There are certain factors that contribute to the final figure charged by criminal defense lawyers to clients for their legal fees. When lawyers are representing clients who are faced with criminal charges, the fees they will charge will be determined after some considerations have been factored in. We will look into what these factors are and, at the same time, we will try to understand their impact on the final figure that will eventually have to be paid by the client to his lawyer.
It is worth mentioning, before going any further with this discussion, that fees for legal services are, in actual fact, not charged in a – totally arbitrary – manner (in most jurisdictions). In other words, they are not charged on a simple ‘willing buyer willing seller’ basis where a lawyer can charge figure he thinks of, so long as he can get clients willing to pay. In most jurisdictions, the quanta of counsel remuneration is being followed. This is the set of rules that are followed in coming up with the amount that will have to be charged by the lawyers for their legal services rendered. The said rules tend to set minimums in terms of what lawyers can charge for their services.
The idea is to avoid a situation where some lawyers would end up undercutting their professional colleagues, making the profession lose its prestige (as lawyers start competing on ‘price’). Although the minimum amount is set, there is no maximum amount that is specified. The lawyers can charge as high as they want. It is this absence of a ceiling that has brought about the differences in the legal rates that lawyers charge their clients. But that is not the only explanation for the variations that we find nowadays.
The first thing the criminal defense lawyers would take note of in determining how much to charge their clients is the type of case. Thus, a lawyer is likely to charge more to mount a defense in a murder case than in a petty theft case. Murder cases tend to take a lot longer to be resolved, that’s why it would cost more. Furthermore, to prepare an adequate defense for such a case, the lawyer would have to undertake more research and generally do a lot of work to ensure that the client gets adequate representation. This clearly justifies the higher rate the lawyer charges for his services.
The stage of the criminal trial where the lawyers entered and were retained to represent the clients is also taken into consideration. A criminal lawyer would be more justified to charge a higher fee if he happens to have been retained by the client from the start. If he was retained midway through the court trials, his fee would be lesser.
The reputation and professional profile and standing of the lawyer in the legal community would also have a lot to do with the legal fees. Naturally, the high-profile lawyers would earn more since they would charge more in legal fees than the lawyers who have a modest standing or are still considered ‘upcoming’.