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Is it common practice for state attorneys to offer services for federal cases?

Los Angeles, CA |

First off I know little about the legal community of criminal lawyers. I was indicted on fed drug crime & while incarcerated I consulted with an attorney that said that he did both state & federal cases but I don't see fed on his website. He came in with pen & pad, took notes and drilled me for details. I liked his approach so I retained him & immediately fed exed his retainer (my whole savings) at his request & fired my appointed attorney. A friend found him for me as I had no net access & limited phone. So we've been in pretrial for 6 months. The police reports have false statements...however no motions. I was told that it looks like he's stalling to get trial fee or dump. Now I don't knock the hustle & I'm all for lawyers getting their money but is this how it goes?!

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Attorney answers 3


There are several different questions here, at least.

Many attorneys handle cases in both state and federal courts and handle them very well. And many attorneys do not put everything they do on their websites, if they have websites at all. So there is nothing strange about any of that and the picture up to that point, at least, is fully consistent with what many a very fine attorney would do.

You say the police reports have false statements in them, but so far there has been no investigation and no motions. Motions would not be a normal response to a false statement in a report. One would expect that to be addressed at trial, if necessary and if relevant.

Are you saying that six months into the case your attorney has done no investigation at all and has filed no motions at all? That is more troublesome . . . maybe. Are you sure there have been no motions? How substantial is the discovery received from the Government. Has your attorney been spending hours, days or weeks reviewing that material? Do you know?

"I was told that it looks like he's stalling . . . " It does not sound as though whoever tells you these things has any basis to know, and is probably just interpreting things heard from you.

If you are uncomfortable or uncertain what is going on, you ought to start by talking to your attorney. Most attorney/client problems come from miscommunication or falure to communicate at all, and lawyers are often at fault for not making sure that their clients know and understand what is going on. That does not mean that the lawyer is not doing a good job, only that the client isn't getting told about it and is understandably apprehensive.

At bottom, what you want to know is whether your case is getting neglected. There is really no way to know from what you have told us. The absence of any pretrial filings for six months is the only thing that really jumps out, but it is not clear that you actually meant that.

Talking to your attorney is the way to start getting this straightened out.



Thank you sir. There is a discovery. I don't know if it would be considered substantial. How much time has he spent reviewing it? I don't know but based on our last conversation I would assume very little because I pointed out some details that he was unaware of. If I were to put myself in his shoes it would make logical sense to wait it out for a trial fee and avoid the work that goes into pretrial investigations and motions. Why would I bother to put in that work when the money is already in the bank anyway?

Joshua Sachs

Joshua Sachs


I would hope that your lawyer holds to a higher standard of integrity than that. Most of do.


A licensed attorney has the right to practice in all state courts of the licensing state as well as any federal court where he is admitted to practice. No special requirements or certifications exist. As for your lawyer you chose him now listen to him. I'm not going to criticize or even examine your version of what he's done or not done. That is between him and you. Follow Mr. Sachs advise and talk to the guy.


It is very common for criminal defense lawyers to handle both state and federal cases. I would not be concerned that he does not mention federal on his website. I don't know what it means you've been in pretrial for 6 months. You should speak to the attorney about what investigation he has done or has planned. Same with motions. Usually a date is set for when motions are due. If that date has not come yet, it is no problem that he hasn't filed any. If you feel you are not getting your money's worth, discuss it with your lawyer. Have you paid him for a trial as part of your retainer? You should look at the retainer agreement to see what you have paid and what you agreed to pay.

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