Okay…I need some advice as I want to do the right thing and I don’t know what that is. I’ll try to brief, but inclusive. I received a summons for careless driving in NJ. I was innocent, so my father hired a lawyer for $500 to support me in a not-guilty plea, ONLY.
On the day of the trial, despite my assertions to plead not-guilty, my lawyer tried to coax me into a plea bargain. I refused and he got annoyed, retorting that I can plea bargain or pay him $300/hour to go to trial. This was never discussed (though perhaps written in his 3 page contract) so I was under the impression that the $500 quote was for his representation at my trial where I’d make this not-guilty plea.
Anyway, we decide to go to trial; however 30 minutes later, the Judge says the case was dismissed because the Town could not produce their witness. We all went home…game over.
A few days later, I receive a bill from my lawyer for $450 (1.5 hours). I was shocked, but I sent him a check for $150 for the 30 minutes that we waited for the no-show witness. He responded that trial hours begin when he enters the court room and he’d apply my $150 to my balance.
QUESTION: Am I being taken advantage of since there was no trial or is it correct to pay the extra $450? I feel ambivalent because he did not represent me or support my needs as he was hired to in a not-guilty plea. I know I can’t say for sure…but had I listened to my lawyer, the case would not have been dismissed.
Thanks for your advice, guys…