I was recently asked my opinion on using Go Fund Me, or crowdfunding, to raise money to pay for legal fees in a Delaware DUI case. Legal fees in a Delaware DUI case can be substantial. While our fees start in the low thousands for misdemeanor DUIs, some very complex cases require so much work that the attorney’s fees can run much higher. A lot of people have trouble raising the funds necessary to mount a vigorous defense for their DUI arrest, and they elect to represent themselves or use the Public Defender if they qualify.

Should I use Go Fund Me to hire a Delaware DUI or Criminal Defense lawyer?

Certainly, one can use a crowdfunding website like Go Fund Me to raise money to pay for a private criminal defense lawyer. And, there’s nothing wrong with the Office of the Public Defender in Delaware, if one qualifies for their services. But as they say, “you get what you pay for” and for many it’s easier to sleep at night when you know you did everything possible to hire the best DUI specialist to keep yourself, your son or your daughter, or your wife or your husband out of jail.

First let me say this though. The Office of the Public Defender in Delaware is staffed with a great team of excellent attorneys. The only downside I see to obtaining their services is that their case load is so heavy. And because of this, the more serious cases involving crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, drug dealing, etc., naturally demand more of their time and attention than cases which might be seen as less serious such as DUIs. And by its very nature, DUI defense work is a very specialized area within the practice of criminal law.

Now, regarding the use of a crowdfunding website like Go Fund Me, I did a google search for “gofundme to raise money for criminal defense lawyer” and sure enough, there were a bunch of people who put up Go Fund Me pages to raise funds to hire private criminal defense attorneys.

My biggest concern here is what you see on TV when the police make an arrest. As they say, “everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” If you post anything on the Internet about your case or about getting a defense lawyer for your case, you should expect it to be read by the police and prosecutors. And if there’s anything there that could be used to convict you or even make you look bad in front of a judge or jury, you can bet the prosecutor will try to use it to bury you.

Another problem with posting something on the Internet arises if you have a jury trial, and some DUI cases do go to a jury trial in Delaware. You never know what members of the jury are going to see. Jurors are instructed by the judge not to do any independent research before they arrive at their verdict and get released. However, they all have cell phones and computers and I have to believe that every once in a while, a juror can’t fight the urge to google a defendant’s name and see what’s out there on the Internet.

So just maybe, rather than you creating a Go Fund Me page to assist in financing your DUI defense, you should consider getting a close friend or family member to post the page. That way, the statements made about the case are not your own. Or, better yet, you should first exhaust all other means of raising funds. At some point in the future, I’ll do a blog post about how to raise funds to mount a vigorous defense in a DUI or Criminal Trial and give you some ideas other than putting it out on the Internet for everyone to see.

Should I use Go Fund Me to hire a Delaware DUI or Criminal Defense lawyer?

Please take a moment to read my “Side of the Road DUI Guide”

Associate Attorney
Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law
1140 South State Street
Dover, DE 19903
Email: Matt.Stiller@schwartzandschwartz.com
Work: (302) 678-8700
Fax: (302) 678-8702