Lots of lawyers take payment plans. I often joke about one lawyer who I still see in the Metropolitan traffic court who has bright orange stickers on his client files that say: “Payment Plan” in bold letters. How tacky and offensive is that?
In any event, you get arrested for DUI, usually because you were in a fight with your significant other, had a bad day at work, or recently got some other type of bad news in your life. Then, to add insult to injury, you get arrested and now you need to come up with a large bunch of money that you don’t have in order to hire a decent lawyer. What to do? Throw yourself on the mercy of the court?..Never. Hire some hack for $995 who looks like he just slept in his only suit? Never. Call a real lawyer and discuss your options.
So here is the question: Do good DUI lawyers take payment plans? The answer, like so many in my business, is: “It depends”. A client came in yesterday to hire me for a DUI. He told me he was up all night after being arrested and came in the very same day of the arrest. This means that he doesn’t have a court date for three more weeks (Van Nuys case), and the only thing we need to do for him right now is to set his DMV hearing to prevent the automatic license suspension. Yes, I will take a payment plan. The first payment is due before we go to court in three weeks. There must be a written fee agreement that details the payment arrangements by amount and timeline.
Once we go to court for a misdemeanor, we have about 90 days until the judges start getting itchy about the age of the cases. This means we have three months to spread out the remaining payments. Thus, if my fee for a DUI case is $3,500, I could accept $1,500 as a down payment and the remaining $2,000 over the next 90 days or a little over $500 per month. In some Los Angeles County courts the first court date is not for two months. That gives us a lot of time to work out a payment plan. Please do not wait until the day or two days before court to hire me an then expect me to start taking payments.
But some lawyers say they won’t take payments? True, some lawyers do say that they won’t take payments. Some lawyers lie and some lawyers may be too busy or too set in their ways to work with potential clients. I say that maybe those are not the lawyers for you. Look back at my past blog articles and you will see some very consistent advice: Meet with the lawyer you are thinking of hiring – not his assistant, sales rep, paralegal or otherwise; Make sure the lawyer you are thinking of hiring practices criminal and DUI defense every day and is familiar with the you particular courthouse; and finally, make sure you feel comfortable with the lawyer. This includes the fee arrangements.
Clients still tell me about other lawyers who try to intimidate them or embarrass them or otherwise make them feel inferior when they are sitting in the lawyer’s office. If a lawyer uses a line like: “You don’t have enough money to hire me”, or “How much do you have to pay me?”, you might be in the wrong place, talking to the wrong lawyer. Every lawyer should have an idea of the fee he or she is looking to get on a particular case. It’s true that fees vary from lawyer to lawyer, but legal fees shouldn’t vary from client to client based upon the client’s ability to pay the fee.
For a confidential consultation with competent DUI and criminal defense attorney call me, Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org