How Much Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Cost?

March 9, 2018

I get it. Money is a huge concern. For everyone. I run a business so believe me, I get. We all want the best deal, the most we can get for the least amount of money. And there are always deals to be found on all manner of goods and services. Look around long enough and you’ll eventually find the cheapest price for that car you really want, the best interest rate on a mortgage, or the cheapest cell phone package with all the unlimited texting your swollen little fingers can handle. Saving money is great. But sometimes that economic model isn’t the best for your personal well-being…like when you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney.

It’s just my personal opinion, but maybe you don’t want to cheap out on the person who’s going to try to keep you from getting a criminal conviction, or hopefully keep you out of prison. These are consequences that will 100% affect the rest of your life; from preventing you from getting a job to losing financial aid for school to potentially spending several years of your life in a correctional facility and spending that rest of that life labelled a convicted criminal. This stuff matters. It’s hard to bounce back from those consequences. So before you hire a criminal defense attorney with whom you’re going to spend A LOT of time with over the next few months or possibly even years, stop and really think about what’s best for you.

First, ask yourself questions like these:

– Does this person respect and listen to you?

– Do you think you can work with this person, even when things get difficult and stressful?

– Will you be able to consider this person’s advice as it relates to the rest of your life?

– What is this person’s experience with cases like yours?

You need to make sure you can work with your attorney. Successful criminal defense is a team effort. Personally, I encourage everyone who comes to me for a consult to shop around, speak to as many attorneys as possible before deciding to hire me. You need to find the attorney you’ll work best with and with whom you’re the most comfortable. The last thing I want is for someone to hire me if they don’t believe in me. The relationship won’t last, the client will inevitably feel ripped off and taken advantage of, and they’ll have to go spend more money on a new attorney down the road. If you are not comfortable with your attorney, you won’t trust him or her. And without trust, that attorney-client relationship is doomed to fail. And bringing in a new attorney in the middle of a case is always a risky move. Courts don’t “reset” the case to allow the new attorney to start over and do things his or her way. That attorney inherits whatever situation/mess you and prior attorney have already created.

Second, after you’ve asked yourself each of the questions above about every attorney you’ve met, and you think you’ve found the best one for you, then and only then ask, “how much does this attorney cost?” The fee is not the most important part of hiring an attorney and should not dictate your decision. So don’t ask that question first.

Fees vary for all attorneys. Some excellent attorneys with incredible experience are surprisingly affordable. Some not-so-great attorneys promise you the world and charge a boatload only to push a plea deal on you the entire time. The bottom line is that the fee you pay shouldn’t justify the representation. If you find an attorney you like, regardless of how much he or she costs, I strongly encourage you to find a way to come up with the fee. Ask family and friends. Take out a loan. Sell something. I understand that may sound a little business-cold, but at the end of the day, you can live with owing someone money a lot easier than you can live with a criminal conviction or going to prison.

Just a final note, none of what I say here applies to Public Defenders or assigned (18-b) counsel. Although they are “free attorneys,” PD’s are some of the best criminal defense attorneys around. Their experience is often unmatched. They are just so busy that you’re probably not going to receive the personal attention you may want. If you need a hand-holder, you need to hire a private attorney.

At Carpenter Law, I try to structure fees that are unique to each client and each case. I will work with you to the extent practical to ensure you receive the best representation I can provide at a fee that is fair to both of us.

If you or someone you love is in need of an experienced criminal or DWI defense attorney, call Carpenter Law today at (845) 493-1002, or email to request more information or to schedule a free consultation.

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