It's easy to ignore issues that seem to have no meaning to your life — until they do. Legal fees are a perfect example of that. Most people that have not been arrested don't need to know about legal fees until it happens to them or a loved one. To help you sort out the factors that go into legal fees and the two most common ways criminal defense lawyers charge fees, read on.
Factors That Play a Part in Fees
Lawyers are free to set their fees based on their own factors, but you can assume that lawyers with more experience will charge higher fees. That doesn't mean that newer, less-experienced lawyers won't do a good job for you. New lawyers are often eager to prove themselves and build up a reputation, so consider a new lawyer along with older ones. Another issue that influences fees is location. Just like everything else, fees will vary across the country. Finally, the characteristics of your case may factor into the equation. Those standing trial for a complex felony charge with lots of evidence and a long court process may encounter higher fees than those with a simple driving under the influence (DUI) charge. Lawyers handling criminal cases generally charge one of two ways.
By the Hour Legal Fees
This way of charging involves the client paying a retainer fee upfront to get the case started. As the lawyer works, the retainer is drawn from with the billing being equated to an hourly fee. When the retainer runs out, more needs to be paid. Be sure you get an estimate of how many hours your attorney expects your particular case to take and expect to pay extra for things like postage, subpoena services, parking, etc.
By the Case Legal Fees
The other common way criminal lawyers charge is by the case. A flat-fee is paid (upfront) by the client and that fee is supposed to cover all that is necessary to represent them. This type of fee structure is popular because the client knows the full budgetary impact to expect for a case. Even with flat-fee arrangements, however, the fee might not cover everything and many are based on the assumption that the case won't come to trial. Plea bargains are common and trials are not just time-consuming but more expensive for defendants. Be sure you understand the ramifications of a plea bargain and not just the economic issues involved.
To find out more about fees and what they cover, speak to a criminal defense lawyer about your case.