Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Costs of Litigation

Most people understand that there are going to be costs to hiring an attorney to handle your legal matter. Generally there are three methods used by attorneys to receive payment. The first is a flat fee for service. What this amounts to is a quoted fee that will encompass all of the attorney fees for your case. These fees usually do not include appeals or additional appearances of your attorney for collateral matters not originally agreed to by your attorney. For example, if you are out on bond pending your case and you violate the terms of bond and are re-arrested and want to have your attorney go back into court and attempt to have you released, this is usually an extra fee. The second form of payment is an hourly rate. In some areas law attorneys will simply charge by the hour for their services. Generally this is not done in traffic and criminal matters. The third form of payment is through a contingency fee. This type of payment is usually reserved for cases in which civil damages are being sought and amount to a percentage of the award. Again, this form of payment is usually not applicable to traffic and criminal cases. At the Law Office of Michael S. Davis we strive to deliver quality legal representation at competitive rates. When hiring an attorney we will explain in full the fee you will be charged and why you are being charged that fee. You will also receive a written retainer agreement spelling out the terms of representation so that you have a full understanding of the services we will deliver on your behalf.

In addition to attorneys fees, there may be other costs associated with your case. Not every case will require all of these services and many will not require any, but, you should be aware of the possibility that additional costs may be required.

In cases starting in the General District or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court you may need the services of a Court Reporter. This is the person who records the testimony of the proceedings. Many cases remain in the General District or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court and never proceed to the Circuit Court and therefore do not usually require a Court Reporter. Others both misdemeanor and felony start out in the General District Court and from there are transferred to the Circuit Court. Since the General District and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court are not courts of record (in other words, not courts where proceedings are recorded automatically and preserved) it is sometimes necessary to have a reporter there who can preserve your case for future proceedings. In some instances it is crucial to have a written record of witness testimony or procedural issues for later proceedings and appeals. Your attorney can explain the need for this if it applies to your case. There are generally two separate fees for this service. First there is a fee to record the proceedings. If it is necessary to obtain a written copy of the transcript there is a second fee involved. Fees vary depending on the case.

There may also be a need to retain the services of a private investigator. Investigators can be valuable in finding witnesses and interviewing people about events that took place in your case. Sometimes they can locate witnesses that were not previously known and have even been known to identify the actual suspect in the case if you have been wrongly accused. They can also go to crime scenes and provide photographs, measurements and other valuable information. Your attorney will be able to secure the services of trained investigators that can serve the needs of your case.

There are situations where the police may ask you to submit to a polygraph (Lie Detector) test. There are times when this might be advisable but it is seldom a good idea to submit to this test without first taking a test through a private operator to see what the results show. If they are favorable you can always submit to the police test. If not you can decline the offer of the police.

Experts are becoming more and more valuable for the defense. Toxicologists, doctors, auto accident reconstruction experts, computer experts,  DNA and blood experts and many others can provide valuable information in the area of forensic evidence as well as other specialized fields. These experts can assist your attorney in understanding scientific and technical aspects of the case. Attorneys cannot be completely proficient in every area of scientific and technical evidence and sometimes need an expert to better understand and present these concepts to a judge or jury. Experts often also testify in these cases educating judges and jurors on the issues by making them more understandable as well as rendering opinions that a judge or jury can consider in arriving at a verdict in your case. Unfortunately, experts are usually not cheap and depending on the area of expertise can be very expensive. Attorney Michael S. Davis is very conscious that you bear these expenses and will try to find the best qualified experts at the lowest possible cost to you.

Another cost that must be considered in some cases is document retrieval. Sometimes it is necessary to obtain records from various sources such as hospitals and doctor’s offices, business records, phone records or old out of state court records. There are usually costs associated with this in the form of copying fees and mailing or delivery fees. If these records must be sent to experts there are usually fees associated with sending and retrieving these records. These fees are generally not costly. Another expense associated with documents is bringing in the custodian of records for court appearances in some circumstances. Many times these custodians can simply be called to court without expense but in some cases the client will have to bear the cost.

Exhibits are also sometimes needed for demonstration purposes in court. Most of the time these are blow-ups of maps, documents or photos. There can be other types of evidence requiring special preparation for court and can be varied in nature. The cost of preparing these items can vary greatly.

There are additional miscellaneous items that may arise from time to time but those outlined here are the major items that cause additional expense. As stated previously, most cases will not require these services and certainly only a few will require additional services that create significant expense to you, but, when these services are needed it is important that you understand that your attorney would not ask you to bear the cost if it were not essential to your case. At the Law Office of Michael S Davis we strive to provide you with the best legal representation possible and incur the least expense necessary to effectively present your case.

At the Law Office of Michael S Davis, we would be happy to discuss your situation at no cost and help you determine your best course of action.

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