The cost of a criminal defense lawyer really depends on the type of criminal charges a person faces and the amount of legal services they may require. A lawyer establishes their fees by estimating how much time and work a case may take to resolve. As you can imagine there is lot less work that goes into defending a misdemeanor marijuana charge than a very serious vehicular homicide or murder charge. The fees for these two different cases are going to be vastly different.
The next variable in determine the fees for a lawyer is how many services will be needed for a particular case. Once a lawyer knows the exact charges they will break the case down further into different tasks that may or may not be required. This way you only have to pay for the services you need. Each case is usually broken down into pre-trial negotiations, motion hearings, bench trial and a jury trial. If your case does not go need trial you do not have to pay for it. If your case resolves before motions, you do not have to pay for them…So the actual services a person requires will determine the amount of legal fees.
When a person meets with a lawyer they should expect to be told exactly how much it will cost to hire the lawyer and the exact services that they will be providing. This way the client knows exactly what they can expect from representation and the exact cost. Although, hopefully cost does not influence a persons decisions on how to best handle criminal charges, everybody has a budget they need to work within.
Unlike a divorce lawyer or many other types of lawyers that charge hourly fees, criminal defense lawyers charge flat fees. This means once you pay for a particular service such as an initial retainer for pre-trial matters, that is the total fee regardless of whether a person goes to court 1 time or 10 times. The person does not owe any more money if the case takes longer than expected to resolve. This is another option that helps a person budget the total costs for their defense.
In many instances a lawyer will offer a payment plan if a credit worthy individual qualifies. This means the total amount will not be due in one lump sum but can be paid off monthly. Let’s face it, no one ever expects they will need a lawyer for a criminal charge so often times people do have money set aside for such emergencies. If a person does have the full flat fee upfront, then great. They can make one payment and be done with legal fees.
The total fees of hiring a lawyer can range from relatively inexpensive to very expensive. A simple traffic matter may be a few hundred dollars while a felony charge will be thousands. The good news for anyone that can not afford a lawyer is they can apply for and receive a free public defender for their case.