How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Cost? A Simple Guide

For most people, there are few moments in life when you have less hope than when you’re in handcuffs in the back of a police vehicle. Whether it’s happened to you once or a dozen times, arrests are always stressful. You’re worried not only about the ordeal ahead but about how much it’s going to cost you.

So what can you expect? How much does a criminal lawyer cost? As it turns out, that’s a complex question to answer.


How Much Does a Criminal Lawyer Cost on Average?

Throughout the US, there isn’t a singular average cost that you can rely on. Legal fees vary widely from one case to the next. Your bill could be a mere $3,000 or it could go up to tens of thousands of dollars or more.

This is why it’s so important to talk to your attorney about each case. Find out a general range you can expect. Keep in mind that attorneys charge by the hour, so you won’t know the exact amount until the case is over.

Factors That Impact Your Criminal Attorney Cost

The reason criminal attorney fees vary so much is that each case is unique. There are several factors that will impact your costs.

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The Charges

Every criminal charge requires special knowledge about the best ways to defend against it. The more serious and advanced your charges are, the more likely you are to need a specialized attorney like a drug trafficking defense lawyer. Your attorney may need to hire investigators and expert witnesses for some charges, and this raises your cost too.

The number of charges against you will play a role as well. Your attorney needs to defend you against each accusation made against you. The more accusations there are, the more time this will take.

The Geographic Area

The area where you’re facing criminal charges can drive your cost up in some cases. An area like Los Angeles will have a higher cost of living than a small town in North Dakota will. That means the attorney’s fees will be higher as well.

In addition, your cost may depend on the court system in your area. Some courts and court personnel are more difficult to work with than others, and that takes extra time.

The Progression of the Process

As we noted, attorneys usually charge by the hour. If your case is resolved the first time around with an acquittal or a guilty plea, you’ll pay less.

Some cases need to go through many more steps, though. If you’re convicted and your case goes through a series of appeals, this will raise the price.

The Attorney’s Skills

With an attorney, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Newer attorneys tend to charge less because they don’t have as much experience as others. The more experience and expertise your lawyer has, the more they will charge.

Budgeting for Your Criminal Defense Attorney

Finances are always in the backs of our minds. When you’re arrested, it’s natural to wonder, “How much does a criminal lawyer cost?”

While an attorney may give you an estimated amount, remember what is at stake: your freedom and livelihood. Whether you’re facing charges or you’re a criminal lawyer who struggles to answer this question for your clients, remember the cost of a lawyer pales in comparison to the cost of a criminal charge ending your career.

To learn more about criminal cases, check out more articles on our blog.

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