MY FEES and FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION
Contact us for a free initial consultation. We will evaluate your case at no cost and recommend a course of action, help you decide whom you want to be your attorney, and discuss fees appropriate to your case.
FEES FOR OUR LEGAL WORK: CIVIL
I charge nothing for an initial consultation. But let's explain: An initial consultation is our first meeting to decide whether or not we can help you in your situation. This first meeting allows you to decide whether or not you want to choose my law firm.
Clients should make sure they are confident in and comfortable with the attorney they choose. This may require you to meet with several attorneys before you make your decision. Legal rules for the legal profession emphasize that clients are free to choose their lawyer and this choice is very important. An attorney will have to speak for you and you should be certain of your choice.
However, I find that very often an "initial consultation" can quickly and easily turn into actually giving legal advice or legal strategy to address your case.
Please understand that my law firm will charge for time spent giving actual legal advice and for legal work, even if this starts during our first meeting, intended as an initial consultation.
Obviously, I will make it clear when we are shifting from just reviewing your case to having you actually hire me and I actually starting to work on your case. If you and I actually start to create a legal strategy for your situation and I give legal advice, I will charge for this time.
I do not work on cases on "contingency" or speculation, except rarely for large (on-going) debt collection accounts for businesses where it is customary in the industry.
THESE ARE NOT "EMERGENCY" OR RUSH RATES
My hourly fee for civil litigation and other non-criminal cases is $175 per hour, measured to the nearest 5 minutes of an attorney's time spent working on a case. (I will sometimes make exceptions on application for public interest, pro bono, or special circumstances of financial need.)
My law firm also bills $45 per hour for paralegal support work. I do not charge for administrative or management time such as preparing bills or handling accounting. I do not charge for travel within the Northern Virginia area, but we might agree -- explicitly -- on travel outside of my area which will be at $20 per hour.
Many people seem to forget: Any attorney is serving many clients simultaneously. When you hire any attorney, you are not the attorney's only client. The Attorney's work for you will be combined in his or her schedule with many clients and their deadlines and their needs.
FLAT FEE RATES FOR COMMON CRIMINAL DEFENSE CASES:
Otherwise, you would have to pay a minimum of $25,000 to $50,000 per month to have an Attorney work for you exclusively and give you his or her full-time attention. Sharing an attorney among many clients allows you to get affordable legal help and representation. I charge low rates because so many people would otherwise be deprived of legal help.
My work has to be organized and scheduled to meet upcoming deadlines. I will work on the client's case first who has a deadline coming up. I will postpone working on your case until after earlier deadlines have been met first, to make sure that everyone's deadlines are met and every client's needs are taken care of. While I am very willing to talk about your case, I want to avoid repeating the same things that have already been said many times already.
NOTE: If you cannot afford to pay a private attorney, you must go to the Court and fill out an application firm to see if you qualify for a court-appointed attorney or public defender. It would not be wise to get deeply into a case before you find out if you can afford to pay a private attorney or if you might need an attorney provided for you by the Court. Better to figure that out as early as possible in your case.
ADDITIONAL EXPENSES FOR
For criminal defense, I charge a flat fee. This means that the same fee is due and applies no matter how much time or work the attorney spends on your case. If the case is dismissed with a single motion or takes a thousand hours of work, the fee is the same either way.
Note, however, that these flat fees do not include any appeal that you might wish to file to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court of Virginia.
ALSO NOTE: Obviously, everyone always wants to know if they can get the charges dismissed early, even immediately. I sympathize with this completely. However, the answer is no. There is almost never any way to get a decision on the charges before the case actually goes to trial. People should realize that bringing a criminal case is completely in the control of the charging police officer (or complaining witness) and the prosecutor. A defense attorney and client have no control whatsoever over whether the charges go to trial. And, unfortunately, no actual prosecutor will be assigned to your case, usually, until the day before your case goes to trial. Even the morning of yoru trial, one prosecutor could hand off your file to a different prosecutor. So until everyone is gathered together on the morning of your tirla, the prosecutor will not be seriously thinking about your case at all. They will decide whether to drop a case or offer a plea deal only on the morning of the trial. That doesn't sound llike what you want to hear, but that's the harsh reality.
• Basic Minimum Fee: $550.00
Includes basic case, Attorney's preparation, interviews with Client, advice to Client, questions about the case and what to expect, preparation of the Client for Court, motions to obtain information ("discovery" -- technically disclosure of potentially exculpatory evidence and/or statements to police), possibly motions to suppress evidence, negotiations for any possible plea deal acceptable to the Client. This includes the "arraignment" -- which is the first hearing where you simply plead guilty or not guilty and talk to the judge about your plans for getting an attorney. This also includes handling any bail / bond hearings or bail or bond issues that may arise during the case.
• Additional / Multiple Crimes Charged: additional $125.00
The police might charge a defendant with several crimes at the same time. If there are additional criminal charges different from just the same facts charged under different legal categories, the work may be more complicated. We will discuss this. An additional $125 may be charged for each additional criminal charge. However, if the additional criminal case is really just the same thing under a different name and legal theory, I will often waive this additional fee.
• Preliminary Hearing of a felony charge in the General District Court additional $100.00
If the charge is a felony, the first major step will be a Preliminary Hearing in General District Court. The case will then be scheduled for trial in the Circuit Court, before a jury if you request one (you should). Note: Do not confuse a "Preliminary Hearing" with the FIRST hearing which is usually just to tell the judge if you have an attorney or need a court-appointed attorney (that is, the arraignment).
• Actual Trial in the General District Court additional $200.00
For a misdemeanor, if the case is not already dismissed or settled (by a plea deal), the prosecutor will hold a trial in General District Court, probably the same day as the final negotiations attempt.
Note that the basic fee requires being ready for the trial, including with documents, exhibits, potential witnesses, etc.
The additional $200 fee covers the Attorney's work in the General District Court. Typically, we will wait while shorter cases are handled first. Therefore, it can take most of the day before the hearing is concluded. Obviously, understanding the details of your case is necessary for the initial basic steps so the trial is only a smaller additional fee.
• Jury Trial of a FELONY in Circuit Court additional $450.00
Those accused of a felony or several felonies in criminal cases will be tried in the Circuit Court -- after a Preliminary Hearing in the General District Court. In Circuit Court you can get a trial before a jury. A jury trial in the Circuit Court is more formal and more difficult for the lawyer. It requires jury selection, jury instructions, etc. It is much slower and more time consuming.
So -- in addition to my base fee of $550 -- if we cannot work out a deal without a trial -- instead of the $200 fee for trial in the General District Court, if there is a trial of a felony in the Circuit Court, the fee for going to trial will be $450 in the Circuit Court.
• Jury Trial on "Appeal" in Circuit Court additional $500.00
Those accused in criminal cases may get convicted in the General District Court. However, the Client will have the choice to have a whole new trial in the Circuit Court as if the first trial did not happen. It is your choice if you want a second attempt in a second trial. Also, in Circuit Court you can get a trial before a jury. The best strategy is to plan on winning before a jury in Circuit Court (oddly called an appeal but really a new trial).
If you lose a misdemeanor case in General District Court, you have ten (10) calendar days to appeal that decision. You can then get a whole new trial in Circuit Court and ask for a jury.
You can fill out the one-page form yourself. Time is sensitive. If you have not yet hired an attorney or want to change attorneys, you can go to the Clerk of the Court's window at the courthouse, ask for the one page Notice of Appeal form, and file an appeal yourself. Remember: You have only ten (10) calendar days. There usually is a small fee, normally $70 to $200 depending on the County and the situation.
If you are not sure, you should file a Notice of Appeal. You can change your mind and withdraw it later.
Note that it is not necessary for me to have represented you in an earlier stage. I am usually willing to step in and take over only for the new trial in Circuit Court, even if you tried to represent yourself in General District Court or had a different lawyer.
• Follow-up legal work, such as to arrange a restricted
driver's license and/or payment plan. additional $100.00
• An Appeal to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court of Virginia not included. If the Client decides to appeal a decision from the Circuit Court, the Attorney's work and fees do not include an appeal. An appeal above the Circuit Court requires hiring an attorney under a new agreement and with additional fees.
For felonies and complex misdemeanors, the type of charges, the number of charges, and the difficulty of the case will make a difference as we propose and recommend applicable fees.
Please Note: My law firm does not take cases on 'contingency' at this time. A lawyer may handle a lawsuit in which the lawyer earns no fee unless and until the client wins money. However, a decision to take such a case is a financial investment decision as well as a legal decision. A lawyer takes the risk that the Defendant has money to pay as well as taking a chance on the legal merits of the case. On a contingency basis, a lawyer may wait for years to get paid, if ever. My law firm is not currently accepting any cases of this type. You might seem advertisements for loans and financing of lawsuits, such as Oasis Legal Funding. If you can get a loan for your lawsuit, this is an excellent approach. However, I have researched dozens of these lenders. They want to loan money only for a very narrow type of lawsuit, mainly personal injury cases (like car accidents) or medical malpractice, where they are expecting an insurance company to pay. Still, we should carefully consider if such funding might be available.
OUTSIDE "THIRD PARTY" SERVICES
Please note that in any case additional costs may apply. Many attorneys will charge the client for expenses relating to the client's case, including for administrative expenses like photocopies, postage, etc.
I do not charge for these administrative or office expenses.
However, I do charge for services to third parties such as filing fees in court, a 'process server' to serve subpoenas or lawsuits, expert witnesses (which are often necessary), court reporters, costs of creating exhibits like photographs, enlargements, etc. If rush delivery is required (for reasons that are not any delay on my part) by courier or Federal Express, I will charge for rush delivery or couriers.
In Virginia's courts, a private court reporter must be hired, which costs additional money. If a court reporter does not prepare a transcript of every hearing in the case, you can lose your rights to an appeal. It is also beneficial for other reasons. A court reporter can cost a couple hundred dollars to cover each and every hearing. Preparing a transcript for use on appeal can be very expensive, unfortunately.
Fees for an attorney's work do not include expenses incurred for a client's case.
Winning your criminal case may often depend upon hiring an expert witness. The expert witness' fee must be paid separately to the expert witness and is in addition to the attorneys' fees for the attorney's work.
For example, in Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) / Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases or drug cases, it will almost always be essential to hire an expert witness to address the reliablity of "scientific" evidence such as the prosecution's blood test or breathalyzer, etc. Such experts will cost additional money.
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