Tips and Warnings
Many potential clients come meet with me and tell me that another lawyer made a promise or a guarantee of a particular result and they ask if I can match the promise or guarantee the same result.
For example, a potential client – who was charged with a serious sex offense – once told me that an attorney “guaranteed” to keep him off the Michigan Sex Offender Registry if he paid the attorney’s fee-which was several thousands of dollars more than my quote.
This practice is unethical and the sign of a Michigan Criminal Defense lawyer who is either dishonest, desperate for business or just plain greedy. The fact is that anything can happen in a case. Facts often develop over the course of representation that make achieving an extraordinary result more or less likely.
Another client fired me right before a trial after another attorney guaranteed a not guilty verdict. The evidence against this person was (in my opinion) overwhelming. Nonetheless, I was able to negotiate an agreement for an 18-month maximum sentence for an offense with a potential maximum of 20 years. This different attorney assured my client that if he retained him (and paid his $15,000.00 fee) a not guilty verdict was assured. The client fired me, hired the new attorney, paid the money and went to trial with the new attorney. He was convicted and sentenced to 5-20 years-and of course the $15,000.00 fee was not returned. That former client ended up serving about 8 1/2 years in prison. Had it not been for the intervention of the lawyer who promised the moon, he’d have been released 7 years sooner and his family would have saved $15,000.00.
A great, highly experienced lawyer will have the ability to size up a case and give a reliable range of probable results but no lawyer has a crystal ball or can predict the future.
Be careful! There are unscrupulous attorneys out there. Some of them do a lot of advertising and look good on the internet. Some attorneys will try to take advantage of your fear and anxiety and tell you whatever you want to hear in order to get your money.
If an attorney promises that you will be found not guilty, or that you are 100% certain to avoid jail, or that he/she can keep you off the sex offender list, or anything else, avoid that attorney. There is simply no way any attorney could possibly predict these things at an initial consultation.
Don’t believe me? Just try getting any such guarantee in writing. It won’t happen.
Making promises or guarantees of particular results is unethical and is strictly prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct that govern a lawyer’s conduct.
What we promise:
-We will tell you the truth
-We have the ability to size up a case and give a reliable range of probable results
-We work hard and provide an aggressive defense
-You WILL be able to contact me with questions. I will provide you with my personal cell phone number. If I miss your call, I will call you back.
I may not always be able to tell you what you want to hear. However, what I do tell you will have the benefit of being the truth. What you need from an attorney is the full, unfiltered truth-not promises of results before anyone has reviewed the evidence.