I am being investigated for a crime. Should I talk to the police?
No, you should hire a lawyer. People sometimes believe they can explain their side of the story in a way that will protect them but are often disappointed with the outcome of this approach. Did you know that police are authorized to lie to you in order to get you to say what they want you to say? Furthermore, the average person does not know the elements of the offense (what they’re trying to get you to admit). In almost all situations, it does not help you to talk to the police without first hiring a lawyer.
Do you accept payment plans?
Yes. If I am comfortable the payments will be made, I will sign onto a case for half of my fee and the rest can be paid in installments. I love being a lawyer defending people accused of crimes, but do not enjoy being a bill collector. You probably want the lawyer you hire to be focused on defending you against the crime charged, instead of dividing his attention with bill collecting.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Cash, check, and credit/debit cards.
I talked to a lawyer who will represent me for a very low fee. He quoted me the fee after I told him the charge, without knowing anything about my case. Should I hire him?
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. While Nathaniel Pitoniak’s fees are fair and reasonable, they reflect the amount of work he anticipates doing for you to defend your case. Nathaniel Pitoniak works hard for his clients because he cares about them. In contrast, a bargain basement price reflects that lawyers’ estimation of how much work he will do on your case–if you want to roll into court on the first setting and accept whatever deal the government is offering without expecting your lawyer to do any work, you may be well-served by hiring the bargain basement lawyer. Nathaniel Pitoniak places an emphasis on quality of representation rather than volume of clients; in other words, he would rather have five satisfied clients who paid him a fair fee than fifty dissatisfied clients who paid him very little.
I have been charged with a crime. How soon should I hire a lawyer?
Typically, sooner is better because a lawyer can begin investigating the law and facts surrounding your case and begin implementing your defense strategy. However, you should not hire a lawyer until you have found one whom you trust to do a good job representing you. This is a decision that cannot be rushed.
If you have been charged with a felony offense, it is often advantageous to hire a lawyer before indictment. What is an indictment? Before a felony offense goes to trial, the prosecutor must present your case to a grand jury and receive a true bill. This typically happens within a few weeks of arrest. Your defense lawyer does not have the opportunity to be in the room during this presentation, but may submit a packet of information or witnesses. Typically, the grand jury will do what the prosecutor tells them to do–there is an old saying that a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich. If your case is one where compelling evidence can be put forth showing an absence of probable cause, the prosecutor may present the case in a manner such that the grand jury decides to no bill the case, after which the case is dismissed without the prosecutor facing political repercussions associated with dismissing the case of his own volition. Nathaniel is sensitive to these situations because he experienced them while a prosecutor; he uses this knowledge to his clients’ advantage.
If you have been arrested for driving while intoxicated, time may be of the essence because a hearing can be requested on the revocation of your driver’s license within fifteen days of your arrest. The hearing offers the potential that your driver’s license will not be dismissed as well as providing Nathaniel Pitoniak with the opportunity to question the officers on your case before trial.
I talked to a lawyer who promised he could get my case dismissed. Should I hire him?
No. In fact, you should report him to the State Bar of Texas because making such promises is unethical. While Nathaniel Pitoniak has received dismissals in the past, he cannot promise a specific result in your case and will never make such promises. Each case is different, and whether a dismissal results depends on a variety of factors, only some of which are under his control. Nathaniel Pitoniak’s philosophy is to underpromise and over-deliver. An accused does well to remember that a dismissal is not the only way a case can end favorably for them—if the state will not dismiss a case, a jury may find the accused not guilty following a jury trial.