West Des Moines, IA asked in Criminal Law for Iowa

Q: Is it ok for a court appointed attorney to Bill you for trial research and then 2 days before trial urge you to plea

The reasons based on the plea are nothing the lawyer didn’t know from the beginning and the attorney billed me for every hour of research despite my financial affidavit declaring me indigent

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1 Lawyer Answer
Katherine Sears
Katherine Sears
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Licensed in Iowa

A: Of course.

Your indigency has nothing to do with whether your court-appointed lawyer will bill for their time. Court-appointed lawyers are not working pro bono. They bill for and expect to be paid for their time.

Your attorney is professionally responsible for doing case research and making sure they understand the *current* state of the law and of any plausible defenses you may have. If what your lawyer finds out through his or her research is that you are likely to have an adverse outcome at trial, they will tell you that so that you can decide whether you want to enter a plea or exercise your right to trial. Doing research for trial was a good, responsible thing for your lawyer to do, even if it ultimately became apparent that trial was not in your best interests.

At the end of your case, you can fill out another financial affidavit and a request for a judicial determination of your reasonable ability to pay Category B restitution (including attorney fees.) Because determination of your ability to pay is still a stage of the prosecution at which you are entitled to the assistance of counsel, your appointed attorney will be able to explain this process to you and help you make sure the request is timely filed.

The judge must look at that affidavit and request and decide whether it appears that you're unable to pay for some or all the Category B restitution charges (including attorney fees.) If you think the judge's decision is incorrect, you can appeal it.

If the judge finds at the end of your case that you are not reasonably able to pay your attorney fees, the attorney will still get paid by the government -- you won't be responsible for it.

Austin J Luse agrees with this answer

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