From the prospective client’s perspective, this is one of the most important questions they face.
Attorneys are expensive, particularly in cases involving the use or display of a firearm. This may well be the second largest (after a mortgage) and most important expenditure the client has ever faced. Unfortunately, a blanket answer is impossible to give. The amount will vary widely. The only variable the attorney should be considering is the amount of work believed to be required to obtain the best result for the client — not the client’s perceived ability to pay. What a lot of folks don’t understand is that an attorney who appears in Court on a client’s behalf may only be able to leave the case after its conclusion, even if their client can no longer afford to pay them at some point during the defense.
This is why the “advance deposit” toward the fee (most attorneys no longer call it a “retainer”) is so large; attorneys know it may well be the only payment they receive, thus they will get the money “while the tears are hot” — that is, while the client is in jail, needing help to lower their bond, find a bondsman, strategize a self-defense justification, etc., they are desperate and will likely find a way to pay their attorney.
Two months later, when the client is out on bond and their trial is 12 months
away, their Mastercard bill may become more important than paying their attorney. Attorneys know this, and know they may not be able to get the judge to allow them to withdraw just because their client owes them money. This is why attorneys ask for so much up front, “on the barrel head.”
To avoid having to ask clients for such an exorbitant advance, I try to write into the initial contract that 1 will do all that I can to get the charge(s) reduced to some “acceptable” plea, but that I am not being hired to try the case at that juncture. The client can “re-hire” me if a trial becomes necessary, and they’d like to do so, at a price that I will then be much better able to predict having by then seen the State’s case against my client. If the client cannot then afford the fee to try the case, the Court is bound to allow me to withdraw since my anticipated withdrawal was written into the original contract. I can then assist the client in obtaining a Public Defender, and even assist, from a non-primary role, with the trial if the client and Public Defender wish me to do so. I have done this where the client can’t afford private counsel and the Public Defender doesn’t “speak” self-defense or firearms as well as we’d like. In this way I can often get my client out of jail and obtain an acceptable plea for under $10,000.
If there is no such thing as an acceptable plea, and the case requires a trial, the fee will likely be $40,000 to $100.000, not including the cost of expert witnesses such as Mr. Ayoob, who are worth their weight in gold, and who may easily and appropriately add another $10,000 to the tab.
This is why all that money and time spent at LFI or Thunder Ranch is such a wise investment; it vastly reduces the chances that you’ll ever need to expose yourself to such a nightmare in the first place by teaching you your limitations (as you attempt to reduce them) and expanding your options to allow you to better avoid or delay the need to employ a firearm in the first place.Any married man reading this knows how immeasurably much better it is to stay out of trouble than get out of trouble!
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