Interviewer: What are some of the big mistakes that you see people make once they’ve been arrested that makes their situation worse or what kinds of things do they do? Do they bury their heads in the sand and hope it will go away, what else have you seen people do that makes their situation worse that they should avoid?
Shannon: A lot of times people wait to the last minute to hire an attorney or they will try to gamble on getting a public defense attorney appointed to them. And pretty much in Oregon if you make over, I think it’s $1200 or $1300 a month, you’re not going to qualify for a public defender. So if you have a job you need to be thinking about how am I going to procure representation. And a lot of time people will just, like I said, wait until the last minute and they’ll call and try to find an attorney the day before their first appearance or something like that.
By waiting that long you’re not only giving up your rights that are available to you in the administrative realm, meaning the DMV proceedings against your license and your driving privileges, you’re also giving up the opportunity for your attorney to prepare ahead of time, perhaps even negotiate with the district attorney before they file anything. That’s a huge benefit to having council right away.
In some criminal cases you can speak to the DA ahead of time, the district attorney or the city’s prosecutor in municipal court and you can either give them additional witness information, somebody that saw it happen differently than what the police reported in their statements, and in their written statements.
So there’s a number of different things an attorney can do from the get go. Avoiding it isn’t going to make it go away of course as anything in life. The earlier you can secure council the better. And my office offers representation on payment plans, which I don’t think a lot of people are aware of because there’s a lot of attorney’s out there that won’t. They want the entire retainer up front or the flat fee amount up front and a lot of people aren’t able to do that, but they are able to pay $500 a month or something like that.