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.
Criminal Defense Attorney Fees Vary Around MN
It is important to understand that there is no simple formula that can determine what a specific attorney might cost. Every attorney sets their own rates, meaning there are no uniformity in what defense attorneys cost.
One of the best ways to evaluate criminal defense attorney prices is through a free consultation. While free consultations are common, not all defense attorneys offer prospective clients an opportunity to discuss their case with them before hiring them.
The attorneys of Gerald Miller are prepared to evaluate your case during a free consultation and answer any questions you might have. This includes not only how our fee structure works but also how we might be able to approach your case from a strategic standpoint. To learn about your options, contact us for a free consultation as soon as possible.
How Attorneys Charge Their Fees in Minnesota
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. Other attorneys use a combination of the two billing options to provide clients with a degree of flexibility.
The most important thing to consider is what is affordable for you. Many attorneys are willing to be flexible in repayment for clients who have limited income.
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.
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.
Some defense attorneys rely on a combination of billable hours and flat-rate work. This hybrid approach could begin with a flat rate and then shift into billable hours when a certain milestone is reached.
Consider the following example. An attorney could agree to take on a DWI case for a flat fee. However, this flat fee is contingent on the case being resolved without the need to go to trial. If the attorney settles the case through a plea bargain or successfully secures a dismissal, the flat fee is the full amount the defendant owes.
However, the fee agreement could shift if the case is not resolved quickly. If the terms of agreement call for an hourly rate should the case go to trial, the attorney could begin charging this rate as litigation begins.
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:
Your Minneapolis Attorney Experience
The experience of an attorney is the primary factor that will determine their rates. In general, more experienced attorneys are able to charge a higher rate. This is typically after years of building up a client base and reputation.
Likelihood of a Trial in Minneapolis
Whether or not your case is likely to go to trial is an important consideration. Without a doubt, this factor is highly relevant if your attorney is operating on a hybrid system where they charge by the hour for litigation. However, attorneys are likely to take this factor into account even if they are considering taking the case on a flat fee. Litigation is complex, even for less-severe criminal charges. Some attorneys are more likely to increase their fee if they believe it is impossible for them to resolve their case through a dismissal or plea bargain.
Complexity of Your Case in Minneapolis
The complexity of a case is also a factor. While the severity of the charges against you will partially determine how complex your case is, there are also other factors to be aware of. For example, a DWI case that might require an expert on breathalyzer machines could be more complex than the standard drunken driving case.
Severity of the Charges in Minneapolis
The severity of your charges will also be a factor in the cost to defend you. That is because more serious charges typically require far more work. It should go without saying that developing an effective defense for a speeding ticket is a much lower burden than building a successful defense in a capital murder case.
The Right Attorney Is an Investment
It is easy to look at the cost of legal representation as an expense. After all, hiring an attorney means that money is inevitably coming out of your pocket. That said, it is helpful to think of your attorney as less of an expense and more of an investment.
Without an attorney, your odds of a criminal conviction are likely to increase. When you consider the value of your freedom and the potential financial cost of a conviction, hiring the right attorney for your case could be an investment in your future.
Our firm understands the stress and financial strain that can come with facing criminal charges. That is why we are dedicated to providing you with effective, aggressive advocacy throughout the course of your criminal case.
Talk to a Sympathetic Criminal Defense Attorney in Minneapolis
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.
Originally published December 7, 2020 and updated October 27, 2021.