I often speak with potential clients about their DUI or criminal law matter and when the topic of price comes up they tell me they spoke to someone else who offered to take their case for A LOT less money. I don’t mean a couple hundred bucks less, I mean like less than half of what I was going to charge, and sometimes even less than that. The problem with hiring a really cheap criminal defense lawyer for a DUI or any criminal charge is you usually get what you pay for. The issue of how much a good defense lawyer will charge is a complicated one and involves many variables.
I can only speak for myself but there are several things I look at when telling a potential client how much I will charge them. The first and most important factor is the type of charge the client is facing. Is it a misdemeanor or a felony, are there multiple counts, are the crimes alleged as dangerous, etc… Another factor is if the potential client has prior convictions, and if they do what kind of convictions are they? Are the priors from ten years ago or ten days ago? What court is the person being charged with? How long do I think the case will take to resolve.
I often tell potential clients to speak to a several defense lawyers to figure out what other lawyers are charging. If two other lawyers say they will charge five thousand dollars and a third lawyer says they will do the same case for $500 dollars that should tell you something about the third lawyer.
Another factor when I set a price is my experience that I will be putting to work for my client. After ten years of having my own practice there is not a lot in criminal defense and DUI that I have not seen or dealt with. If you hire a cheap defense lawyer that has only been in practice for six months this will often have an outcome of how happy you are with the lawyer when the case is over. I’m not saying that no one should hire new lawyers, what I am saying is that a good lawyer will have experience and they will charge more because of that experience.
When hiring a defense lawyer don’t hire someone just because they are cheapest. When you are charged with any crime your future and your actual freedom may be on the line. This is not the time to try to save a few bucks. Like with most things you usually get what you pay for.