How much does a DUI lawyer cost? Do I have to pay all up front? My family law lawyer made be pay a retainer up front. How is criminal defense the same or different? These are common questions potential clients have about hiring a lawyer and they are important to discuss right up front. Legal fees or costs can be very confusing and it is important to know whether you can afford the lawyer you prefer. So, never shy away from asking these tough questions. An experienced DUI or criminal defense attorney is very accustomed to explaining what their fee is and how they expect payment. The fee structure for criminal defense is often different than other areas of law so it is important to clarify!
For example, the vast majority of family law or civil attorneys bill hourly. Some estate planning attorneys do a mix of flat fee and/or retainer they bill against. However, DUI or criminal defense attorneys bill flat fee, which means just one bill (usually up front). Some defense attorneys will do a flat fee and then add extra fees if it goes beyond the scope of what they originally planned with the client but this is more rare.
The most common fee structure for defense attorneys is a flat rate up front with a caveat that the firm will add a “daily trial fee” if the case can’t be resolved short of trial. If the client intends to go to trial, there could also be expert witness fees and private investigator fees.
Padded Trial Fees
Unfortunately, lately, we have noticed that some firms in Thurston and Kitsap are building in the trial fee so they charge $6500 or $7500 for a DUI. That is a very high fee for DUI. Typically, you will see this high fee structure in firms that are larger and have high overhead expenses. Some defense firms in our area, are spending $100,000+ a month in ad spend alone. Those firms need a lot of DUI fees to cover that overhead!
The Client Is In Control of Trial Fees
Additionally, the problem (as we see it) with building in a trial fee into your initial cost of DUI or criminal defense is that most criminal cases (about 96%) do not go to trial. So, the client is paying for a service they VERY likely would never need. So, read the fee agreement and make sure you are not paying for something that doesn’t really apply to your situation.
How We Do It
At Witt Law Group, we do not add additional hourly fees beyond our flat rate. We only add the trial fee if the CLIENT decides to go to trial. We counsel the client about odds at trial but always let our clients decide if trial is the course they want to go. If you prefer to resolve the case prior to trial (as 96% of people do), there are no additional charges for your criminal charge.
How Private Fees Might Actually Save You Money
Please check out our videos about the numerous ways in which private criminal defense lawyers can actually put you ahead in terms of costs from a DUI or other criminal charge.
When we get on a case prior to the Arraignment, we frequently reduce or avoid the client having to post any bail. We also get reductions in conditions of release, which means the client might not have to put an ignition interlock in their car while the case is pending. This can save hundreds or thousands of dollars. We do this by learning about you prior to the hearing. Public Defenders can’t do this because they only meet you AT the Arraignment and your public defender qualification is assigned at that time (you still won’t know who your public defender is yet…you have to qualify).
These are just a few of the ways we can help save you money. Give us a call to learn more about the cost benefits of hiring a private defense attorney to handle your legal issue. If you cannot pay for the entire fee up front, be sure to ask the attorney if you can qualify for a payment plan.
If you have a case in Kitsap or Thurston Counties or Cities in those areas, please give us a call to discuss your unique situation. We are available 7 days a week and answer after hours. (360) 792-1000