Flat fee for criminal defense.

Asked about 2 years ago - Orlando, FL

attorneys are asking for a flat fee for criminal defense. I thought they charged by the hour. How do I know what I'm getting for this? Is it based on estimated hours that will be spent on the case? (Is it $2,500 gets you 10 hours on the job because they believe they are worth $250 per hour or is it just whatever they want? some are like $6,000 for the same case ). If I hire someone to handle the case like this whats to stop them from doing nothing? They are already paid and are not the ones who will go to jail if they fail to act in a diligent and zealous fashion.

Additional information

Also can I add some conditions to my agreement after signing on with one of these flat fee lawyers
if I think of or learn something new? Will they laugh in my face if I tell them I want it in writing that they are going to do this or that?

Attorney answers (7)

  1. Eugene Bullard Nichols

    Contributor Level 11

    12

    Lawyers agree

    2

    Answered . Most criminal lawyers do charge on an hourly basis. I currently have a few criminal cases that are over two years old. If I charged an hourly rate on these cases we would be well into the tens of thousands of dollars. Most criminal lawyers have a good understanding of the amount of work a case will take and charge accordingly. Your assurance is the ethical oath we all take and the threat of a complaint to the judge and the Bar. You should hire a lawyer based upon face to face conversations and your gut. There are several resources for your disposal to learn more about the lawyer. AVVO, Martindale, the FACDL and multiple other resources can help with the decision. If you would like some referrals in your area, you are welcome to email me off list and I will give you a list of those lawyers in your area who do a fine job and I would trust representing a family member. Good luck.

  2. Jason Michael Reid

    Contributor Level 13

    9

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . "There's a motion that might lead to a dismissal of your case, but that will probably take 5 hours of research, writing a motion, filing said motion, sending subpoenas, setting a hearing , and conducting the hearing. So if you want that, that will be $2000." Flat fees allow the attorney to adjust to a case that will probably take several months, and may have 2 or more prosecutors, and maybe even a new judge. If a case ends quickly, its because you got a great result. Flat fees are great for clients.

  3. Mark H Randall

    Pro

    Contributor Level 15

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This is a great question. How to pay and what to pay your attorney for your defense is very important in your attorney/client relationship. There are many attorneys out there with various levels of experience Also, running a law practice is like running a business. The attorney has expenses such as staff, rent and car which he counts on legal fees to cover. The individual attorney deides between flat and hourly legal fees. I think flat fees work best for criminal practice and hourly for civil work. It all depends on the individual attorney. Also, they may be costs associated with your case. These are depositions, private investigators etc. These all need to be discussed with your attorney. There are many sources discussed by my colleagues as to where to look for competant counsel. Good luck!

  4. Dale Christopher Carson

    Contributor Level 13

    7

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Nothing can stop an attorney from taking your money and doing nothing. Unfortunately there are a few who will do exactly that. That said, Florida has plenty of excellent attorneys who would be glad to represent you. The key is to research and find a good one the first time. As Mr. Nichols stated above FACDL, AVVO, and various other sources can point you in the right direction.

  5. Adam Todd Dougherty

    Pro

    Contributor Level 12

    6

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . Attorneys are like every other profession in the world, some good ones and some bad ones. The other two attorneys are correct if you had to pay per hour that bill would run much higher than the flat fee probably 75-80% of the time. You are paying the attorney for their knowledge and ability. One word of caution: you get what you pay for. Check AVVO and other sites and ask people in the community. At the end of the day you should hire an attorney you feel comfortable with. Good luck.

  6. William Joseph Kopp Jr.

    Contributor Level 12

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . Just one to think about is that most attorneys do care about their reputation and guard it very tightly. If an attorney goes around taking people's fees and working very little, that attorney will soon run out of clients. That being said remember it very easy these days to send out negative feedback as well as positive feedback, probably easier to cut someone down. So do not take any single criticism of a particular attorney as gospel. One thing to think about is that you'll probably want an attorney who can help you clean up this mess on the back end no matter what happens in court. So does the attorney help with sealing records? Can they tell you about getting your face off the computer? Just like bad reviews for lawyers, these things are out there any time a criminal charge is made.

    Overall, you want who you are comfortable with and who looks out for you as a person. But remember your attorney is a person too. So just like you don't want to feel taken advantage of, that lawyer feels the same way. Ya'll should be working together to resolve your case.

  7. Kevin Jeffrey Pitts

    Contributor Level 13

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . My understanding is that most people charge a flat fee or split fee pre-trial/trial. Some cases get resolved quicker than expected and some take longer than expected. We generally make an educated guess on how much work the case will take.

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