Yes, Lawyers Are Allowed To Send You Mail After Your Arrest
- November 28, 2010
- Jerod Gunsberg
- Comments Off on Yes, Lawyers Are Allowed To Send You Mail After Your Arrest
If you have recently been arrested, you’ve undoubtedly been flooded with mail from attorneys seeking your business. You may find this irritating and embarrassing, and you may also feel like it is an invasion of privacy (especially if you are trying to keep your arrest secret from friends or family). Frankly, we find this sort of direct mail marketing distasteful. We have never sent jail mail and don’t plan to.
Clients frequently ask us if there is any way to stop the deluge of this “jail mail” from attorneys whom they have never heard of and have no intention of hiring. The simple answer to the question is “No”, you can’t stop a criminal defense lawyer from sending unsolicited mail. Why is this?
To start with, this sort of advertising is protected commercial speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. As for the invasion of privacy issue, your arrest record is public record. Some lawyers spend hundreds – if not thousands – of dollars a month to direct mail companies who subscribe to the daily Los Angeles County arrest reports and then send these advertisements to the people named in those reports (yes, the home addresses are in the arrest reports too).
However, there are some things you should know. Under the California Rules of Professional Conduct for Attorneys, the lawyer advertising mail you receive must be clearly labeled as an “advertisement” or “newsletter” or some similar language. Also, the advertisement cannot make any guarantees about the outcome (e.g. “We’ll promise to get your case dismissed!”), especially because there are no guarantees in a criminal case, period. Finally, if you do decide to hire a lawyer who sends you ads in the mail, and there is an advertised fee in the ad,they cannot charge you more than the advertised fee. So, if you decide to hire someone because they said they’d handle your DUI for $799 then you find out that they really need $2500, they may be behaving unethically and illegally.
Of course, you should also be asking yourself what exactly it is you expect from a lawyer who charges you $799 for a DUI…but that’s another post for another time. In the meantime, we’re sorry you have to endure yet another indignity in the wake of your arrest.