It's fairly common for me to take calls from the friends or family members of an incarcerated individual, asking for a " quote " or a price upon which I can handle the case. While every criminal case is unique, I typically do my best - based upon the information provided - to give the caller and idea of what effective criminal representation may cost.
Perhaps most time-honored method to hire a criminal defense lawyer is at an agreed upon flat rate.
It comes as a surprise to no one that retaining counsel or " lawyering up " is not an inexpensive proposition. When one is considering retaining a lawyer in a civil action, the stakes are typically monetary in nature. Most civil claims involve an individual seeking redress for an alleged wrong: compensation for an injury, damages for breach of contract, and the like. Undoubtedly, many civil cases involve the most serious of allegations and the most grievous of injuries, but the ultimate outcome in a civil action is that someone recovers money - or they do not. For an individual facing criminal charges, the stakes are far different. An individual's livelihood, reputation, future and indeed their very freedom may be on the line. In this context, it rarely, if ever makes sense to not hire counsel -no matter what the cost involved. Lawyers in Maryland typically handle criminal cases on one of two platforms. The first would be an hourly arrangement where the individual lawyer is compensated for their time actually spent on the case at an agreed upon rate. Perhaps the more common fee arrangement in a criminal case is that of a flat fee. Here, the lawyer and the client agree upon a specified amount for the entirety of a given case as a fee. Such arrangements might be limited so that for example, appeals are not included in the agreed-upon package of services. The availability of credit card payments or periodic payment plans give some individuals the flexibility required to retain counsel at the direst of times.
It is often impossible during a phone call - without the paperwork and charging documents connected with the case - to give a fully informed intelligent fee opinion. The preferred method is to review the statement of probable cause, indictment, or other charging documents in the case. This process enables the reviewing attorney to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the State's case, the evidence they possess, the witnesses that will testify, and any legal issues, including legal defenses, that might be applicable to this singular situation. It should be noted that lawyers are prohibited from handling criminal cases on a contingency fee basis. These arrangements are commonly utilized in personal injury and workers compensation matters. The features of these arrangements are no " upfront money " from the client, the lawyer works for free, and is only paid upon a successful resolution of the claim. These arrangements are not available in criminal matters.