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CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Drug Defense Attorney

Drug Defense Attorney Cost


How Much Does a Drug Defense Attorney Cost?

 
low costLow: Misdemeanors start around $2,000-$5,000average costMedium: Felonies can be $5,000-$15,000 at $100-$300+ per hourhigh costHigh: Felonies can run $20,000-$30,000+

Depending on the amount and type of substance involved, drug charges may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Most states and the federal government define misdemeanors as crimes punishable by a year or less in jail; felonies are all offenses with a maximum sentence of more than a year.

Typical costs:

  • A lawyer may charge a flat fee for a specific phase of the case (such as the preliminary/pretrial hearing and motions) or an hourly rate of $100-$300 or more. Either way, you must pay the attorney an advance fee known as a retainer, based either on all or part of the flat fee or an estimated number of hours. If an attorney works on a hourly rate, as legal services are provided, the hourly fee is deducted from the retainer; when it's gone, you will be billed for more money. Whether your lawyer is working on an hourly rate or flat fee, retainers for a criminal defense attorney on drug-related charges start around $2,000-$5,000 for misdemeanors and $5,000-$15,000 for felonies, but can easily be $20,000-$30,000 and more for serious or life felonies, or complex cases that will involve a lot of hours and expert witnesses. The total legal fees will depend on the length and complexity of your case.
  • If you are facing felony charges and can't afford to hire an attorney, you are legally entitled to a lawyer at no charge to you. The judge will either assign a government public defender or appoint a private attorney to represent you. Nolo Press discusses how to get the court to appoint a lawyer and representing yourself.
Related articles: DUI Attorney, Felony Defense Attorney, Expungement

What should be included:
  • Drug crimes may include possession, manufacture, delivery, distribution, trafficking and cultivation. Charges may be brought in either the state or federal courts, depending on circumstances. The federal government imposes mandatory minimum sentences[1] based on the type of drug (marijuana may be considered less serious than cocaine or meth), the weight of the drug mixture and the number of prior convictions. A federal judge has little or no flexibility in the length of a prison sentence for a drug offense unless the person is able to provide the government with information to prosecute other drug offenders.
  • Anything you tell your attorney is confidential, but your attorney cannot lie to the court for you or knowingly offer a false defense. FindLaw.com explains what a criminal defense lawyer does[2] .
  • There are laws governing all the steps in a criminal case, starting with the investigation, arrest, arraignment and bail procedures. The American Bar Association describes the possible steps in a trial[3] and provides a diagram of how a case moves through the justice system[4] .
Additional costs:
  • Felony trials often require the testimony of expert witnesses, which can add $2,000-$7,000 or more to the total costs.
  • Attorneys working on an hourly basis charge for any time spent answering your questions on the phone or by e-mail, as well as case-related expenses such as interviews, research or photocopies. If hiring an attorney on a flat fee basis, be sure you understand what is and is not included, and if there will be additional costs if your case goes to trial.
  • Court fees or fines vary widely depending on the charges and location, and are in addition to your attorney's fees.
Shopping for a drug defense attorney:
  • Meet with several attorneys to find the best one to handle your case. Know the exact charges against you, your court date, your bail amount and any other pertinent facts. Ask about the attorney's education, experience and area of specialty. Lawyers.com gives tips for selecting a lawyer[5] , plus how to prepare to meet with an attorney for the first time[6] and what to do during an initial consultation[7] .
  • Search for attorneys through the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys or the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Network's Lawyer Locator[8] .
  • Your attorney will provide you with a written fee agreement. Be sure you understand what is covered, and any other fees and expenses you might have to pay.
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External Resources:
  1.  www.drugpolicy.org/fighting-drug-war-injustice
  2.  criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-legal-help/what-you-can-expect-from-the-best-crimina...
  3.  www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_networ...
  4.  www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/resources/law_related_education_networ...
  5.  criminal.lawyers.com/Criminal-Law-Basics/Criminal-Law-Selecting-a-Good-Lawyer.html
  6.  criminal.lawyers.com/Criminal-Law-Basics/Criminal-Preparing-to-Meet-with-a-Lawyer....
  7.  criminal.lawyers.com/Criminal-Law-Basics/Criminal-Meeting-with-a-Lawyer.html
  8.  www.martindale.com/Find-Lawyers-and-Law-Firms.aspx
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