The law guarantees every criminal suspect the right to an attorney. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose your public defender. You only get your choice of a lawyer if you decide to go private. But how much will you end up paying for the services of a private lawyer? Below are some of the factors that determine criminal defense fees.
Number of Charges
A single criminal act can trigger multiple charges or counts. For example, if the authorities have accused you of driving under the influence (DUI), you might face other related charges, such as:
- Endangering the life of a minor (if you had a child passenger)
- Violation of open container laws (if you had an open container of alcohol in the car)
- Resisting arrest (if you struggled with the officers during your arrest)
You must defend any of these charges since they attract individual punishments. The more charges you have, the harder the lawyer’s job will be. Thus, the number of charges can influence the overall fees for your case.
Lawyers also base their charges on the quality of service they can give you. Most professionals become better at their jobs with time, lawyers included, so an experienced lawyer is likely to serve you better than an inexperienced one. Therefore, a lawyer with decades of experience is likely to command premium rates.
In addition to experience, the legwork that the attorney has to put in also matters. A case might require more labor hours if your legal team has to:
- Spend hours investigating the case
- Interview numerous witnesses
- Review numerous documents
- Review numerous past cases
The more time your lawyer has to spend on your case, the less time they have to work on other cases. Your lawyer wants to give you the best defense possible, so they must put in the required hours. In most scenarios, a greater time commitment will call for higher fees.
Reputation plays a big role for professionals. Lawyers who have worked hard and built their reputations over the years deserve proportional remuneration. For example, some lawyers have exceptional trial experiences, have won landmark cases, or won legal awards. Such lawyers may charge more, and with good reason, than lawyers without a comparable reputation.
Not every criminal case ends up in a trial. For example, a lawyer can work out a plea deal and get you released without even going to court. In some cases, the lawyer only needs to make a few court appearances. Unfortunately, some cases require numerous and lengthy court appearances, especially cases that go to trial.
Court work requires time and preparation. Thus, expect to pay more if your lawyer has to make numerous court appearances.
In most cases, the severity of the case is the single biggest determinant of legal fees. The severity of the case depends on various factors, such as:
- The gravity of the offense: for example, homicide is more severe than public intoxication.
- The potential punishment: for example, a charge that attracts a mandatory ten-year sentence is more severe than a charge that attracts a mandatory one-year sentence.
- The nature of the victim: for example, crimes with vulnerable victims (such as children or the elderly) tend to carry greater consequences.
Severe or complex cases require more skill, experience, time, and resources to defend, so such cases attract higher fees than other cases.
The good news is that, with a few exceptions, most criminal defense lawyers have negotiable fees. However, in most cases, the charges will reflect the overall complexity of the case. Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, charges reasonable fees for its clients. If you have a criminal case, contact us for a case review to determine your fees and defense strategy.