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Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees 

By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney

Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer Fees

Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer Fees

Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees – A Primer – A Colorado criminal charge can turn your life upside down with fear and worry. Like a serious illness – a criminal charge brings with it the important decision of whether to hire a lawyer, what kind of lawyer and how much you pay for that lawyer. This article addresses the third part of that decision.

Having limited financial resources may mean the very real prospect of not retaining right lawyer for your case. The truth is – the best Colorado criminal defense lawyer available for your case may be well within those resources if you would only do a little research.

The Mishandling Of A Criminal Case

Clearly the mishandling of a criminal case can have a devastating loss in your life – the threat of financial destitution or the loss of your freedom. This is not a time to “go cheap” On the other hand the best Colorado criminal defense lawyers are NOT always the ones that charge the highest fees. While a criminal defense lawyer’s rates reflect  his or her reputation, resources, and previous successes, many Colorado criminal lawyers, charge the same or similar flat fees for criminal cases, misdemeanors or felonies.

Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees – A Primer – The Kinds Of Fee Agreements Most Often Used – “The Flat Fee”

It has been my experience that almost ALL Colorado criminal defense lawyers use the flat fee in their criminal cases.  That is the fee structure I have always used. My clients prefer it and it works best, in my opinion, for both sides, as you will see below. However some attorney’s use the hourly fee to bill criminal cases. The third most commonly used fee agreement – the contingent fee agreement – is never used in criminal cases because it is illegal to do so.

Why Flat Fees In Colorado Criminal Cases?


A flat fee means that you will be charged a specified total for work performed on your case, regardless of the time it takes to complete.

The flat fee – simply put – is a dollar amount that the attorney and the client agree on before the attorney begins his or her representation. The fee is a simple transaction, is paid up front, and other than expenses which maybe variable – the flat fee is the ONLY fee you would pay to this law firm unless the matter crosses over into a trial posture.

The criminal lawyer calculates and identifies the amount of work (time) that your case will require and then calculates a reasonable fee based on the time and effort involved to effectively and aggressively defend the case. Sometimes – to get the best result – it takes much longer than anticipated. Sometimes, if the attorney is very good – (or, yes, lucky) it can take less time on the case than anticipated. The benefit of the flat fee is that the client controls the case finances – not the lawyer. Unless the client has lied – misled- or otherwise deceived the lawyer about the nature of the case – the lawyer may not later demand more money.

In Criminal Cases – Flat Fee Agreements Ease The Stress On The Parties

Again, as a general rule, the few criminal defense lawyers who specialize in the area of criminal law, as I do, representing those targeted by the criminal justice system, work on a flat fee basis.

The fees are agreed upon out front and never change no matter how many times you need or want to consult with the lawyer;  no matter how many court appearances are necessary to get a good result; and no matter how long it takes for you to be comfortable with my advice, explanations and the “process”

The Trial Fee – This firm does NOT charge for a trial unless the case is postured for trial.  The flat fee is, because of this approach, split into two divisions. The first is a fee that covers case work up to the trial date – (but not including trial preparation). The second flat fee is a so called “trial fee” that covers the preparation of, and if necessary, the actual trial of the case. The fees are separate so that you are charged a reasonable fee only for the work that is done on your case.

Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees – A Primer – The Kinds Of Fee Agreements Most Often Used – “The Hourly Fee”

Some lawyers may charge on an hourly rate which is the predetermined amount charged for the attorney’s work on an hourly basis.  A lump sum retainer is usually paid at the start of the case and is later increased as the case proceed. The time that an attorney charges for legal work in this context is  called billable time, or billable hours.

Hourly rates will vary according to the attorney’s expertise and experience in the area of your case. Here’s the issue, an hourly fee means the lawyer’s financial incentive to maintain the case in an active posture may cloud his or her judgement as to the best interests of the client.

Critics of the hourly rate point out that they discourage quick work and expedited resolutions – to strike – strike hard and effectively dispose of criminal charges. In addition, the courts are crowded.  No one more than a criminal defense client knows the pain of sitting in the courthouse waiting for the case to be called and paying the lawyer to sit there with them at $300 dollars or more an hour.

Compare Contingent Fees – Not Used In Criminal Cases

A contingent fee is a certain percentage of the recovery in the client’s case. In personal injury cases, (such as car accidents), the typical contingent fee is one-third of the recovery.

While these fees work when a client seeks money damages, they cannot be used in divorce cases, child custody cases, and, especially criminal cases for obvious reasons

Sometimes an attorney will mix a contingent fee with a flat fee or an hourly rate. Another common practice is to base the contingent fee on a sliding scale. A sliding scale contingent fee provides that the attorney receives a high percentage of the client’s recovery if the recovery is large and a lower percentage if the recovery is small.

Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees – A Primer – The Kinds Of Fee Agreements Most Often Used –  Retainers

A retainer is either a continuing flat fee or an advance on the fee owed for the attorney’s services. Corporations and wealthy individuals sometimes use a “continuing” flat fee retainer.  In return for a regular payment, the attorney agrees to be available to handle the client’s day-to-day legal affairs. Most individuals do not have enough legal concerns to keep an attorney on retainer.

The term retainer also refers to an initial fee paid by the client. Attorneys who charge an hourly rate usually use retainers, but some attorneys add an initial retainer to a contingent fee.

How Is The Flat Fee Calculated?

The cost of a Colorado criminal defense lawyer will vary significantly based on the lawyer’s experience, the jurisdiction in which he or she practices, the nature of the charges in the case and the complexity of the case.

An experienced lawyer will know, fairly quickly after a brief discussion with a potential client, what will the kind of time commitment involved. The amount of the flat fee typically increases with the severity of the charge filed against a defendant.

In a Colorado misdemeanor case, while the fee may vary significantly depending on the lawyer’s qualifications, it is not unusual for a lawyer to request a retainer of several thousand dollars while in  felony cases, retainers often start at $5,000 – $10,000, and can be $25,000 or more for the most serious of felonies, such as sexual assault cases or homicides. The anticipated cost of expert witnesses can also significantly increase a retainer

Choose Your Lawyer Wisely – Why Changing Lawyers Is A Bad Idea

I often will NOT take a case handled by another lawyer for a long period of time.  To me – it is like taking over the painting of a fine piece of art after the artist has so altered the art that another artist cannot salvage it.

You have a constitutional right to the “effective assistance of counsel.”  Knowing the most “effective” of the effective lawyers out there is sometimes virtually impossible. After you have done your due diligence on the lawyer’s reputation and qualifications, the rest of the decision may come down to a “gut” reaction to the lawyer’s communication style.  But here’s the rub, choose as carefully as possible because the decision to retain the lawyer to represent you in a criminal case may be the most expensive mistake you ever make.

You must be not only comfortable with the experience and competence of your lawyer, you must trust that lawyer to ALWAYS TELL YOU THE TRUTH.  That is the way that I have practiced law for over 3 decades. It is not for everyone and the fit must be right for both parties. Changing lawyers – aside from the obvious expense of the change – may be life changing. You will be the one who goes to jail or prison, not your lawyer, if the lawyer is ineffective…. but his fees were easy for you to afford.

Conclusion – The Right Lawyer For You

More so than in any other area of our lives – the adage “you get what you pay for” is true.  While you should not be gauged by exorbitant legal fees – you also do not want a lawyer who charges ” discount prices.”  On the other hand – should you choose to retain such a lawyer, the risks increase that you will not obtain the kind of quality representation you deserve and you need.

Don’t rush – take your time and find a lawyer who is the right attorney for you and your case. Your  Colorado criminal defense lawyer should be qualified, competent, experienced, caring and devoted to you and your case.

Phone consults are free. –  They are confidential and there is no risk in calling a lawyer you are interested to ask your questions. If you call me – you will learn – in just a few minutes – your rights and your options. If, after we have spoken, you are not persuaded that I am the best attorney to help you, then you have lost nothing but your time. 

In our phone consult I will walk you through the facts and law of your case. After 30 years of doing ONLY Colorado Criminal Cases – I can usually size up the situation in a matter of minutes and can answer the questions worrying you.  Do not be ashamed of feeling fear and confusion and most of all feeling alone. The criminal justice system can be intimidating. Take the next step after finding my web site – call me.

 Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg Email The Author  A Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer  – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer Fees, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom Most Experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer - Attorney - Law Firmexperience –  specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range.  He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options.  Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case.  Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Contact A Lawyer with Three Decades of Experience as a Denver Criminal Attorney at The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm Today.

Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving …Understanding Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Fees.

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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