A Breakdown of the Cost of Hiring a Criminal Attorney
If you have limited savings or income, you might be concerned about how much hiring a criminal attorney will cost. However, if you compare the cost of hiring a criminal attorney to that of representing yourself and ultimately being convicted, you may find that a criminal attorney is well worth the cost.
Here is a breakdown of the costs you can expect to incur when you hire a criminal attorney.
Fees for a Criminal Attorney
The fee that a criminal attorney charges compensates the lawyer and the lawyer’s staff for handling your case. Whether the fee is a flat fee or an hourly fee, the fee usually covers the following:
- Docketing: The lawyer’s staff dockets your case, calendars all the dates, and makes sure neither you nor your lawyer miss any important court hearings or filing deadlines. Your lawyer’s staff will usually send you reminders or call you so you remain on top of your case.
- Filing: Your lawyer’s staff will also keep your file organized. This can be particularly important in complex cases where photos, police reports, witness statements, and court documents will be collected as the case proceeds.
- Legal research: While lawyers are educated in the law, novel issues arise in many cases. Researching the legal impact of events and facts in your case takes time and may incur hard costs associated with legal databases.
- Negotiation: Most criminal cases end with a plea bargain. The lawyer’s time to write or call the prosecutors on your case to negotiate the terms of a plea bargain are included in the fees you pay for a criminal attorney.
- Reviewing and drafting: Your case may involve legal pleadings and motions. Your lawyer will need to review each pleading or motion filed by the prosecution and will often draft a response. Likewise, your lawyer will file motions with the court when you want the court to take a particular action. The time to read and write these filings will incur fees.
- Hearings and trial: Oral arguments presented during hearing and at trial will be included in the fee you pay to a criminal attorney.
Other Fees that a Criminal Attorney Might Charge
While this summary might seem fairly comprehensive, some fees usually fall outside of the normal criminal attorney fees and will thus be billed separately. These include:
- Appeal: Most criminal lawyers charge a separate fee for appeals. Thus, if you lose, you will either need to pay more for your criminal attorney to file an appeal or hire another attorney who focuses on appellate practice.
- Investigation: If your defense requires any investigation, you might need to hire a private investigator (PI). Even if the PI works for your criminal lawyer, the PI will probably bill you separately.
- Expert witnesses: If you need expert witnesses to testify at trial, you will usually pay the expert witness fees separate from your criminal attorney’s fee. For example, if you need a scientist to testify at trial to dispute some DNA evidence, you will be billed by the expert for the time to examine the evidence, prepare a report, and testify.
- Court reporter costs: A defense can require depositions of key witnesses, including the complaining witness, law enforcement officers, and experts. Court reporters charge for their time to appear at the deposition and prepare a transcript afterward.
Are the Costs of a Criminal Attorney Worth It?
The costs of being convicted of a crime typically outweigh the cost of hiring a criminal lawyer to defend you. A sentence for a criminal conviction can include time in jail or prison, fines, community service, and restitution.
Worse yet, a criminal conviction can lead to lost job and housing opportunities and estrangement from your family. Although a criminal attorney cannot guarantee every client will be acquitted, the attorney will work hard to ensure you are treated fairly by the criminal justice system and advocate for the best possible outcome.
Faced with these potential costs, a criminal attorney is usually worthwhile if you can afford to hire one.
Contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss a breakdown of my fees. I have over 25 years of experience as both a criminal attorney and a chief assistant prosecutor and use experiences to navigate cases to a successful resolution.