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The Law Firm of Jerome W. Matthews, Jr., LLC

Serving the Greater New Orleans Area

A major concern for most clients is the cost of hiring an attorney. My fees are very reasonable for the area. Whenever possible, I charge a flat fee. However, for complicated projects or trials, an agreed upon hourly rate will be applicable.

Your initial consultation is provided at no cost to you. I will take the time to listen and understand your needs.

I charge a flat fee for most services but the amount varies significantly depending on the complexity of the case. Generally speaking, higher level offenses are more complex than lower level offenses.The most significant factor that affects my fee is the level of the offense. For a variety of reasons, the time that an attorney must spend to provide excellent representation tends to increase dramatically as the level of the offense rises. As a result, the fee goes up significantly as well. Another important factor can be the charge itself. For example, providing a good defense against a Homicide or Drug charge tends to be more time consuming than providing excellent representation for someone charged with Shoplifting.

Comprehensive Flat Fees for Most Offenses
For most pending criminal cases, I charge a comprehensive flat fee for handling a case from the point that I am retained (usually right after charges are filed or someone is arrested) until disposition of the case. That includes all court appearances, any necessary pretrial motions, hearings, and trial. There is no discount if I negotiate a dismissal or other favorable disposition, nor is there an extra trial fee if you decide to exercise your constitutional right to a fair trial rather than settling (also known as entering into a "plea bargain" agreement).

The comprehensive flat fee structure maximizes the time that I can devote to each case, which consequently increases the quality of representation that I provide to my clients, while offering them the greatest flexibility in deciding how to dispose of their cases.

Many criminal defense attorneys in New Orleans use a split fee structure rather than a comprehensive flat fee. You should be aware that, while a split fee is often lower, it covers pre-trial representation only. That means that if the case does not settle before trial, the attorney will charge an additional large fee for trial. The amount of the "trial fee" varies significantly among attorneys.

One problem with a split fee arrangement is that the preparation required to maximize your chances at trial is often the same work that reveals problems with the government's case against you, which can lead to a better settlement offer or even a dismissal if the problems are discovered during pre-trial negotiations. An attorney who charges a split fee is less likely to engage in this type of work during the pre-trial phase of the case, i.e., before the trial fee is paid. A related issue is that some prosecutors won't give you their best offer until it is apparent that your attorney is ready for trial.

A second serious problem with the split fee structure is the large additional trial fee that the client must pay if the case is not dismissed or settled. It is usually too late in the game for the attorney to offer a payment plan so if you cannot afford to pay the trial fee in one lump sum, then you may be stuck accepting a plea bargain offer that you're not happy with. Even if you can afford the trial fee, common sense dictates being wary of a scenario in which your attorney's inability to negotiate a favorable settlement allows him to earn more money.

The bottom line is that attempting to save money by deferring trial preparation until the State makes its final settlement offer may well result in paying more in total legal fees and having a worse result to show for it.

Furthermore, contrary to what people sometimes assume, the fact that trial is included in my comprehensive flat fee does not make it prohibitively expensive or even significantly more expensive than it would be if I charged a split fee. Most cases settle, so each client pays only a small fraction of the actual cost of going to trial, much like insurance. It works out about the same for me across the board but provides each of my clients with additional peace of mind and ensures that none of them are forced to accept a plea bargain offer simply because they can't afford an additional trial fee.

As with any service, you get what you pay for. You need a criminal defense attorney that can and will spend the time on your case that is necessary to get the best results. A poor outcome may have consequences that last the rest of your life. Even with a relatively minor case, saving money on legal fees isn't worth the risk of being saddled with a bad result that might have been avoided. After all, a criminal record can have a negative impact on finding and keeping good employment for the rest of your life.

Miscellaneous Expenses
The attorney fee does not usually cover out-of-pocket expenses such as filing fees, private investigators, process servers, forensic testing or expert witnesses. It is my policy to consult with my clients before incurring such fees on their behalf.

When should you hire a criminal defense attorney?

Anyone who has been arrested or charged with committing a crime will undoubtedly need the help of a New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney. Many individuals facing criminal charges delay finding a qualified attorney until there is no other option, which can be a big mistake. There are undoubtedly many important things happening at once when charges are made that must be handled; however, the first thing that should be done is to find legal counsel. Most criminal defense attorneys would stress that the outcome of the case may very well depend on early attorney representation.

Researching and finding a good New Orleans Criminal Defense Lawyer as early in the process as possible is recommended when someone has been arrested and is facing possible criminal charges. This is especially true immediately after being arrested but before formal charges have been filed as many times attorneys can negotiate a dismissal before any charges are actually made. The key to taking advantage of such an opportune time is getting legal representation immediately after the arrest.

If charges have been made, it is still vital to find legal representation right away to improve having a more positive outcome. Any negotiating prior to authorization of charges, plea bargaining, or other discussion about dropping or lessening charges is more likely to happen in the early stages of a case rather than after charges have been finalized. A criminal defense attorney will know if there may be bargaining room with the prosecutor after hearing an account of the arrest as well as know how to proceed from that point.

Hire a New Orleans Criminal Defense Attorney Today!!!