Considering costs when hiring a felony attorney

When you need to hire a felony defense attorney, you’ll use various criteria to make your decision. Experience, familiarity with your particular court system, track record and many other factors which will come into play. One thing that doesn’t get as much attention as some of the others is how you’ll pay for your legal defense and how much your defense will cost.

Obviously, depending on the type of case, your legal fees could be as little as a few thousand dollars, or if the case is complex, involves federal statutes, or requires a lot of forensic work and expert witnesses, you could be looking at as much as six figures or more. In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to worry about costs, but the reality is that your financial situation will dictate to some degree how much you can afford in legal fees. In some cases, you may not be able to afford an attorney and will have to rely on a court-appointed attorney to represent you.

Despite a heavy case load, public defenders can bring significant experience to any case, and they will be able to tap the resources of the public defender’s office. Those resources can include many other seasoned attorneys, who will collaborate on a highly competent defense for your case. In fact, in some court systems, private criminal defense lawyers will accept court appointed cases, meaning that you could wind up with the same lawyers to represent you whether you hired a private attorney or worked through the public defender’s office.

Determining exact costs for a case is an impossible task. Because each case is different, the costs will also vary. However, for many misdemeanors, a good rule of thumb is anywhere from $1000 to $5,000 in legal fees. Felony defense lawyers often work on retainers that can start at $5,000 to $10,000 and go up from there. In fact, $25,000 as a starting retainer for serious felonies such as rape or murder is not an uncommon starting point.

You should plan on having adequate reserves for legal fees in the event your case goes to trial. Being unable to pay legal fees could result in you having to shift to another legal defense team mid-case, which could negatively impact your ability to have a successful outcome.

Decker & Jones serves clients in Denver, Golden and communities throughout Jefferson County, Colorado.