How Much Does It Usually Cost to Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

There are over 200,000 defense attorneys in the United States. They do an important job of ensuring that people up and down the country get their fundamental right to a criminal defense.

If you’re in need of a criminal defense lawyer, then it’s likely that you’re in a pretty serious situation. While it can be a scary time, you need to remember that your defense team are dedicated professionals who are working for you.

You might sat there googling “attorney near me” and wondering what the cost to hire a lawyer is. Let’s take a look at that now.

What Affects the Cost?

It’s essential to know that criminal defense lawyers usually bill clients per hour or case. Hourly billing means charging you by the hour spent by the lawyer in handling your case. One of the good things about this billing approach is that you don’t need to pay more money if your case is resolved quickly. But if your case takes a long time to obtain a resolution, hourly billing can cost you a lot of money in the long run. Thankfully, most experienced legal professionals can provide you with an estimate as to how long your case will be resolved. As such, you can figure out whether you can afford the hourly billing method of the lawyer.  

On the other hand, case billing works by charging you a fixed fee upfront which doesn’t change regardless of the number of hours they spend on your case. The advantage of this billing method is that you’re aware of how much you’ll pay the lawyer, which is why you’ll know whether you can afford it. 

That said, the criminal defense lawyer you choose may charge you an hourly rate or a fixed rate. But more things are involved when calculating the costs of hiring a legal expert from a reliable criminal defense law firm in your area. For instance, there are a few things that will affect the cost that you’ll pay when hiring a lawyer. All these things combined will let you know how much your criminal defense is going to set you back.

Defendant’s Income

First of all, your income is taken into account. If you’re on a low enough income, you’ll be given a court-appointed criminal defense attorney that will be paid for by the state.

If you’re earning over a certain amount, then you’ll be required to hire your own attorney out of pocket. The minimum earning threshold varies from state to state.

Extent of Investigation

Criminal defense attorneys will conduct their own investigation into the offense that you’re being accused of. These investigations are rarely straightforward and cost money to conduct.

The more complex your investigation is, the more you will end up paying for it. If your investigators have to chase down several leads, travel long distances, or conduct expensive tests, then your cost is going to go up.

Lots of types of white-collar crimes require fairly complicated and complex investigations. If your case falls into this category, then check out these white collar crime attorneys.


As well as investigations, criminal defense attorneys regularly call in the help of independent experts to talk over various details of the case. These experts will also testify in court to help with your case.

Many of these experts make a living off of this kind of work and they don’t come cheap. If your defense attorney is having to shell out for a lot of experts, then that cost is going to be passed on to you.

Attorney’s Fees

Finally, you’ll have to pay attorney fees. Attorney fees are the base rate that you’ll pay for your criminal defense.

There are a few things that will determine how much money you’ll shell out for attorney fees. Generally speaking, these things are:

  • Attorney skill
  • Attorney experience
  • Severity of the offense
  • Complexity of the case
  • Time spent in criminal discovery
  • Whether or not the case goes to trial.

There are some other things that determine the amount you’ll pay in attorney fees such as whether you’ll be paying a flat fee or a per-hour fee.

The Price of a Criminal Defense Lawyer Depends on the Case

At the end of the day, the nature and the complexity of your case are what will determine the price you end up paying for your criminal defense lawyer. Extensive investigations that need to be backed up by plenty of expert testimony are going to cost more than straightforward cases.

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