Criminal Defense FAQ

Answering All Your Legal Questions

Do you have questions about legal fees, what to do if you’re arrested, or why you should hire a lawyer? Our New Orleans criminal defense lawyers at The Burrell Firm, LLC have put together a list of some frequently asked questions and answers. We represent clients throughout Louisiana from our offices in New Orleans and Ruston.

Learn more by reading the FAQ section below and give us a call if you have any more questions at (504) 420-7575.

What Are Your Legal Fees?

Legal fees vary depending on what type of matter is at hand. In criminal defense cases, there are two main methods of dealing with legal fees.

The first is what is referred to as the flat fee arrangement. With this arrangement, we offer a singular flat fee to our client. The fee will not be contingent on how many hours we work, or any other factors. Typically, this type of arrangement will be limited to the trial court level and will not cover any appeals or expungements thereafter.

The second arrangement is referred to as straight hourly. In these cases, our client pays for every hour we worked on your case. We will generally require an advance on the fee to cover costs. As we work your case, we will bill against that advance. Any money that has not been earned at the time of resolution of your case will then be returned to you. Likewise, if we exhaust the advance at any given time, we will request additional funds going forward.

It is generally impossible to list legal fees for criminal defense because every matter is so different. Every individual is different. Factors such as age, education level, prior criminal history, evidence, and the admissibility of such evidence all factor into the case. Sometimes it would be advisable to do a straight hourly fee arrangement while other times it’ll be in your interest to do a flat fee arrangement.

We will discuss these options at length to figure out which works best for you during a free consultation with one of our criminal defense lawyers. And we will always be transparent about how much we expect from you before we start working on your case so you can make the best decision for yourself.

Do You Handle Expungements?

Yes. Expungements allow you to clean your record and have better opportunities in employment and education.

Expungements are only available in certain instances, however. To determine if your charge is ultimately one ripe to be expunged, you should set up a free consultation with us so that we can discuss your case and the fees involved.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney When I Can Defend Myself or Get Free Counsel?

Statistics show that a criminal defendant representing themselves is less likely to get favorable plea offers, favorable rulings on motions, and ultimately favorable jury verdicts. We strongly encourage everyone facing criminal charges who are unfamiliar with the legal system to consult with an attorney, free or paid.

The difference between a paid attorney and a court-appointed attorney isn’t necessarily related to skills, experience, or ability. The number one issue faced by court-appointed attorneys is time.

Time is valuable. An attorney needs time to listen to your story, request from the prosecution discovery (all evidence in their possession), read over the discovery materials, draft motions, argue motions, and ultimately prepare for trial. Those tasks are plentiful enough already. When you take those tasks and multiply them by 100, 300, or even 1000 cases, it becomes more likely that your case gets lost in translation. This is the unfortunate reality of many who work with court-appointed lawyers.

A private criminal defense attorney manages his caseload himself. He is not forced to represent everyone the judge throws at him. Therefore, lawyers like our Louisiana criminal defense attorneys can dedicate more of their time and energy to the cases they decide to take. Rather than treat you as a case number that has to be filed as quickly as possible, we can take the time to get to know you and more effectively build you a strong case.

Going with a court-appointed attorney is much better than representing yourself. Choosing an attorney who can listen to your story and fight for you on a more personal level is even better.

Do You Represent People Charged With DUI/DWI?

We do represent clients charged with DUI/DWI. Dealing with DUI/DWIs can be a two-fold process—there is a criminal prosecution and an administrative hearing most of the time. Call our office for a free consultation to get help with your DUI.

Do You Handle Traffic Tickets?

Yes. Contact our office in New Orleans or in Ruston to get help in resolving your traffic ticket matters.

If you have more questions or would like to schedule a free case evaluation, write to us online or call us today at (504) 420-7575.

What Should I Do When I Am Arrested?

The first thing you should do is retain an attorney. Even though you have been apprehended, you still have very important legal rights and we highly encourage that you use them.

Your two most crucially important rights are:

  1. The right to remain silent
  2. The right to an attorney

Do not speak to anyone about your alleged crime, except for your attorney, ever! If law enforcement is talking to you, that means that they don’t have enough on you or are trying to get more. Speaking from personal experience only, we have never been witness to anyone talking themselves out of a criminal charge. Yet, we have heard of plenty of people who have decided to waive their important legal rights by speaking to the police and end up saying something that makes their situation worse. Even the most innocent exchange of words can be used against you for crimes you ultimately did not commit.

As such, the only person you should speak with about the alleged crime following an arrest is your attorney. That includes more than just law enforcement, but family members, friends, and everyone else.

So, the first step is to retain an attorney. The second step is to not waive your legal rights to both an attorney and silence. If you follow these two crucial steps following an arrest, your attorney will guide you through the rest of the legal process.

An Officer Wants to Search My Car, Should I Consent?

Whether or not you consent to an officer searching your car is a personal decision.

With that being said, when you consent to a search of your car, person, or home, you essentially give up your right to challenge the legality of the search. If an officer ultimately finds anything illegal from a search, such evidence will be used against you.

If the officer has the legal right (probable cause or incident to lawful arrest) to search your car, whether or not you consent, they will search your car. They are usually asking to avoid any challenge to their probable cause determination or lack thereof. Not consenting to their search is a great way to go. If you don’t mind them searching the car or not, they’ll likely search it anyway once you refuse to consent, so the result is the same. The important thing with refusing to consent is that you keep your Fourth Amendment right to be free from illegal searches and seizures.

Sometimes you are in a hurry and just want to prove their suspicions wrong and get on about your day. Consenting can speed that process up. Remember the risk, however. Someone could have dropped something illegal in your car when you gave them a ride home, your family member who borrowed your car may have left something illegal in there, or many different other scenarios. Before consenting, just remember these important considerations.

Will I Have to Go to Trial?

Criminal cases rarely go to trial. The vast majority are settled before that time comes. They could be settled either by plea arrangement, by dismissal, or by pre-trial diversion. It’s not possible to determine whether your case will be the one that makes it to trial until it is already underway.

We ultimately would love to resolve cases favorably for our clients before trial. Sometimes however the opposing side doesn’t see things the way we do. When that happens, usually one must take the case to trial or enter into a guilty plea of some kind.

As it is impossible to predict the nature of your case without reviewing the different sides first, what we do at The Burrell Firm is to discuss the probable outcome when retained and once a thorough review of the case has been done, discuss with the client what we can anticipate will happen and give you sound advice so you can ultimately make a decision.