If you have visited my website (and hopefully you have saved it to your "Favorites"), you have seen that I do not charge anything for our first meeting.
Abraham Lincoln, great country lawyer that he was, is reported to have said, "A lawyer's stock in trade is his time." Lawyers don't have shelves full of merchandise for you to examine and buy, but we have time, which includes the years we spent going to law school, taking and passing the bar exam, and working as a practicing attorney. Our time includes our knowledge and wisdom.
The point is, our first meeting may be "free" to you but it is not free to me. Nevertheless, it is an investment I'm willing to make because it serves several purposes.
First, it allows you to meet me, get a sense of my knowledge and skills, and decide if you think I'm the best defense attorney to represent you in criminal case.
On the flip side, it allows me to get a feel for you. I don’t sign every potential client who walks in the door. Of course, I want to know about the facts of your case, and that will have a bearing on my decision, but maybe we just don’t like each other. Maybe one or both of us believes there's a personality conflict.
Maybe you want a lawyer with silver-gray hair because that's what you saw on TV. Maybe I sense a lack of seriousness about you because you showed up 30 minutes late for our appointment without having the courtesy to call and tell me you'd be late. (If you can't get to a simple appointment on time, how can I trust you to be punctual for court appearances? You may get a tongue-lashing from the judge but it's my professional credibility that takes the hit. )
Maybe one of us is just picking up a bad vibe from the other person and realizes this is not an arrangement that is going to work. Let's be honest with one another and admit it up front.
The second purpose of the initial meeting is for you to tell me why you were arrested and let me hear your side of the story.
If you decide to hire me, I will get a copy of the police reports and find out how they documented the incident. Once you been have arraigned and allowed to enter a "not guilty" plea, I will also obtain a copy of the prosecution's charging documents to see what crimes they think they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Which brings us to a third reason for our first meeting. Your case may be so complicated that I may suggest you hire a lawyer who specializes in that kind of criminal defense. No hard feelings, but if I don't think I can give you the quality of defense you deserve, I'm going to tell you. Very likely I will also be able to recommend a specialist in that area of the law.
The final reason for the initial consultation is for me to tell you what my representation is going to cost you. If you have already shopped around, either in person or by phone, you will discover my rates are quite reasonable and also competitive.
If I am the first lawyer you have visited and you want chance to check out some other attorneys, go for it. When you finally hire me, I want you to feel comfortable about it. However, when you visit those other lawyers, here some things to find out.
While you're doing your comparison shopping, remember the advice your mother gave you years ago: You get what you pay for. Then ask yourself, what is my freedom worth?
You may decide that any retained attorney is more than you want to spend. There's always the Public Defenders Office. I'm friends with a number of Deputy Public Defenders and many of them are outstanding trial attorneys. Maybe you'll luck out and get one of them and not the kid just out of law school.
In summary, just because our initial appointment is not going to cost you a penny, it is still a serious professional consultation.
When you come, bring any paperwork you may have already received from the court.
When we talk, be totally candid with me. If there's dirt, tell me. Don't make me waste time pulling it out of you or finding it out later. Don't be embarrassed. Believe me, I have likely heard a lot worse.
Even though you are not "officially" my client yet, everything you say is protected by the attorney-client privilege. I cannot ethically divulge (nor will I!) anything you say to me, not even to another lawyer should you choose to hire someone else.
Save yourself time and bring your checkbook or credit card with you. Guaranteed, there will no charge for this first meeting, but if you decide to retain me, Criminal Defense Attorney Rebecca Ocain, the quicker you put some money down for your defense, the quicker I can start working on trying to keep you out of jail or prison.
You can schedule your first and FREE consultation by calling 619-431-1076 on any day and at any hour.
Rebecca Ocain has been a criminal law trial attorney for over fourteen years.