Hiring a criminal defense attorney for legal representation for yourself, a family member, or a friend for a criminal arrest or criminal allegation is sometimes is very difficult. The hardest part is often that it is an unexpected expense which usually comes at the worst possible time. Under the best of circumstances, money is available to retain the criminal defense lawyer for the agreed upon amount and the issue of ability to pay is not an issue. This, of course, is not always the case. The attorney fee charged varies between lawyers, and usually the amount to retain the lawyer contemplates the complexity of the matter, the time commitment involved, the inability of the lawyer to handle other matters due to the time commitment, and the reputation and experience of who you hire. That being said, there are several payment options which may make experienced criminal defense legal representation more affordable than you think:
First, payment plans are sometimes available, however the attorney will always need enough of a down payment to enter an appearance and appear on the case;
Second, credit card payments are sometimes a solution;
Third, In some instances, an individual may be able to obtain a loan from a bank, financial institution, or church to provide payment;
Fourth, In many cases a help comes from a family member or friend who is willing to step forward to help. Many persons let their pride come in the way of asking a parent, uncle, aunt, grandparent, child, or other relative for help – to not ask for help is likely to be the worst and most damaging possible decision;
Fifth, Often an agreement is reached on occasion with the employer of a Defendant to pay attorney fees, and deduct the cost from the Defendant’s paycheck over time;
Sixth, A tax refund is often used to hire a lawyer;
Seventh, In some instances a Defendant’s bond can be assigned to his or her lawyer at the conclusion of the case as payment. When the bond is in the Defendant’s name, however, the Court will deduct amounts for any fines, costs, supervision fees, and/or restitution any return any remaining balance. The remaining balance may be very little, depending upon the circumstances;
Eighth, Although a criminal lawyer is not ethically allowed to enter into a contingency fee agreement (no payment unless a specific result is obtained), there are instances when a person has a unrelated pending lawsuit settlement which he or she will receive in the near future. In some instances an agreement is reached between a person and a criminal defense attorney to put an attorney lien on a portion of the anticipated settlement to cover the retainer fee of the criminal defense attorney. In some criminal cases, the attorney fee can be paid through the proceeds of the settlement of a related forfeiture case;
Ninth, Leaving collateral for the attorney to ensure payment, such as a car note or property, is a possible option;
Tenth, in rare instances, a barter for services can be reached. Many lawyers are reluctant to engage in barter because the value of what is received is treated as taxable income and it also may create a conflicting entanglement between the attorney and client.
For criminal charges an indigent Defendant can ask for a Court appointed lawyer, which is not always his or her best choice. The quality of the Court appointed attorney is based upon the luck, or unluck of the draw – and people who get in trouble or are accused of committing a crime sometimes are just plain unlucky. It is not unheard of for the Court appointed attorney to be overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, indifferent to the consequences, and apathetic about his or her client. Furthermore, in some cases the Court will not appoint a lawyer based upon the financial ability of the Defendant, the nature of the charge, and the likely sentence.
In any circumstance in which a criminal accusation is made, you should always take the time to discuss the situation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to see if a retainer agreement can be reached. The failure to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney may turn out to be your greatest regret – do not risk being legally represented by someone who does not care about you and your future.