Hiring a private criminal defense attorney is not cheap. Most attorneys charge between $150 to $700 an hour to work your case. An average criminal case will cost a defendant between $10,000 and $15,000 depending on the complexity and timeliness of the proceedings. While the price is intimidating, you must also consider what may or may not be included in the expense to assess the real cost of criminal defense.
Most attorneys work with an hourly fee structure, but you can find some that offer a flat fee, which is often more affordable. However, lawyers providing flat fee services are often selective with their cases because they do not want to get caught up in lengthy and complicated trials.
Hourly attorneys may require a retainer fee to start working on your case, which means they require payment upfront for a portion of their time. By working with a retainer, they ensure payment regardless of the case outcome.
When hiring an attorney, you need to understand that not all fees are represented by the hourly fee or flat rate. Criminal cases require a significant amount of paperwork and court filings. Your lawyer will often calculate these expenses separately from their fee. While photocopying and filing may not sound expensive, the costs can quickly add up if you are not paying attention. Many attorneys will ask you if you want to have notice or final say on these types of expenses, allowing you to keep track.
Research and Investigation
Every criminal case will involve research and further investigation. Your lawyer likely has a team of legal experts helping them develop your case. Depending on the firm you hire, it may have a private investigator on staff to dig deeper into the charges against you. The cost for these services may not be included in the original attorney fee quote. Be sure to ask about these expenses and whether they are included or not because if they are not, you may end up spending thousands more for your defense.
Another added expense is for expert testimony. Most expert witnesses are paid for their time, but that fee does not come out of the lawyer’s fee. You will want to be aware of these additional charges, especially if your case calls for several expert witnesses.
While the costs are alarming, know that some law firms do include some expenses in the retainer agreement. The main thing to consider is the transparency of the criminal defense lawyer, like from the Law Office of Daniel Wright. Having an honest lawyer is critical to a positive professional relationship.