys without a big name who are willing to take your case for an affordable rate. The mere fact that an attorney charges more or has a big name does not mean that the attorney is any more qualified than an attorney you have never heard of.

I also want to be clear that my point is not to say that all court appointed attorneys are bad attorneys. There are many excellent court appointed attorneys (I myself take court appointments in Oakland County).

However, for many people facing a criminal charge may very well be the most stressful event of their life. At the very least, your attorney should not add to that stress.

If that means paying for an attorney, then it is money well spent.