It is no statistical shock that most criminal defendants are low income, which means hiring a five-star, executive suite law firm is out of the question. However, does income automatically mean an improper or inadequate defense? Do you have to spend every penny you have to fight your case and win? No, a criminal defense does not have to cost you everything. Take the time to evaluate your opportunities. The number of affordable and even free options may surprise you.
What have you heard about court-appointed attorneys? From rumors, stereotypes and biases, you have likely heard they are underpaid, overworked and terrible lawyers. While they may be underpaid and busy, public defenders are some of the best attorneys in the country. They have more trial experience than most fancy, high-cost lawyers at prestigious law firms. Court-appointed lawyers also cultivate relationships with prosecutors, meaning they have a better chance of getting you a favorable plea deal before the need for a trial.
If you do not want to take a chance on a public defender, or if you do not qualify for court-appointed representation, you can find a private attorney. Most criminal defense attorneys will cost you between $150 and $700 per hour, which comes in around $10,000 to $15,000 or more for a trial, depending on a case’s complexity. Keep in mind that a higher price tag does not mean a better defense. Many young and exceedingly brilliant attorneys start at the lower end of the hourly spectrum because they do not have a ton of experience. Price doesn’t always indicate skill or knowledge.
Pro Bono Counsel
A public defender is not your last chance for free counsel. Some attorneys and law firms offer so many hours of pro bono services. If your case is minor, or if the evidence against you is minimal, an attorney may take on the case pro bono, or free. Sometimes, an attorney may take a chance on a client even in high-profile cases because they believe in the defendant. Don’t be afraid to ask if an attorney will eliminate their fee.
Cost does not dictate the quality of a defense. Public defenders or court-appointed attorneys are some of the best lawyers, and they are free. Before you hire an attorney, like a criminal defense lawyer from the Morales Law Firm, you need to take the time to consult with several local law firms to discuss your case and options.