Many attorneys in the criminal defense area offer flat fees for the entire case in order for the client to feel comfortable with their financial exposure. While this may feel pretty good up front for you because you get to know exactly what it will cost you, remember there are more ways to “skin a cat” than one. Cleck Here Often if an attorney sets a flat fee, he or she may want to spend as little time as possible to complete your case. It stands to reason because if they are only going to earn just so much on your case, they want to finalize it as quickly as possible. On the other hand, if you want to fight the case as hard as possible, that attorney could be thinking to him or herself that “this person wants to fight this case with MY blood” and may be resistant to pursuing your case beyond trying to get you to accept the very earliest plea reduction offered to you by the prosecutor. This doesn’t always work as well in reality as it seemed at the outset.
On the other extreme, if an attorney is charging an hourly fee, there is always the chance that he/she will want to spend an inordinate amount of time on your case in order to build up their bill as much as possible. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a better defense, but it does mean you have the potential of an unlimited bill for the defense of your case. That may mean you get a better defense, but not necessarily. So what’s the answer.
Perhaps the best approach is a combination of the two ways of charging for criminal matters. To do that, the attorney may charge a flat fee for a set number of court appearances (3-5 times) and then set another amount for more than the initial amount of appearances. By doing this, the attorney will use his/her expertise to give you a fair fee schedule for the number of court appearances it usually takes to conclude a case of that nature and then, in the event the case requires more court appearances, then the client will pay a set amount of each additional appearance. That way, if the client is being unreasonable in their demands, they must pay for the additional court appearances it will take to pursue their defense. In other words, both parties compromise a little and that usually is the best arrangement for both.
As far as exactly how much you should pay for a defense attorney, that varies a lot from place to place and from attorney to attorney. In the metropolitan areas where competition is keen, fees can vary widely, however, in the field of criminal law you usually must pay a premium for an experienced attorney who has a well known reputation and who brings more knowledge and personal experiences along the way than a less experienced attorney might. Of course, if you want a less expensive attorney, you may have to settle for one with less experience who is looking to gain more experience. This will also depend upon the type of case you have pending against you.