Case Management and Fees
Each and every case is personally handled by Attorney Brian Michaels. Mr. Michaels prides himself on being available to his retained clients at any hour of the day or night. Concerned family members who are affected by the client's case or who have an interest in the case are included as much as they would like so long as the client consents and there is no violation of the attorney-client privilege. We recognize that in most criminal cases it isn't just the client who has an interest, but the families of the accused who are standing beside them. The client's privacy, of course, always comes first.
Mr. Michaels offers a one time 45 minute free consult, sometimes longer, time permitting. We understand that the decision to hire counsel is one that should be taken seriously so it is our practice to provide as much information to the client as possible so that he or she is comfortable with the decision in hiring our firm. When a client pays an attorney to represent him or her one of the most important things they are paying for is communication. We take our commitment to communication seriously and put no time limits on a client, once retained, to call attorney Michaels any time.
Our fees, like most criminal defense firms, are flat. That is, fees are paid typically up front, and no hours are billed. The fee in a given case is based on the seriousness of the offense and the time commitment the firm will have to give. There is no set fee for any given case. Factors that impact the fee are complexity of the case, number of witnesses, age of the case, and whether or not the case goes to trial. Most cases do resolve without the need for a jury trial. The decision to go to trial is within the discretion of the client. Attorney's make recommendations. Client's make decisions when it comes to settlement. We agree to payment plans within reason on a case by case basis. Generally the earlier counsel is retained the easier it is to arrange for a payment plan on a given case.
Once the firm is retained, if the client has not yet appeared in court, the first appearance is the Arraignment where charges are filed and bail is set. If the client is in custody the Arraignment happens quickly. If the client is out of custody then often the attorney's first appearance will be in the Arraignment court and can be weeks or even months before an Arraignment occurs.
One of the questions we are always asked is does the client have to be in court. The answer is no. In any Misdemeanor case in which the defendant is not in custody the attorney, with the consent of the client, can make all the court appearances for the client up until trial or settlement unless otherwise ordered by the court. If a client lives out of county or even out of state it is possible to handle the entire misdemeanor case without ever having to come to court. In a Felony case the defendant will always have to be in court whether they are in custody or out of custody.
After an Arraignment your case will either stay in what is known as a "Master Calendar Court" where one Judge handles a particular court's entire caseload until it is ready for trial or it will go to a "Preliminary Hearing Court" if the case is a Felony. In Felony cases some court houses the Judge may set the matter for a settlement conference or "EDP" for Early Disposition Program. Cases will sometimes settle at this stage. If the case gets past the Preliminary Hearing, in a Felony case, it will then go to a Trial Court where the attorneys will start to work the case up for a Jury Trial.
Trials can occur quickly as California has a Speedy Trial act that is designed to move cases quickly through the courts. Sometimes a speedy trial works to a client's benefit, but often, in more serious cases, we will advise the client to allow his attorneys more time to prepare his case for a trial. It is not uncommon for cases, both Misdemeanor and Felony to take up to a year or more before a Jury Trial begins. This is far less common in a Misdemeanor or in a simple felony case. Complex Felony's can take longer to bring to trial. If the defendant is in custody and want a speedy trial then that client will receive high priority.
A client who expresses no interest in trial and receives favorable settlement conditions from the prosecuting agency may resolve their case within one to two months on average. We tell all of our clients the same thing, have patience. Our job is to get you the best result no matter how long it takes.
If your case does go to trial we will have multiple meetings before we go to trial. We will meet with any retained investigators or experts on your case and fully prepare you for trial. Mr. Michaels has been trying Criminal Cases for 18 years and has helped to train lawyers in trial skills. He will advise you of all your claims and defenses and include you in all of the strategy meetings. If you are going to testify in your own trial Mr. Michaels will prepare so that you go into court 100% comfortable and ready to beat your case.
In Driving Under The Influence cases virtually every client will also have a related DMV Hearing. It is urgent that if someone is arrested for DUI that they try to retain counsel within ten days of their arrest. A Driver's License Suspension will occur if an individual arrested for DUI does not immediately request a DMV hearing within ten days from their arrest. The DMV is notorious for not recording telephonic requests for hearings by unrepresented individuals who try to handle the DMV hearing on their own.
Mr. Michaels will immediately file a request for a DMV hearing and a stay on your driving suspension in writing and direct it to the proper DMV office for the client so that the client can continue to drive indefinitely while his or her DMV hearing is being adjudicated. Client's arrested for DUI are urged to try to retain counsel, for this reason, right away.
Our fees are fair and competitive. Fees for a defense of a misdemeanor case start at $2000.00 while fees in a felony matter start at $5000.00, but consideration is always given to the client's indvidual situation. Keep in mind when you are thinking about money. How much will you or your family lose in money if you are convicted and get a job or worse, imprisoned. Investing in a good criminal defense attorney is an investment in you and your families future? It is true that money does buy your attorneys time and the more time your attorney can spend fighting the government the better your chances.