So, you got arrested. When you’re facing a lot of prison time on a criminal charge it isn’t the best time to penny-pinch.
But you’ve got options. There are public defenders. There are also Baton Rouge criminal defense attorneys that charge top-dollar. But, how much does a lawyer cost?
The average median annual salary of a criminal attorney is about $121,000 per year. But, depending on their win rate, the area they’re in, and their typical clientele this goes way up or down.
Keep reading to learn more about lawyer’s costs and the questions to ask.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost? Well, How Much Work is There to Do?
The most common misdemeanor charge in Louisiana is the possession of Marijuana.
A trial for a minor misdemeanor like that versus, say, felony triple homicide requires different representation. It also makes a huge difference in how much you’ll pay a lawyer to defend you.
The complexity of a case matters a lot when paying for a lawyer. It also helps them make a decision on whether they want your case or not. The more complex the case, the more work there is to do, and the higher and higher fees go.
Either way, expect a substantial bill. Attorney’s fees used to run in the $120 an hour range back in the early 2000s. But, now you can expect $500 or as much as $2000 per hour in some cases.
Speaking of which, that leads us to our next consideration. Does your attorney charge by the hour or flat-fee?
Do They Charge By the Hour or Charge an Upfront Flat Fee?
Most attorneys will charge an hourly rate with an initial deposit to start work. They can do as much research and preparation that’s required without losing money.
Another option is an attorney can charge a flat fee for their services. There are pros and cons to each approach.
Charging a flat fee is appealing because they get all the money upfront. It guarantees payment. There will be no chasing people around for money after they win the case.
But, underestimation is a big risk of flat fees. The case might take a huge amount of work when it seemed simple and straightforward at first. So, the attorney will lose money.
Charging hourly puts more financial risk onto the law office and attorney themselves. But, it lets them put more time into the case and makes sure they’re paid for all their due diligence.
Whether they charge by flat fee or hourly expect to write a large check at the beginning of your work together.
A flat fee is always paid before work begins. For hourly rates, there is a deposit required before work begins. Once your case has exhausted the deposit, the hourly billing begins.
Figure Out If They’ll Be a Good Fit Before Paying Anybody
Unlike American citizens, not all attorneys are created equal.
They have different specialties. Different experience levels. Different areas of expertise. Different rates of pay.
Be prepared before your first meeting with an attorney and ask good questions. Figure out if they’ll be the best lawyer for you. Here are some great questions to start with:
- How long have you practiced law?
- Are there certain cases you handle a lot?
- Can you tell me about your experience defending my charge?
- How would you describe your typical client?
- Do you have any specialized training outside of your basic law degree?
- What is your philosophy on how to win a case? Do you have a certain system you follow?
- How long have you worked in this jurisdiction? How familiar are you with the details of the law in our county?
- How are you going to communicate with me while you represent me?
- How often can I expect to hear from you?
- Are you available to answer phone calls/emails anytime?
- What are your typical costs and fees and how do you typically bill them?
- Do you charge an hourly rate or an upfront flat fee?
- If you lose my case will I still have to pay for your services?
By asking questions before you hire an attorney you save yourself regrets later on. Choosing your lawyer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your life. Even more important in a criminal case.
A good lawyer can mean the difference between freedom and getting locked up.
Most lawyers will offer an initial consultation that is free of charge. Check out some more of the questions you should ask a criminal defense attorney here.
Don’t Let Yourself Get Taken Advantage Of
Most people who get arrested don’t expect it to happen. It takes you by surprise. A lot of times this will be a person’s first experience with the police, jail, the court system, and hiring a lawyer.
Don’t hire the first person you call just because you’re scared. The same way you wouldn’t hire the first contractor you interviewed to rip apart your home, you want to do your due diligence and compare and contrast.
How much does a lawyer cost should not be your only question. Compare pricing and experience. You think you’re in a hurry but you have time to be picky when it comes to legal representation.
Don’t rush this decision. It could cost you years of your life spent in jail.
Looking for a quality criminal defense attorney in Livingston or West Baton Rouge? Contact us now and we will be happy to speak with you.