Finding the right criminal lawyer can make or break a case. One success story from a criminal lawyer in Miami shows how quickly a person can be acquitted of a crime if he chooses a competent lawyer.
The Castroneves Case
Roy Black is one of the most well-known defense lawyers in Miami. In 2009, he successfully defended popular Indy-Car driver Helio Castroneves from tax evasion and conspiracy charges.
The federal government had accused Castroneves of hiding money in offshore accounts, in order to avoid paying taxes on it. The government accused Castroneves, his sister Katiucia Castroneves and their lawyer Alan Miller, of coming up with a complex scheme to shelter (Helio) Castroneves’s money using financial accounts in banks located in Panama and the Netherlands. Black won Castroneves’s acquital by arguing that a suspicious Panamanian account that the prosecution said had been used by Castroneves and his sister to shield money, had actually been created and controlled by Castroneves’s father and that Helio Castroneves was not responsible for any taxes related to it.
The government also accused Castroneves of attempting to trick his employers into paying him money without withholding any of it for taxes. This is legal under certain deferred royalty plans, but authorities suspected Castroneves of plotting to defer payment indefinitely when he moved to another country lacking a federal income tax. Black, however, argued that Castroneves had every intention of paying taxes on his income when it came time.
The jury originally acquitted Castroneves and his co-defendants of the tax evasion charges but continued to deliberate over a charge of conspiracy. Black argued that it would be illogical for the jury to find Castroneves innocent of the tax evasion charges, but then to convict him of conspiring to evade them. The jury, eventually, cleared Castroneves on all charges, thanks, in large part, to Blacks defense.
Hiring an effective criminal defense lawyer like Black can be expensive. Criminal defense attorneys in Miami usually charge a flat fee, which is based on the severity of the charges. The fee for a case involving a misdemeanor is typically lower than that for a felony. Criminal Defense retainers typically run upwards of $2000 for cases involving misdemeanors and upwards of $5000 for cases involving felonies. These fees can seem very steep, yet not hiring a lawyer or hiring the wrong lawyer might be even more expensive.
In the Castroneves case, not hiring Black might have resulted in serious consequences for Castroneves. Another lawyer might not have used Black’s strategy of arguing that the Panamanian account was controlled by Castroneves’s father and that Castroneves himself was not responsible for the taxes on the account.
If Castroneves had been convicted, the price he would have paid would have been steep. He might have been sentenced to six years in prison and/or been deported. His racing career might have been over and his advertisers might have been able to recover the money they had paid to sponsor him if his contract were canceled.
The prosecution was tasked with proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Castroneves and not his father owned the Panamanian account. Because it could not prove that and because it did not offer evidence that Castroneves planned to move outside of the United States, the defense won its case.
Challenges and Impediments to finding a good criminal lawyer
Sometimes the best criminal defense lawyers are also the most expensive. Lawyers who
win most of their cases will be able to increase their fees.
The best lawyers may also have the heaviest case loads. Criminal Defense lawyers who are in high demand may not have as much time to dedicate to your case as others.
With so may lawyers to choose from in the Miami area, it can be difficult to know which ones to pick. One way to get a good idea of how successful a lawyer might be in defending you is to look at past cases that lawyer has been involved in. Searching news archives can be very revealing. It can show you major wins and major losses of attorneys and may even give some indication as to how that attorney has treated his clients.
Questions to ask before selecting an attorney
1. Have you ever successfully defended a case like mine before?
2. Do you charge a flat fee or an hourly fee?
3. If you charge a flat fee, would you be willing to sign a contract agreeing on the exact amount to be paid?
4. Will I be asked to testify on my own behalf?
Finding the right criminal defense lawyer can seem time consuming and expensive, yet it may be more costly to go without one.