Posted in Criminal Defense on November 9, 2018
Too many criminal defendants in Arizona opt for subpar public defenders instead of skilled private criminal defense attorneys due to lawyer cost. This decision, however, can determine a defendant’s entire future. The capabilities of your attorney will directly correlate with positive or negative case outcomes. While no defense lawyer can guarantee results, an experienced private attorney can expend the time, energy, and resources your case deserves for its best odds of success. If you know you want a defense lawyer, here’s what you need to know about costs.
Average Cost of a Private Defense Attorney in Arizona
In legal lingo, “fees” and “costs” are two different things. Legal fees are the amounts you owe your defense attorney for legal services he/she performs on your case, while costs are amounts you owe for legal matters your lawyer may have had to invest in to defend your case. Hiring an expert key witness, for example, would be a cost, not a fee. Different lawyers have different fees for their basic services. Many attorneys will ask for a retainer, or an upfront amount to retain the lawyer for services. However, others have little or no down-payment.
In addition to the retainer, you will have to pay additional fees based on the lawyer’s specific payment schedule. Some defense attorneys charge by the hour, while others have flat case rates. The average cost to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Arizona is around $1,500; however, this amount can be much higher depending on the severity and type of charges against you. More serious charges, such as homicide, require more work on the attorney’s part and therefore result in higher attorney’s fees. The lawyer’s experience can also affect the price of services.
Keep in mind that although an inexperienced lawyer’s fee may be the lowest you find, he or she might not be the best attorney to represent your case. Don’t let ultra-low prices fool you. The attorney may have zero experience handling your type of crime, or an abysmal track record with past cases. Basing your decision purely on price could lead to inadequate representation and a life-changing criminal conviction. Most of the top attorneys offer flexible payment plans to help with the costs of services.
Payment Plans Available
If you’re worried about how you’ll pay the fees and costs of an Arizona criminal defense lawyer, look for a firm that will work with you on payment schedules. Depending on the case, your lawyer may be willing to set up a payment plan that breaks down the total cost into more affordable monthly payments. Many attorneys take payments via cash, check, or credit card for clients’ convenience. Others will accept payments from friends and family members if you’re unable to cover the bill yourself.
Whether or not a lawyer offers a payment plan, he or she should provide free, zero-obligation initial consultations. You should never have to pay for your first meeting with a lawyer. Discussing your case and options moving forward should be a free service the law firm provides to you and your family members. If a firm tries to charge you for an initial case review or traps you into retaining its services after a consultation, find your representation elsewhere. Learning about your basic rights should be free.
How to Talk to Your Lawyer About Price
Experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the predicament you’re in when it comes to paying legal fees. An arrest turned your life upside-down. You may be out of a job and facing significant potential fines if your case results in a conviction. Don’t feel shy about asking a prospective lawyer for payment information. The right attorney for you will be able to offer suggestions and solutions, such as flexible payment plans, to make the cost more affordable for you and your family during this difficult time. Ask your lawyer about costs during the first consultation for more information.