The cost of a criminal defense lawyer can vary depending upon the jurisdiction, and the nature of the charges which have been filed against the defendant. A lawyer will typically require a greater retainer for a complex case than for a simple case. The amount of a retainer will also typically increase with the severity of the charge filed against a defendant. Sometimes, though, a relatively minor charge can require a higher retainer, where the attorney expects to have to engage in extensive motion practice, or where it will be necessary to utilize expert witnesses.
If you have been charged with a crime, you want to retain a lawyer immediately. You will want someone who has expertise in criminal defense, a highly specialized area of the law.
For serious charges, it will be a rare defendant who does not benefit from having a competent criminal defense lawyer assist with the negotiation of a plea bargain, or to prepare a case for a trial.
A criminal defense lawyer should also be able to identify important pretrial issues, and to bring appropriate motions which might significantly improve a defendant’s situation, or even result in the dismissal of charges.
People charged with felony offenses and misdemeanors, may be eligible for appointed counsel through a public defender’s office. A defendant petitions for a court-appointed lawyer, the trial judge will typically make an assessment of the defendant’s resources to determine if the defendant will qualify for an appointment of a criminal defense lawyer. When an appointment is made, although the defendant may be ordered to repay certain attorney fees following a guilty plea or conviction, there will not be any fee in the event of acquittal or dismissal of charges.
Choosing An Attorney
- Contact the state bar association to find out if the lawyers are in good standing.
- Look at biographical information, Web sites for the lawyers. Do they have expertise in the area of criminal law and any information that is helpful to you? Do they belong to any reputable associations in the area of expertise that you need?
- Check online archives of your local newspaper and online directories. Has there been any positive or negative publicity about the lawyers or the cases that they have handled?
- Use search engines and Google the name of each lawyer and their law firm. Find any articles, FAQ’s or other information that the lawyer has done that give you an idea of their experience.
- Consider special needs you have such as needing an attorney who speaks a language other than English.
- Ask others if they have heard of the criminal lawyers and what they think about them.
- Check out the yellow pages of your telephone directory. Do the lawyers advertise and is it quality marketing.