Over 10 million people are arrested for varying offenses every year. For most, when they’re initially taken out of a police vehicle and dropped into jail, a lot of questions are going through their mind.
“How long will I be in here?” “What are my rights?” “How can I get an attorney?”
That last question is the most important one.
Because you have a right to an attorney when arrested. When one is by your side, they’ll help you understand your broader rights and work to get you out of jail fast.
The biggest barrier to getting a quality attorney is usually the steep fees that some charge. To get a better idea of what you can expect when hiring a lawyer, our team breaks down everything on attorney fees that you need to know.
Attorney’s Fees Vary
There’s no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to what attorneys charge. Ten different attorneys could easily charge you 10 different prices to manage the same case.
That’s why it’s important to shop around and get multiple opinions when hiring one.
As a general rule, meet with at least four attorneys before deciding on which one you feel will manage your case the best. If you need help locating one in your area, Yelp is a great resource.
You Want High Value, Not Low Cost
Depending on what the stakes are in your case, you’re going to want to find an attorney who brings the best value to your case, not the best price.
What’s the difference?
A low-cost attorney is cheap. You’ll spend the least amount of money on them, but you’ll also get the cheapest defense. If your future is riding on your being successfully defended, hiring a cheap attorney is not the way you want to go.
When you search for a lawyer who brings the best value, look for one with reasonable prices and a strong vision for how they’re going to get you off.
That vision and passion is where you should be investing your money, even if it’s a little pricier than some of your other options.
Watch Out for Lawyers Who Want Collateral
There are some attorneys who may ask for you to put up your home or other property in the event that they lose their case and can’t get you the money to pay them with.
If an attorney ever requests you to put up collateral as a means of payment, walk away.
Not only are security payments illegal in most states when hiring legal help, but any lawyer who uses these practices doesn’t have much confidence in the services they provide.
Understand Contingency Pay
Many attorneys in the personal injury space (and sometimes in criminal situations) will take you on as a client on a contingency fee basis.
What that entails is that the attorney will pay themselves a portion of what they get you during legal proceedings. The exact amount isn’t set in stone and will vary among lawyers.
In most cases, attorneys will ask for anywhere from 25 to 60 percent of any settlements or court-ruled payments.
Contingency attorney fees can be a great option if you don’t have the money to hire a lawyer out of pocket. Beware that contingency payments may end up being more costly than if you paid your attorney beforehand.
Standard criminal defense attorneys will get paid by the hour. This arrangement works like any other hourly employee.
Whenever your lawyer is in contact with you, they’ll run the clock. At the end of the month, you’ll be invoiced for all billable hours. You’ll need to pay the invoice within a pre-determined amount of time – or risk forfeiting further legal help.
Remember, even if you’re on the phone talking to your attorney about bail bonds (learn more about this here), they’re billing you for that time.
With that in mind, always do your best to keep conversations and meetings as brief as possible.
When you hire an attorney on an hourly basis, they’ll ask you for a retainer upfront. Retainers are pre-payments for X amount of hours.
They enable your attorney to fund any necessary startup costs for your case and also ensure that you’re capable of paying for billable hours.
Keep the Costs Down
If you’re being quoted attorney fees that seem outside of your reach, you still have options when it comes to your defense. Below are a few suggestions on how to keep your lawyer costs down.
Work with a Public Defendant
Federal law entitles you to a legal defense. If you can’t afford one, the government will provide you with one for free.
Public defenders are usually not on par with paid legal services. They are better than nothing, though.
Some organizations offer free legal services to certain communities. Look online and see if free legal help or subsidized legal help is something you qualify for through third parties.
Compare Attorney Fees to Make an Informed Decision
Above we’ve outlined everything you need to know when it comes to attorney fees. Our recommendation is to be as thorough as possible when vetting attorney candidates. Do your best to find one who represents the best value to your case.
If you can’t afford an attorney and can’t find one to work on contingency, consult a public defender. Doing so is a much better option than defending yourself.
Want more information on how to save money on legal services? How about tips on how to improve your financial situation?
If so, check out more of our content on Freebie Spot today!