Criminal Defense Lawyer FAQ

What is a private lawyer likely to cost?

It's impossible to give a definitive answer. Attorneys set their own fees, which vary according to a number of factors:

  • The complexity of a case. Most attorneys charge more for felonies than for misdemeanors because felonies carry greater penalties and are likely to involve more work for the attorney.
  • The attorney's experience. Generally, less-experienced attorneys set lower fees than their more-experienced colleagues.
  • Geography. Just as gasoline and butter cost more in some parts of the country than others, so do lawyers.

A defendant charged with a misdemeanor should not be surprised by a legal fee in the neighborhood of $3,000-$5,000; an attorney may want $15,000-$25,000 in a felony case.

Most criminal defense attorneys want all or a substantial portion of the fee paid up front. Contingency fees (where the lawyer gets paid only if he wins the case) are not allowed in criminal cases. To find a criminal defense attorney near you, check out Nolo's trusted Lawyer Directory.

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