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There is no simple answer to the question “how much does a criminal defense attorney cost?” There are thousands of attorneys in the United States, just like there are thousands of different combinations of criminal charges you could face. Because of these variables, the price of a defense attorney can vary tremendously.

Attorneys that have years of experience and only take on large-scale cases could charge an enormous fee just to take the case. Attorneys that focus their practice on speeding tickets or minor offenses might charge less per case.

If you have questions about an attorney’s fee structure, your best bet is to ask them about it directly during an initial consultation. To learn about the available arrangements with the Attorneys of Gerald Miller, call right away for a free consultation.

How Attorneys Charge Their Fees

First and foremost, it is helpful to understand the different ways a defense attorney could bill their client. Most attorneys take two different approaches: using flat fees or billing by the hour.

Billable Hours

Many people assume all attorneys work on billable hours. While this is far from true particularly in criminal law, it is not uncommon for defense attorneys to bill using this system. Billable hours require an attorney to set the rate they charge for one hour of legal work. Then, the attorney tracks how many hours they bill during the course of a person’s case. This will determine their final bill.

Most attorneys that use billable hours require a retainer. A retainer is a pool of money paid up front by the client. As the attorney performs work for the client, they pull money from the retainer for their fee. When the retainer is low, the attorney will remind the client to refill it. This system ensures an attorney does not do legal work only to be stiffed on the bill at the end of the case. Billable hours are commonly used in complex criminal cases.

Flat Rates

Not all attorneys rely on billable hours. Many defense attorneys, especially those that handle less complex cases, use flat fees instead. A flat fee system involves an attorney setting a flat price to handle a specific type of case. Often, these attorneys have a flat price for different offenses based on complexity. For example, the flat fee to handle a speeding ticket is likely much less than the cost of defending a DWI charge.

Some attorneys also rely on a system of variable flat fees. For example, an attorney might charge one fee if they are able to resolve the case early on. They might increase that flat fee if trial becomes a necessity. This allows attorneys to offer flat fees with flexibility.

Most criminal defense attorneys that work on a flat fee basis require the full fee paid up front. While this is not always the case, it is helpful to discuss this issue with a prospective attorney before hiring them.

Factors that Impact Attorney Fees

The factors that can impact the cost of a criminal defense attorney can vary based on several circumstances. It is not unusual to learn that two attorneys will require very different fees to handle your case. This variance is explained by factors that include:

  • The attorney’s experience
  • Whether your case is likely to go to trial
  • The complexity of your case
  • How serious the charges against you are
  • How long the attorney has been practicing in this court

Talk to an Attorney About Their Fees

You should never enter into an attorney-client relationship without first knowing what your legal counsel will charge. Thankfully, most criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations. During this initial consultation, an attorney can advise a prospective client of their rates and how they bill. Addressing these questions up front can reduce conflict at the end of the case substantially.

If you are facing criminal charges in Minnesota, the attorneys of Gerald Miller are ready to help. Our firm is up front about our fees, and we are happy to discuss those issues during a free, no-obligation consultation. To get started with your consultation, reach out to the attorneys of Gerald Miller as soon as possible.

Cody Wright

Cody Wright is a dedicated DWI/DUI lawyer at Gerald Miller P.A. in Minnesota. He ensures your voice is heard in a system that often discourages the accused from speaking up. He has received his law degree from Mitchell College of Law.


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