Question posted in the Criminal Law category relating to Western Cape
Could you please advise me another matter, please see below?My brother was arrested last year beginning of October on a rape charge. In February of this year after searching for a lawyer that doesnt doesnt charge a whole lot of money, we found a lawyer named Shaun Balram. We explained to him the charges my brother is facing and that our financial situation is not good. He said he needed to look into the case himself, police report and statements and for that he charged us a fee of R1500 which we paid to him at the end of February this year. Still at the end of Feb he got back to us and explained all the facts to us, he then agreed to meet us at the next court date that was set in March for my brother to get more information from the legal aid representative my brother had at the time.After speaking to the legal aid that was working on my brothers case he told us that he would charge us R8000 and then promised to help us with my brothers rape case. As he understood that we can't afford a lawyer but that as a family all of us agreed to pay for his services on a monthly basis we all came to an agreement and accepted his charge of R8000 as we were able to pay him over two months. March R4000 and April R4000 this agreement took place at wynberg court at my brother court appearance, this was the first court appearance he went on record as my brother lawyer.After the court appearance we told him not to worry with bail applications as he explained it would cost an extra R8000. After the next court appearance in April the lawyer explained to us what our options are: We could plea or we could go to trial. He explained to us that a Plea deal would cost us R12 000 and going to trial will cost us R22 000.We then agreed to take the Plea deal as we could not afford to go to court for a trial. Sometime in April I got advice from another Lawyer who explained to me that Shaun is handling this case in a very odd manner. I then contacted Shaun via email and sms on more than two occasions asking him to give me detailed feedback of what his charges are, and what process will be going forward but Shaun never replied. In May he represented my brother again at his follow up court appearance and after phoning and messaging him again in May he then finally answered my call and explained that he had started negotiations with the Prosecutor and that he needs to write a proposal to her explaining why my brother deserves the minimum sentence. He also spoke about us continuing with our monthly payments and that we need to communicate and his willingness to help us. He then went on saying the R12 000 is for the plea deal but that I must keep in mind that there are other stuff he also needs payment for like him representing my brother in court but he never gave an amount for what those fees were. June and July went by with no communication as to what is happening. The next court date was on 13 August, Shaun was there and my mom went to give him his next payment. He then told my mom that we needed to make a full payment of R12 000 before the next court date in September, next month. This was a shock to us all, coz we were under the understanding that the payment we made in May of R4000 and at the end of July of R3000 was toward the plea deal.I contacted Shaun on Wednesday 19 August asking him to clarify what is happening. He asked him if my mom understood him correctly and replied yes she is correct. He aslo said he was starting the plea negotiations at the next court date. I then explained my confusion and what we thought the scope of his work was. He said he started plea negotiations in May and that we were to pay R12 000 for the please deal and that's it but he never replied after reading my whatsapp messages.Could you please advise me what to do here please?