posted by Edward Nichols, MSW, LCSW-R on Feb 6
Any discussion of defending false allegations of child sexual abuse will inevitably lead to an analysis of the costs associated with legal representation. Clearly attorneys charge at rates in the hundreds of dollars an hour, and clearly an effective attorney is worth his or her weight in gold. The economics of false child sexual abuse cases, however, must be considered since many unqualified attorneys hold themselves out to the public differently. As will be seen, a whole internet industry has developed targeted at securing child sexual abuse cases.
The specialty of criminal law is dominated by clients that fit two compelling profiles: First, they are not “innocent”; and second, they have few resources. Most crimes are, compared to child sexual abuse, petty. Most are misdemeanors. Most are eventually pled to. Most do not require great legal skill. Most are not very “profitable” for the legal industry.
Even serious felony cases are often pled to, and when resources are scarce, which is often the case, public defenders are usually employed.
By contrast, in the average case of false allegations of child sexual abuse, the accused has no criminal record, is respectably employed, and usually has substantially more resources than most individuals accused of serious crimes. For some attorneys this translates into: “There’s gold in them there hills!”
Before we go too much further, I am obligated to lay down this disclaimer: In my over thirty years of professional practice I have had the pleasure of working with honorable, ethical and highly competent attorneys. Many of them have become my friends. The nature of my national practice is such that I attract the attention of some of America’s finest attorneys. Attorneys who hire me are looking for the best they can provide for their clients. They are motivated by the best of intentions and they tirelessly work to bring their client’s case to a successful resolution. Obviously the remarks that I’m about to make about many “predator” attorneys do not apply to these fine attorneys. In fact America’s finest attorneys are just as outraged as I am by the tactics of the “predator” attorneys.
Predator attorneys generally have a high-volume law practice filled with petty matters and numerous “associates” that grind out case after case. They will usually take any kind of case and have no particular expertise. Representing someone accused of child sexual abuse is a “grand slam” for this kind of attorney. While their average legal fee may be a thousand dollars, they see your case as an opportunity to charge five or ten-thousand dollars – despite the fact that it may take five times that to actually try the case.
While it is not always true, it is often the case that these “bottom-feeding” attorneys will rent the back page of the local telephone directory. Their ads are on TV, billboards, radio and the internet. Seemingly every community has their “high-profile” law firm.
Ask yourself the question: Would anyone hire a heart surgeon on the basis of his advertisements? You would think that a good heart surgeon would not have to advertise – and you’d be right.
The economics of false allegations cases are so favorable to attorneys that these cases have attracted the worse of several professions (including my own). While the internet can be a great resource for securing information and competent professionals, it can also be a means for predator attorneys to find their victims. This can take several forms.
Perhaps the worse legal predators are the so-called “national law firms” that specialize in child molestation defense cases. You will find the vast majority of these firms are located in California where laws governing lawyers are favorable to this enterprise.
Here’s how it works: You see an impressive website and call an 800 number to speak to someone in California. They put you in touch with a lawyer who tells you everything you want to hear, especially, “I think we can get this case dismissed,” or alternatively, “We just won a case just like this.” You pay the California law firm a hefty fee and they call an attorney in your location who represents you. They pay the local attorney pennies on the dollar, and he is “supervised” by the national “expert” attorney. You go to jail!
To understand how these “national” law firms work you must understand that attorneys are able to charge other attorneys “referral fees”. They are also able to hire other attorneys to “help” them. They also must have a local attorney in order to practice in the state. When you put all of this together, it turns out that these so-called “national” law firms are delivering the worse legal services at the highest prices. What is more, one such firm went belly-up leaving eighty clients with local attorneys who were not getting paid. The head of that law firm surrendered his license to the state of California!
The next most common scam is the child sexual abuse “expert” attorney who has tried these cases all over the country. They will tell you all the states where they have tried cases. You will learn all about their “national” experience. He will spend hours talking to you, calling you back, and “being concerned”. You will notice how he is “different” from the other attorneys you have spoken to. What you will not be told is what prisons most of their former clients now reside in! Though this attorney may be “expert at being hired” across the country, his trial skills are sorely lacking.
Next comes the “specialist” lawyer who has had a good result with one high-profile case. He or she will attempt to extend their fifteen-minutes of glory into a career – complete with TV interviews played endlessly on their websites. Call this attorney and he will want you to beg him to pay his outrageous fees!
Those who work nationally, either as experts or attorneys, know each other pretty well. We know who the hard-working and reputable folks are. So now, having discussed the predators, the question remains: How do you hire and effective attorney?
Perhaps the best way is the way you would hire a heart surgeon. (Not a bad analogy since hiring an ineffective attorney in a case like this can end your life as easily as an ineffective heart surgeon.) If you were looking for a heart surgeon you would probably select one on the basis of a recommendation. As a consulting expert I have recommended attorneys that I have worked with to clients. I have also found and interviewed attorneys for and with clients.
It is very difficult to fast-talk someone who has been in the field for thirty years and worked with attorneys from coast to coast. By contrast, it is very easy for a predator attorney to tell a frightened client what they want to hear.
When it comes to hiring an attorney to represent you in defending false allegations of child sexual abuse, knowledge is power. Educate yourself. To learn more download the this E-Book.