On average, a criminal defense attorney costs somewhere between $150 to $700 per hour. However, you can find some attorneys willing to take a flat fee, ranging between $1,000 and $3,000. Although, flat rate lawyers typically only take on small misdemeanor cases to lower their level of risks.
With such rates and fees, it is easy to see why defendants charged with felonies or even repeat misdemeanor offenders might be worried about finding fair representation, especially when a felony trial can end up costing the defendant $10,000 or more. The question, then, becomes how much can a defendant can expect to pay, and is there any way to find some financial relief.
Contributing Factors to Trial Expenses
The first thing to understand is that no criminal trial is the same. Each charge, while similar, has a unique defendant that can either contribute to a defense or make any case more difficult. Therefore, the challenge of quoting a standard price for a trial is not possible. However, beyond the defendant, there are several other contributing factors to trial costs and, ultimately, the costs of a lawyer. For example, attorney fees are as individualized as court cases. You will probably find that a lawyer’s fees often reflect their skill level and experience. Also, while a fee might seem fair, when considered hourly, you need to understand that their rate accounts for all time spent on your case, not just courtroom arguments. Therefore, the discovery process, the trial and any time spent delegating or researching tasks all affect the total costs, and that does not include the hiring of expert witnesses, which can cost upwards of $300 per hour.
For individuals who lack the financial means to hire a private defense firm, there are other options. For example, if you are low income or are below the state threshold, you might qualify for a public defender or court-appointed attorney. While these lawyers often face negative stereotypes, most of them have more courtroom experience and better professional relationships than expensive lawyers from top-tier firms. While there usually is a financial qualifier for receiving this representation, you might be able to receive a public defender if you are above the economic cutoff, depending on your situation and a judge’s leniency.
Everyone as a right to legal representation, and while a private criminal defense attorney might be expensive, you do have another option. Contact a criminal lawyer in Bangor, ME to discuss their fees and ask about other flexible payment options.
Thanks to David Bate Law for their insight into criminal law and understanding the cost of an attorney.