1) How much? And you can’t even guarantee a result?
Yes, and yes.
It’s common knowledge lawyers are expensive. People want the best lawyer they can get. If money were no object, I’m sure most people would hire the most expensive lawyer they could find. The cost of what you “save” on a lower lawyer fee may be too much to pay.
Also, in Texas, lawyers cannot ethically guarantee a result in criminal cases. Even if the lawyer seems extremely confident and guarantees a result, you should consider whether he/she will be ethical in their dealings with you. Personally, I couldn’t trust such a person. Even if it were not unethical, it would be inadvisable to offer guarantees. Other people are part of the system, such as prosecutors, judges, witnesses, and jurors. Each has a role, and lawyers don’t control everyone in the process. The identity of the six or twelve jurors ultimately selected aren’t even known until the trial is underway. Those unknown people can determine your fate.
2) Another lawyer said he/she would do it cheaper.
That’s not surprising at all. Lawyers do not go about their profession in the same manner. Since no two cases are the same, a lot can factor into what is a “fair” and “reasonable” fee. Experience, skill, knowledge, procedures, client communication styles, severity of a case and its potential consequences upon the accused, and many more considerations go into setting a lawyer’s fee. It’s not unusual, for instance, to find a young, inexperienced lawyer charging less than a more seasoned lawyer. That’s not to say you are assured of a better experience or outcome with the more seasoned lawyer, either. Ultimately, you have to make a difficult choice, based upon your circumstances and priorities. Beware of the bought “honors” and “rankings”.
3) “Go ahead and look into my case to see what can be done, then we will talk about hiring you.”
You can’t be serious (but you are). I’m not sure why people think lawyers will go to work on their criminal case without payment. Some people actually expect us to go independently investigate all the pertinent facts about their personal situation, research the law to find all the imaginable legal defenses, prepare some sort of dossier, then go back to the prospective client and present all the possibilities in the hopes he/she will decide to hire the lawyer.
Choosing a criminal defense lawyer is understandably challenging. Expecting any lawyer to do substantial work without payment is unreasonable and disrespectful. If a lawyer wants to accept those terms, it’s likely that lawyer has little to no business and is desperate for business. Of course, it also could mean the lawyer simply wants to be incredibly nice and isn’t concerned about payment at all, but that would be exceptional.
4) I’m being investigated/I think I’m being investigated. What should I do?
DO NOT COOPERATE WITH THE POLICE.
DO NOT MAKE ANY STATEMENT.
DO NOT COMMIT ANY CRIME.
DO NOT TALK ABOUT THE SITUATION AT ALL WITH ANYONE EXCEPT YOUR LAWYER.
At the very least, you are aware of the possibility of being investigated. Police don’t have to tell you they are investigating you. Police don’t have to tell you in advance they will arrest you. Frequently, people don’t understand why lawyers they call won’t go into detail about their case. Criminal defense lawyers don’t have ready access to active police investigations. Police don’t usually have any desire to tell us much. That doesn’t mean we don’t have working relationships with investigators because many of us do. We cannot expect them willingly to divulge anything we can use to harm their case during investigation. Similarly, they don’t expect us to cooperate, and we rarely will, if ever.
We don’t know much more than what you tell us initially. We are not in a position to know how to handle evidence or witnesses against you when we don’t know what witnesses and evidence will be used against you. We often cannot even tell you what your defense will cost because the charges against you haven’t even been disclosed.
5) I want to hire a local lawyer who knows the judge/I want you to talk to the judge/I want you to tell the judge my side.
A common misconception could be summed up with the adage, “A good lawyer knows the law, but a great lawyer knows the judge.” Lawyers and judges have relationships, both professional and personal. Professional rules place strict limits on just how much difference it makes to “know” each other. I know numerous judges and am closer to some than others. If a lawyer so much as suggests his/her personal relationship with the judge will benefit your case, stay away from that lawyer.
Beware putting trust in a lawyer willing to cheat and lie, because it is patently unethical to claim a personal edge with a judge over another lawyer and it may actually harm your case. Even if it were true, it is unethical for both the judge and the lawyer, meaning neither can be trusted. If a judge is so close to a lawyer that the judge were influenced by the personal connection to the lawyer, the judge must recuse himself/herself from any case with that lawyer. Besides all those ethical implications, simple fairness dictates that one side shouldn’t “talk to the judge” about the case without the other side present. In fact, there is another lawyer/judge rule against that very practice known as ex parte communications.