The costs associated with hiring a criminal attorney can be formidable. Not only are you hiring your criminal attorney to represent you in court, but also for a vast array of other services that might be necessary through the course of criminal court proceedings.
Potential Costs for Criminal Attorneys
In addition to the days you are in court, a criminal attorney has other duties that surround your representation. Filing motions, performing research, investigating charges and other factors can just as easily tip the bill.
A high-power criminal attorney in a large city will charge more than a criminal attorney who has just graduated from law school. When it comes to a law firm, not only are you charged for the counsel of the criminal attorney, but also for any work performed by graduate students, paralegals, junior partners and other associates.
In addition, you might be charged for materials, such as copies of paperwork, long distance phone calls and fees for expert witnesses.
Billing Methods Used by Criminal Attorneys
Different attorneys bill their clients different ways. The two methods used most frequently by criminal attorneys are hourly rates and case rates.
An hourly rate is just what it sounds like: a fixed hourly waged charged to the defendant for every hour spent on his or her case. Criminal attorney hourly rates range from twenty to several hundred dollars per hour, depending on his or her experience and ability.
Some criminal attorneys charge an hourly rate but provide a “cap”, which means that the defendant is charged an hourly rate up to a certain sum, but if the hours surpass the cap, the attorney finishes the case at no extra cost.
Case billing is an instance where a criminal attorney charges a fixed rate for defense in a specific type of case. For example, a criminal attorney might charge $1,200 for all drunk driving defenses. This amount doesn’t change regardless of how much time the attorney spends on the case.
A retainer is an up-front fee that a criminal attorney charges his or her clients. Usually, a retainer is a percentage of the total case fee, or the amount of several hours of work. Retainers are simply a way for criminal attorneys to be sure that they will be paid what they are owed. If a portion of the retainer is left over when the case is finished, the attorney will refund the unused portion (only in the case of hourly billing).
How Much Will a Criminal Attorney Cost?
This is almost impossible to predict because criminal attorney fees vary so widely. According to a readers’ survey in Consumer Reports, the median legal fee charged by criminal attorneys is $1,500. This is representative of all different kinds of criminal cases, including those which never goes to trial. Don’t be surprised if your criminal attorney fees amount to thousands of dollars, as this is not uncommon.