08 Aug Criminal Defense Attorney Fees
Criminal Defense Attorney Fees – What To Expect When You Need to Hire a Lawyer
If you find yourself in a position where you need to hire a criminal defense attorney, your first question might be how much will I have to pay? This blog will look at different types of criminal defense attorney fees and discuss some questions you may want to discuss with your lawyer before you sign a contract.
Types of Criminal Defense Attorney Fees
When many people think of lawyer fees, they think of the traditional billable hour. This was traditionally how most attorneys billed clients. Today, there are still many attorneys who use the billable hour. Alternatively, some attorneys are moving toward a flat fee method to simplify things for their clients and streamline the office.
Billable Hourly Fees
Traditionally, attorneys would bill their clients using an hourly fee method. For this arrangement, the attorney and client would agree on a hourly rate and the attorney would then track how much time was spent on the case, usually in six-minute increments. Using this method, the client would only pay for the attorney’s time that was spent on the client’s case. No more. No less.
This method is still used today, often by family law attorneys, business attorneys and civil attorneys. For those types of cases, it is often very difficult to estimate how long a case will take or what will be required to resolve the case. Civil cases can often take sharp turns during litigation and billing for time ensures that the client will only pay for services rendered and the attorney will be paid for all time spent on the case, whether that is one week or one year.
However, many attorneys, especially criminal defense lawyers, have moved away from the billable hour toward the flat fee method.
Flat Fee Arrangements
At many criminal defense law firms, including Chambers Law Office, the favorite billing arrangement is the flat fee. This type of billing method simplifies the process for both the client and the attorney and can alleviate some of the financial issues that can hinder a person from hiring a lawyer.
For criminal defense attorney fees that use a flat fee arrangement, the attorney and client agree on a total fee for certain services and that is all the client will pay, either up front or through a payment plan. The attorney is not required to spend time tracking hours and billing the client and the client knows exactly what the fees will be at the outset, avoiding any surprises later on.
In the criminal context, the flat fee can streamline the financial aspect of hiring an attorney during a stressful time. Depending on the type of case, you may have one flat fee or you may see a tiered system. For a tiered rate, the attorney may agree to represent the client for certain steps of the case for different fees. For example, for a criminal charge, one rate may apply to a guilty plea and if the client chooses a jury trial, a second fee may kick in. However, this should all be laid out in writing in the attorney-client agreement so all parties are aware of the fees at the outset. If fees are modified during representation, the client should be made aware that they can consult another attorney to ensure the changes are in their best interest.
Finding an Affordable Criminal Defense Attorney
Hiring an attorney is not cheap. They provide a very specialized service after years of higher education. However, particularly in the criminal world, everyone should have access to legal counsel. For those who truly cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one at no cost. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who have unlimited means to hire any attorney at any cost. For most people, however, they may have the ability to hire an attorney but may not have unlimited financial means. In those cases, it is often helpful to call around and speak with a few lawyers. Rates can vary from attorney to attorney and as with any service, the client should understand what they are paying for.
Clients looking for a criminal defense attorney should discuss fees, attorney rates, the attorney’s experience and work history and whether the attorney has handled the type of matter the client is inquiring about. Client’s should feel comfortable with the attorney and firm staff so that they will feel free to ask questions throughout representation. It is also important to get all terms of representation in writing so all parties understand what will be expected from both sides. If the client has concerns about paying fees, discuss payment plans with the attorney, as many attorneys are willing to work with clients in paying the attorney fees over the course of representation.
Chambers Law Office: Affordable Criminal Defense Attorney in Indianapolis
At Chambers Law Office, we strive to provide affordable legal representation to all clients, focusing on criminal defense, expungements and driver’s license suspensions (including hardship license petitions). Julie Chambers is a former deputy prosecutor and has experience handling criminal cases, expungement hearings and specialized driving petitions throughout central Indiana, including Marion, Hamilton, Johnson, Madison, Hendricks or Boone counties. Chambers Law Office utilizes both flat fees and hourly rates and works with each client to set up payment arrangements that meet the client’s needs. If you have questions about a criminal case, expungement, driver’s license suspension, or about criminal defense attorney fees contact Chambers Law Office today to speak with a lawyer at 317-450-2971.