His fee was $25000 to represent my son for the entire trial but he only made it thru pretrial and then his license was suspended. I live in another state so there was no agreement signed between the two of us, I paid him thru paypal and he said he would send me the agreement, that never happened, but the $25000 was NOT a retainer it was a flat fee he charged to represent my son. He is suspended due to numerous accounts of fraud and substance abuse.
Criminal Defense Attorney
In California, any attorney work involving more than $1,000.00 must be in writing and signed by both parties. Failure of an attorney to obtain a signed attorney's fee agreement can result in an obligation to refund all of the fee. You need to obtain counsel in the area where the attorney practiced prior to his suspension. Your are entitiled to a refund of some amount.
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Have you made a demand on this lawyer for a refund? If not, do that, and do it in writing sent via FedEx or by registered www.rPost.com email, or certified US mail or by personal delivery so you prove he got it. Give him a deadline, and if he doesn't supply the refund, I'd go the CA State Bar, linked below, which has a restitution fund for clients whose CA lawyers screw up badly like this.
Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.
Criminal Defense Attorney
You will have to either settle the matter informally with the attorney or, more likely, take him to court. While California requires a written fee agreement in most cases where the fee exceeds $1000, the remedy for not doing so is not a full refund, but reasonable compensation for the attorney's work on the case, rather than the specified amount in the contract. Reasonable compensation for a double murder case could easily exceed $25000, if the attorney was actually working on the case and not just ripping you off. No attorney could actually afford to do a double murder trial, which could last several months for the jury trial alone, for $25000. That should have been a huge red flag for you. However, the fact that this lawyer has been suspended for fraud and drugs will not look good for him in court and you will likely win a substantial portion, if not all of your fee, back. The problem is that a big chunk of what you win will go to the attorney that helps you win it.