If you can’t afford an attorney, the court will appoint you one. But is that really the best option for you?
Hiring a San Antonio criminal lawyer may be less expensive than you think.
Keep reading to learn more.
Hourly billing is one method attorneys will use to bill their clients. In this scenario, the client pays based on every hour the attorney works on their case. Hourly rates can start as low as $100 per hour and go up from there. Clients are often billed in 15-minute increments, instead of rounding up or down for an hourly rate.
Defendants can also be billed for extra expenses outside of the hourly rate. These charges could include court filing fees, subpoena fees, and office/administration fees for the lawyer, including phone calls, postage or copying fees.
Less experienced lawyers tend to be less expensive. those that have been practicing law for many years or have a successful track record will charge more.
Hourly billing is to your best advantage when a case concludes quickly. However, if the case draws out or becomes complicated, your attorney tab can skyrocket.
Most good attorneys will be able to give you an estimate as to the number of hours your case will take so you have a good idea of what you would have to pay using this billing method.
Case billing is also referred to as “fixed-fee” billing. The fee charged by the attorney remains static, regardless of how many hours they spend on your case.
It’s important to clarify exactly what is covered by the fixed fee that the lawyer is charging. Sometimes these fees may be set by state law. A San Antonio criminal lawyer, or a criminal lawyer anywhere else in the U.S., may advertise a fixed fee for a specific type of case, like a DWI.
However, these costs may exclude court fees or other expenses.
Case billing also has its advantages and disadvantages. Assuming you’ve checked to see what’s included in the fee, you know exactly what you’re spending on an attorney up front.
One of the disadvantages of case billing is that sometimes the client may feel as though they’ve overpaid. If the case settles very quickly and the client has spent thousands of dollars, they may feel put out. Some attorneys will refund some of the client’s money, but most will not.
Most attorneys, regardless of whether they charge by the case or by the hour, will charge a retainer fee. This is a fee that’s charged in advance of the attorney doing any work on the case. Retainers are essentially a down payment on a legal case.
A retainer fee can range from 25% up to 40% of the estimated cost to represent you in your case. Lawyers will send you statements regularly showing you how much time they’ve spent on the case or other fees that go towards the retainer.
Hiring a San Antonio Criminal Lawyer
You may be asking yourself why you should hire a criminal lawyer if the court will appoint you one for free.
While a public defender may seem like a great idea because they don’t cost anything, they often have very high caseloads that will prevent them from giving your case the time and attention it needs. If you’re assigned an attorney you don’t like, there is no option to “fire them.”
If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, like an assault and battery or domestic abuse, come talk to us. We’ll be an aggressive advocate to protect you during the process. Give us a call today.