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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

How much does it cost to hire a criminal defense attorney? This is a question that people charged with a crime or their families often think about when dealing with the complex process of facing criminal charges. Often, the accused or their families have never dealt with a legal situation before. The costs of hiring a criminal defense attorney can add a roadblock for those looking to have competent representation for their case. Price searching is a big part of hiring a criminal defense attorney, which can cause significant time and extra stress. There are several reasons: first, it is often difficult to get in touch with an attorney. Many attorneys are not available to speak on the phone when you call. Many attorneys do not even offer phone consultations (my office does offer free in-person and over-the-phone consults to reduce any burden for potential clients). Also, even getting an in-person consultation with an attorney has its issues. Many attorneys are not available any time soon.

Further, many attorneys also charge a nonrefundable consultation fee that people do not want to pay to go price shopping. Getting quotes from different attorneys when dealing with criminal charges can be exhausting. Facing criminal charges is already scary and stressful; the extra stress of having to price shop should not be another roadblock for families. For these reasons, I have written this blog to give some insight into how much hiring a criminal defense attorney can cost. I hope to make an already tricky situation somewhat easier to deal with, or for those not facing criminal charges, to have the information.

Typical attorney response, I know, but the answer is the typical response “IT DEPENDS,” but mainly (at least in my office) between $2,500.00 to $10,000.00 for the retainer:

Did you think you would read an article from an attorney answering a question without hearing the magic words “it depends”? Joking aside, the answer depends on various factors but mainly what crime you are charged with. Typically, misdemeanors are cheaper than felonies. For example, at my office, a misdemeanor (excluding class C misdemeanors) generally ranges between $2,500.00-$5,000.00 (with $5,000.00 typically being for first or second-time DWIs)—felonies in my office ranger between $5,000.00 to $10,000.00. More serious felonies like rape, manslaughter, or murder are upwards of $25,000.00. If a person has many priors, the fees generally are a little more in most offices. Based on the knowledge I have gained in practicing law for about five years and being in the legal field for about ten years and having looked around at different attorneys’ prices, my fees are on the more practical side of prices. You will find other attorneys that charge more or less, but you will probably find them in the same ballpark.

Note* For prices on expunction and nondisclosure fees, please refer to our previous article by clicking here.

Does it cost more to go to trial?

I know, another “it depends.” There are two schools of thought on this, depending on which attorney you get. Both sides end up being similar in most cases because of how the fees are paid. But before I explain, my office does require a second deposit for trial (except for DWI cases in which we do have an extra trial deposit). And for the attorneys that require a second deposit for trial, the trial fee will generally be the same fee you paid for the initial retainer. Now to explain the two schools of thought:

-The first school of thought is the attorneys that will not require a trial deposit. These attorneys generally have a much higher initial retainer to cover trial should their client go to trial. The thinking behind this and why they do not require a trial deposit is that they believe a client should not have to worry financially about paying more money to exercise their constitutional right of going to trial. They also believe when they are signed up for a case, they are in it to win it no matter what it takes, and if a client decides to go to trial and fight till the end, they wouldn’t have to pay extra. This school of thought makes sense, but so does the other. The negatives about this school of thought are you generally already pay more here to cover the trial, so it may end up being the same as having paid a second deposit for trial. Many attorneys in this school of thought also push for trial when it may not have their client’s best option because they either take the case personal against the DA (trial is like a boxing ring for attorneys), so they go to trial to knockout the DA, they may go to trial for fun, to practice, or several other reasons. I am not saying all of them are this way, but this is a possibility. So, clients may receive lousy advice about going to trial when that isn’t their best option.

-The other school of thought is the attorneys that do require a trial deposit. These attorneys often charge a lot less for the initial retainer than the first school of thought attorneys. The thinking behind this and why these attorneys require the trial deposit is that some clients do not have the extra money to afford large retainers to pay the retainer fee that includes the trial. These attorneys give the client the option of paying less to fight the case to come to a resolution without the necessity of trial. This ends up being cheaper for the client. It is not uncommon for a case to be dismissed without trial. Also, sometimes a client will receive a good offer from the DA that they may want to accept. However, the option of going to trial is still on the table here; the client would have to pay the extra trial fee. These attorneys believe that if the trial is not necessary, why to pay the extra fee.

If you are looking for a criminal defense attorney in North Houston, a criminal defense attorney in Houston, a criminal defense attorney in Texas, a criminal defense attorney in Harris County, or a criminal defense attorney in Harris or Montgomery County, need more details about attorney prices, if you have been arrested with a crime, or if you want to call to discuss your legal issue, call or email Amir Tavakkoli from the AT Law Office. Our phone number is 832-800-5590, and the email is We also travel to different counties, including but not limited to Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, Waller County, and Brazoria.

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