Friday, December 23, 2011

Minnesota Attorney Fees (Explained)

As I've set forth in a number of different posts here and on my website, although costs should be chief among an individual's considerations when deciding who to go with when picking a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney - it should NEVER be #1.

I get it - no one wants to pay too much, or any more than they have to, for anything. And, it's no different when it comes to legal fees. Granted, my fees might be more than what some Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorneys charge - but you'll also find that they're less than some others. Yet there are still really two competing bookends to this scenario.

Many people are absolute "bargain hunters," intent on finding the lowest price on anything, regardless of quality, while others cannot help thinking that the more you pay for something, the better it must be. Most often, however, the very best "deal" lies in the middle.

As I asserted before, looking for a lawyer on a "low-bidder" basis is probably the worst way to find quality representation. This is because there is simply no way to not cut corners when offering a discount price.

On the opposite side of the coin, paying an arm & a leg all too often means getting "soaked." Anyone can request every document under the sun from the government and work the daylights out of a file, but whether or not that is necessary, or even advisable, is another thing altogether.


Imagine a pipe leak in your basement:

One contractor may propose excavating all the soil around that wall in order to "get a good look" at the problem. This may cost thousands of dollars, but that certainly will do it.

Another contractor may simply show up and, for $150, slap some waterproof paint over the spot. That may very well stop the leak for a while.

Yet a third contractor may show up, trace the leak, and know, right out of the gate, that the right repair is to pump an epoxy sealant into the crack, fixing and sealing it forever. His fix will cost about $350.

The cheapest "deal" turns out not to be any kind of "deal" at all. The most expensive is downright wasteful, while the middle ground approach turns out to be the best bang for the buck.

Hiring a Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney isn't really much different. The primary question becomes how much work is necessary - something that can vary from case to case.

A good attorney will always engage in a factual investigation once he takes on a case.

A bargain lawyer simply cannot afford to do that and expect to turn a profit, so they'll simply sign the client up for a quick plea deal.

The overpriced lawyers will often spin a large story about all the things that "could" be wrong with the case. (To be fair, these guys will rarely charge an exorbitant fee and simply rush in and quickly take a plea. They'll spend the time and effort and get enough records to choke a horse. The problem is that, all too often, this is a complete waste of time and money.)

Going back to the leaky basement wall, the most expensive contractor could tell the homeowner that they'll inspect the entire foundation of the home and dig up all the soil around all the basement walls, but in the end, in most cases, they'll wind up injecting the same epoxy into the crack that the middle guy would, except they'll wind up doing that after they've done several other thousand dollars worth of unnecessary and wasted work.

What Should You Do?

First, avoid the low-bidders. They bring nothing to the table but a waste of money. No self-respecting Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney who thinks enough of his skills markets themselves on a bargain basis. I certainly don't. If they don't think enough of themselves to compete in the big leagues, it's not likely that any prosecutors or judges do, either. They build a practice upon moving cases in and out as quickly as possible, and their income is based on doing as little as possible in as many cases as possible. That's no way to have something as important as your criminal case handled.

Instead, a person should look for an attorney who will charge a fee that will include doing the necessary background work and investigation to make sure the crime charged is legally sound, and, if not, will then have a built-in structure to charge for the work necessary to intelligently challenge weak evidence.

Some cases are rather obviously solid. Say, when a Drunk Driver crashes into another car, and the cops arrive at the scene to find one of the drivers behind the wheel and obviously under the influence, it is highly unlikely that any judge will be tossing that case out. You can spend any amount and subpoena everything right down to the arresting officer's kindergarten school records, but such effort is not likely to result in the case being dismissed.

Other cases almost scream: FIGHT!  Say, when a driver is pulled over for suspicion of DWI, and no breath or blood test is given, there is no actual evidence of intoxication. Taking a plea in such a case is simply selling out the client.


As a former prosecutor, if I sense that your case seems to have the hallmarks of being sound enough to not get tossed out, which really accounts for most cases, I'll begin the preparation process at our first meeting. I'll introduce you to the alcohol assessment process, and we'll get our first crack at learning how to perform as well as possible on it.  Ideally, we'll make you a very appealing candidate for leniency - to earn you the best possible outcome for your case.


Hiring a lawyer means paying a lawyer. Pay too little, and you'll get too little. Pay too much, and you've just wasted your hard earned money. A good lawyer, or even a bargain lawyer, will cost more than a new refrigerator or TV set. Most people will spend some time and research such a purchase before handing over their money. It only makes sense to put in at least as much effort in finding the right lawyer to handle your case as it does in buying a new appliance.

In the end, about the best advice a person can follow in this situation is to "spend wisely." Who can argue with that?

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