Criminal Defense FAQ
Our Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains It All
At Jason D. Lamm Attorney at Law, we have over 20 years of legal experience. During this time, we have received numerous questions from our clients regarding their rights during such a difficult time.
We have compiled some of the most frequently asked questions that we receive and have provided the answers below to help you better understand your case. If you have any further questions, we provide you with the answers.
Call (602) 663-9100 today to request your case consultation.
How much does it cost to hire a criminal defense attorney?
The first thing to know is the different types of fee arrangements that are possible.
- Flat Fee: The most common fee is a flat fee. Here, the attorney charges a fixed fee that is based on the case as a whole, rather than by the hour. This can be beneficial to the client as the flat fee creates certainty as to the cost, and is usually more economical.
- Hourly Fee: Another option is an hourly fee arrangement where the client pays the attorney by the hour - or usually by the tenth of an hour - for all work performed. While this can get expensive if the case continues for a significant period of time, if the case ends quickly, the client may benefit.
At Jason D. Lamm Attorney at Law, we almost always do flat fee agreements. The client has a sense of certainty and doesn't have to worry about every phone call and email between us.
Another consideration in determining how much it costs to hire a criminal defense attorney is, of course, the type of case. For example, a complex white collar fraud case in federal court will cost more than a possession of marijuana case in Superior Court in Phoenix. Having been practicing for 20+ years, we have handled all types of cases and can usually get a sense for the complexity of a case, and the time that will be involved, so as to quote a fair fee for the case.
Yet another consideration is the attorney's skill and experience. A new and inexperienced attorney will undoubtedly cost less than an attorney who has years of experience handling serious felony matters and historically getting excellent results. The short version of this is that you get what you pay for. When your future and freedom are on the line, going cheap will always come back to bite you later.
Funds are limited. Should I post bail or hire a criminal defense attorney?
In order for a Court to lower bail after the initial appearance, a "material change in circumstances" must be demonstrated. By hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able successfully argue for a bail reduction, and in some cases, an outright release. What this means is that the money that would have been spent on posting bail can be used to hire an attorney.
While there are some excellent public defenders, the reality is most are overworked and do not even meet their clients until several weeks after the arraignment (the hearing at which some pleads not guilty). Even, then they will have limited knowledge about the case, they will not have investigated facts or circumstances that could result in a bail reduction, and they certainly will not have had an opportunity to file a motion with the court and request a hearing. This is precisely why it is important to hire an attorney right away. By paying the bail, particularly if it is a high one, the non-refundable fees that are paid to a bondsman can be used to have an experienced criminal defense attorney move a loved one's case closer to freedom, and in some cases, innocence. Our attorney has former major felony prosecutorial experience.
How does bail work in Arizona?
There are generally two types of bond that the initial appearance judge may require a defendant to post in order to be released from jail.
The types of bond include:
- A Secured Appearance Bond
- A Cash Only Bond
A secured appearance bond means that a licensed and insured bail bondsman can post the bail on behalf of the person who was arrested. Bail bondsman typically charge 10% of the total bond (per Arizona law) in addition to any administrative fees. The 10% paid directly to the bondsman is like an insurance premium which is non-refundable. The remaining amount of the bail is usually secured by giving the bondsman some form of collateral (deed to property, vehicle title, etc.) that is returned at the end of the case assuming the defendant shows up for all of his court appearances.
In some cases, the court may require a 'cash only' bond. It's just that. The bail posted must be the full amount and in the form of cash or other certified funds. Even in the case of a cash only bond, a bail bondsman can still be helpful, particularly if the party posting the bond wants to put it on a credit card. The jails do not accept credit cards for bail bonds, but a bondsman usually does.
Law enforcement has contacted me and wants me to talk. What do I do?
The first question is why are they there? Why do they want to talk to me? Sometimes, it's about drugs, allegations of sexual misconduct, or maybe some type of fraud that has caught the attention of the authorities. Really, there are a multitude of reasons why this can happen.
But no matter the situation, follow these tips:
- Politely decline to speak with them
- Get their business card
- Call an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately
This is known as pre-indictment representation. Sometimes it's simply a matter of law enforcement wanting a witness statement, and other times it's because you are a target of an ongoing criminal investigation.
Anything you say will be used against you in the future. Unless you are taken into custody, law enforcement officers are not required to read your Miranda rights. And unless you have been taken into custody and been brought before a judge, you are not entitled to have an attorney appointed for you. You must retain your own counsel. And if you have to do so, you might as well get an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows what he or she is doing and can really help you.
Should I speak with law enforcement?
You have a constitutional right to remain silent. USE IT! Ask to speak with a criminal defense lawyer before you give any statement or answer any question. Often, the one thing that hurts a defendant's case the most is his or her statement made without the benefit of consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney first.
Don't ever try and talk your way out of a situation. Even if you are polite, courteous, and truthful, it can still be held against you. Frequently, law enforcement officers already know certain facts that they will withhold to trick you into incriminating yourself by making a statement. Court decisions have held that law enforcement officers may lie to a suspect in an interrogation.
Your answers to even routine questions may prove damaging. Even a seemingly innocuous answer will be taken down in a report. For example: in a DUI traffic stop, answering what you think is a seemingly harmless question in a truthful way may give the officer a basis to arrest you. Also, should your case go to trial and you testify, you will be locked into that answer - even if you were tired or upset at the time, or even if you did your best to answer a question of which you were really unsure. Any inconsistency in your answer will be promptly pointed out by the prosecutor, and you will be made to look like a liar in front of the jury. This never helps any criminal defense case.