Understanding your options is one of the best things you can do when hiring an attorney to defend you in a criminal investigation. Here’s what you need to know.
Hourly vs. Flat Fees
Criminal defense attorneys typically charge either an hourly fee or a flat fee.
An hourly fee means that you pay the lawyer for each hour of work they do on your case. The rate varies based on the lawyer’s experience, expertise, and location.
A flat fee, on the other hand, means that you pay the lawyer a set amount for the entire case, regardless of how many hours they work. A flat fee is common for simple cases, such as traffic violations, and can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Hourly fees are more common for complex cases, such as felonies, and can range from $150 to $1,000 per hour.
Factors Influencing the Fees
Several factors influence how much a criminal defense attorney charges, including:
- Complexity of the case
- Lawyer’s experience
- Location of the case
A complex case with multiple charges, witnesses, or evidence will require more time and effort from the lawyer, resulting in higher fees. The more experienced the lawyer, the higher the hourly rate or flat fee. A lawyer with significant experience in federal criminal cases will charge more than a lawyer who handles only misdemeanors. Finally, the location of the case can impact the fees because of differences in the cost of living and the level of competition among lawyers.
If you can’t afford a criminal defense attorney’s fees upfront, you can discuss payment plans with the lawyer.
Many criminal defense attorneys offer payment plans that allow you to pay a portion of the fee upfront and the rest in installments. The terms of the payment plan depend on the lawyer’s policies and your financial situation. Some lawyers may require a credit check or a co-signer for the installment agreement.
Hiring a Public Defender
If you can’t afford a criminal defense attorney, you can apply for a public defender. A public defender is a lawyer appointed by the court to represent you if you can’t afford a private attorney. Public defenders are available for criminal cases within the court’s jurisdiction. While public defenders offer legal representation for free, the quality of the representation may be lower due to the volume of cases they handle, and they may have less time to devote to each case.
Should I Hire an Attorney?
Hiring a criminal defense attorney may seem expensive, but the cost of not hiring one can be detrimental to your case and your life. A criminal conviction can result in jail time, fines, and a criminal record that can affect your future employment opportunities and personal relationships.
Understanding the fees and payment options of a criminal defense attorney can help you make an informed decision and avoid surprises down the road. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s best to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to assess your options and protect your rights.
If you’d like to learn more about criminal defense attorney fees or you’d like to speak to someone about your situation, contact David Lindsey.