Regardless of your criminal charges, you will want to find a qualified criminal defense attorney to argue on your behalf. However, depending on your financial situation, your choices may be limited. Although, do not let costs lead your decision. While it is true some defense lawyers have enormous fees, other attorneys, who are equally qualified, do not. Regardless of your final decision, it is still useful to understand the typical cost of a criminal defense.
The most expensive option for any defendant is hiring a private defense team. Private attorneys often charge upwards of $150 per hour. There are even some attorneys who charge close to $700 per hour. Understanding that, it is not difficult to see how total case costs can grow to over $10,000 relatively quickly. Most criminal defendants cannot afford these high fees, which can limit their options.
One of the most affordable options for defendants is a public defender or court-appointed attorney. Unfortunately, these lawyers often get a bad reputation due to stereotypes and bias. Public defenders are among the most experienced trial lawyers around. The best thing about these lawyers is that they are free for those defendants who cannot afford private representation. However, to qualify for a free public defender, you must meet the financial requirements of your state.
There is another option for those who cannot afford a private lawyer but do not qualify for a court-appointed attorney; the defendant may be eligible for partial indigency. If your income is over the cutoff for a free public defender but still too low to hire an adequate attorney, then the judge may allow you to use a public defender and pay a portion of the court cost for the appointment.
Last, if you do not qualify for a court-appointed lawyer, and you are not approved for partial indigency, then you may still be able to find an attorney willing to work pro bono. Many lawyers are required to give so many hours of pro bono work annually. However, no lawyer is required to take your case.
Finding a criminal defense lawyer should be your top priority as a defendant, but do not assume you have to choose an expensive private lawyer. You may qualify for a court-appointed lawyer or even discounted rates. If you would like to discuss your options even further, then contact a criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco, CA and discuss the specifics of your case.
Thanks to The Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal law and the cost of a defense lawyer.