Interviewer: How about the cost of being convicted? Do you compare that to your fees on any given case? Is it more expensive to be convicted and have that problem or is it more expensive to hire you?
There Are More than Monetary Consequences to a Criminal Conviction
Eric: It is more expensive to be convicted, because of the cost of being convicted. As an example, we’ll discuss a conviction of somebody who voluntarily just pleads guilty. The process does not end when you say guilty. The costs will comprise court costs. Every case that goes in front of a court has a minimum and maximum fine that can be imposed. There are surcharges that can be imposed.
There may be collateral issues that come again regarding driving while intoxicated cases and certain drug cases. Your collateral consequences run into the driver’s licenses. Some are revocations of licenses and some are suspensions of licenses. To restore your license, you have to then take the driving test. You need to pay the department of motor vehicles fees on the drug case.
When you’re done with paying monetary figures, let’s look at what the other consequences are regarding that conviction. How about issues to a professional license? How about having a criminal record and when you go to apply for a job somebody asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” That goes on.
If it’s just dollars and cents that the person is worried bout, certainly ends up costing more than hiring a good lawyer. The potential consequences of a conviction could be absolutely devastating to the rest of their lives.
A Permanent Criminal Record: The State of New York Does Not Have an Expungement Statute
In New York State we do not have what’s called expungement. If there’s a criminal conviction, that stays with you for the rest of your life.
Pleading Guilty to a First Offense Just to “Put It behind You” May Not Be the Best Option
Interviewer: How about on first offenses, do people think, “It’s just the first one. I’ll just put it behind me and move on.” How often do you see that sets people up for really bad situations if they ever get in trouble again?
Eric: Almost every day. Almost every day and sometimes it’s not even my clients. Sometimes I have people who call me and come up to me in the hallway and say, “My lawyer didn’t tell me. I plead guilty and now I need to get this off my record.” Unfortunately, again, because the person may have been over 19 when they got in to this trouble, the record is there.
It’s not always easy. Some of these people are the people who decided not to hire a good lawyer in the first place. Now we’re going to pay lot of extra money from me to prepare paperwork and make a motion to the court to try and go back in time. Maybe go back to not guilty.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to go back to not guilty, now you got to pay to start again. Now you’re going to pay me to properly handle your case. Whatever my fee would have been, you’re going to have to pay in addition to whatever money you wasted on the other lawyer. It is just absolutely devastating if a person tries to handle a criminal case by just looking at how much they can save by going to a cheaper lawyer.
The Right Attorney Can Help to Improve the Outcome of a Case Almost 100% of the Time
Interviewer: In general, how often because of your intervention someone’s situation improves a little bit or even a lot and their outcome is greatly improved?
Eric: I would say that my clients’ situations improve 98% of the time. With the ability to understand with the continuing education that we receive and to be able to go through a case, we’re able to show weaknesses in driving while intoxicated cases.
An Experienced Attorney Is Able to Prove Weaknesses in the Prosecutor’s Case
We have shown weaknesses in regular criminal cases and by having credibility with the court system and the district attorneys, we are able to negotiate a settlement if it’s necessary or we take the case the trial and handle it properly.
An Experienced Attorney Knows How to Argue with Merit in Front of a Judge and When Not Accept a Less than Favorable Plea Offer
I’m very proud of that fact. I literally don’t remember cases that we couldn’t do anything on. I had a client who had six burglary cases pending against him and the district attorney’s office wanted 10 years in jail. I was able to convince the judge to forget about those six burglaries and handle it all as just one burglary first offense and the person was able to get the absolutely bare minimum. Before the case was over, the judge was actually trying to convince the district attorney to make a better offer to even reduce the case.
I’m real proud of being able to really represent clients and to handle cases in this fashion. If it is necessary to go to trial, we’re certainly fully prepared and capable of trying this case.
By Eric Sachs