There is not a standard fee that lawyers charge for any particular misdemeanor. If you speak with multiple lawyers about handling your case and the fee involved for the legal representation, you are likely to get multiple answers. There are a number of factors that a lawyer may consider when deciding upon the proper amount to charge for criminal defense legal work:
- the complexity of the case;
- the likely time commitment involved;
- the inability of the lawyer to handle other matters based upon the legal representation provided for your case;
- the reputation of the lawyer;
- the experience of the lawyer;
- the location of the Court;
- whether or not the client is in jail or prison, and the necessity to visit the client in that location. The location where the client is incarcerated;
- whether or not there needs to be any motions filed and/or evidentiary hearings conducted;
- trial preparation;
- the need to retain expert witnesses;
- the number of days of trial.
Most criminal defense lawyers charge on a flat fee basis, rather than an hourly fee. The reason for flat fees is that a lawyer’s communication with his client is vital to ensure that a fair and just result is obtained. When hourly fees are charged, the client may choose not to contact the lawyer because he or she does not want to incur a fee for the contact. If the lawyer does not have all the relevant and essential information, documents, or materials to properly defend the case, or to properly advocate on behalf of the client, it is possible that a miscarriage of justice may occur. Also, the legal opinions, views, judgments, beliefs, and expertise that your lawyer provides often has a worth beyond that which can be characterized or valued on an hourly or other timed basis. What a lawyer can do for you is often based upon knowledge, skill, experience, and relationships built over the course of a legal career.
Lawyers are ethically forbidden to charge a contingency fee for criminal case representation. Contingency fee means that the lawyer’s fee is dependent upon the result that the lawyer obtains. Any fee(s), cost(s), expense(s), restitution amount, program fee(s), witness and expert witness fee(s) are always at the client’s expense. In Michigan, it is illegal for a lawyer to post a bond for his or her client – even if the client wants to advance money to his or her lawyer for that purpose.
Most lawyers charge non-refundable fees for criminal case representation. Most fee agreements provide for non refundable attorney fees for engaging in the representation, preparing for trial, and a fee for each day of trial. Appeals and interlocutory appeals (appeal of a decision of the court in the middle of the case) are generally not included in the fee agreement. Sometimes a lawyer will charge a flat non refundable fee based upon the number of times the lawyer needs to appear at court. Again, some lawyers use hourly fee agreements. Some, not all criminal defense lawyers, will charge you an initial consultation fee.
Who you hire is entirely up to you. It is recommended that you ask questions before you choose to hire your attorney. Important questions may include:
- Is the lawyer experienced?;
- Does the lawyer have a good reputation/good reviews?;
- Is the lawyer familiar with the Judge and prosecution?;
- Has the lawyer handled my type of case before?;
- Does the lawyer appear to be successful?;
- Does the information and strategy that the lawyer discusses with me make sense?;
- Does the lawyer have a professional office environment and support staff?;
- What does my gut tell me about the lawyer?; Does the lawyer care about me and/or my loved one?;
- Will I need a lawyer also for a collateral matter to my case (such as an immigration lawyer, a divorce lawyer, a civil lawyer, etc.);
- What forms of payment does the lawyer accept (cash, check, credit card, money order, wire transfer, etc.)?;
- Does the lawyer accept payment plans (if necessary)? If so, what are the terms and conditions of the payment plan?
- Does the fee agreement that the lawyer is proposing make sense?
Court appointed lawyers are usually not free. The amount that you may be ordered to reimburse the Court for the court appointed lawyer is going to be less than a retained lawyer. However, do not expect the time that the court appointed lawyer invests in your case to be the same as a retained lawyer. The old adage – “you get what you pay for” is often very apt.
When it comes to criminal cases, your best bet is to hire a lawyer if you are able to do so. A criminal conviction can have permanent, life altering consequences. For a trusted, experienced criminal defense lawyer hire Daniel Hilf of Hilf & Hilf, PLC today.