When Do You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
If you have been charged or arrested under suspicion of committing a crime, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. It is generally recommended that you hire a criminal attorney whenever you have been charged with committing a crime.
This is especially true when the charges involve a felony offense and is even more critical when that felony resulted in another party's serious bodily harm or death (e.g., an aggravated or violent felony).
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Criminal Lawyer in the U.S.?
If you are looking to hire a criminal lawyer in the U.S., the chances are that you are in a difficult situation and need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney quickly. Whether minor or more severe, facing criminal charges is often a grave matter with consequences. These may include jail time, creating a criminal record, monetary fines, loss of future employment opportunities, or more. Therefore, it is often in your best interests to find and hire an experienced and well-qualified criminal defense attorney to assist you with your charges.
Importantly, the Constitution guarantees you the right to counsel in criminal prosecutions. If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for you. However, if the court decides that you can afford an attorney based on your income and assets, you may either hire a private attorney or represent yourself.
Criminal defense attorney costs will typically vary based on various factors. These may include the severity of the charges you are facing, the notoriety or experience of the attorney, the complexity of the legal issues, and whether the case goes to trial. Thus, discussing the attorney's fees before entering into a written contract when hiring a criminal defense attorney is essential.
The average cost of a criminal defense lawyer in the U.S. is $8,000 with average prices ranging from $1,000 – $15,000.
What to Look for in a Criminal Lawyer
The following is a list of some crucial questions that a person may want to ask a potential criminal defense attorney in advance of retaining them.
- Whether the consultation session is free, and if not, what do they charge for it?;
- How do they structure their fee arrangements? (e.g., do they bill by the hour, or is it a flat fee?);
- Have they ever handled similar cases? If so, how many and what were the outcomes of those cases?;
- How long does the attorney expect the case to go on? (note that this will vary drastically by case and may even change during it);
- How often does the attorney update their clients? Is there a certain method they use to stay in touch with clients? What is it? Are they reachable by that same method?; and
- Will the attorney-client privilege cover details about the case disclosed in the meeting? Will the privilege still apply, even if the attorney is not chosen to represent them?
How to Prepare for Your Consultation With the Criminal Lawyer
There are certain documents that a defendant should compile before they meet with their criminal attorney. Some documents that they should gather and bring with them to the meeting include:
- Documents that pertain to their current felony case (e.g., search warrants, arraignment papers, etc.);
- Documents that relate to a prior criminal case (e.g., rap sheet, arrest record, past conviction, etc.);
- Evidence that supports dropping the felony case, such as recordings, images, videos, text messages, and so on;
- If possible, a list of both eyewitnesses and character witnesses along with their contact information; and
- Any other documents that could help the defendant clear the felony charges.
In addition, the defendant should also prepare a list of questions for the criminal attorney. For example, they should ask them questions about their services, like what percentage of felony cases they have won in the past and how much they charge to take a case.
Alternatively, if a person has already hired a criminal attorney, they should ask them questions about the felony case. For example, the penalties they might receive if they are convicted and the lawyer's strategies to create a strong defense.Other Helpful Resources:
Where to Find the Best Criminal Lawyers in the U.S.
Use LegalMatch to find the most experienced criminal defense attorneys in the U.S. You can also find lawyers and affordable legal advice here.
A well-qualified criminal defense attorney will be able to help you assert any available defense to the charges brought against you, defend you in court, and guide you through the entire criminal process.
It is essential to consult with an attorney if you are facing trial, and in some cases, a court-appointed attorney, known as a public defender, may be provided to assist you.