Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost

Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost

Last Updated on December 25, 2022 | Written by CPA Alec Pow
First Published on August 24, 2022 | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popivker

The very existence of the legal profession in a country guarantees that there is a rule of law in that country. Equally, lawyers and professional bar associations play a fundamental role in the defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to access fair and effective justice. Lawyers, as Alexis de Tocqueville remarked, are the strongest barrier against the regression of democracy.

Moreover, the role of the lawyer in criminal cases is essential in helping you build a personalized strategy that ensures the protection of your rights and interests conferred and protected by law, protection that could be jeopardized by simply accepting a superficial treatment.

How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost?

There are several factors that affect the cost of a criminal defense lawyer, such as the lawyer’s billing method, the jurisdiction, whether you choose to take the case to trial, enter a guilty plea and accept a plea agreement, the complexity of the case and the quality and experience of the criminal law attorney.

Taking into consideration all these factors, a criminal law attorney can charge an hourly fee or a flat fee for the whole case.

You might also like our articles about attorney fees in case of divorce cases, child support cases, or child adoption procedures.

You should be prepared to pay anywhere between $100 and $400 or even more if you are charged by the hour.

The complexity of a case will determine the flat fee amount. Also, it is very important to keep in mind that the majority of attorneys will require a retainer, a part of the total sum of money paid up-front.

Be prepared to pay anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000 as a retainer fee for a misdemeanor representation, while the retainer fee for felony representation will be anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000. For serious crimes, this amount may easily be two to three times higher.

Even though most of the criminal lawyers offer the initial consultation for free, there are some that may charge you anywhere between $100 and $250 for a consultation.

What are the additional expenses?

It is very important to mention that there are many criminal lawyers that charge for expenses like the use of a paralegal, research, the time spent corresponding with their client by e-mail or over the phone, travel, and photocopying.

Also, most lawyers have a minimum billing increment of around ten to fifteen minutes. For instance, if you need to talk over the phone with your lawyer for only five minutes, you will be charged for the full ten minutes, if he or she has a ten-minute minimum billing increment.

Besides the criminal lawyer fee, there are other costs associated with a criminal case you need to consider, like the court fees, paying for expert witnesses and investigators, which are anywhere between $2,500 and more than $7,500, and other expenses as well.

Criminal defense lawyer attributions

Criminal Defense LawyerThe role of a criminal defense lawyer materializes implicitly through the representation and legal assistance of the suspect or defendant.

Depending on the situation, legal assistance appears as a right, regardless of the procedural stage we are talking about, but it can also appear as an obligation when we are talking about protected social values, extremely vulnerable, or high-risk criminality cases.

Whether you are in the position of suspect or defendant, injured person, civil party or civilly responsible party, the role of the lawyer in criminal cases is to support your case by:

  • participating in the execution, in principle, of any criminal prosecution acts;
  • participating in the hearing of any person;
  • formulating requests, complaints, memos, and objections;
  • consulting the file documents;
  • exercising the procedural rights of assisted persons;
  • offering the time and facilities necessary for the preparation of an effective defense, through specific tools.

Therefore, the role of the lawyer in criminal cases is to ensure your access to the best legal approach to your case and to facilitate this legal process, simultaneously with the protection of the rights and interests that the law and society recognize.


The Criminal defense lawyer billing policy will vary significantly from one lawyer to another, from one case to another, and from one situation to another. It is very important to understand the billing policy of the lawyer you choose and to know what is included in the cost. Before signing any contract try to obtain a fee agreement document, read it with attention, and go over any misunderstandings.

Alec Pow
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