STEPHEN D. BENSON, L.L.C.
ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below are the questions I most often hear from my potential clients and my answers to them.
What forms of payment do you take?
I accept cash, personal checks, and money orders. I do not take credit cards.
What is your hourly rate and do you offer any discounts?
My usual hourly rate is $300.
For military personnel (active duty, reserve and guard), military spouses, military retirees, peace officers, firefighters, and citizens over the age of 65, my hourly rate is $225.
Do you accept payments?
Never in criminal cases.
If it is any other type of case, and you truly cannot afford the retainer I quote you, make me an offer. I will consider it. I have on certain occasions represented honest people of limited means at rates they could afford without an advance retainer.
How much is your retainer fee?
I do not have a fixed retainer. The amount of a retainer depends on two things: how long I think the case will last, and how much work I think it will take to investigate, research, prepare and try it.
How much is an initial consultation?
Nothing. It's free.
I will discuss your case with you face to face and tell you whether I believe I can help you. Please bring any photos, court papers and other documents you have when you come in to see me for the first time. The more information I have, the better I can evaluate your case.
Do you ever represent anyone for free?
Yes, but it is not something I do regularly.
The decision to represent a client for free is made at my sole discretion. Free representation does not include the out-of-pocket costs and expenses of litigation and trial preparation. Expenses for such things as travel, lodging, copying, postage, court filing fees, discovery costs, process server fees, witness fees, deposition costs, and other services of this sort remain the sole responsibility of the client.
Who in your office will work on my case?
There are no middlemen in my office. I do all of my own work and talk to all of my clients directly.
Will you charge me for phone calls and emails?
Yes, if I am giving you legal advice.
I do not bill for things like telling a client what time court is, how much money he has remaining in the client trust account, or scheduling an appointment. I do however bill for giving legal advice to a client regardless of whether it is in person, over the phone or otherwise, because my mind and my time are my merchandise.
A DHS social worker wants to interview me. What can I do?
If a DHS social worker is investigating allegations of abuse or neglect concerning your child, you would be well advised not to speak to her without an attorney present. DHS caseworkers are not required under Colorado law to read you your rights. Anything you say to them can be written down and later used against you in court.
A DHS social worker wants to come in my home. What can I do?
If a DHS social worker is on your doorstep with the police and wants to come inside your house, you can courteously tell her and the officer that you will not consent to them entering your home without a vaild warrant signed by a Colorado judge or magistrate. If the officer enters your home anyway over your objection, you should not physically resist. What you can do is refuse to answer any questions without a lawyer present and contact an attorney as soon as possible.
What if the social worker threatens to place my child?
Sometimes the threat to place a parent's child out of the home is merely a tactic designed to secure the parent's cooperation. In other instances, it is isn't. The bottom line is that if you allow the social worker into your home or answer her questions, everything she observes or learns from you will be taken down and potentially used against you in court.
The police want to interview me. What can I do?
Unless you are in custody, meaning that you are not free to leave, the police have no legal duty to advise you of your Constitutional rights. The police may also legally lie to you as an interrogation technique. Anything you say to them can be used against you in a criminal prosecution. When being questioned as a suspect, you would be well advised not to talk to the police without a laywer present. You should be courteous, and ask: "Am I free to leave?" If the answer is anything other than "yes" or you are not actually permitted to leave, you should say only four words from then on: "I want a laywer."