The cost for a criminal defense attorney can vary widely and different attorneys use different factors in deciding how much to charge. The most common factors criminal defense attorneys consider are:
- The severity of the charges and possible consequences.
- The number of charges involved.
- The complexity of the case.
- The likelihood that the case will be taken to trial.
For example, if your case involves a single misdemeanor charge, and the charge does not involve any mandatory punishments, then the fee may be very low, perhaps in the range of $800 to $1,200 dollars. However, if the charges involve 1st or 2nd degree felonies, and the case is very complex or difficult, then you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $30,000 for an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Most cases fall somewhere between these two extremes. DUI cases, for example, usually involve the DUI charge as well as one or more related charges. Also, Utah DUI convictions have mandatory punishments such as jail time and/or community service, drug or alcohol treatment, and stiff fines. However, because most DUIs are only misdemeanors, the common fee for a first DUI is between 1,200 and 2,500. Other common misdemeanor cases, such as domestic violence cases or drug possession cases carry similar consequences and it will similarly cost between 1,200 and 2,500 dollars to hire an experienced criminal lawyer.
Trial Fee Versus No Trial Fee
Some criminal defense attorneys charge an additional trial fee and some do not. What is the difference, and is one better than the other?
A little known fact is that above 95% of all cases filed in court never go to trial! This means that in almost all cases, the attorneys will resolve the case before it reaches the point of trial. Most of the attorneys who do not charge a trial fee will tell you that their fee “covers everything, including the trial.” However, because less than 5% of cases ever go to trial, 95% of the time the fee they charge their clients is too high because it includes a “built-in” trial fee. Also, because they are not getting paid any extra to go to trial, they may discourage you to go to trial even if it is in your best interest, and if you do decide you want a trial, they will not be as motivated to spend the extra time to prepare for your trial.
If an attorney does charge a separate trial fee, it is usually a more honest and transparent fee arrangement as long as you know what the trial fee will be before signing an attorney representation agreement. A reasonable trial fee can be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars in a misdemeanor case, to several thousands of dollars in a felony case.
Salt Lake City / Northern Utah Criminal Defense Lawyer Contact
Steven K. Burton is a former prosecutor who is experienced in nearly all criminal misdemeanors and felonies, ranging from DUI and domestic violence cases to theft, fraud, and other violent crimes. If you have additional questions or would like to have a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney in Utah, you can contact us by phone or by filling out our consultation web form.