During your free consultation, our attorneys will listen to your specific objectives and then create a customized plan to accomplish your individual objectives. We will explain your legal options so that you are empowered to resolve your stressful criminal and/or family law case in either an aggressive or amicable fashion. Finally, we will strive to obtain results in a cost-effective manner.
Criminal and family lawsuits are stressful. We shall work to minimize your stress by first explaining the process and how each specific judge will likely react to the facts of your case. Only after a client has a good understanding of the process, and knows what to expect, can the client manage the stress and make informed decisions about the pending lawsuit. However, you need to be prepared for our meeting so that you can obtain the most assistance possible. Below are some pointers on how to be prepared so that you make the most of your free consultation.
A. Attorneys and Staff: The attorneys and staff at Anderson Legal Group, P.C. work as a team, each performing those tasks which they can do most efficiently. Most cases are staffed with a lead attorney and a lead paralegal. The paralegals are billed at a lower rate than the attorneys and handle much of the time-consuming tasks involved in gathering information and day-to-day contact with you. You will be dealing with the attorneys, paralegals and the legal assistant, together and individually, throughout the relationship.
B. Your Role as Client: This is your case, not ours.
C. Be Informed: You should be informed and involved in your case as much as possible. It is important that you read all documents and ask any questions that you might have during this process.
D. Keep a File: All correspondence and documents produced about your case need to be kept by you. Please establish one file in which to keep all of your case-related documents. Once you retain our law firm we will provide a blue folder that may assist you in this task. Please remember to bring that folder with you each time that you visit our office or go to Court.
E. Tell Your Attorney the Truth About All Facts: You should be completely honest with us on every aspect of your case and give us all of the information necessary to represent you. This includes not only information helpful to your case, but, equally important, all facts which might be harmful to your case. The opposing attorney will likely find out about these facts anyway so please do not let us be the last to know! These “bad facts” are usually not as harmful as you may think and we can take proactive steps to mitigate the impact of the “bad facts” only we know of them.
F. Gathering Information: Facts are the heart of your lawsuit. After you retain our firm, you may be given information sheets to complete and “homework” to gather information and documents. This will be time-consuming and tedious work, but it is extremely important. It must be completed by the deadline provided to you by our office. As the client, you have more knowledge of and access to this factual information than we do. Further, as you research and piece together this information, you begin to develop the necessary understanding of your case. Also, you can do this work at no charge which will help keep your case on a budget.
G. Reviewing Documents: We will provide you with copies of all documents filed in your case. It is very important that you review those documents and familiarize yourself with them so you can detect anything important or unusual. Be sure to communicate these facts to your legal team.
H. Making Decisions: No final settlement of your case will be made without your approval and consent. All major decisions will be made with your approval and consent (e.g., to demand a jury or not, to seek child custody or not, etc.). You need to be prepared to discuss and think about how you want your case reseolved. Once retained, we will work with you to give you as much time as possible to consider your options. However, sometimes the time to contemplate your decisitions is abreviated. This is patricallry true when we are with you in Court.
I. Be Wary of Outside Advice: As you go through the process, you will receive advice and input from people outside your legal team, such as friends, family members, or even acquaintances. No matter how pure their intentions, these people do not know all the facts of your case, the Court, the law, opposing counsel, the strategy of your case or the current posture of your case. You will be represented by the attorney of your choosing: trust the attorney to guide you and try not to be distracted by outside input.
J. Signing A Contract and Paying a Fee: At the conclusion of the free consultation we will discuss the attorney fees and the projected costs involved with your case. If you want to retain Anderson Legal Group, you will then enter into a written Contract and pay the attorney fee retainer. After the fee is paid and the Contract signed the formal attorney/client relationship is created. At this point, you will know that you hired Anderson Legal Group to protect your rights.
Retainers are set by the attorney after the free consultation. In criminal cases, the fee will be a “flat rate”. This means that you will know the costs involved for each major option: Jury Trial, Judge Trial and/or Dismissal and Plea Request. Generally in criminal cases, the District Attorney does not have the power to make your attorney do anything. This is different from the power of the opposing attorney in a family law matter. Specifically, the opposing attorney in a divorce (for example) has the power to make your attorney participate in discovery, depositions, additional hearings, responses to Motions, etc. Because we cannot predict exactly what the opposing attorney will make us perform, family law matters are billed on an hourly basis. At every juncture, your attorney will discuss ways to keep things on a budget. This is further evidenced with the multiple levels of attorney experience so that the right attorney can be utilized as appropriate. All of these aspects of a family law retainer will be outlined in your Contract.
Preparing for a Family Law Consultation
A. Decision to Divorce: At the outset, you should be absolutely certain that your marriage is beyond saving and that your objective is to obtain a divorce. If you are uncertain, you should seek the assistance of an individual counselor or encourage your spouse to join you in marriage counseling with a qualified counselor acceptable to both of you.
You can locate a counselor through your health insurance coverage. However, some counselors do not accept insurance or they only have limited coverage. Therefore, it is important to know what your coverage will provide. Sometimes a spouse feels uneasy about seeing a counselor that works with both spouses. Often this uneasiness can be mitigated if the spouses agree in concept to visit with three counselors with each spouse having one “veto”. This way, each spouse has a bit of freedom as to who the counselor is that ultimately works for the family. The most important point is that a qualified counselor can be invaluable as to helping you determine if divorce is the right option for you. Once this is assertained, you need to find the right attorney to represent you and we hope that this is done through our initial consultation.
Caution: Some prospective clients hope that filing for a divorce will shock their spouse into reality and therefore save the marriage. While filing for a divorce sometimes has this outcome, it is a rarity. More often, filing for divorce causes the other spouse to become more hostile and the relationship even more strained. Therefore, the filing of a divorce should be filed only if obtaining a divorce is your objective.
B. Divorce Cases:Divorces are unlike any other court case. While other types of litigation may involve business dealings or accidents, divorces involve the two most important aspects of peoples’ lives: their family and their money, both of which are fraught with emotion. Additionally, because these two areas are so broad, the family law practitioner must have a working knowledge of a wide variety of different areas of the law in addition to understanding relationships and parenting issues. Moreover, Judges have much broader discretion in family law cases than they do in most other areas of the law because the Court, as should all involved, must consider the best interests of the children.
C. Topics of Discussion: There are two major components in a divorce matter: Children issues and Property Issues.
1. Children Issues: The issues that affect children are also called SAPCR’s (or Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship). These issues are present until the children emancipate, or are no longer under the power of the Court. (This typically happens when the child turns 18 years of age and graduates high school). There are five SAPCR issues: 1) Conservatorship (who manages the child); 2) Possession (who has the child when); 3) Child Support (who pays what for the child); 4) Health Insurance (who provides this benefit and who pays); and 5) Residency Restriction (is the child’s residence restricted to a specific area). During your initial consultation, these aspects will be fully defined and applied to your case. You should be prepared to discuss options as to your child and their development during the pendency of the case. You should also develop a relationship with your attorney where you feel comfortable changing your mind and refining that plan for your child.
2. Property Issues: During your free consultation, you will be asked if you have a Premarital Agreement. If you have one, please try to bring it. This is because a Premarital Agreement contractually changes the law as it is applied to dividing your estate. During your consultation we will discuss the definitions of separate and community property. We will discuss the types of assets and debts you have and your initial ideas as to how they should be awarded. Often in the divorces we handle, complex issues arise concerning: pensions, NFL/NHL/NBA and MLB benefits, businesses, offshore accounts, UHNWI, HNWI, stock options, PEP’s, tracing separate property, Family Limited Partnerships, Trusts and real property. These items will be discussed in length so that a clear strategy can be defined as soon as possible. If you have unusual or complex assets please make this known when making your free consultation appointment so that the correct attorney can meet with you.
A. Bond: When a person is arrested, they have to post a bond to be released from jail while they await for their trial. The first challenge is to get out of jail as this has to occur before the free consultation can occur. Getting out of jail is done by either paying a “cash bond” for the full bond amount or hiring a “bail bondsman.”
A cash bond is money tendered to the Court so that Judge has reasonable assurances that you will participate in the litigation about the offense. The full amount must be paid. Once the case is resolved, the Court returns the cash bond to the defendant (person charged with the crime), or the person that paid those funds on behalf of the defendant. If a defendant does not have access to the full amount of the bond, or if he wants to protect his cash flow then hiring a bail bondsman might be appropriate. A bail bondsman generally charges a percentage of the full bond amount which he keeps as his fee. The bail bondsman then places the full bond amount with the Court so the person is released from jail.
B. Topics of Discussion: When you meet for the free consultation, you will need to explain what happened with as many details as possible. These details will help us understand the incident and the charges that may have been alleged or which could be alleged against you. It is important for you to be honest and to let us know of any prior criminal history as this will have a bearing on how the case is resolved.
During our consultation we shall discuss the process of the case as well as generally outlining options that will be available to you. We shall work to update you on the facts as they develop. Further, we shall review police records and all evidence with you so that you have time to contemplate what the District Attorney will be using to “prove” the case against you.
We will always work to get the case dismissed. However, if a dismissal is not possible, we will work to obtain the best possible plea offer for your consideration. If the offer is unacceptable to you, then we will work to obtain relief from either the Judge during a Bench Trial or at a Jury Trial. We will work to develop evidence in both the guilt and punishment phases of the case to help your cause. We also work with experts to help explain complex matters to the Court. In general, to prepare for your initial free consultation, be ready to explain the facts as to your matter completely and accurately so that we can properly defend you.
At Anderson Legal Group: We achieve your results. We reduce your stress.