When facing criminal charges, one of the primary questions on your mind might be how much legal representation will cost. While the exact amount varies widely depending upon the individual case, there are some general guidelines for what lawyers typically charge for criminal cases.
One of the most common ways for criminal lawyers to charge for their services is by the hour. Hourly rates vary significantly depending on experience and specialization, but will typically range between $100 and $500 per hour. In some cases, lawyers may also bill in fifteen-minute increments, rather than by the hour, with a minimum charge of a half-hour.
Another common practice is for criminal defense attorneys to charge a flat retainer fee. This is essentially a lump-sum payment that is placed in an escrow account, from which the lawyer will draw for fees and expenses as the case progresses. Retainer fees typically range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending upon the severity of the charges and complexity of the case.
In some cases, a criminal defense attorney may agree to take on a case on a contingency fee basis. This means that rather than being paid up front, the lawyer will take a percentage of any settlement or damages awarded in the case. Depending on the jurisdiction, the percentage is typically between 25 and 40 percent.
Another option is for your lawyer to charge a flat fee for their services. This is essentially a one-time fee for the entire case and is an excellent option for people who have a limited budget and need to know exactly how much they will need to pay. Flat fees will vary significantly depending upon the severity and complexity of the case, as well as the lawyer’s experience.
Cost of Court-Appointed Lawyers
Finally, if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, you may be eligible for court-appointed counsel. In this case, you will typically be charged for their services, but at a much lower rate than a private attorney. Court-appointed attorneys are typically paid an hourly rate set by the court, usually between $40 and $60 per hour.
When you are facing criminal charges, it is important to understand the various ways that lawyers charge for their services. While the exact amount that you will need to pay will depend upon the specifics of your case, these guidelines will help you budget for the cost of legal representation.