Let’s talk about attorney's fees. Like your doctor, dentist, plumber, barber/hairdresser, or other professionals in your life, lawyers charge for their services. And like those professionals, you should be able to find one you can afford and that you trust.
It is likely your legal situation will have long-term consequences. Expect that good representation will cost money. A lawyer’s time and advice can be expensive because it is worth it.
Now, if the outcome of the case is not going to have any effect on you, long-term, or short-term, you may not need a lawyer. You can go to court, take what is given to you, and move along.
But if you have a professional license (or plan to obtain one), are considering changing jobs, applying for school, applying for a loan, volunteering at your kid’s school, renting or buying property, or you are planning on doing any of the other countless things which now require a background check, it makes sense to hire a lawyer.
Don’t hire a lawyer based on price. The adage, “You get what you pay for,” is as true for lawyers as it is anything else in life. If not more so. A bargain lawyer is not always a bargain in the long run.
Criminal defense lawyers usually charge flat fees. That means you agree on the amount of the fee to pay, and that’s it.
There is no hourly billing. You do not need to worry about having your bill run-up. You don’t have to worry about calling your lawyer because you are going to be charged for the time of the call. You know how much representation costs from the beginning.
Don’t be intimidated to talk about how the fees work. Fees should be simple and straightforward. If you are not comfortable with the retainer agreement, let the attorney know and see if there is an alternative.
Don’t pay a trial fee unless your case gets set for trial. Less than 3% of cases go to trial, so it doesn’t make sense to pay in advance. Let’s see if we can get your case dismissed, reduced, or negotiated to a disposition you are happy with before we set your case for trial and charge you the trial fee.
Don’t start your consultation with a criminal defense lawyer by asking how much they charge. We need to learn about you, your case, and what you want to accomplish before we can quote a fee. Every client and case is unique, and while an experienced attorney has a good idea about what the fee will be, it may be a little less or more depending on the client and facts. After talking about your case and the lawyer’s approach and processes, then ask about the fee.
The nice thing about flat fee agreements with criminal defense attorneys is it takes the money out of the equation at the beginning and lets you focus on the real issue- resolution of your case in a way that is best for you.
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