Many times, when people are facing criminal charges, the idea of spending large amounts of money on an attorney may be overwhelming. Individuals often want to know, “how much does a criminal lawyer cost?” or “how much does a defense attorney cost?”
If a person needs a criminal defense lawyer, the chances are that they are in a difficult situation and need assistance quickly. Facing criminal charges, whether they are minor or severe, is a very serious issue that may have very serious consequences.
An individual may be facing:
- Jail time;
- A criminal record;
- Monetary fines;
- Loss of future employment opportunities;
- Loss of current employment; and
- More consequences.
Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is an investment in the individual’s future and the protection of their loved ones. If an individual is searching for an criminal defense attorney, they may also be called:
- Defense attorney;
- Felony defense attorney;
- Public intoxication lawyer;
- Lawyer for a misdemeanor case;
- Lawyer for a felony case;
- Murder lawyer;
- Appeal lawyer;
- Traffic lawyer;
- Homicide lawyer;
- Drug lawyer; and
- Other titles based on certain specialities.
It is important to note that a criminal defendant is guaranteed the right to counsel during criminal cases. If an individual cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one for them. However, if the court determines that, based on the individual’s assets and income, that they can afford an attorney, they must hire their own private attorney or represent themselves.
The cost of a criminal defense lawyer varies based on several factors. These may include, but are not limited to:
- The severity of the charges;
- The notoriety or experience of the lawyer;
- The complexity of the legal issues of the case;
- Whether the case goes to trial; and
- Other factors.
Due to these variations, it is essential to discuss an attorney’s fees prior to hiring them for their services. There are three types of fee schedules that lawyers typically use, which include:
- Contingency fees;
- Flat fees; and
- Hourly rates.
Contingency fees are not typically used in criminal cases. These types of fees are used in personal injury cases where an attorney’s pay comes from a percentage of the damages awarded by the court or the jury.
The percentage that a lawyer receives varies depending on the state and the details of the arrangement, but typically ranges from 5% to 50% of the damages award. However, in this type of arrangement, the lawyer’s payment is contingent on winning the case.
Due to the fact that all criminal cases are unique, it is not common for a criminal attorney to charge a flat fee. However, this type of fee may be used in simple cases, such as a simple misdemeanor.
A flat fee typically ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 to complete the case. This type of fee is also common in speeding ticket cases or simple moving violations.
Because of the varying nature of the criminal case process, many attorneys will not agree to a flat fee payment arrangement. Some, however, may agree to a flat fee arrangement which permits them to increase the fee if the case proceeds to trial.
The most common fee arrangement used by criminal defense attorneys is the hourly billing rate. As noted above, a flat fee may not be a dependable way to measure the various factors and costs that may be associated with representing a client who is facing criminal charges.
The cost of a criminal defense attorney who charges an hourly rate will vary depending on several factors. On average, a client can expect to pay between $150 and $700 per hour for a defense attorney’s services.
Lawyers who charge an hourly rate may also require their client to pay a retainer fee. A retainer fee is an up-front payment that is used for costs of the case. Once this amount is expended, the attorney’s hourly rate may apply or the attorney will have their client refresh the retainer.
It is important to note, however, that some highly experienced attorneys charge up to $1,000 per hour. Because of these variations in fees, it is essential to discuss the hourly rate a lawyer charges prior to hiring them for a case.