How Do Criminal Defense Lawyers Get Paid?

One big concern on the minds of almost all legal clients is how much money their attorney will cost. Lawyers’ services and skills are indispensable to clients who have no knowledge of the criminal justice process or navigating the legal system. This great need for legal knowledge and experience makes an attorney well worth the price tag. In criminal cases, you will have to pay your attorney a retainer. For first-time clients, retainers may be a bit confusing as they do not work like ordinary fee agreements.

A retainer fee is an amount of money paid to an attorney for their work on a case. However, a retainer fee is usually paid before the lawyer has performed any work on your case. The retainer may also not be the final price, but a rough estimate of how much the case will cost. Depending on the direction your case takes, you may end up paying even more money for more work by your attorneys, or your lawyer could refund unused funds back to you.

If you have been charged with a crime, you should speak with our Utah criminal defense lawyers about your case. We can work with you to fight your charges and protect your rights for a fair and reasonable fee. Schedule a free and confidential consultation with our team at Overson & Bugden by calling (801) 758-2287.

Retainer Fees for Criminal Defense Attorneys

A retainer is money paid by the client to a lawyer for legal services. What is unique about retainers compared to other types of fees and fee agreements is that the client pays the attorney before any work has been done on their case. The attorney holds the money in a separate account and deducts payments from that account as they perform work.

A retainer can be helpful because it solves the issue of payment at the beginning of the attorney-client relationship. When a client must pay the lawyer as they perform work, or payment is made after completing all work, the client may be hesitant to let the attorney do their job out of fear of mounting legal fees. By paying the lawyer a retainer, the lawyer is free to conduct the work that needs to be done, and the client need not worry about the payment because the money is already in the attorney’s hands.

However, retainers and retainer agreements should be carefully scrutinized by both the client and the attorney before representation begins. Sometimes, cases take longer to deal with and require more work than initially anticipated. In such cases, the retainer may be depleted, and the client will have to pay more money for the attorney to continue working. Call our Riverton criminal defense lawyers to discuss your case and we can arrange a reasonable fee agreement.

How Retainer Fee Agreements for Criminal Defense Lawyers Work

The nature of the retainer will be outlined in the retainer agreement. The retainer agreement is like a contract between the lawyer and the client that spells out how much money is to be paid and how it is to be used. Agreements tend to cover how much money is to be paid, the kind of services to be rendered by the lawyer, and communication between the attorney and the client.

The retainer may be paid as a lump sum, but the attorney may have specific ways that fees are deducted from your account. For example, the lawyer might deduct the payment as the work is done. Other times, they might deduct payment at the end of each week or month according to an itemized list of the services they performed. The retainer will also set forth the hourly wage of the attorney.

In addition to the services that can be expected, the retainer may also spell out services that are not covered. This is often included because clients may not be aware of the kind of work their lawyer must do for their case. By providing a list of services not covered, the client is prevented from asking the lawyer to do work beyond the scope of their case. It also gives both parties a better understanding of what they can expect from the representation. Call our Logan criminal defense attorneys to discuss the needs of your case and work out a fair and reasonable fee agreement.

How Much Do Retainer Fees Cost for Criminal Defense Lawyers?

The exact cost of your retainer will depend on the needs of your case and how your attorney sets their wages. An extremely complicated case may require many hours of work by your attorney. In such a case, your retainer will be greater. In other, more straightforward cases, your lawyer may decide to set a flat fee as your retainer. The total price will also go up later if your first retainer was depleted. However, you could end up with some money refunded back to you if your lawyer completes the work with some of the retainer fee left over. Your attorney’s skill level will also influence your costs. A more experienced attorney will cost more money than a novice lawyer. Call our Lehi criminal defense attorneys to discuss your case today.

Restrictions on Attorney Fees and Fee Agreements

Retainers and fee agreements are bound by various restrictions in your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct. One such rule is that a lawyer’s fees must be fair and reasonable. Factors used to determine the fairness of legal fees include, but are not limited to, the time required to perform the work, experience and skills of the lawyer, time limits imposed by the client or circumstances, and fees customarily charged in similar cases.

Additionally, there are certain things that the lawyer is required to inform the client about. For example, the attorney must make clear the scope of their representation. For example, if you hire an attorney to handle your bail hearing, their representation will not include handling your trial or appeal. The scope of representation will likely influence the value of your retainer. This must be communicated in writing and is likely included in the retainer agreement.

There are also restrictions on how a lawyer may charge fees. Ordinarily, an attorney representing a client in a domestic relations case or a criminal case may not collect a contingency fee. Contingency fees are commonly collected only when the desired outcome is achieved, such as winning the case. Contact our Layton criminal defense lawyers for more information about retainers and fees.

Call Our Utah Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Consultation

If you have been charged with a crime, call our Utah criminal defense attorneys right away. We can help you fight your charges while protecting your rights. Free legal consultations are available at Overson & Bugden. Call (801) 758-2287 to discuss your case with our staff.