Criminal Defense

The Cost of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

Should I hire a criminal defense attorney? Should I represent myself? Or should I go for the public defenders? These are some of the questions people facing criminal charges often ask.

All the above questions can be answered on the plea you would want to take. For instance, people who would like to plead guilty deem it unnecessary to waste money hiring a lawyer. Similarly, if you would want to plead not guilty, it is your constitutional right to have an attorney. In case you can’t afford one due to financial constraints a free public defender is appointed to represent you.

Reasons Why You Should Not Go for Public Defenders

Though public defenders represent you at no cost at all, they also have some drawbacks. Public defenders are known to have huge caseloads, and therefore they may not accord your case the attention it needs. Similarly, cases in the public defense office change hands quickly, and due to this, you may find your case being handled by different public defenders now and then.
Also, you might find it very hard to fire a public defender and have a new one appointed to represent you even if you have genuine concerns about him/her. This is because approval from the judge is required for you to get a new defender and judges rarely grant this request. And let’s face it, rarely will you find anyone taking real ownership or concern over your case. All these drawbacks are the reason why you should hire a criminal defense attorney over going for public defenders if you can.

The Cost of Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney

For you to get a good deal when hiring a criminal defense attorney, you should shop around first. This, in the long run, will give at least an idea of how much they charge and then you can make your decision depending on your budget.

There are some things attorneys consider when charging you. For instance, they would want to discuss the complexity of your case in length to determine the cost. This is in order, for them to determine the cost of investigation and hiring of expert witnesses such as nuclear science experts.

The defendant’s level of income is another consideration done; they first check whether your income will allow you to settle their costs comfortably. If not, they may decide to take up the case pro-bono, or they will recommend other cheaper attorneys or public defenders.
Criminal lawyers either charge defendants on an hourly basis or they may charge a flat rate. Hourly rates vary greatly depending on the competence of the lawyer or the structure of the law firm. In cases where the case is too complex to charge flat-rate, attorneys may also decide to charge per hour.

Most defendants choose to go for the attorneys who charge flat rate since they know the cost of their defense from the onset of the case. With hourly charging attorneys’ defendants don’t know what to expect and this can be unsettling.

It is important to note that attorney fee and his/her cost are two different aspects. Attorney costs include the costs of serving subpoenas and those of hiring a private investigator.
The payment structure of the defense cost also depends on the attorney. Some may require all the cost to be paid upfront while others may ask for a certain percentage as a retainer at the onset of representation.