Tuesday, August 14, 2007

An Open Letter To Prospective Criminal Defense Clients

Hello.

Thank you for making an appointment to meet with me and for considering me as your counsel.

The phone number you called, and will continue to call if I am retained, is maintained by the phone company. Every month they send me a bill. If you are in jail, I have to pay for the calls you make to me whether you pay me for them or not.

The person you spoke to on the phone works at my office. I pay her salary. I also pay her health insurance and parking. Every year I give her a birthday present and a holiday bonus and gift as well. Often times she tells me we need things for the office, and I purchase those items as well. Those include the legal pads I will take notes on about your case, the soda you are drinking, and the stamps that allow me to send you the documents you will want to review.

This is not the same person who is my assistant. I also pay her salary, and her health insurance and parking. Every year I also give her a birthday present and a holiday bonus and gift too. She will be the one who will give you the information you need immediately when I am in court on another matter, and will make sure I am aware of what you need from me.

The office you are coming to is rented. Every month I write a check for the privilege to maintain this space, and every year the price increases. I also had to pay for the furniture you will sit on, as well as the computer that I am using to write documents that may keep you out of jail. The books I am using to determine your fate were not free, in fact those paperback ones in different colors cost quite a bit. They are not as expensive though as the monthly on-line research service I pay for that allows me access to the most up-to-date case law that I will argue to help you maintain your freedom.

The suit I am wearing was paid for by me. I also had to pay for the shirt, tie, shoes, and belt. Every so often I clean these items and pay for that as well. It is important that I am dressed appropriately in court and in meetings to discuss your case, so I am taken seriously. I trust you agree. The cuff links and watch were a gift from my wife.

My wife is not working so that she can take care of my kids.

Which leads me to those pictures you will see on my desk and bookcase. Those are my kids. They wear clothes as well. I pay for them. I also pay for their food, as well as the food for my wife and myself. Kids are expensive. They like toys, entertainment, and lots of both. I like to make them happy. I also like to pay for other things they need like health insurance and educational costs. From time to time we all need prescription medications, which also cost money.

I also have other obligations you may be familiar with. I pay utilities for my home, sometimes have to perform repairs, and every month, like the rent on my office, I have to make a mortgage payment. I also have to pay for the car I drive to court, as well as the gasoline.

Although I believe this pretty much covers my major expenses, of course there are others.

After spending 3 years as a public defender over 10 years ago, I have chosen to engage in the private practice of criminal defense law. I do not handle divorce, personal injury, bankruptcy, or commercial litigation.

The point of all of this is to advise you that if you are looking for a private criminal defense lawyer, and not a "lawyer who handles criminal defense," be prepared to pay a fee.

If your intent is that at the end of the meeting you will advise that "the only problem you have is the money," please cancel your appointment at this time.

Thank You.


Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.com