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Can I Afford a Criminal Defense Lawyer? A Cost Breakdown

Judicial criminal costs vary from as low as $20 to $44,000 depending on the case. It’s normal to be afraid when facing a criminal charge. From the paperwork to the costs to the time you will spend, the case involves many things that require a well-thought plan.

Unless you have a criminal defense lawyer, you might be overwhelmed by the journey and end up making the wrong choices. An excellent criminal lawyer can walk you through the arduous journey, provide helpful advice, and advocate on your behalf for the case to be dropped. If you or your loved one has a criminal case, read this article to know more about the costs of hiring a criminal lawyer.

Each Case Is Unique

The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer varies greatly because each case is unique. This means that you may not estimate the exact amount you will incur based on your past cases or other people’s pay.

Your lawyer should give you the possible estimates after examining your case and collecting the evidence. Here are the main factors which determine the costs of hiring the criminal defense lawyer:

Criminal History

Your criminal history can affect the total costs that you will incur in the lawsuit. When you approach a criminal defense lawyer, they will confirm if you have had a similar case in the past or any other criminal charge.

If you have had one or more similar cases, the costs will be higher. This is because the criminal defense attorney will need to make thorough investigations, preparations, and gather extensive evidence to clear your name.

The costs for first-time crime suspects might be significantly lower, although it still depends on other factors as well.

Skill and Experience

The lawyer’s experience level might increase or lower the costs. The lawyers with vast experience tend to be pricey. They charge high fees because they are confident with their expertise in the field, meaning your case’s success rate is high.

Similarly, lawyers who study in prestigious schools and have an incredible reputation for handling high profile cases tend to have a higher price.

The inexperienced lawyers who just finished school may mention a lower price range. It’s, therefore, upon you to choose the most appropriate for your budget.

The Nature of Your Case

Criminal defense lawyers represent many cases. These cases include theft, robbery, drugs, and sexual assaults, and so on. Some cases, such as murder and sexual assault, are complex, attracting more fees.

So if your case is complicated and has many technicalities for collecting the evidence, you will most probably pay higher amounts.

The Payment Structure

Criminal defense lawyers use two main payment systems. One is the flat billing system and the other is the hourly rate system.

Hourly Rate

Lawyers who use hourly billing are paid per hour. For instance, if they represent your case for ten hours, you will pay them for the ten hours spent working for you.

The lawyer will give their hourly charge, ranging from $20 to $2000 depending on the case. Note that some lawyers might need a retainer for the work. For instance, if the lawyer works for ten hours, they may ask for a two-hour retainer.

The hourly billing is the best option if the case is not complicated, and the lawyer will be working for a shorter period. You will be paying for the hours worked only, and you can save a lot.

Flat Rate

A flat rate is a predetermined amount. The lawyer assesses your case and then mentions a price that they think would be the best option.

For instance, the lawyer may hear your case and decide to charge you $2000, irrespective of the number of hours they work.

You can pay the amount in a lump sum, although many lawyers prefer the milestone payments.

A flat rate is the best option for complicated cases, whereby the lawyer might work for extended periods. You will pay the same amount irrespective of how long the lawyer works, which means you can save substantial amounts of money.

Understand the two payment options and choose the most appropriate method for you.

Defendant’s Income

Your income can determine the costs that the lawsuit will incur. Each jurisdiction has its own rules for its clients’ income qualifications.

If your net worth does not meet the jurisdiction’s minimum qualification, you might rely on the court-appointed attorney. The public defenders are paid by the government, which means that you don’t incur many costs when they represent you.

Level of Investigation

Some criminal cases require high levels of investigations to unveil the truth or gather the needed evidence. In those cases, your lawyer might be required to hire an independent investigator, which translates to more costs.

For instance, the lawyer may hire a psychiatrist to confirm your mental stability, a lab expert to carry out several tests, and so on.

Understand All Costs for a Criminal Case

The ideal criminal defense attorney should disclose all the costs that you will incur in your case. However, it’s essential to set aside some cash for any unexpected costs that might up in your case.

These costs include transport fees, photocopying costs, communications fees, etc.

If the lawyer uses the hourly invoicing, they will not pay for the other court-related costs, such as the court clerk fees, the database fees, instalment fees, etc.

Also, the bails, fines, and penalty fees will be on you. So find a lawyer who can help you understand the costs. If possible, choose the lawyer who offers a comprehensive package for all the activities. You will plan better, and you will enjoy peace of mind.

Hire a Professional Criminal Defense Lawyer

It’s essential to take your time when hiring a criminal defense lawyer. Don’t rush the process even when the case is pressuring you.

Do a background search on each to get the best. The right lawyer will be transparent and will help you understand your financial obligations on the case.

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Written by Ema Watson

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