NOTE: IN A DEPARTURE FROM THE POLICY DETAILED BELOW, WE ARE PRESENTLY (AS OF MARCH 16, 2020) PROVIDING FREE CONSULTATIONS OVER THE PHONE OR BY VIDEO FOR ALL CASE TYPES DUE TO THE COVID-19 SITUATION UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
We provide free initial consultations to prospective clients who are facing or likely to face criminal charges. For all other (non-criminal) cases we charge $100 for a one-hour consultation. If retained, the consultation fee is credited toward the total fee. We waive the fee for referrals from fellow attorneys and former clients. Why do we charge a fee for initial consultations? Because we provide more than a sales pitch in consultations. We will review your case and answer your questions.
It is important to note that the consultation does not mean representation. Many of the most critical questions in a case, such as how to plead, what motions to file or whether to cooperate with DCF or the police, cannot be answered without establishing an attorney-client relationship and gathering more information about the situation at hand. Clients often have a lot of questions. They come to lawyers for answers. Figuring out answers requires knowledge, thought, and effort.
The other purpose of a consultation is to meet each other and decide if we can and want to work together; to determine if we should establish an attorney-client relationship. We do not want you to hire us because of our fee. We want you to hire us because you think that we are the best attorneys for you. On the other side of the equation is whether we have an interest in representing you and handling your case. We do not take every case that comes through our door. If we determine that we have a conflict or your case falls outside of our practice areas, we will refer you to a colleague.
The decision to hire an attorney is one of the most important decisions you will have to make in life. If you are coming to me, your life, liberty or property is at stake. We understand that prospective clients shop around or seek second opinions. We know that we might not be the first or only attorney you contact. When comparing attorneys, there are some questions to consider.
Knowledge is, in our opinion, the most important. If a lawyer is not aware of the laws and legal consequences, as well as the procedures and available options in your case, he or she might not be very effective. In law, knowledge really is power. There are, believe it or not, lawyers who do not know all of the diversionary programs available to criminal defendants. Or they do not know the consequences of a certain criminal conviction. Beyond jail and fines, there are collateral consequences. We know the Connecticut criminal and juvenile statutes. We know the potential problems beyond a conviction and direct punishment--collateral consequences--and how to avoid them.
Questioning is a skill that lawyers need to develop for success in court and also in before court. Just as you might be asking a prospective attorney questions, he or she should be asking you questions to figure out your legal issues. Age, criminal record, driving record, immigration status, whether you hold certain licenses or permits, whether you are on probation or parole or have other cases, your job or educational prospects, military/veteran status are among the many issues a lawyer should ask about to determine what problems and solutions could arise in your case. We ask these questions and many follow-ups.
Experience is something you should consider. Not so much age and time, but experience in the courts and experience with the type of case you have. We have handled many different criminal and juvenile delinquency cases all over Connecticut and covering a variety of charges, from infractions to misdemeanors to serious felonies. In child protection matters, we have represented parents, children and other relatives in neglect, abuse, termination of parental rights and guardianship matters as well as DCF administrative hearing and appeals, including substantiations and registry appeals.
You certainly want not just an experienced lawyer but one with success. Success is obtaining the best possible outcome for a client. That could be a deal or it could be a trial victory. Not every case is triable. A good lawyer knows when to try a case and as importantly, when not to go to trial. In the work we do--often defending against state action--it is difficult to win. That said, we have won a considerable amount of trials (and admittedly, lost several as well).
We won a Not Guilty verdict in a criminal trial in Meriden in which the client was charged with serious felonies. In many other situations, we were able to keep the clients out of jail even after they were convicted of serious felonies. In a case a few years ago, we scored a victory in a VOP hearing by getting charges reduced. In post-conviction matters, we won a habeas trial, proving that the client's previous counsel was ineffective. We also won pardons for clients who had long before been convicted of serious charges.
On the juvenile side, we have won trials representing parents at every level: Order of Temporary Custody, neglect, termination and permanency planning. In 2018, we represented a father in a TPR which was denied after a trial. We later won a reunification plan and took on DCF in an administrative hearing in which the hearing officer (a DCF lawyer) sided against DCF. We also won administrative appeals in which substantiation and registry placement for a client were reversed.
In countless other cases, we worked with clients to reunite them with their children without going to trial on the petitions. We instead pushed our cases and reached agreements with DCF.
The fight does not end with a trial. We have also successfully defended two appeals at the Appellate Court.