How Much Do You Charge For…
We often receive telephone calls or emails asking, “how much do you charge for …” and naming one offense or another.
Our answer: It depends.
About Bait-and-Switch Legal Fees
Many Houston lawyers who advertise their prices will charge a fee for each court appearance. While the advertised price (the per-appearance rate) may seem like a bargain, the cost of legal representation quickly adds up to serious money, especially if you intend to put up any fight against the government.
We don’t believe in this “bait and switch.”
The Costs Associated with Each Case Differ
We won’t advertise our fees, and we won’t usually give a price quote, except in person, because every client and every case is different. Whether we will take your case, and how much we will charge, depend on the particular facts of the case as well as our feel for it and for you. We prefer to make an appointment with you and discuss the case face to face before we start talking about money. If you’re outside of the Houston area, and would like to discuss your case, we can arrange to meet with you by video conferencing.
Information that you might find useful. Generally (making allowances for exceptions in exceptional situations):
- We charge a single fee to take on a single case in a single court. Unlike many of our colleagues, we do not charge “split fees” in which there is one fee for trying to resolve the case short of setting the case for trial, and another fee if the case is set for trial. For an explanation of why we do not do that, please read the section below titled, “Why No Split Fees”.
- The fee that we agree on is the fee that you will pay. The cost will not increase because the case is more work than we anticipated, nor will it decrease because the case is less work.
- When we set fees, we take into account the possibility of settlement. If we think the case will probably settle, your cost will be less than if we think it will probably go to trial. Because of this, there are no unexpected fees for our services, and no refunds of fees on settlement.
- We will make limited payment plans in limited circumstances, but we are not a bank. We owe it to our clients to dedicate our time to the defense of criminal cases, rather than being a bank (which we’re not nearly as good at).
- Our fees include ordinary expenses. Unusual investigative services, as well as expert witness fees and other extraordinary expenses, are extra.
- We have a Low Volume and High Quality practice, so we are not cheap lawyers. Our rates are fair, and we believe that you’ll be very pleased with the work we do on your case and the value you get from us.
- We accept various methods of payment, including some credit cards.
Why No Split Fees?
Many criminal-defense lawyers in Houston will charge one fee for a plea bargain and another fee when the case is set for trial. At Bennett & Bennett, we avoid doing this. There are several reasons for our position.
#1 • The Cost of Representation
First, if you hire us, but do not pay us to fight the case, we’re going into court with one hand tied behind our back. If we aren’t being paid to put up a fight, the only thing left for us to do is plead with the government for mercy.
We have little enthusiasm for that strategy; and the government, as you might guess, has little mercy. If you pay us up front to cover the costs of whatever needs to be done, we can negotiate from a position of strength. We can use our time and resources to prepare for the possibility of trial, and develop a better bargaining position.
#2 • Financial Pressure & Conflicts of Interest
Second, if you’re faced with the choice of pleading guilty or paying additional attorney’s fees, your choice cannot be entirely voluntary. In most cases, the decision whether to plead guilty is difficult enough without financial pressure.
The other side of that coin is that a lawyer who stands to receive more money for going to trial has a potential conflict of interest with his client: Trial may be in the lawyer’s best interest, but not in the client’s. While we at Bennett & Bennett are above this sort of conflict, we prefer that you not lead us into temptation.
#3 • Trial Preparation
Third, the work of working a case up for trial is also the work of getting a good resolution — a dismissal or favorable plea agreement — short of trial. “Setting the case for trial” is not, in our world, a magical switch that takes us from negotiation to trial preparation. Everything is trial preparation. Trial preparation is what gets cases dismissed, and trial preparation is what gets people plea agreements they are happy with.
Preparation for a criminal trial, in other words, is what makes lawyers the best and makes clients the happiest.
We wonder whether these lawyers who are charging a split fee are –
a) Putting off work until after they set the case for trial; or
b) Not getting paid commensurate with the trial preparation they are doing before setting the case for trial.
#4 • We Fight to Win
Finally, trials are what we are trained for. They are what we do best and what we love doing. By setting fees that account for the possibility of trial, we hope to limit our clientele to those citizens accused who would rather put up a fight than give in to the government.
None of aforementioned is meant to criticize lawyers who charge split fees, or clients who wish to pay split fees. Accepting split fees is simply not the way we at Bennett & Bennett have chosen to practice criminal law.
Looking for a Criminal-Defense Attorney?
If you have a criminal case on your hands then you certainly need to consult with an attorney as soon as you’re able to. To contact Attorney Mark W. Bennett about your case be sure to contact our law office by phone by calling 713-224-1747. Houston criminal-defense attorney Mark W. Bennett is a respected member of the legal community, is Board Certified® in Criminal Law per the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and is generally an all-around reasonable gentleman.
If we can help you, we will. If we can’t, we’ll be honest with you.